Friday, August 31, 2012

Keeping Track of Willard's Lies

It's time for Willard's Lies of the week.

Once again, I will point out the site on the blog roll: Romney The Liar: because there are Liars, Damn Liars, and then there's Mitt Romney.

Steve Benen, now at The Maddow Blog:. Here's this week's entry of Chronicling Mitt's mendacity:

The Opening:

Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXXII

By Steve Benen

Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:40 PM EDT.

Jon Chait noted the other day that Mitt Romney "has built his entire campaign on, well, lies." Jon made the observation in passing, but it struck me as significant, especially as the Republican National Convention unfolded -- Romney isn't the first national politician to try to deceive the public, but he's arguably the first to build his entire campaign around the deceptions.

Kevin Drum was thinking along the same lines responding to Romney's lie on welfare policy, which the candidate has vowed to continue repeating, even after it's been proven false.

In the past, you felt that maybe campaigns were at least a little bit embarrassed about this kind of thing. They'd blame it on someone else. They'd try to produce some lame defense. They'd haul out some fake white paper to give themselves cover. They'd do something. The Romney campaign just doesn't seem to care. If it works, they use it. It's like the campaign is being run by cyborgs.

Thomas Mann, a longtime political scholar at the center-left Brookings Institution and a respected Beltway voice, added, "The Romney campaign has, as is strikingly evident at the Tampa convention, broken new ground in its brazen and cynical disregard for the truth."

Love Romney or hate him, it's an experiment of sorts -- we're seeing the first real-world test of a post-truth campaign. Team Romney lies, without shame, because it's certain the line between fact and fiction has been blurred out of existence, and if lies will give Romney vast power, the ends justify the means.

But for those who still like to think reality has some meaning, I hope they'll take some time to consider the 32nd installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. (For the record, this week, I'm only including falsehoods from Romney himself. Including every lie told at the convention would have caused a mendacity overdose.)

1. In Romney's acceptance speech last night, he said, "Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections."

Actually, congressional Republicans decided early on that they would refuse to come together and work with President Obama, no matter what he offered in terms of policies. This began before Inauguration Day, when GOP leaders decided they simply would not cooperate or compromise with Democrats.

2. Romney added that Obama "took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business."

First, the president has experience working in business. Second, lots of successful presidents didn't come from the private sector (and lots of lousy presidents were businessmen). And third, it's obvious that Romney doesn't believe his own rhetoric, because if he did, he wouldn't have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate -- Ryan has far less private-sector experience than Obama.

3. Romney went on to say, "[T]he centerpiece of the President's entire re-election campaign is attacking success."

For one thing, Romney has never been able to point to a single instance in which Obama has attacked success. For another, we're having a hell of a lot more success now than we were four years ago.

4. Romney added, "[T]his president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office."

Of course he can. I'm not sure who Romney is referring to you with "you," but for Americans, economic growth, job creation, the stock market, the auto industry, the deficit, and the manufacturing sector are all better off now than in January 2009.

Romney Calls America a "Company"

His Freudian slip tells you about their frame of mind. When will they understand that running a Country is not the same as running a company. The U.S. is not a corporation.

I only followed a portion of the Republican Convention. The major media outlets seemed to allow the lies to go unchallenged. Even NPR failed to fact-check any of the claims, once the various speeches were over. Blogs like this one try to provide some fact-checking... but shouldn't the media be doing this? I have basically lost my appetite for the whole process. Makes my stomach turn.

Monday, August 27, 2012

America's Gravest Threat - It's Own Foreign Policy

America Is Facing A Crisis

Once again, the nation is engaged in a fundamental debate about its future. What should we do with Medicare? How do we protect social security? How do we fix the tax structure? What should we do about energy? These are all important questions. However, none of them represent the most pressing, underlying problem facing the country. All of the debates around domestic issues are really irrelevant right now in my view. If we don't get the underlying problem fixed, we won't have much money for any of the domestic items that we need.

America’s gravest threat is not healthcare spending, social security, or energy. The national debt? That’s not it either. The debt problem is fixable, what is lacking is the political will to do it. America’s gravest threat is its own foreign policy. It is amazing that neither political party wants to discuss the elephant in the room. This is mainly because both parties are completely beholden to the industries involved…in this case, the defense industry.

Current American foreign policy, still largely built on the outdated 65 year old Truman Doctrine, is not in line with the realities of the present. The nation has a much leaner military, the largest total debt that it has ever seen, the biggest debt to GDP ratio since WWII, and it is still mired in an over decade long period of war that has cost taxpayers over $3 trillion - money that we will never get back. I am still wrapping my head around the fact that $3 trillion was wasted on two (unfunded) wars that were not worth it. Under a misguided Bush foreign policy, the U.S. tried to kill a fly by burning down the house. What was needed all along was a fly swatter -- good intelligence, human intelligence, allowing law enforcement to do its job, improving diplomatic relations and forming global partnerships, improving the nations image around the world, taking covert action, responsibly beefing up security where needed, using our economic power for positive change, changing foreign policy priorities to meet the realities of a new world, and only when necessary…use special operations forces. But trillions of dollars were wasted on failed adventures that left the Muslim world more radicalized than before. Never has more treasure been wasted to kill one man or even a ragtag group of men. Not to mention that the country is crawling back from the biggest economic collapse since The Great Depression. Yet the nation lacks a sensible, realistic foreign policy. In fact, the nation’s policymakers have pushed for more of the same.

Time to Mobilize On This Issue

The fact of the matter is, America desperately needs a new, more reasonable foreign policy if it wants to avoid becoming present day Greece…. Or worse yet, an ancient Rome. This is a crisis for the country. None of what we do with medicare, social security, energy, taxes or anything else to get the debt under control will matter if nothing is done about the true problem - America’s use of military power and its role in the world. The other issues facing the country did not create the debt crisis (which eventually hurt the credit rating)… it was the foreign policy that led the nation into two unfunded and unnecessary wars that, when totaled (to included care for wounded soldiers), could cost as much as $4 trillion, according to a report from Brown University. So it makes no sense to talk about these other issues, without dealing with this underlying problem. The fundamental problems surrounding the debt will not go away unless this country deals with the issue of foreign policy and what its role in the world should be.

Despite a new world and budget realities, the U.S. is still playing the role of global empire with over a half million troops airmen and sailors deployed to well over 100 bases around the world, all despite a smaller military.  Furthermore the country has far too many defense obligations around the world which keeps us entangled in conflicts between nations in every corner of the globe from the Korean Peninsula, The South China Sea, The Persian Gulf, Israel and Europe. Now the U.S. is working hard to get a foothold in the former Soviet Union. We have reached a point where any sort of conflict anywhere could easily drag the U.S. in. The U.S. is always a skirmish away from a very dangerous & costly war. We are overexposed and overstretched. Most of these defense obligations are not vital to our national security (particularly the homeland). Most of these treaty agreements were made under the Truman Doctrine’s Domino Theory for which our political establishment wholeheartedly still believes in. However, this is a concept that is mostly outdated.

Defense spending is about one-fifth of the total U.S. budget. A little more if you count related spending. While it’s not the largest part of the budget, it is the most bloated and adds more to the debt than any other expenditure. The reason? Wars often go unfunded and are tracked off the books. Taxes are not raised to meet the need, and other important programs are not cut. Instead, these wars (driven by a foreign policy that is more aggressive now than ever) become deficit balloons…and just get added onto the national debt. Other costs, such as Veterans Affairs budget are often counted separately…. But when you factor in costs to support veterans returning home… the deficit spending is unbelievable. A President Romney would be even worse. He pledges to vastly increase military spending by about $2 Trillion over 10 years, but does not say how he would pay for it.  We’ve heard that tune before - George W. Bush also failed to mention how he would pay for the 2 disastrous wars we stumbled into. Romney’s spending would likely be added to the debt.

It is an aggressive foreign policy that maintains this situation. However, America’s current foreign policy approach is unsustainable. We simply cannot afford to be global cop. It is going to continue to drag the nation down, both at home and abroad. A nation that is already broke cannot afford wars every few years.
I’m no fan of Pat Buchanan by any means… but he is one of the few Republicans who has a more realistic view of U.S. foreign policy. Even this staunch conservative believes that the U.S. is not on the right track when it comes to its role in the world.

Unfortunately there is no sign that the U.S. is changing course anytime soon. As a progressive, the biggest problem that I have with Obama and the Democrats is that their foreign policy is not vastly different from that of the Republicans. Support for the bloated military industrial complex is, in fact, a tradition for both parties. Strangely enough, with all of the dysfunction between the two parties and all of the gridlock, one would think that cooperation would be almost impossible. But one area where both Republicans and Democrats miraculously agree is on defense and the use of force around the world. Both parties believe that the U.S. must somehow maintain its role as the worlds police force, inserting itself even in internal conflicts and where the security of the U.S. itself is not at stake. The difference between the two parties is only on the surface. The core aims are the same.

In a poignant piece for the Atlantic, James Joyner describes the U.S. as being stuck in a “perpetual state of war” and points out the similarities between the two parties. While he describes conservative pro-war hawks as neo-cons, he also points out that pro-war hawks - which he calls “liberal interventionists” - also dominate the progressive side: 

are neoconservatives and liberal interventionists really so different? Neoconservative bastions like the Weekly Standard, Commentary, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies are passionate advocates of spreading American values. In Iraq, the toppling of Saddam Hussein and discovery that there was no WMD program to speak of were both accomplished in the first weeks of the war and with a relative handful of American casualties. If these had been our chief concerns we would have left immediately; the apparent U.S. goals in staying on so many years were democracy promotion and nation-building, both ideals the neoconservative White House leadership shared with liberal interventionists.

Further, while neocons are doubtless less patient than liberal interventionists when it comes to exhausting diplomatic options and achieving international consensus, what does it really matter if the end result is the same either way: military action.

Dr. Stephan Walt, in an outstanding article in Foreign Policy magazine, made a similar point on U.S. foreign policy:

The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power — and especially its military power — can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. Both groups are deeply alarmed at the prospect that WMD might be in the hands of anybody but the United States and its closest allies, and both groups think it is America’s right and responsibility to fix lots of problems all over the world. Both groups consistently over-estimate how easy it will be to do this, however, which is why each has a propensity to get us involved in conflicts where our vital interests are not engaged and that end up costing a lot more than they initially expect.

So if you’re baffled by how Mr. “Change You Can Believe In” morphed into Mr. “More of the Same,” you shouldn’t really be surprised. George Bush left in disgrace and Barack Obama took his place, but he brought with him a group of foreign policy advisors whose basic world views were not that different from the people they were replacing. I’m not saying their attitudes were identical, but the similarities are probably more important than the areas of disagreement. Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire, it seems, and it doesn’t really matter which party happens to be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Obama Administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular, has embraced an assertive foreign policy. I refer to U.S. foreign policy under this Administration as neo-con lite. Many of the misguided initiatives carried forward under the Bush Administration; such as missile defense, the push for unnecessary (and destabilizing) NATO expansion, Gitmo, the compromising of civil liberties and the use of drones, have been embraced wholeheartedly by the Obama Administration. Most troubling is that Obama & Co. never renounced the Bush era doctrine of pre-emptive war. The Obama Administration still sees this nonsensical and dangerous policy as useful. Hillary Mann Leverett, a former member of the NSC and an expert on the middle east, has become a critic of Clinton’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pointing out the lack of an even-handed approach. Leverett is also critical of Clinton’s hawkish approach on Iran. I recommend the work of Hillary Mann Leverett, Stephen M. Walt, Stephen F. Cohen, Juan Cole, John Mearsheimer and other experts who are critical of both Republican and Democrat administrations and who have been expressing their displeasure about the direction of the Obama team. These experts can’t be written off as far left like Zinn, Chomsky or Michael Parenti. They are very much within the mainstream. It is just that American foreign policy has gone so far off the rails towards the interventionist side that rational thinkers who are looking out for the best interest of the U.S. are seen as too dovish. 

Even Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was himself a hawk during his career as national security advisor and advisor to several other Presidents (even opposing efforts to thaw relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) sees trouble ahead for the United States:
Brzezinski Says Hillary Stands With Neo-Cons 
This is the area of greatest disappointment when I reflect back on President Obama’s first term. As Secretary of State, Clinton has been marginal at best. It’s a myth that she has done an awesome job. As a result of the current misguided policies, relations with key countries have suffered. She was late on supporting the Arab Spring, particularly in Egypt. She has most recently pushed for full throated U.S. intervention in Syria. A recent trip abroad resulted in eggs being thrown at her motorcade because the foreign policy that she has promoted is so out of step with current realities and in many cases out of step with the desires of citizens from a number of countries.

The so-called reset with Russia fell flat. Relations are now the worse they have been since the Soviet era. It is my belief that the Cold War never really ended and that it simply experienced a lull. We are now entering a new phase of the same Cold War. The U.S. and Russia have been competing adversaries since 1999, in a tiff sparked by the U.S. led war against the former Yugoslavia (led by another Clinton). More recently Russia-U.S. relations have deteriorated over the U.S. push to install a missile shield in Europe (a shield that makes no sense and that experts believe will not work), as well as the unnecessary & destabilizing push to expand NATO. U.S. presence in the former Soviet Union also raised tensions. The U.S. approach towards Syria and Iran have also soured relations.


Another War On The Horizon

Now the U.S. is about to go to war yet again. The U.S. is sleepwalking into another disaster. American policymakers really do love their wars, even if they do not always want to pay for them or fight themselves. It is looking more and more likely that the Obama Administration is going to allow Israel to draw this country into a disastrous war with Iran. This war would be even more nonsensical than the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Israel, likely with the help of the U.S. (being beholden to Israel, the U.S. has no choice) is about to launch an attack based on a nonsensical idea of pre-emptive war-  surely Israel is looking at the U.S. as an example. It will be a war started under the irrational premise that Iran might one day attack Israel … completely nonsensical. Unfortunately American policymakers are able to get away with this. Why? Interest groups like AIPAC and the defense industry lobby carry a tremendous amount of weight. But more importantly, I believe that it has to do with the U.S. having one of the dumbest populations of any country in the industrialized world. Americans allow themselves to be sheeple.

Natanyahu, is an absolute radical when compared to other more responsible heads of government. At times brash and maniacal. He is certainly one of the most hawkish leaders in the free world. He is aware that an attack could harm the U.S., particularly the economy and Obama's standing as President. He would have preferred having Romney as President so that he would have an ally and enabler for his aggressive policies toward Iran and other countries in the Middle East. This will be a disaster for the U.S. Yet our policymakers have made this country a hostage of Natanyahu. Our foreign policy has essentially been signed over to him. When it comes to Iran and Middle East policy, the Capital of the U.S. may as well be Jerusalem. Luckily an October (or November) surprise never came. But whether it happens 6 months, 1 or 3 years from now really makes no difference. It will be a disaster no matter when it comes...and just as nonsensical.

Under the rules of the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, Iran has the right to engage in nuclear research & development. The demands being made on Iran have no basis in international law and are themselves, in fact, extralegal. Iran has the right to enrich uranium for industrial purposes. Western media always fails to explain the NPT rules.

Even if Iran were looking to build a nuclear weapon, a pre-emptive attack (which would start by air and Sea only) would not accomplish the goal of killing the program...again IF it exists. In fact, the opposite would occur. An attack would only ensure that Iran gets the bomb. They would kick out international inspectors and would go into bomb making full steam ahead. The only way to stop Iran once the U.S. and Israel start such a stupid war would be an all out ground invasion and occupation, requiring an amount of troops & equipment that the U.S. simply does not have. I encourage all to read the 'Iran Project Report' which spells out just SOME of the requirements and consequences of a war with Iran. The report, endorsed by dozens of current & former diplomats as well as top political and military leaders, basically confirms that such a war would be a disaster. A war would require hundreds of thousands of troops, many billions of dollars, would require a ground invasion and occupation and would be a mess. In fact, just an initial air attack on Iran would probably require ground forces because of the Iranian response. So an attack makes absolutely no sense.

A war with Iran would also have all sorts of other unintended consequences. It could drag in other nations. Russia has already hinted that it is making preparations to provide Iran with assistance in the event of an attack. Russia largely stood on the sidelines during the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and during U.S. deployments in the former Soviet Union. This time Russia, and to some extent China, have drawn lines in the sand around Syria and Iran. Russian and Chinese leaders have recently made remarks raising the possibility of a military conflict with the West, with Russia’s Medvedev in particular, mentioning the use of nuclear weapons (comments aimed at the U.S.).  Chinese officials were even more blunt, threatening to go to war over Iran.Although it may be just tough talk designed to deter the U.S., there could be substance behind the statements. This kind of bellicose talk has not been heard for a generation or more. In some cases it is worse than at the height of the Cold War. China enjoys some level of trade with Iran and gets a portion of its energy from the Persian State.

Another consequence, as if a major disastrous war is not enough, would be a backlash among Iranians. Currently many young Iranians are fond of U.S. freedoms and have adopted western culture and fashion. Although many believe in their nations right to develop nuclear technology. Many of these young Iranians have little sympathy for their hardline government. But launching a war against Iran will turn supporters away from the West and towards the very regime that the U.S. would like to see gone. The Iranian leadership is well aware of this. This is why they would like nothing more that to see the U.S. or Israel blunder and take some sort of military action. Such an attack would finally give the Iranian leadership what it has not been able to get for itself: widespread legitimacy & support from its own people. An attack would give them the support that has been elusive for the past few years and would validate their negative propaganda about the U.S. and Israel.

What makes this situation worse is that rational thought and common sense are not guiding the hands or minds of policymakers on either side. Religious fervor is informing both sides. Both sides believe that they are doing Gods work on some grand divine mission. Whenever you have a mix of religious dogma and defense policy, it creates a very dicey situation. With Israel and Iran, you have two religious States. These are not your typical secular institutions we are dealing with. Instead of playing grownup, the U.S. is about to allow Israel to make this colossal mistake. It appears that the U.S. is going to allow Jerusalem to pull us into a war (yet another) that we don’t need, and that will go against our interests. Relations with other nations will be irreparably damaged and the conflict could spread. Iranians will rally to support their leaders. Global oil prices will spike and Europe, already teetering on a cliff….will fall over it, into an even bigger crisis and we would likely see a global recession, possibly like 2008.…perhaps worse. The U.S. economy will certainly suffer.  All for a military attack that will not accomplish the desired goal. It makes no sense whatsoever. After all that we have gone through (and are still going through) to crawl out of the recent near Depression, and after getting to a point where Americans are rebuilding their lives and going back to work, we are about to throw away many of those gains because of the irrational fears of Israel.

I see no reason to be optimistic.

Unfortunately the chorus of public anger is not loud enough to get their attention. There does not seem to be much of an effort to stop a war in Iran or military intervention in Syria. This is unfortunate, because the drumbeat for war with Iran is getting louder by the day. There isn’t even an effort to make the need for a new foreign policy part of the national debate. It’s totally absent. All we hear are chest thumping statements from both camps, proclaiming their willingness to go to war with Iran because Israel wants them to. During the Presidential campaign Romney publicly promised war with Iran on Israel’s behalf. Quite unbelievable. Obama has been more nuanced... but Hillary Clinton is no dove. So it seems that America may be screwed no matter who is in office. This is why (knowing that Missouri was not a competitive State for Obama) I decided to support Jill Stein (Green Party Candidate) for President, because of her strong progressive domestic policy ideas and ultimately because her views were more in line with my own... particularly on foreign policy. But I just wish President Obama would listen to progressives like myself who have no voice under the so-called big tent.

The majority of Americans want to see a reduction in military spending in favor of other more important needs. This includes both Republicans and Democrats. Yet, policymakers have not pursued efforts that reflect that public sentiment. It is fascinating to me that members of Congress don’t seem to have a clue as to why two-thirds of Americans believe that the Country is on the wrong track or why the public approval of Congress has been as low as 12%. A misguided foreign policy is an example. Attention President Obama, White House Staff and members of Congress: Here is a clue. Americans are tired. We are war weary. 10 plus years of war…. 20 years of off & on military conflict is enough. $3 trillion dollars wasted is all that we can take, especially when pressing needs here at home are not being taken care of.

I suspect that the mandatory budget cuts for military spending, which are scheduled to automatically kick in under the Budget Control Act, actually won’t. There will be a last minute deal to keep that money flowing. Why? Because the Defense lobby has a lot of influence over Congress. Taxes won’t likely cover the cost because Republicans will block any effort to change the current tax situation. Draconian cuts in other parts of the budget will have to take place or we are looking at more deficit spending.  

Time To Act

There is still something that could be done. If enough people spoke up about this issue, perhaps we could at least get the topic on the table. Right now, the candidates won’t even mention foreign policy unless they are arguing about who is the toughest and most pro-war man for the job. Contact your member of Congress and press them on making this issue a part of the national debate. Reach out to the candidates and force them to answer questions about commitments that they have made to take us into yet more war. Something has to be done to bring this into the national consciousness and soon. Stop a war with Iran before it happens.

None of the other big problems can be solved in this Country without dealing with the foreign policy issue - an underlying problem that, directly or indirectly, impacts just about everything else. The potential nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice (a hardcore interventionist, ...from the Albright/old Brzezinski/Kissinger/Clinton school of foreign policy thought, far more pro-war than pro-dove) for the post of Secretary of State will be an indication of what direction the Obama Administration will take with foreign policy in its second term. The Russians (and others) have already taken the unusual step of saying (warning) that they don't want her... because she is too brash, rigid and aggressive. If she is nominated instead of someone more sensible, and more progressive like a John Kerry, I will puke. I am keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that this nomination isn't made.

“What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” ~ Then UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright to Colin Powell on intervention in Bosnia.

Powell's response:
"I thought I would have an aneurysm. American GIs were not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game board".

Susan Rice as Secretary of State would be many times worse.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Keeping Track of Willard's Lies

It's time for Willard's Lies of the week.

Once again, I will point out the site on the blog roll: Romney The Liar: because there are Liars, Damn Liars, and then there's Mitt Romney.

Steve Benen, now at The Maddow Blog:. Here's last week's entry of Chronicling Mitt's mendacity:

The opening:

Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXXI

By Steve Benen

Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:48 PM EDT.

At a campaign event on Monday, a Republican voter asked Mitt Romney about falsehoods pushed by "leftists" and what he intended to do about it. The candidate replied, "It seems that the first victim of an Obama campaign is the truth."

As it turns out, the first victim is actually irony.

Michael Tomasky had a good piece this week, explaining what many have been reluctant to acknowledge: "The distinguishing fact of the Romney-Ryan campaign thus far is the extent to which it is built on outright lies in a desperate attempt to avoid honest debate at all costs." The GOP ticket, Tomasky argued, "lies as much as possible."

Just making stuff up about the other guy is bad enough. But it is in terms of past and future positions that what Romney-Ryan are doing really plows new and dishonorable earth. [...]

They know that the truth would crush them electorally. And so it follows that they know they must lie. They must lie about their Medicare plans. They must lie about the effects of their tax plans on average people and rich people. And they must tell a number of lies about Obama, all the better if they involve race, as the welfare lie does.

So this will be the entire point of the Romney-Ryan campaign. Lie lie lie. Muddy the waters. Turn day to night, fire to water, champagne to piss. Peddle themselves as the precise opposite of what they actually are. That is clearly the m.o.

It's always something of a relief when others notice this, but it's a dynamic much of the political world resists. Perhaps these stragglers could take a few moments to consider the 31st installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. (This week is the biggest list since I started the project in January.)

1. Referencing the money he gives to his church every year, Romney said, "This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one's financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known."

This is ridiculously untrue.

2. In an interview with Time magazine, Romney said of the recent Tax Policy Center analysis, "The basic foundation and premises of my plan are ... we don't reduce taxes or the share of taxes paid by the highest-income individuals. The highest-income individuals will get to pay the same share of taxes they pay today."

At a minimum, this is ridiculously misleading. Under Romney's plan, high-income people would get an enormous tax break.

3. In the same interview, Romney added, "I know that many in the modeling community do not want to assume growth with changes in tax policy. I do."

Actually, the Tax Policy Center, which Romney was criticizing, gave him the benefit of the doubt on growth assumptions, and found that his numbers still didn't add up.

4. On Twitter, Romney claimed President Obama "gutted bipartisan welfare reform by ending the work requirement."

He's blatantly lying.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

#Voice Your Vote: The Black Vote – All Eyes on Ohio

Here we go again. The Buckeye State must really love all this attention every four years, because that state is up to it again. While the black vote is not a “swing” vote, because Ohio officials have gone out of their way to disrupt voting for minorities, the Ohio Black vote is being fought over like never before.Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

#VoiceYourVote: Biggest Threat to Obama Isn’t Romney, It’s Stay-at-Home Black Voters

Voter apathy is not the sole province of black voters, but its effects are far more damaging. A 2009 Pew Survey showed that black turnout in 2004 was 60% and rose to 65% in 2008, just one-percentage point behind the 66% of whites that turned out to vote that year. Think about that. The very first time a Black candidate was a nominee from one of the two-major political parties, more than one-third of eligible Black voters still stayed home.Read the rest here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Keeping Track of Willard's Lies

It's time for Willard's Lies of the week.

Once again, I will point out the site on the blog roll: Romney The Liar: because there are Liars, Damn Liars, and then there's Mitt Romney.

Steve Benen, now at The Maddow Blog:. Here's last week's entry of Chronicling Mitt's mendacity:


Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXX

By Steve Benen - Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:50 PM EDT.340

Mitt Romney gave a speech Beallsville, Ohio, this week, and presented an unfortunate attack against President Obama. "How can you go out there and tell people things that just aren't true?" he asked rhetorically. He added, "This is a time for truths."

In context, Romney was referring to Obama's claim that "we're adding jobs in the coal industry." In reality, the nation really is adding jobs in the coal industry -- Romney was looking for an example of the president saying something that "just isn't true," and he pointed to an Obama quote that happened to be accurate, though he told his audience the opposite.

It's hard not to appreciate the ironic circle -- the president said something true, Romney lied when he said the accurate claim is false, and then he complained about falsehoods in the campaign.

I don't know the Republican candidate personally, but from a distance, it appears there's a part of his brain that allows him to create some kind of deliberate blind-spot. It's actually a little scary to think of a leader -- a man who'd be given enormous power and influence, literally making life and death decisions on a regular basis -- who can convince himself that his falsehoods are true, and that others' truths are falsehoods.

But here we are. If this is, as Romney claims, a "time for truths," I can only hope the Republican candidate will take a few moments to consider the 30th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. (This is the biggest list I've ever done.)

1. At an impromptu event in South Carolina yesterday, Romney said on Medicare policy, "Our plan [has] no change for current seniors and those 55 and older."

That's plainly false. Romney's plan eliminates all new benefits for seniors under the Affordable Care Act, which necessarily means higher prescription drug costs for seniors, and more expensive preventive care.

2. At the same event, Romney argued, "Under the president's plan, [Medicare] goes bankrupt... Under the plan I propose, it is solvent."

That's the exact opposite of reality. Obama's policy strengthens Medicare's finances, and under Romney's plan, the system would be closer to insolvency faster.

3. In Chillicothe, Ohio, Romney said that under Obama, "We've got lower economic growth."

Actually, we got higher economic growth.


4. In the same speech, Romney said that under Obama, "We've got higher unemployment."

Actually, we got lower unemployment.

Sin Taxes: Blacks Should Ignore Fads and Avoid What Snoop Does

In a just released report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers have concluded that cigarette and tobacco use by teenagers enjoyed a long decline from 1997 to 2003, but then tobacco use stagnated between 2009 and 2011. Even more startling is that the use of cigar use among black teenagers has spiked, going from 7.1% of black high school students to 11.7%. Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Obama, Ryan, Romney: November is More Than an Election, It is a Test

Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential nominee has deservedly cast light on Ryan’s draconian budget proposals to cut Medicare. However, Ryan’s proposed cuts to Medicare and every other program designed to keep people out of poverty symbolize his genuine disdain for the federal government and contrast nicely with President Obama’s views of the purpose of government. Read the rest here.

In Voter Suppression News, Judge UPHOLDS Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

hat tips-djchefron and RobM



Judge Won’t Block Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law

Ryan J. Reilly- August 15, 2012, 9:10 AM

A state judge on Wednesday refused to block Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s 70-page order ruled that opponents of the law failed to establish “that disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.”

Simpson did not rule on the case’s merits, only on whether it could be enjoined. Opponents of the law are expected to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.

“We’re not done, it’s not over,” Witold J. Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped argue the case, told the Associated Press. “It’s why they make appeals courts.”

Simpson ruled that the law “does not expressly disenfranchise or burden any qualified elector or group of electors. The statute simply gives poll workers another tool to verify that the person voting is who they claim to be.”

He said that opponents of the law “did an excellent job of ‘putting a face’ to those burdened by the voter ID requirement.”

“At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issued based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for counsel,” Simpson ruled. “Rather, I must analyze the law, and apply it to evidence of facial unconstitutionality brought forth in the courtroom, tested by our adversarial system.”

So, the people putting the law into effect couldn't come up with ANY voter fraud, yet this law, which can disenfranchise AT LEAST 10 PERCENT OF CURRENT VOTERS, was upheld.

Uh huh.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

African Americans and the Vote

The African American vote encapsulates the dynamism that is American politics. Blood was shed and lives were lost for African Americans to secure the right to vote. Even today, guaranteed access to the ballot is more a myth.

Prior to the Civil War a handful of free blacks in northern states exercised their right to vote but they were too few in number to make a difference in anything but the smallest of local elections. Then, in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, southern states enacted a variety of Black Codes, precursors to post-Reconstruction Jim Crow. These effectively codified all manner of discrimination against newly freed slaves. In response to this, Republicans in Congress passed two of the three Civil War Amendments, the 14th amendment of 1868 and the 15th amendment of 1870. The 14th provided citizenship guarantees (thus overturning the notorious Dred Scott decision) and the 15th provided voting rights for black men.

For a time the 15th led to real change in Southern politics. By the dozens, black men won seats in state legislatures and even a few went to Congress. In fact, the first black elected to the U.S. Senate, Hiram K. Revels, came from the closed society of Mississippi. This political renaissance had an unfortunately short life. Northerners preferred national unity over the needed occupation required to guarantee the political rights of black citizens. So, once Union troops withdrew from the South, unreconstructed Southern Democrats resumed their racial tyranny.

Read more

Monday, August 13, 2012

Someone crunched the numbers...and Willard would have paid 0.82% in taxes under the Ryan Budget Plan. 0.82%!!

Because the CHOICE in this election cannot be made plain enough:



anyone making ads, here's one for you:

Take all the times Willard praised the Ryan Budget and then have a voice ask..

Why is Mitt Romney so supportive of the Ryan budget?

then, give the answer:

his ass would pay only 0.82% IN TAXES

while the lower 30% of the country would pay more.

THIS is the America Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want.

Is this the America YOU WANT?

See...simple ad


From The Atlantic Monthly:

Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan's Plan

Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years -- or any of the years after that. Now, do I know that that's true. Yes, I'm certain.

Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010 -- the only year we have seen a full return from him -- Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did. How would someone with more than $21 million in taxable income pay so little? Well, the vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.

Almost. Romney did earn $593,996 in author and speaking fees in 2010 that would still be taxed under the Ryan plan. Just not much. Ryan would cut the top marginal tax rate from 35 to 25 percent and get rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax -- saving Romney another $292,389 or so on his 2010 tax bill. Now, Romney would still owe self-employment taxes on his author and speaking fees, but that only amounts to $29,151. Add it all up, and Romney would have paid $177,650 out of a taxable income of $21,661,344, for a cool effective rate of 0.82 percent.

But what about corporate taxes? Aren't they a double tax on savings and investment, so Romney's "real" rate is higher than his headline rate? No. As Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has pointed out, Romney has structured his investments as "pass-throughs" that avoid corporate tax. In other words, the 0.82 percent tax rate is really a 0.82 percent tax rate.

It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense -- a point my colleague Derek Thompson has made in incredible chart form.

Graphs from The Worst Part about Paul Ryan's Budget:

When the CBO projected Ryan's plan four decades into the future, it concluded that the size of government would shrink to 15% of the economy by 2050. How small is 15%? As a share of GDP, it would be the smallest government since 1950/'51. Here's Ryan's proposed 2050 budget and our real 1950 budget, side by side. The Y axis is percent-share of GDP.

On the one hand, these governments are basically the same size, as a share of the economy. On the other hand, they are also completely different governments. In 1950, Medicare didn't exist, Medicaid didn't exist, and Social Security was 3% the size of defense spending. Today, those three programs account for practically of the projected growth in government spending. This graph makes the difference even starker. Again, the Y axis is percent-share of GDP.

I want to direct your attention to the "All Else" category on the far right. This section includes all defense spending and other programs like unemployment insurance, the department of education, and the FBI. Even more than Medicare and Medicaid reforms, this might be the most controversial part of the Ryan plan.

In Ryan's 2050 budget, the "All Else" category shrinks to 3.75% of GDP. How small is 3.75%? Let's put it this way: Mitt Romney has proposed defense spending at 4% of GDP ... and defense spending makes up only about half of this category! Ryan's own ten-year projection doesn't let defense spending fall below 3%. It's unlikely he wants it to fall much further. That would leave 0.75% of GDP to do everything else.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

So, it's Romney/RYAN....

And somewhere high atop of the Prudential Building, Team Obama is going



Willard Romney has once again shown that he has no spine, and caved to the right-wing by choosing the Zombie-Eyed Grannie Killer known as Congressman Paul Ryan. He didn't even choose his own VP Candidate.

What did Grover Norquist say?

They don't need anyone that actually thinks in the White House, only someone to sign the bills shoved in front of them.

Willard has shown repeatedly that he has no core, no center, no spine.

And, the President gets what he wants: a clear CHOICE for November.

The Ryan Budget plan is now the ROMNEY/RYAN Budget plan until Election Day.

Willard chose as a running mate, Dubya's House Point Man on Privatizing Social Security, the author of VOUCHERCARE, which they got the GOP House to vote for not once, but TWICE.

Oh yes, the high fives went up all over the Prudential Building once this was leaked last night. The last group that was stubborn to the President have been Seniors - now, they have to confront for for the scary Black man or vote for those who would take away their Social Security and Medicare. With this selection, these Seniors have been bitchslapped into reality.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Because sometimes, there are no words...

I'm gonna have to rush and post this, and I'll be back later to comment.

From Politico:

Romney wants his taxes, business record off table

By MAGGIE HABERMAN | 8/10/12 2:33 PM EDT

Mitt Romney made an unusual suggestion in his interview with Chuck Todd yesterday, which First Read previewed thusly:

*** This is business not personal: Romney also said in the interview he would like a pledge (of sorts) with Obama that there be no "personal" attack ads. "[O]ur campaign would be — helped immensely if we had an agreement between both campaigns that we were only going to talk about issues and that attacks based upon — business or family or taxes or things of that nature." (Question: Is Romney really saying that scrutinizing his business record — which he has held up as one of his chief qualifications to be president — is personal?

But we digress. ...) He continued: "[W]e only talk about issues. And we can talk about the differences between our positions and our opponent's position." Romney said of his own campaign: "[O]ur ads haven't gone after the president personally. ... [W]e haven't dredged up the old stuff that people talked about last time around. We haven't gone after the personal things." That doesn't mean surrogates or Super PACs have, as was brought up to him. Bottom line, obviously, this negative stuff is getting to Romney or he wouldn't have said this. Campaigns that are winning never complain about the tone of the campaign (although Obama certainly laments "crazy" things outside groups say — more on that below.). There will be more on this from Romney on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown. Did he just offer the Obama campaign an official pledge? See for yourself.

Talking about candidates' personal finances is hardly novel, nor is it irrelevant — how candidates make their money, however much or how little they've earned over the years, is not only fair game but a legitimate line of inquiry. The question of tax returns is also not new (to that end, Romney has said he would also release his 2011 taxes, but has yet to do so, with less than three months to go in the race).

What is surprising is hearing a candidate say, essentially, "stop hitting me." As the folks at First Read note, this would seem to be something of a concession that the negatives are bothering the candidate, whom a round of new national polls shows running at a deficit that exceeds the margin of error. Some of the attacks have indeed gone rather far over the line (the ad that yokes a man's loss of his job due to Bain Capital to his wife's death was at minimum factually off and at most suggests a pretty ugly thing about the candidate).

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ok, I'm back.

You know...I almost still have no words.

Have you EVER

and I do mean EVER


I mean that.

Keeping Track of Willard's Lies

It's time for Willard's Lies of the week.

Once again, I will point out the site on the blog roll: Romney The Liar: because there are Liars, Damn Liars, and then there's Mitt Romney.

Steve Benen, now at The Maddow Blog:. Here's this week's entry of Chronicling Mitt's mendacity:

The opening:

Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXIX

By Steve Benen -

Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:50 PM EDT.

Joe Klein reflected briefly on Mitt Romney this week, noting, "I can't remember a candidate so brazenly allergic to facts. What a travesty." Kevin Drum offered some related thoughts.

[I]t's common to twist and distort and cherry pick. But Romney has flatly claimed that Obama said something that, in fact, a John McCain aide said. He's snipped out sentences from an Obama speech and spliced the two halves back together so nobody can tell what he did. Then he did it again to another Obama speech. And he unequivocally said that Obama plans to drop work requirements for welfare even though he's done nothing of the sort.

This really is a post-truth campaign. It's different. It's one thing to be nasty. All campaigns are nasty. It's one thing to twist and distort and mock. Every campaign does that too.... But this is different. This is a presidential candidate just baldly making stuff up on the assumption that nobody will ever know.

The same afternoon, in an apparent attempt to push the 2012 campaign even deeper down the rabbit hole, a Romney spokesperson tweeted, "After months of distortions and lies, how can we trust anything the Obama campaign says?" She wasn't kidding.

Of course, if months of distortions and lies causes irreparable harm to a presidential candidate, Romney might as well pack up and go to one of his mansions now. To consider this problem in more detail, consider the 29th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.

1. In a radio interview yesterday, Romney said of the president, "His campaign and the people working with him have focused almost exclusively on personal attacks."

That's both ironic and untrue.

2. In an attack ad launched this week, Romney said Obama "quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements."

This is as obvious a lie as any presidential candidate has ever told.

3. In the same ad, Romney claims, "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check."

Even putting aside the racial subtext, the claim has no foundation in reality whatsoever.

4. In reference to voting rights in Ohio, Romney wrote on Facebook that Obama believes "it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges."

This is ridiculously untrue. Obama wants servicemen and women to have extended early voting privileges, just like every other eligible voter in Ohio

Thursday, August 09, 2012


In France, the new Social President Francois Hollande is proposing a tax of 75% on all income earned over a million euros a year. This is roughly one and a quarter million U.S. dollars. Among France’s rich elite, this has prompted a discussion of whether or not it would be better to flee the country rather than pay the taxes.
In the United States, the very rich do not flee the country they simply send their money abroad, like Mitt Romney, to avoid their taxes. While that is a specific example of Romney’s tone-deafness, the issue of tax avoidance is a big problem in the United States and other countries wishing to reduce deficit and debt.
Read the rest here.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Keeping Track of Willard's Lies

It's time for Willard's Lies of the week.

Once again, I will point out the site on the blog roll: Romney The Liar: because there are Liars, Damn Liars, and then there's Mitt Romney.

Steve Benen, now at The Maddow Blog:. Here's this week's entry of Chronicling Mitt's mendacity:

The Opening:

Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXVIII

By Steve Benen

Fri Aug 3, 2012 2:50 PM EDT.

After Mitt Romney returned from his truly horrid overseas trip this week, one of his campaign aides tried to put a positive spin on the candidate's inexplicable gaffes. The problem, the staffer said, is that Romney "has a tendency to speak his mind and to say what he believes."

The idea is, the Republican presidential hopeful is bound to get in trouble once in a while because he's just such an honest, candid guy. To borrow an '08 frame, Romney's a "straight talker."

The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus could hardly believe the argument, calling it "about as knee-slapping a spin effort as I've ever seen." She added, " Mitt Romney has many strengths and many flaws. Being an unvarnished truth-teller does not fall in either category."

To consider this problem in more detail, consider the 28th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.

1. Romney told reporters this afternoon, "The president has also raised taxes on the middle class, so said the Supreme Court."

He's referring to an individual mandate that would apply to 1% of the population. And if President Obama's health care policy "raised taxes on the middle class," then Mitt Romney raised taxes on the middle class.

2. In a statement responding to the July jobs report, Romney argued, "President Obama doesn't have a plan" to create jobs.

Romney doesn't have to like the American Jobs Act, but he shouldn't get away with brazenly lying about its existence.

3. At a campaign event in Golden, Colorado, yesterday, Romney said "we have fewer jobs that have been created" under Obama.

He didn't specific -- "fewer" than what? - but by Romney's own stated standard, nearly 4.5 million private-sector jobs have been created under Obama.

4. In the same speech, Romney said in reference to the president, "He said he'd hold unemployment below 8 percent."

As Romney surely knows by now, that's simply not true.

5. Romney went on to complain, "[W]e've seen record numbers of foreclosures."

Putting aside how dishonest it is for Romney to blame the housing crash on the president, let's also not forget that Romney intends to deliberately avoid any efforts to curtail foreclosures.


6. Romney also argued, "We are at a 30 year low in the number of business start-ups that have occurred. A 30 year low."

He's still telling this whopper?

Gabby Douglas Wins the All Around Gold Medal in Ladies Gymnastics at the London Olympics

Congratulations to Gabby Douglas - the first Black woman to win the All -Around Individual Gold Medal in Gymnastics at the Olympic Games.

US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas listens to her country's national anthem as she poses on the podium with her gold medal after winning the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the 02 North Greenwich Arena in London on August 2, 2012 during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Douglas won ahead of Russia's gymnasts Victoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina.

--- THOMAS COEX/AFP/GettyImages

Gabrielle Douglas of the U.S. gestures after performing on the asymmetric bars during the women's individual all-around gymnastics final in the North Greenwich Arena at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012.

---REUTERS/Mike Blake

From USA Today:
USA's Gabby Douglas takes gold in women's all-around

By Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY

U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas made history Thursday, winning the most coveted color of all, Olympic gold. Douglas, 16, became the first African-American, the first woman of color, to win the women's all-around title.

Douglas led from the start, finishing with with 62.232 points and topping Russia's Victoria Komova who had 61.973. . Russia's Aliya Mustafina took the bronze. American Aly Raisman finished fourth after a tie-break ruling. She and Mustafina finished with 59.566, but the Russian won the bronze because the tie-breaker combines their top three scores of the day. Her 16.1 on the uneven bars to Raisman's 14.333 made the the difference.

Douglas began the day with a 15.966 on the vault, the highest score of the 24-gymnast field. She also had the highest score on the beam, the third of four rotations.

In her final event, the floor, Douglas began her routine to cheers of "Go Gabby!" As her techno music played, she had the crowd dancing as she turned North Greenwich Arena into Club Gabby. Cheers filled the place as she finished, her smile spread even wider as she fell into a bear hug from her coach, Liang Chow.

Two years ago, for the first time, the USA took the top two spots in women's all-around when Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson won gold and silver, respectively.


Douglas also was hoping to become the first woman of color to win the Olympic all-around gold. She also was hoping to be the African-American female gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal since Dominique Dawes did in '96. "She was one of my inspirations and role models growing up," Douglas said.

A combination of pictures shows Gabrielle Douglas of the U.S. competing in the four different apparatus of the women's individual all-around gymnastics final in the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012. Douglas took the Olympic Games by storm on Thursday when she won the all-around gold medal ahead of Russian Victoria Komova. The pictures show from top left, clockwise: balance beam, vault, floor and asymmetric bars.

---REUTERS/Dylan Martinez, Phil Noble and Mike Blake

Gold medallist Gabrielle Douglas of the U.S. poses with Russia's silver medallist Victoria Komova (R) and bronze medallist Aliya Mustafina after the women's individual all-around gymnastics final in the North Greenwich Arena at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012.

----REUTERS/Mike Blake