Archive for August, 2012

Let’s raise a glass to the hard-working people! (You and me)

As we slide into the Labor Day weekend, I cannot think of a more appropriate way to mark the holiday than to enlist some exceedingly rich people — all of them self-made capitalists of course — to sing the praises of the hard-working people, the lowly of birth, the rag-tagged people, the salt of the earth.


– Jay Bookman

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Gov. Deal chooses party loyalty over Ga. citizenry

Gov. Nathan Deal faced a choice. He could choose to be loyal to his party’s political ideology, or he could choose to be loyal to some 650,000 of his fellow Georgians in need of health insurance.

He has chosen loyalty to party, declining to let Georgia participate in the expansion of Medicaid coverage offered through Obamacare. The result will be unnecessary illness, unnecessary pain and yes, unnecessary death. That may sound harsh, but it is also stark reality: When you deny health -care coverage to hundreds of thousands of people, as Deal has decided to do, those outcomes are inevitable.

There will be other consequences as well. The decision blocks an influx of billions and billions of federal health -care dollars — an estimated $14.5 billion between 2014 and 2019 alone — that would provoke significant job growth. Georgia taxpayers will be paying to fund that expanded coverage in other states, most of which will take it eagerly, but their governor has decided that …

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Romney did just fine, but a game-changer? No


Mitt Romney did a competent job of presenting himself as a competent candidate Thursday night. He humanized himself, presenting a side of himself that most Americans had not seen, and he competently delivered the standard conservative critique of the perceived shortcomings of Barack Obama in largely positive, unthreatening tones.

He also didn’t keep the fact-checkers busy deep into the night, as his running mate Paul Ryan had the evening before, largely because his speech lacked details or specifics. That’s fine; he and his speechwriters had clearly decided to hit on big themes and to stress the candidate’s softer, more humane side, and again, they succeeded in doing so. But I’m doubtful that the American people came away wowed by the performance or by Romney himself.

The talk of the night, instead, focused on Clint Eastwood and his empty chair. They were clearly the weirdest tandem of the evening, which is saying something when Newt and Callista are also on the bill.

– …

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The big mystery of the 2012 GOP convention


Can anybody identify that rectangular item in the upper left-hand corner of this AP photo, taken during Paul Ryan’s speech last night to the Republican National Convention?

The vice-presidential nominee seemed to be glancing at it quite a bit last night, almost as if he was reading from it. Anybody got any ideas? In fact, I believe that every single speaker at the convention with one exception — Condi Rice — has been staring at that thing during their speeches. It’s almost as if they needed somebody to tell them what to say.

I’m going to be watching Mitt Romney closely tonight, just to see if he too starts staring at that … whatever it is. Weird, huh?

– Jay Bookman

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From Lindsey Graham, startling honesty on race and politics


Lindsey Graham does the math, and doesn’t like what he sees:

“The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

You see an admission like that, and the Romney welfare ad springs immediately to mind. You know, the one that goes like this?

“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 and “welfare to work” goes back to being plain old welfare.”

The ad is blatantly false, but it is nonetheless effective at “generating angry white guys,” to borrow Graham’s phrase. But as Graham also notes, the strategy behind it is not going to work much longer. Sheer math will not allow it. And every vote that such a strategy purchases in this election cycle will cost the Republicans dearly in every election for the next generation. With such ads, they are in effect eating their seed corn.

You can already see the …

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For Paul Ryan and the GOP, a moment to shine

Paul Ryan delivered a damn good speech last night.

You could argue with and dispute many of the points that he made, but that’s the thing about a speech: You don’t get to argue with it while it’s being delivered. A speech of that sort creates a protected reality, giving the speaker an unchallenged, extended moment in which to define himself, his party and his world. Ryan used that moment well.


(The best example of that phenomenon may have been Ryan’s predecessor, Sarah Palin, who in the same speech four years earlier created an attractive image of herself and her world that crumbled the moment she left the stage.)

Ryan, a creature of Washington for all of his adult life, knows his business and his role. As the enthusiastic response of his fellow Republicans demonstrated, last night he made their world his world, succeeding in linking speaker and audience in common outlook and purpose. The larger, more difficult question is whether he made a similar connection with millions …

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Mitt Romney talks tall, walks small

From The Hill:

On the eve of the biggest day in his political career, Mitt Romney previewed GOP convention speeches focused on the Republican plans for defense and foreign policy.

Romney pledged to return “confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, [and] resolve in our might” to the American military in a Wednesday address to the American Legion in Indianapolis.

Confidence, clarity and resolve … that all sounds good. Mitt’s right: We should have more of that stuff. But what exactly does it mean?

Last year, for example, Romney criticized President Obama for not intervening aggressively to help the rebels in Libya. I suppose you could call that acting with confidence, clarity and resolve. The problem is, Romney then reversed course, later attacking Obama because he had, well, intervened aggressively in Libya.

In fact, after Obama pledged to remove Muammar Gaddafi from power, Romney warned ominously that it would lead to “massive strategic failure.” Only after the dictator …

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Atlanta’s Kasim Reed plays well on national scene

I didn’t see this at the time — Aug. 19 — because I haven’t watched the Sunday news shows in decades. But on Meet the Press, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed appeared with Ted Cruz, the Tea Party favorite who is now the GOP nominee for Senate in Texas, and conservative columnist Peggy Noonan.

Here’s what happened:

(h/t Peach Pundit)

UPDATE: For those unable to view the video, here’s a transcript of the two sections included above. The entire transcript is available here.

MR. REED: I want to push back on this notion of Paul Ryan as a serious man. He b– he voted for every budget b– busting measure under President Bush. He voted for TARP. He asked for money under the American Recovery and Investment Act. He voted for both wars. He put Medicare on a credit card, and then all of a sudden in last 24 months, he’s developing the stature as a serious guy, so I want to push back on that…

GREGORY: Well, so why…

MR. REED: …and then in terms of this week– and then in terms of this …

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GOP stoops to Orwellian rewriting of history

Remember when Mitt Romney told America that he just didn’t give a rip about poor people?

He did, you know. He said it word for word, on Feb. 1, 2012, and I quote:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

Of course, that’s not what Romney meant, and everyone knew that’s not what he meant. Taken in context, he meant that the safety net for the very poor remains intact, and that the real challenges lay in solving the problems of the middle class. So after a brief kerfuffle in which a few people tried irresponsibly to make his statement into something it clearly wasn’t, everybody moved on.

Contrast that to what the Republicans are doing with Obama’s “You didn’t build that” statement. Like Romney, he said it word for word: “You didn’t build that.” And just like Romney, that is not what he meant and everyone knows that’s not what he meant.

Taken in context, he meant that no person or business succeeds alone. For those who care about such things, here are his actual …

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Why Congress has become so dysfunctional, discredited

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
— Mark Twain

Voters have rarely held Congress in high regard. In fact, over the 38 years in which Gallup has asked the question, only 34 percent of Americans typically say they approve of its performance. These days, however, public disgust has never been deeper. In its most recent poll, Gallup found that just 10 percent of Americans approve of how Congress is operating.

Personally, I don’t know what that 10 percent is thinking, because Congress is by any measure a broken institution. While never a paragon of efficiency, in recent years it has lost the ability to function at almost any level. It produces nothing, it solves nothing, it does nothing. It serves solely as a stage upon which political actors strut and prance.

The question of why has many answers, most of them traceable back to the very beginning, to the days in which the Founding Fathers were designing the …

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