Archive for September, 2012

Poll reveals deep doubts about economic fairness

The Public Religion Research Institute, which says it was “founded to provide high-quality public opinion survey research focused on religion, values, and American public policy,” just released a new nationwide polling study that puts particular focus on the attitudes of the white working class.

For example, the polling conducted in mid-August reported that white working-class voters gave Mitt Romney (48 percent) a 13-point advantage over Barack Obama (35 percent). However, that Romney advantage was due entirely to his 27-point advantage among white working-class men. Among white working-class women, the two candidates were tied. They were also all but tied among college-educated white voters, with Romney ahead by just two percentage points.

Romney’s lead among working-class white Americans could also be explained by his massive margin here in the South, where he led by 40 points, 62 percent to 22 percent. As the study notes, “neither candidate held a statistically …

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Romney agrees: Tax code too easy on those in his bracket

If actions speak louder than words, then Mitt Romney agrees with Barack Obama that the federal tax code requires too little of rich people like himself.

I don’t know how else to interpret the fact that Romney artificially increased his own taxes in 2011 by taking fewer charitable deductions than he could have. By doing so, Romney’s effective tax rate in 2011 jumped to 14.1 percent, still lower than the rate paid by millions of his fellow Americans.

Absent that step, ABC News reports, “his effective tax rate could have been as low as 10.4 percent.”

And would Romney have taken that step if he wasn’t running for president? Highly unlikely. As the candidate himself told us back in July:

“I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.”

So to review:

Romney paid 14.1 percent of his income …

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If the GOP were a business, Bain would target it for restructuring

Seeing broad-based trouble in the polls, conservative leaders and pundits have already begun conducting “pre-mortum” autopsies of a campaign that still has six weeks to run. Most, like Peggy Noonan and George Will, are taking the easy way out, preferring to focus on the perceived failings of Mitt Romney as a candidate and on the failings of his political team, which they fear is in the process of squandering a historic opportunity.

But Mitt Romney, for all his faults, is not the problem. His campaign team is not the problem. To the contrary, Romney was the only plausible presidential candidate that his party produced this cycle. Herman Cain’s hilarious claims notwithstanding, Republicans would be losing by 15 or 20 percentage points today if they had nominated any other candidate in the field.

The problem is not the salesman. The problem is the product that he is attempting to peddle.

Remember, if they lose again this year, the Republican presidential candidate will have won …

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A little spaced-out travelin’ music, in Neil’s honor

I had this in the queue last week, to mark the memorial service of astronaut Neil Armstrong at the National Cathedral in Washington, but unfortunate events forced a change of plans. I love the artist, Diane Krall (wife of Elvis Costello), as well as the song, and thought it was a small bit of genius to invite her to play and sing at the Armstrong service.

She does a great, wistful interpretation here, perfect for the occasion, and too good to let go by the wayside.

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Mitt Romney and the GOP’s bad case of buyer’s remorse

Mitt Romney’s taking more heat these days from his own side than from Democrats. In Wisconsin, for example, U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson is blaming Romney for his own rather-sudden collapse in the polls.

“The presidential thing is bound to have an impact on every election,” Thompson said. “You know, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, if your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it’s going to reflect on the down ballot.”

As this case of buyers’ remorse deepens, though, disenchanted Republicans might want to remember the field of alternatives to Romney. It’s hard to believe, for example, that Rick Santorum would be doing any better than Romney. And Newt Gingrich? By this point he would have self-destructed several times over, although the entertainment value would have been considerable.


And then of course there’s this guy:

“(Herman) Cain told members of the media after the speech that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s recent “47 …

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Is Georgia’s economic decline cause for action?

NOTE: This column has been updated with new state-level unemployment numbers for August, released at 10 a.m. by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since 2002, median household income in Georgia has fallen by 14.4 percent. While the national unemployment rate has fallen to 8.1 percent, here in Georgia it stands at 9.2 percent, unchanged since January. It is significantly higher than in Alabama, Florida or Tennessee.

In fact, Georgia’s unemployment rate has now exceeded the national average every month for the last five years, a string of 61 months that shows no sign of ending soon.

And while I don’t have numbers to support it, the data cited above and anecdotal evidence suggest that ambitious, educated young Georgians are today being forced to look outside their state to pursue their dreams. We have long been a net importer of young talent to help drive the Georgia economy; there’s good reason to believe that we have now become a net exporter.

So it seems fair to ask: What’s the …

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Ol’ Harry Truman was a dirty socialist? Who knew?


President Harry Truman

A reader, the daughter of a now-deceased reporter for the Atlanta Journal, was digging through some old files of her father’s and came across something that she thought I might find interesting. She was right.

It’s a clip of a story written by her father, Odom Fanning, in 1949, reporting on a debate sponsored by the Gate City Lodge of B’nai Brith. Read the first two paragraphs alone, and you get the flavor of the piece. The parallels with today’s debate on health care are uncanny, missing only a reference to Marxist anti-colonial Kenyans out to destroy this country from within.

The president pushing the program at the time was Harry Truman, the man who had dropped the A-bomb on Japan and who, a year later, would commit U.S. troops to a land war in Asia, trying to block the invasion of South Korea by North Korean and Chinese communists.



– Jay Bookman

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GOP strategists cannot like what they’re seeing

So this is what it looks like on Sept. 20, 2012, 47 days to the election that Newt Gingrich kept calling the most consequential since 1860:

In the presidential race, Mitt Romney remains neck and neck with Barack Obama in both the Rasmussen and Gallup tracking polls, with most of Obama’s post-convention bounce eroding. Other recent polls, however, show Obama building a significant lead. The latest Pew poll puts Obama up eight points; the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll puts him up five.

But Romney’s real problems show up at the state level. In the swing states that he has to have — Ohio, Virginia, Florida — poll after poll shows his situation deteriorating significantly. At a point in the campaign where he has to be shrinking the margin, the margin is growing. Fox puts Romney down seven in Ohio, down five in Florida and down seven in Virginia.

Republican hopes to take the Senate, a goal the party once deemed a near certainty, seem to be collapsing as well. In state after …

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‘Fast and Furious’ report exonerates AG Holder

Yet another major right-wing outrage goes pffffft, as was predicted here almost a year ago.

From Politico:

An internal Justice Department investigation into the Operation Fast and Furious scandal singles out 14 different officials for criticism and possible disciplinary action. But a report out Wednesday found no evidence that the department’s top leaders knew about the gun-walking aspect of the operation when it was underway.

… the investigators found Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t know about the controversial operation until after the scandal emerged in the wake of the discovery of two weapons linked to the operation at the scene of the shooting death of a Border Patrol agent in December 2010.

The investigative report (available here) was harshly critical of the operation itself, as it should have been, noting that “the investigations were seriously flawed in several respects, most significantly in their failure to adequately consider the risk to public safety in …

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Romney, Obama and the politics of redistribution

The more I think about Mitt Romney telling his fellow 1 percenters that 47 percent of their fellow Americans are in effect leeches content to live off the work of others, the more bothered I am by it. Most of those 47 percent are hard-working people struggling to raise families and build a life under conditions that Romney has never experienced, and the lack of empathy it reveals is disturbing.

His running mate, Paul Ryan, said yesterday that Romney had been “obviously inarticulate” in those statements, but as anybody who has seen the video can attest, quite the opposite is true. In expressing those views, Romney was far more natural and articulate than in almost any of his public appearances to date.

Romney is now trying to reverse the tables, citing a 1998 audiotape featuring Barack Obama.

“There’s a tape that came out today where the president’s saying he likes redistribution,” Romney said on Fox News. “I disagree. I think a society based upon a government-centered nation …

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