Archive for August, 2012

As GOP convention kicks off, Obama still favorite

With the 2012 Republican Convention about to open its doors, here’s how the race shapes up at the moment, based on RealClearPolitics’ poll average:

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In other words, too close to call. The investors at Intrade still make Obama the favorite, with 55.8 percent of dollars invested favoring the incumbent and 43.7 percent predicting a Romney victory. At fivethirtyeight.com, Nate Silver predicts a 2.4 percentage point margin for Obama come Nov. 6, with a 69.3 percent chance of an Obama re-election.

And according to Gallup, 58 percent of Americans believe Obama will be re-elected, compared to 36 percent who predict a Romney victory. Among Democrats, 86 percent predict victory for Obama, while Republicans are less confident in their champion, with just 65 percent predicting that it will be Romney raising his hand to take the oath of office in January.

Still a long way to go, including debates. But at this point Obama is showing strength, especially considering how poorly he should be …

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I admit, I’m surprised: Romney campaign stirs the racial pot

I wish I didn’t have to write this, but apparently I do:

In his ambition to become president, Mitt Romney is trotting out the race card, calling upon and reinforcing old resentments and racial stereotypes to generate votes and support.

I had resisted that notion for months, despite evidence otherwise. I had given Romney a lot more credit than that, both as a person of decent instincts and as a leader. I honestly did not think that he would stoop to the likes of a Newt Gingrich, for example, with his description of Obama as “the food-stamp president” pursuing “Kenyan” values.

In addition, I think conservatives often have a valid point about the “race card” being played too quickly, based on too little evidence. I consider it a serious accusation that should only be made reluctantly, and only with sufficient proof to make it stick.

Unfortunately, the accumulating evidence against Romney has grown too powerful to deny.

Some of you perhaps came to this conclusion a while ago. …

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U.S. troops at Ft. Stewart plotted to kill Obama?

Boy, I’d sure like to know more about this, and I suspect that we will in time. But for the moment, this is all we know, via AP:

“LUDOWICI, Ga. — Prosecutors say a murder case against four soldiers in Georgia has revealed they formed an anarchist militia within the U.S. military with plans to overthrow the federal government.

One of the accused troops, Pfc. Michael Burnett, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter and gang charges in the December slayings of former soldier Michael Roark and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Tiffany York.

Burnett told a Long County judge that Roark, who had just left the Army, knew of the militia group’s plans and was killed because he was “a loose end.”

Prosecutor Isabel Pauley says the group bought $87,000 worth of guns and bomb-making materials and plotted to take over Fort Stewart, bomb targets in nearby Savannah and Washington state, as well as assassinate the president.”

Sometimes these things get blown out of proportion, but $87,000 in weaponry …

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Romney again endorses gov’t-backed health care for all

Earlier this month, the conservative base of the Republican Party went nuts, demanding the head of Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul. Why?

Because in discussing the fate of steelworkers laid off when Bain Capital closed their Missouri plant, Saul had had the audacity to note:

“To that point, you know, if people had been in Massachusetts under Governor Romney’s health care plan, they would have had health care. There are a lot of people losing their jobs and their health care in President Obama’s economy.”

Rush Limbaugh erupted. Erick Erickson suggested that Saul’s statement might be the moment in which Romney lost the campaign and the trust of conservatives. “Consider the scab picked, the wound opened, and the distrust trickling out again,” he wrote.

And Ann Coulter went on the Hannity show to fume:

“Anyone who donates to Mitt Romney — and I mean the big donors — ought to call Mitt Romney and say if Andrea Saul isn’t fired and off the campaign tomorrow, they are not giving …

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Neil Armstrong, who took a giant leap for mankind

I was 12 years old at the time. As I recall it, Dad was away on TDY (temporary duty) in the Air Force, and my younger brother and sister were tucked in bed asleep. So Mom and I sat together in our darkened living room, watching on our little black-and-white television while Neil Armstrong made history.

Afterward, we went outside and looked up at the moon and marveled that human beings at that very moment were walking around up there. In a very strange time in our nation’s history, replete with assassinations and riots and turmoil, it served as a reminder that almost unimaginable feats could still be accomplished.

It was a moment that, sadly, cannot be explained to those who were not there to experience it, in large part because we cannot replicate the genuine sense of awe and wonder felt worldwide.

Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong.

– Jay Bookman

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Romney, Bain dancing at outer boundaries of tax law

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“Big business is doing fine in many places – they get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses.”
– Mitt Romney

And as we’re confirming through leaked internal Bain documents, Romney’s statement this week to a group of wealthy donors amounts to expert testimony. When it comes to “find(ing) ways to get through the tax code, sav(ing) money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world,” such as Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Caymans, Romney knows his stuff.

Those leaked documents also have cast light on a highly controversial and perhaps illegal strategy used by Bain Capital to slash the tax burden of Romney and its other partners.

It works like this:

Private equity partners such as Romney are traditionally paid a fee of 2 percent of the …

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Sometimes, the apple doesn’t fall far from tree

Here’s a great rollicking blues number to breeze you into the weekend, from a group calling itself “Fistful of Mercy.” The song is “Father’s Son,” which takes on a little bit more significance if you listen closely to the vocals of the first lead singer in the group.

The voice will sound very familiar, and a glance at his equally familiar face will tell you why. It’s Dhani Harrison, son of George, playing with Joseph Arthur and the eclectic Ben Harper. “Fistful of Mercy” has been compared to the older Harrison’s work with “The Traveling Wilburys,” and there’s something about “Father’s Son” — the beat, the orchestration, the harmonies — that do sound very much like George’s work with that “supergroup” and his work in general.

Take a listen.


– Jay Bookman

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Huckabee exposes hypocrisy of GOP leaders on abortion

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Mike Huckabee, perhaps the most prominent leader of the GOP’s evangelical wing, has come out strongly in defense of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Here’s a portion of the email that Huckabee sent out to his followers:

The Party’s leaders have for reasons that aren’t rational, left (Akin) behind on the political battlefield, wounded and bleeding, a casualty of his self-inflicted, but not intentional wound. In a Party that supposedly stands for life, it was tragic to see the carefully orchestrated and systematic attack on a fellow Republican. Not for a moral failure or corruption or a criminal act, but for a misstatement which he contritely and utterly repudiated.

I was shocked by GOP leaders and elected officials who rushed so quickly to end the political life of a candidate over a mistaken comment in an interview. This was a serious mistake, but it was blown out of proportion not by the left, but by Akin’s own Republican Party. Is this …

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What a shrinking middle class portends for our future

It’s easy to get fixated on the day-to-day give-and-take of politics and lose sight of the underlying realities that drive a campaign. So let’s take a step or two back and try to refocus on the big picture, shall we?

The dominant reality driving the campaign of 2012 — and probably 2016 and 2020 as well — is this, as laid out in a new Pew report on the American middle class:

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As the 2012 presidential candidates prepare their closing arguments to America’s middle class, they are courting a group that has endured a lost decade for economic well-being. Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some — but by no means all — of its characteristic faith in the future….

Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62% say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54% say the same …

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Two quick peeks at the lighter side of politics

If you’ve ever tried to read an Ayn Rand novel — and Michael Kinsley clearly has — you’ll get a kick out of Kinsley’s piece in which he re-imagines Paul Ryan as the central figure in one of Rand’s “masterpieces”.

An introductory snippet:

“(Ryan) flexed his muscles, the result of hours spent in the House gymnasium. Look at these pathetic specimens, he thought. Not one of them could do a one-armed push-up if his life depended on it. Not one was worthy of so much as cosponsoring one of Ryan’s bills. Every single one of them had been elected by appealing to the average citizen in his (or her — Ryan snorted at the thought) district. It occurred to him, and not for the first time, that of all the men and women in this room, only he, Paul Ryan, had been selected for his current office by the president himself.

The president. Ryan’s mind wandered as he thought about the only man who stood between him and absolute power. Mitt Romney was a weakling, Ryan thought — and not for the first …

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