Posts Tagged Greg Sargent
Hey, liberals: Ignore the NRA for now
Posted by Jonathan Bernstein on December 21, 2012
Greg Sargent really nailed it today with respect to today’s NRA press statement:
Keep in mind that all of this is deliberately designed to serve an overarching strategic goal — distraction. The NRA absolutely must keep the focus off of the problem of easy gun availability, and what can be done about it, for as long as possible.
The media narrative the NRA hopes for out of this presser is twofold: NRA criticizes media for maligning gun owners; and NRA calls for armed security guards in schools. This is standard obfuscation from the NRA, which always tries to distract from the discussion about the need for reform by characterizing the push for it as driven by elite cultural disdain for gun culture and ordinary gun owners. And focusing only on schools is about diverting the conversation away from the broader epidemic of gun violence.
That’s exactly right. And the best response from those who want new restrictions on guns isn’t to fight back against the NRA “proposal” for cops in schools; it’s to ignore it, and keep the focus on developing serious legislation.
The other thing to remember about the NRA and its president, Wayne LaPierre, is that (as David S. Bernstein has pointed out) they’re not only advocates for the gun industry but also competitors in the conservative marketplace. In that respect, saying outrageous things and getting a reaction from liberals helps them generate revenue, whether or not it helps their legislative strategy. It’s not exactly the case that liberals could make the NRA a fringe group by treating it as one, but it’s probably true that treating it as a major factor helps make it more so.
Besides that: If any bill is going to pass, it’s going to need House Republicans. It’s possible, if unlikely, that enough constituent pressure could push them to choose modest new measures over not passing that legislation.But if the Republicans are forced to choose between liberal Democrats and the NRA, they’re going to choose the NRA, no matter what the public opinion polls say.
Of course, those who favor new measures against guns and gun violence will have to engage other arguments at times. But Greg’s right — it’s one thing to engage serious arguments and another to fall for bait just meant to distract everyone. The best strategy for liberals — and anyone else who wants to get something signed into law — is to just ignore the NRA for now.
- Joe Scarborough, Newtown and the NRA (americantitanic.wordpress.com)
- New York City’s Tabloids Take On The NRA (buzzfeed.com)
- David Gregory Shocked By NRA’s LaPierre: You Fly In The Face Of Common Sense (thinkprogress.org)
- NRA finds few friends on Hill (politico.com)
- NRA doubles down: New gun laws won’t work (edition.cnn.com)
- NRA makes school guns call on American television (itv.com)
- Video: Gun control advocate and NRA member speaks out on defiant NRA (cbsnews.com)
- Amid calls for new restrictions on guns, NRA stands firm (kansascity.com)
- NRA’s statement on the Newtown shootings: the conservative reaction (guardian.co.uk)
- Michelle Malkin Responds to Left-Wing Gun Backlash: ‘NRA Has Been Demonized by Crazed, Anti-Gun, Liberal Media’ (foxnewsinsider.com)
Romney’s secret tithe
By Rachel Manteuffel
Hello gang! It’s mysterious-unknowable-depths week here at PostScript, where we take a break from all-uterus-all-the-time with slight diversions into secret subterranean government labyrinths and the special message-a-trois among Church, State and Mitt Romney. Our mothers warned us to stay out of dark, uncharted passageways, but here we are, hoping our needlessly dramatic Transylvanian peasant-style torches don’t burn up all the oxygen and that we’ll see daylight again before we die.
So, per Greg Sargent’s Plum Line column, Romney has come up with a whole new reason nobody gets to see his tax returns: It would violate his religious privacy, since he is known to tithe 10 percent of his pre-tax earnings to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anyone finding that out that he tithes 10 percent of his income would be very bad.
It’s as if Romney thinks he gets partial credit for telling us 32 separate reasons why we don’t get to see his homework. A new one every few weeks! And since his previous reason not to show us the tax returns was that we would all make fun of him, it’s easy to see how this new strategy will . . . .
Well anyway, there’s a strategy, and right now it is to make people who want to see his tax returns look like Saul persecuting the early Christians and/or the federal government persecuting the early Mormons.
Fiona5 doesn’t really think that the new reason changes anything:
Doesn’t he realize that coming up with a sleazier and dumber excuse every day only makes him look skeevier and like he has something BIG to hide?
Sold2u agrees that this changes nothing but for the opposite reason:
The only people who are getting all bent out of shape over Romney’s taxes would never vote for him in the first place. They are just looking for dirt.
So why should he care if he ticks them off? He doesn’t owe them a thing.
And Aaronweiner thinks the stream of reasonings makes Romney look worse, since he seems to be looking for justifications for a decision he’s already made for his own reasons he won’t tell us:
If this was the actual reason for him not releasing his tax returns, it would have been the reason he came up with first. He’s just looking for a reason we’ll buy.
shrink2 sees a parallel in Barack Obama’s religious history uncovered in 2008:
Everyone read everything they could on Reverend [Jeremiah] Wright and Obama’s church. Ultimately Obama delivered his ‘racism speech’ as a result of people learning about his church.
Everyone should learn as much as possible about Romney and his. Maybe Romney will give a “Mormons and Their Sacred Tax Secrets” speech.
bernielatham thinks that this strategy is not so much about actually hiding his taxes, which Romney was doing fine with before, but strengthening his religious-freedom cred among possibly mistrustful mainline Christians:
I’d argue that another element here is an attempt to make a bridge between himself (and faith) and the evangelical community with a meme of shared threat to religious liberty — the demands for him to release tax returns being, effectively, an incursion into and attack on religion.
And yellojkt points out that releasing tithe information would actually be more revealing than straight tax information. Because a tithe is exactly 10 percent of an otherwise mysterious and elusive number:
Mitt does have one point. Knowing the amount of his tithe is a far more accurate measure of his true annual income than what he reports to the IRS. God doesn’t allow for any deductions and has better accountants.
PostScript herself has attempted to tithe before and found it extremely onerous. Even with wiggling she can get to only about 3 percent for church and charity combined, so she is very impressed by Romney here. She will cut him exactly 10 days’ worth of slack but demands to see a new reason she can’t see Romney’s taxes by the end of the month.
- Romney: My Mormon tithing should be private (cbsnews.com)
- Romney says tithing makes him hesitant to release tax returns (uk.reuters.com)
- Romney: Tithing makes me reluctant to reveal taxes (abc4.com)
- Romney cites church tithing as a reason not to release tax returns (fox13now.com)
- Mitt Romney: I can’t, I’m Mormon! – Salon.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Ann Romney retroactively rebuts Mitt’s newest excuse for tax return secrecy (dailykos.com)
- Romney Cites Desire for Privacy on Mormon Church Tithing (news.firedoglake.com)
- Romney says tax returns would publicize private Mormon tithing – Articles (religionnews.com)
- Romney claims Mormon faith dictates tax return secrecy (rawstory.com)
- Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread | Mitt Romney Tithes & Therefore Doesn’t Want To Release His Tax Returns (3chicspolitico.com)
Passing and punting on the trail
Mitt Romney, returning to New Hampshire on Monday with his new running mate, lasted only about 30 seconds before stumbling right into the issue that has dogged his candidacy like no other.
“Gosh, I feel like I’m almost a New Hampshire resident,” the winner of the state’s Republican primary told the crowd at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. “It would save me some tax dollars, I think.”
D’oh! Does Mr. Thirteen Percent really want to remind everybody how determined he is to keep his tax returns private?
Maybe so. The Republican standard-bearer seems to take a stubborn pride in his refusal to cough up details. My colleague Greg Sargent argues that Romney seems to be running a “just trust me” campaign that extends beyond 1040s and into the policy realm. It’s an intriguing observation, and so I kept an ear out for specifics as I listened to Romney and Paul Ryan hold their joint town hall meeting at Saint Anselm. Sure enough, they spoke and fielded questions for about an hour but deftly avoided detail.
“I’m going to do five things when I’m in Washington,” Romney announced. This was a promising start.
“Number one, we’re going to take advantage of our energy resources,” he offered. Excellent! Drilling? Pipelines? Nuclear? Romney did not say: Just trust him.
“Number two, I’m going to make sure that our schools are second to none,” Romney said. “We need our kids to have the skills to succeed. That’s number two,” he went on. Thus ended the education-policy segment of the program.
“Number three, I want trade that works for America,” Romney said. The closest he got to specifics here was to say he would “crack down on cheaters like China when they play on an unfair basis.”
“Go, Mitt!” somebody shouted.
Mitt did go — right to No. 4, to “show America that this team can put America on track to a balanced budget and stop the deficit spending.”
“Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!” the audience chanted.
He moved on to No. 5: reducing regulations. And here he had a specific, sort of: “I want to make sure that we get Obamacare out of the way and replace it with something which will help encourage job growth in this country.”
Replace it with . . . something?
Of course, Romney is hardly the first presidential candidate to avoid specific commitments and promises. His opponent, President Obama, was caught on a hot mike telling Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev to wait until after the election for a new Russia policy.
The difference with Obama, though, is he has already established a track record in office. By declining to put meat on the bones of his policy proposals, Romney wouldn’t have any mandate from the voters if he does defeat Obama. In policy speeches, he’s somewhat more specific than he is at typical campaign stops, but even then there’s nothing resembling a comprehensive plan for budget balancing, job creation or tax reform.
Romney and Ryan, in rolled-up sleeves and open collars, took the stage at Saint Anselm to the orchestral tune “Tryouts,” from the college-football film “Rudy.” This was appropriate, because the two men were about to pass and punt on issue after issue.
Ryan, the policy wonk of the pair, teased the crowd with the prospect of specific proposals (“We’re going to win this debate about Medicare!”) but then floated the idea of letting younger Americans, when they retire, “have a choice of guaranteed coverage options, including traditional Medicare.” That is a specific policy — but it hasn’t consistently been Ryan’s; he got the House last year to approve his plan phasing out traditional Medicare.
Still, that was apparently enough detail for one day. “I won’t go into all the things that we’re proposing to do to get jobs back, because I want to leave something for Mitt to talk about,” Ryan said. “The point is, we’re offering you solutions.”
Just trust them.
In fact, Romney didn’t furnish the promised proposals, and his foreign policy didn’t get much more elaborate than “American strength is critical.”
The audience members were friendly, but they wanted more details. His plan to reduce the debt?
“We want to grow this economy and cut federal spending.”
His tax plan? “I will not raise taxes on the American people.”
His Afghanistan plan? “Bring our men and women home, and do so in a way consistent with our mission.”
His plan to reduce student costs? “Make sure that when you graduate, you can get a job.”
Just trust him.
- Dana Milbank: Ruthlessness wins elections (goerie.com)
- Dana Milbank: ‘NOM Is Right’ on SPLC (nationalreview.com)
- Dana Milbank: Ugly presidential campaign isn’t the worst ever seen (sacbee.com)
- Paul Ryan on soapbox at Iowa State Fair – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Dana Milbank swings and misses at Andy McCarthy (powerlineblog.com)
- Milbank’s McCarthy Slur to Protect Obama (realclearpolitics.com)
- Obama’s Campaign a Roiling Cauldron of Conflict (newser.com)
- Paul Ryan: The P90x VP – PostPartisan – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Greg Sargent Explains Why Nobody Has Any Business Supporting Ryan-Romney (delong.typepad.com)
- Challenges to Tony Perkins and the WaPo’s Dana Milbank Column on FRC’s ‘hate group’ Label (pamshouseblend.firedoglake.com)
Romney Camp In Disarray On Immigration
By Matt Taylor
June 22, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – JUNE 21: Republican Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) 29th Annual Conference on June 21, 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Romney spoke about immigration reform as he continues to battle U.S. President Barack Obama for votes.
Mitt Romney still can’t seem to figure out how to respond to Barack Obama’s executive order ending deportation for the children of illegal immigrants.
He gave a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials yesterday, but while generally striking a milder tone than he did during the Republican presidential primary, he did nothing to clarify where he stands on the order and whether he would allow it stand if elected.
As Greg Sargent points out, his stance has become such a muddle that advisers are publicly contradicting it:
But now, via Judd Legum, it appears that a Romney immigration adviser has now gone further. Asked by the Daily Telegraph about the policy, Ray Walser, a co-chair of Romney’s Latin American advisory group and Heritage Foundation scholar, said:
“My anticipation is that he would probably rescind this directive were he to be elected in November.”
Dems have pounced on this, arguing that it shows Romney would, in fact, repeal Obama’s order — something Romney has not been willing to say.
But wait, the plot thickens.
I got in contact with Walser, and he clarified to me that he was not speaking for the campaign. But in a statement, he nonetheless said that he was correct to say Romney would rescind Obama’s policy, and cited Romney’s own speech as proof:
What I was quoted as saying was not incorrect….I said “rescind.” Governor Romney said “replace and supersede.”
To be clear, I don’t think Walser was speaking for the campaign. And in a sense, Walser is right to suggest the two things could mean the same thing. One meaning of “rescind” is to “repeal”; the other is to “invalidate by a later action.”
Will Romney really be able to keep dancing around this all the way until November? It would seem there’s a point where, for a candidate who wants the election to be about the economy and nothing else, Romney might as well get it over with and show his hand on immigration. What he’s doing now seems unlikely to please the conservative anti-immigrant base of his party nor the millions of Latinos frustrated with the status quo.
- Romney offers his own plan for immigration (mysanantonio.com)
- Obama And Romney Face Off On Immigration (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mitt Romney Immigration Plan Leaves Out Undocumented Grads (huffingtonpost.com)
- Romney outlines immigration plans to Latino group – San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com)
- Romney Criticizes Obama for Lack of Immigration Leadership – Businessweek (businessweek.com)
- Obama slams Romney on immigration (salon.com)
- Mitt Romney plans to talk economy, immigration before Latino group Thursday (boston.com)
- The Caucus: In Florida, Obama Assails Republicans on Immigration (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Will Mainstream Media Call Out The Big Lie In Mitt Romney’s Immigration Speech? (mediaite.com)
- Mitt Romney Doesn’t Appear to Know What Mitt Romney’s Stance on Immigration Should Be (slog.thestranger.com)
Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 05/30/2012
The Romney campaign’s surreal arguments about the economy
By Greg Sargent
You really couldn’t make this one up if you tried.
The Romney campaign is out with a new press release blasting Obama for presiding over a “net” loss in jobs. As I’ve been saying far too often, this metric is bogus, because it factors in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs the economy was hemorrhaging when Obama took office, before his policies took effect.
But this time, there’s an intriguing new twist in the Romney campaign’s argument.
In the same release attacking Obama over “net” job loss, the Romney camp also defends Romney’s jobs record as Governor of Massachusetts by pointing out … that Romney inherited a state economy that was losing jobs when he took office.
Here’s the key bullet point, from the Romney release:
Governor Romney Inherited An Economy That Was Losing Jobs Each Month And Left Office With An Economy That Was Adding Jobs Each Month.
After taking office at a time when the state was losing thousands of jobs every month, Governor Romney’s focus on fiscal responsibility helped create an environment where job growth returned to Massachusetts. Job growth increased throughout his term and the state added over 40,000 payroll jobs during his final year in office —the best year of job growth in Massachusetts over the past decade. Household employment grew by nearly 50,000 under Governor Romney and the unemployment rate declined to well under 5%.
As you can see, the Romney campaign is defending itself against the latest Dem attack line — that Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50th in job creation — by pointing out that Romney should be judged by the job growth that happened after jobs losses were reversed, and even by the number of jobs that were added towards the end of his term.
This is precisely the argument that the Romney campaign is implicitly dismissing as bogus when Obama makes it. Indeed, in the very same release, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul blasts Obama for his “net negative record on job creation,” which is only a “net negative” if you factor in the jobs losses at the start of Obama’s term. But in its own defense, the Romney campaign is arguing for a focus on the jobsadded after the job losses that took place when Romney assumed office.
In other words, if we were to apply to Obama the same standard that the Romney campaign wants applied to itself, Obama has created millions of jobs. (Relatedly, Mike Tomasky tried to apply the same standard to both men’s records, and concluded that if you don’t factor in early job loss for either, Obama’s job growth percentage exceeds Romney’s.)
All this is more than just a gotcha. It goes directly to the heart of Romney’s entire case against Obama. The claim that “net” jobs were lost on Obama’s watch is absolutely central to Romney’s whole argument, and the Romney team has repeated it for months and months in every conceivable forum. But the new standard the Romney campaign wants applied to him — i.e., that the focus should be on jobs added after jobs losses were reversed — would seem to completely undercut this entire case.
Perhaps this, finally, will be enough to draw a bit of scrutiny to the argument that forms the core of Romney’s whole rationale for running for president.
- Obama campaign to hit Mitt Romney’s abysmal jobs record in Massachusetts (dailykos.com)
- Mitt Romney, Massachusetts Governor’s Record = 47th In Job Creation | A “SEVERELY” Republican Governor (3chicspolitico.com)
- Romney vs Obama On Job Creation (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Obama Campaign Mounts New Assault on Romney’s Record as Massachusetts Governor (abcnews.go.com)
- Romney clinches GOP nomination with Texas primary win (foxnews.com)
- A Tale of Two Economies: Mitt Romney vs. Republican Governors (swampland.time.com)
- Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich defend Mitt Romney against Bain attacks by Obama campaign (boston.com)
- Is Mitt Romney avoiding Massachusetts? (politico.com)
- Obama Opens New Line of Attack on Romney (politicalwire.com)
- Romney pressing to align his backers – Boston.com (boston.com)