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Archive for August, 2012

The Washington, D.C. Bubble

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 18th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

The Washington, D.C. Bubble
Robert Tracinski, RealClearMarkets
A long, brutal recession is prompting a certain degree of soul-searching and even philosophical debate in this election year. One example is a piece of honest introspection from a left-leaning commentator who stumbles upon an important truth while still showing us the cultural and philosophical blinders of the mainstream cultural elites.The honest part is a sort of inadvertent admission of those blinders. In a piece mostly devoted to denouncing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for failing to print more money, Jonathan Chait ends up offering a poignant reflection on the distance between…

After First Week on Trail, Ryan Looks Ahead
Trip Gabriel, NY Times
SPRINGFIELD, Va. — It is hard to imagine Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, sauntering into a hot-dog restaurant and having an elderly, white-haired woman shout, “Hey, kick some tail!”That is the greeting his new running mate, Paul D. Ryan, got in Ohio this week, though the woman’s language was saltier. 

When Putin’s Thugs Came for Me
Garry Kasparov, Wall Street Journal
The only surprise to come out of Friday's guilty verdict in the trial here of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot was how many people acted surprised. Three young women were sentenced to two years in prison for the prank of singing an anti-Putin “prayer” in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Their jailing was the next logical step for Vladimir Putin's steady crackdown on “acts against the social order,” the Kremlin's expansive term for any public display of resistance.In the 100 days since Mr. Putin's re-election as president, severe new laws against…

How Drudge Report’s Lewinsky Scoop Changed Journalism

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 17th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

How Drudge Report’s Lewinsky Scoop Changed Journalism
At the last minute, at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, NEWSWEEK magazine killed a story that was destined to shake official Washington to its foundation A White House intern carried on a sexual affair with the President of the United StatesThese words, posted early Sunday morning, Jan. 18, on the personal Web site of a man named Matt Drudge, began the lurid multimedia frenzy engulfing the United States today.

Muslim Brotherhood Clamps Down on Dissent
Walter Russell Mead, TAI
While Egypt's new president Mohamed Morsi may be willing to strike at Islamist radicals in the Sinai Peninsula, his Muslim Brotherhood comrades aren’t exactly behaving as moderates. New reports suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood may be initiating a campaign of media censorship of unfavorable reports on the government’s abuse of civil liberties. Ahram Online has the story:Egyptian writer and novelist Youseef El-Qaeed told Ahram Online that state-owned newspaper Al-Akhbar refused to publish Sunday his latest article in which he criticises the Muslim Brotherhood. The…

More Presidential Diversity Than You Think
Carl M. Cannon, RCP
When Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his as running mate a week ago, many people — including those who admire the Wisconsin congressman — believed that Republicans had squandered their historic moment. Once again, the face the Grand Old Party is presenting to the electorate is white and male.Since its 1850s founding on an anti-slavery platform, the "party of Lincoln" has never fielded a person with black skin — or brown — as a presidential or vice presidential standard-bearer. Exactly one woman, Sarah Palin, has been nominated for national office by the GOP. No Jew or…

Voodoo Economics Still Isn’t a Plan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 16th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

Voodoo Economics Still Isn’t a Plan
Joe Conason, Truthdig
By naming Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Mitt Romney has endorsed what used to be known as “voodoo economics” — and restored that special brand of Republican superstition to the center of national debate.To take Ryan seriously, as all too many pundits and politicians insist we must, requires everyone to behave as if the plans he produced as House Budget Committee chairman represent a meaningful effort to improve the nation's fiscal future. Sooner or later, however, real analysts will scrutinize the Ryan budget using honest math instead of humbug and…

Ryan Could Lead the GOP For A Generation
Charles Krauthammer, IBD
Vice presidential picks are always judged by their effect on the coming election. They rarely have any.This time could be different. The Democrats' Mediscare barrage is already in full swing. Paul Ryan, it seems, is determined to dispossess grandma, then toss her over a cliff. If the charge is not successfully countered, goodbye Florida.

Who’s Raiding Medicare? Hint: Not Obama
Jonathan Cohn, New Republic
By now, you should know all about the hypocrisy of Romney attacking Obama for cutting Medicare. Paul Ryan put the same cuts in his budget plan. And while Romney has insisted he’d restore them, his budget doesn't have room for that. If he’s serious about his overall spending plan, then he’d surely have to cut Medicare by as much as Obama did. In fact, he’d probably have to cut it by even more. And that's just in the first ten years.Still, the power of this ad is the appeal to senior citizens: Obama is taking your money and giving it somebody…

Why Dems Are Elated at the Ryan Choice

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 15th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

Why Dems Are Elated at the Ryan Choice
E.J. Dionne, The New Republic
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — There is the idea of having Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket, and then there is the reality.If conservative ideologues are over the moon at having their favorite conviction politician as Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, many Republican professionals — particularly those running this fall — are petrified. They freely express private fears that Democrats will succeed in Ryanizing the entire GOP.

Ryan Is Cruel, Not Courageous
Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post
A word of advice: If you’re announcing the most radical and reactionary Republican ticket in half a century, don’t do it on a ship named for the birthplace of progressivism, to Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”But that is precisely the kind of audacity congressman-turned-vice presidential-nominee Paul Ryan brings to the flailing Romney campaign. Courage! Vision! And that hair! (Within minutes of the announcement, @VPRyansCowlick boasted dozens of follicle-fixated followers.)

The Dems’ Growing Medicare Dilemma
Yuval Levin, National Review
In the last few days, the Romney campaign has moved to dramatically change the terrain of Medicare politics, and it looks like the Democrats are beginning to realize how vulnerable they might be. Because of Obamacare, it is the Democrats who now plan to cut current seniors’ benefits (especially those in Medicare Advantage) and access to care (thanks to the IPAB) while still failing to avert the program’s (and the nation’s) fiscal collapse, and because Romney would repeal Obamacare and pursue a version of the Ryan-Wyden premium-support reform it is the Republicans…

Saving Private Romney

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

Saving Private Romney
Roger Cohen, New York Times
No sooner had Mitt Romney and his newly picked running mate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin dubbed themselves "America's Comeback Team" than President Barack Obama tweeted: "Romney-Ryan: The Go Back Team."Bring it on! Saving Private Romney is going to involve an ideological battle "” over the size of government, the extent of Americans' obligations to one another, even the soul of the country "” that is no less than the United States deserves. An election should not be about candidates'…

The Real Problem With Fareed Zakaria
Ira Stoll, Reason
Piling on to the story of Fareed Zakaria runs counter to some of my favorite journalistic rules.Never make too big a deal of a plagiarism story, for one thing — given the number of words that pass through most journalists’ computers nowadays, and the difficulty sometimes of remembering exactly where you learned that fact or phrase, it’s a wonder there aren’t more cases.And kick them while they are up, not when they are down, for another thing. My contrarian instincts are summoning me to defend the now-embattled Mr. Zakaria rather than join in the flurry…

A Big Win Now More Likely for Obama
Jamelle Bouie, American Prospect
In terms of demographics, Mitt Romney has one path to victory: overwhelming support from white voters. At the least, he'll have to outperform every Republican since Ronald Reagan, and win 60 percent of their votes. And this is if minority turnout is at its 2008 levels. If it increases, he needs even more whites to make up the difference.Seniors play a key part in this coalition. The New Republic's Nate Cohn puts it bluntly: “Romney's road to the White House runs through seniors.” John McCain won 51 percent of seniors, beating Obama by four percentage points. At the…

Ryan Brings Much-Needed Focus to Race

Romney-Ryan Economics Would Deepen Recession
Ari Berman, Nation
Much has been written in recent days about Paul Ryan’s plans to privatize Medicare, dismantle Social Security, massively cut taxes for the wealthy and drastically redistribute income from the bottom to the top.Yet perhaps the most disturbing feature of Ryan’s budget is that, in the midst of a prolonged recession, it would cost the US economy millions of jobs. Ryan’s 2011 budget plan proposes what the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calls “the most severe and wrenching budget cuts in US history—two-thirds of which would come from…

Obama, Romney & the Likability Index

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 12th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

Obama, Romney & the Likability Index
Maureen Dowd, New York Times
ISN'T it amazing? Two introverts facing off in the brightest spotlight of all for president.Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are at their most appealing when they are with their families.Unfortunately, we don't often get that vantage point. And beyond those circles of trust, both men can seem as if they are sealed in their own spaceships.The big difference, the one that will probably decide this presidential race, is this: Barack Obama is able to convey an impression of likability to voters. Given how private he is, an enigma even to some who are close to him, it's an incredible…

Does Obama Want to Take Over Other Industries?
Devin Dwyer, ABC
It’s no secret President Obama is proud of the taxpayer-funded government intervention that rescued U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler back in 2009. He regularly takes credit for the companies’ resurgent profitability and hiring as one of his top achievements.Now, Republicans say Obama is suggesting on the campaign trail that he wants to do it again, this time in other sectors of the economy, in order to “get the hand of government driving every industry in America.”

How Romney Decided on Ryan–and Kept the Secret
Alex Altman, Time
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate was the product of months of meticulous planning marked by locked rooms, deceptive flight patterns and surreptitious forays through the Wisconsin woods. Hours after Romney unveiled his new No. 2 Saturday morning at a decommissioned battleship in Norfolk, Va., close aides lifted the curtain on the secretive selection method, as well as the elegant subterfuge that preserved Ryan’s identity until the night before the Janesville native emerged from the decks of the U.S.S. Wisconsin to raucous applause.The process began in…

Suddenly, A Historic Election?
Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest
With Governor Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the vague contours of the presidential race have suddenly become sharper. Up until now, partly because Romney’s image has been so fuzzy, we were looking at a referendum on President Obama rather than a clear-cut contest between political philosophies. Now, given Ryan’s prominence as a budget hawk and entitlement reformer, the public has a choice to make. 

Dixie Goes All Republican

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 11th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

Dixie Goes All Republican
Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard
In 2010, the Alabama legislature went Republican for the first time in 136 years. In 2011, Republicans won the Mississippi statehouse and Louisiana's legislature””for both, a first since Reconstruction. That leaves Arkansas as the Holdout StateBut Arkansas is wobbling. If its legislature falls to Republicans this year””the odds are 50-50 or better””all 11 states of the old Confederacy will be in GOP hands. And the political current that is transforming the South from a Democratic bastion into the bedrock of Republican strength nationally will…

Wrong-Track Romney
Charles Blow, New York Times
Putting too much stock in presidential polls before the party conventions can be tricky. They are meaningful because they offer a snapshot of the state of play at the moment, but they are hardly predictive because many voters don’t truly engage until the election draws nearer.

Obama’s Clean Energy Revolution
Michael Grunwald, Time
Before President Obama took office, the U.S. had 25 gigawatts of wind power, and the government’s “base case” energy forecast expected 40 GW by 2030. Well, it’s not quite 2030 yet, but we’ve already got 50 GW of wind. We’ve also got about 5 GW of solar, which isn’t much but is over six times as much as we had before Obama. Mitt Romney has suggested that wind and solar are “imaginary” sources of energy, but they can now power 15 million homes, and their industries employ more than 300,000 Americans….

Coincidentally, the Fix Is In for Warren

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

Coincidentally, the Fix Is In for Warren
Michael Graham, Boston Herald
In America, the wide-eyed and innocent believe in unicorns and the Tooth Fairy.In Massachusetts, they believe in “coincidence.”For 10 years a Lowell woman had been getting her welfare benefits at the local office without, she claims, being asked to register to vote. She never bothered to do anything about it until now. What a “coincidence.”

D.C. and WV at Extremes of Economic Confidence
Lydia Saad, Gallup
PRINCETON, NJ — The Gallup Economic Confidence Index was negative in all 50 states in the first half of 2012, but positive in the District of Columbia. West Virginia was by far the most negative, at -44. Minnesota edged out South Dakota and Maryland as the least negative state in the U.S., with an index score of -6, while the residents of the District of Columbia were solidly positive, at +29.These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with more than 86,000 national adults, conducted from Jan. 2, 2012, through June 30, 2012. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is a composite…

Don’t Fear Paul Ryan
Rich Lowry, New York Post
If you are a Republican political consultant, you are almost professionally obliged to be appalled at the prospect of Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate.That the hypercautious Romney is seriously considering the House Budget Committee chairman counts as one of the biggest surprises of a campaign almost entirely lacking in them. In political terms, picking Ryan is presumed to be like hanging out with the No. 2 of an al Qaeda affiliate somewhere in the badlands of the Middle East. He’s a high-value target.

Will Romney Travel Down Same Road as Bob Dole?
Steve Kornacki, Salon
Mitt Romney is approaching his party’s convention in far better political shape than the last Republican to challenge a Democratic president. But there is a parallel between the dilemma he now faces and the one Bob Dole confronted before the GOP’s 1996 convention. And as he mulls his running-mate options, it suddenly seems possible that Romney will go down the same road Dole did.Let’s start with what Romney has in common with the ’96 summer Dole: He managed to secure the GOP nomination despite engendering little enthusiasm (and plenty of skepticism)…

Global Warming Is Here to Stay
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Excuse me, folks, but the weather is trying to tell us something. Listen carefully, and you can almost hear a parched, raspy voice whispering, “What part of 'hottest month ever' do you people not understand?”According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July was indeed the hottest month in the contiguous United States since record-keeping began more than a century ago. That distinction was previously held by July 1936, which came at the height of the Dust Bowl calamity that devastated the American heartland.

Recovery Drag: The Age of Cheats

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 8th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

Recovery Drag: The Age of Cheats
Rich Karlgaard, Forbes
One day in the 1980s my father called to share some exciting news. A shot-putter on his track team—Dad was a high school athletic director—was breaking all the state records. “This kid spent the whole winter in the gym, lifting weights. Real dedication. A testament to hard work.” Then Dad paused and added, “He has a terrible temper. The coaches don’t know what to do with him.”“That’s interesting,” I said. “Does he happen to have a lot of acne on his shoulders and…

Romney’s Dishonest “Welfare Queen” Attack
Ed Kilgore, New Republic
"Tough on Kids; Weak on Work." That was Bill Clinton's regular and emphatic judgment on the Republican attitude on welfare reform as he vetoed two congressional GOP bills before cutting the deal that became the landmark 1996 law.This was no mere rhetoric. As a welfare policy wonk in the 1990s I can attest to the fact that Republican interest in welfare reform was focused on everything other than work: punishing illegitimacy, creating absolute time limits for eligibility, devolving responsibility for the indigent to the states, and saving money for the federal…

Can Obama Fight to a Draw on Economy?
Greg Sargent, Washington Post
I continue to believe that the Obama campaign is angling to fight Mitt Romney to a draw on the economy. As I've noted before, Obama advisers would obviously like a win, but they many have to settle for a draw. Then the campaign might be winnable on other fronts: tax fairness, entitlements, vision for the future, personal attributes.Today's New York Times/CBS/Quinnipiac poll of three swing states sheds a bit more light on this. They suggest an interesting dynamic has taken hold. Swing voters continue to say Obama is more in touch with their problems than Romney; and they mostly see…

Mitt to Middle Class: Get Used to Being Poor
James Hoffa, Detroit News
Mitt Romney's “plan for a stronger middle class” reads like a manifesto in the war on workers — for the other side.It isn't even a plan, and it certainly won't strengthen the middle class. It's simply an outline of results that he wishes will happen: lower taxes for the wealthy, smaller government and weaker rights for workers.In other words, Romney wants to redistribute more income to the 1 percent. He would never say it out loud, of course.

The Romney Hood Fairy Tale

WH Press Goes Seven Weeks Without a Question

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2012 11:08 pm by HL

WH Press Goes Seven Weeks Without a Question
Keith Koffler, WH Dossier
President Obama has not taken a serious question from the White House press corps in nearly seven weeks, a remarkable string that points to a campaign-style White House operation that is seeking to insulate the candidate from tough cross examination.The last substantive question Obama took from a White House reporter was during a June 20 press conference following the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Obama allowed only six questions during the event, which was nearly guaranteed to keep him out of political hot water as the focus was on foreign policy.

Federal Spending: Killing Economy With Stimulus
Doug Bandow, Forbes
President Barack Obama’s presidency hangs in the balance after another disappointing employment report.  He continues to advocate new government “stimulus” programs to boost his reelection campaign.  However, Washington is awash in government “stimulus,” without effect.  Only productive private investment will spark economic revival.When both financial and economic crises hit, President George W. Bush backed a $170 billion “stimulus” bill and then massive industry…

Average Is Over, Part II
Thomas Friedman, New York Times
A big mismatch exists today between how U.S. C.E.O.’s look at the world and how many American politicians and parents look at the world — and it may be preventing us from taking our education challenge as seriously as we must.For many politicians, “outsourcing” is a four-letter word because it involves jobs leaving “here” and going “there.” But for many C.E.O.’s, outsourcing is over. In today’s seamlessly connected world, there is no “out” and no “in”…

Romney Needs More Than Money
John Cassidy, The New Yorker
After weeks of negative media, disappointing polls, and sniping from fellow Republicans, Mitt Romney got a bit of good news Monday: he’s still raising more money than his rival. In July, the Romney/G.O.P. campaign raked in $101.3 million, compared to the seventy-five million dollars that Obama and his fellow Democrats garnered. It’s the second month in a row that the Republican campaign has raised more than a hundred million dollars, and these figures don’t even include the vast sums that Karl Rove and his fellow Super PAC wranglers have been rustling up from the…