Archive for September, 2012

Fed Reserve condemned for daring to seek job growth

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke today announced another round of quantitative easing, the technical term for injecting more capital into the economy to lower interest rates and encourage growth.

The decision was widely expected, and before it was announced Republican members of Congress were already condemning it as a politically motivated effort to help the re-election bid of Barack Obama.

As The Hill reports:

“It really is interesting that it is happening right now before an election,” said Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). “It is going to sow some growth in the economy, and the Obama administration is going to claim credit.”

“I am shocked, just shocked, that politics are going on in this city!” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) said sarcastically.

“They are the ones who always say they want to remain independent. So they should consider, just how independent are they when they come out, only 50 days before the election, with this?” said Rep. Scott …

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On foreign policy, Romney lacks discipline, professionalism

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Numerous detailed, well-documented timelines of recent events in Egypt and Libya have now been published (see here and here). All of them tell the same story:

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo criticizing those who provoke religious hatred was released four to five hours before crowds began gathering outside the embassy, roughly seven hours before the embassy walls were breached and 10 hours before the attacks in Libya that claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In other words, when Mitt Romney claimed that it is “disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” he was being flagrantly irresponsible and flat-out wrong. It would be wrong to accuse any American of sympathizing with those who had just killed a U.S. ambassador without strong evidence to support it; to accuse the commander in chief of such …

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Legislative attitudes toward MARTA tell us a lot

If you want to explore the dysfunctions of transportation policy in Georgia, here’s a great place to start:

The office of transportation planning director is the most important transportation job in Georgia, and the Legislature has an important voice in deciding who fills that post. The governor makes the appointment, but the House and Senate transportation committees both have a direct statutory duty to confirm or reject the governor’s choice.

So when Gov. Nathan Deal decided to fill the post with Toby Carr, a former director of the state Republican Party who has no training or professional experience in transportation planning, how did legislators react?

In the Senate they rubber-stamped Deal’s choice unanimously, with no serious questions raised; a House transportation subcommittee later did the same. Apparently, the idea of appointing a political functionary to the state’s most important professional transportation post bothers nobody. Democrats as well as …

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Romney claims Obama sympathizes with attack on U.S.

UPDATE 10:20: In a press conference, Romney just claimed that “it is never too early to condemn” attacks on U.S. personnel. Apparently, “never too early” means condemning the attacks before they have even occurred. He also made it pretty clear that no apology for his statements will be forthcoming.

He is simply wrong on this. Wrong factually, wrong politically, wrong as a matter of simple decency. He has bungled this badly, and is doubling down on the bungle.

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With four American diplomats dead in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the United States has in effect come under attack overseas. The response of the Mitt Romney campaign has been to accuse the Obama administration of sympathizing with the attackers.

That charge is grotesque. It is also factually incorrect. It can be made correct only by going back in time and rearranging events to suit the Romney narrative, and that is not going to happen. Let’s take a look at how the tragic events in …

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U.S. ambassador to Libya, 3 others, killed in mob attack

From Voice of America:

J. Christopher Stevens

J. Christopher Stevens

Libyan officials say the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed after a mob stormed the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi late Tuesday.

The deaths occurred when demonstrators angered over an amateur American-made film that insults Islam’s Prophet Muhammad shot at and set fire to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, a career U.S. foreign service officer and one of the most experienced U.S. envoys in the region, had been in the country for less than four months after taking up his post in the capital, Tripoli, in May.

Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said the ambassador was killed “along with three other officials,” confirming that Stevens was at the consulate when it was attacked.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had confirmed that only a single U.S. official was killed in the Benghazi attack, which she condemned “in the strongest …

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Truth is a sword best honed by friction

Just when you think you’ve seen it all ….

At the conservative Redstate.com, they’re seriously proposing to institute an automatic ban of any commenter who links to or even quotes a fact-check operation such as Politifact or Factcheck. In fact, it looks as though that’s about to become policy:

“As Politifact, and the whole menagerie of “fact checking” organizations have demonstrated themselves to be slavishly attached to the Administration’s nether regions I will consider quoting any of them, in a non-ironic way, as being evidence of arguing in bad faith and worthy of a ban.”

Now, the site operators have every legal right to set whatever commenting standards they wish. I just find that pretty remarkable. The conservative echo chamber in which you hear only those things that confirm your prior belief becomes more and more soundproof, impervious to outside input. But what they don’t seem to appreciate is that rhetoric honed to appeal only to those who already think as you …

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Economic confidence jumps … because of Dem convention?

Today’s Gallup tracking poll reports that Barack Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney has grown slightly, from five to six percentage points. Obama’s job approval is also up by six percentage points from a week ago.

But that’s not the most interesting tidbit from Gallup today.

This is:

“PRINCETON, NJ — The U.S. Gallup Economic Confidence Index surged to -18 for the week ending Sept. 9, up 11 points from -29 the prior week. This puts the index near the high point for the year after 2 ½ months when, weighed down by continued high unemployment, the index had languished well below -20.”

Gallup Economic Confidence Index -- Weekly Averages, 2012

According to Gallup, that 11-point jump represents the biggest one-week jump in the more than four years that the question has been asked. The previous biggest jump came after the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

So what accounts for this sudden leap of optimism?

“It appears that the spark for the dramatic rise in Americans’ economic confidence last week was the Democratic …

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More proof that Obama is ‘most divisive president evah!’

Because, you see, Obama made this evil thing happen…

… which of course led to this, posted on the Yelp site of Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Fla., owned by the bear-hugger above, Scott Van Duzer:

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So clearly, if Obama would quit trying to divide the American people, peace and harmony would spread across the land, and all would be healed.

– Jay Bookman

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Murdoch to Romney: Show some independence

Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter this morning to offer Mitt Romney some unsolicited political advice:

@rupertmurdoch Retrospect; Conventions mixed but net big win for democrats. Michelle O and Clinton the big stars. Bill brilliant, Hillary away until 016.

@rupertmurdoch Election: Romney must draw clear line: offer specific path to restore American dream versus ugly Obama class war with jobs disappearing.

‏@rupertmurdoch Election: To win Romney must open big tent to sympathetic families. Stop fearing far right which has nowhere else to go. Otherwise no hope

The Fox News mogul joins a chorus of conservative voices expressing frustration with Romney’s stubborn refusal to provide details about any number of proposed policies. Every candidate likes to keep things as vague as possible, but as a reading of the Romney campaign website confirms, the man from Massachusetts takes meaningless blather to a ‘hole ‘nother level.

His Afghanistan policy, like his Iraq policy and Syria …

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Post-convention bump extends to Democrats in general

A fresh poll of likely voters from CNN/ORC confirms what the tracking polls have been telling us, reporting a 52-46 point advantage for Barack Obama, up from a 48-48 percent tie a week earlier.

However, the poll also suggests that Obama isn’t the sole beneficiary of that bump, a fact that could have significant implications down ballot:

DEMS.

And here are the comparable numbers for the Republicans:

REPS.

The demographic breakouts are also telling. Among likely voters 50 and younger, an impressive 60 percent have a favorable view of Democrats. Only 35 percent of those 50 and younger have a favorable view of Republicans. Just 15 percent of non-white voters view Republicans favorably, while 85 percent view Democrats that way.

In addition, the South is the only region in the country in which Republicans (51 percent favorable) are viewed more favorably than Democrats (45 percent). So if you’re 50 or older, white and live in Georgia, it’s tempting to look at the numbers above and dismiss them …

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