Posts Tagged Washington Post
Posted at 07:15 AM ET, 05/14/2013
Oops! Missed this!
By Tom Toles
Sometimes the professionals, the media, the victims and potential victims all miss a huge fact. Huge. Here’s one! It finally got noticed, and reported on, but still hasn’t really registered with anybody. Tens of thousands of people are dying because patients got diagnosed with a disease they didn’t have.http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/misdiagnosis-is-more-common-than-drug-errors-or-wrong-site-surgery/2013/05/03/5d71a374-9af4-11e2-a941-a19bce7af755_story.html
I’ve written about this subject once or twice before because I noticed when reading those “Medical Mystery” stories about hard to diagnose conditions, there is usually a key unaddressed question that is common to mystery stories: the dog that didn’t bark. These mysteries go on and on with untold suffering until one day a 113-year-old doctor happens to wander by and remembers seeing a case like that during The Great War. Bravo! Except why bravo? Why in this age of information are valuable medical facts quarantined in the skull of isolated doctors? WHERE ARE THE DATABASES? Woof woof! I’ll tell you where. Buried under the pride of a lot of big egos invested in the paradigm of Doctor as Hero. Computers? What an insult! This story does mention computers as a diagnostic tool, and just as quickly dismisses them because “their usefulness remains a matter of debate.” Huh? Where else in an information society does computer usefulness “remain a matter of debate”? If they’re not useful, it’s because we’re not trying very hard to use them is the answer to that.
The story goes on the sing the praises of “differential diagnosis,” where leading and secondary potential diagnoses are listed and ranked, based on symptoms and the array of possible known causes for those symptoms. Apparently just creating and studying such a list, instead of proclaiming one single diagnosis leads to better treatment, and big surprise there! And what might, just might a huge computerized, searchable symptom/disease database be able to instantaneously produce? And why is this not being aggressively pursued and developed and talked about? Now THERE’s your real medical mystery.
Sequestration: John Boehner, not Barack Obama, has the power to lead us out of the budget mess. – Slate Magazine
It’s Time for You To Lead, John Boehner
Stop blaming the president: The House speaker is the only one who can fix the budget mess.
The only person who has the ability to move Washington beyond this endless debate
Washington is once again at an impasse over fiscal matters, and once again the overwhelming majority of the intransigence comes from the Republican Party, which continues to rigidly reject any deal that includes any meaningful increases in tax revenue.
Nonetheless, the conventions of deficit scoldery mandate that the mere existence of disagreement shows that both sides must be to blame. Thus the editorial board concludes that “Republicans are wrong to resist further revenue hikes” but still wonders “why is Mr. Obama not leading the way to a solution?” David Brooks complains that Obama “has become a participant” in “stale debates” and should instead unilaterally “fundamentally shift the terms” of politics. Ron Fournier at says Obama is “ultimately responsible for the success or failure” of negotiations, no matter what his opponents say.
This is pernicious nonsense. The president of the United States has many powers at his disposal, but the ability to pull a Jedi mind trick and force congressional opponents to agree to deals they don’t favor isn’t among them. It’s that the ideas Obama has put on the table aren’t perfect, but at least he has put ideas out there and shown some flexibility. The person who has to act now is the one person who actually can change the dynamic: House Speaker John Boehner.
It is Boehner, not Obama, who must lead and find a way to a solution. It is Boehner, not Obama, who has the ability to move Washington beyond the endless stale debate, and it is Boehner, not Obama, who is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of policymaking in the 113 Congress.
Ryan Lizza, profiling Majority Leader Eric Cantor in , definitively nails down what many inferred at the time: Boehner and Obama were at one point close to a big deal, and then Boehner pulled the plug for fear of a rebellion on his right:
In June of 2011, the President and the Speaker began working toward a Grand Bargain of major tax increases and spending cuts to address the government’s long-term budget deficits. Until late June, Boehner had managed to keep these talks secret from Cantor. On July 21st, Boehner paused in his discussions with Obama to talk to Cantor and outline the proposed deal. As Obama waited by the phone for a response from the Speaker, Cantor struck. Cantor told me that it was a “fair assessment” that he talked Boehner out of accepting Obama’s deal. He said he told Boehner that it would be better, instead, to take the issues of taxes and spending to the voters and “have it out” with the Democrats in the election. Why give Obama an enormous political victory, and potentially help him win reëlection, when they might be able to negotiate a more favorable deal with a new Republican President? Boehner told Obama there was no deal. Instead of a Grand Bargain, Cantor and the House Republicans made a grand bet.
Whatever the merits of that strategy at the time, the gamble clearly hasn’t paid off. It’s time for Boehner to admit as much, come back to the table, and act like a statesman by offering a bold proposal that will split his caucus and risk his speakership. Boehner needs to acknowledge that Obama has repeatedly been offering the kind of large spending cuts that Republicans say they want, and learn to take yes for an answer. Tax revenue is the price Obama has consistently demanded in exchange for spending cuts, and Boehner could be statesman of the decade by agreeing to take the deal.
He doesn’t need to embrace new revenue, mind you. He doesn’t need to say he’s eager to raise taxes or even that he favors it. He just needs to say that he’s willing to give ground in order to get what he wants.
This would give Boehner the chance to push Democrats off some of their gimmicky thinking on taxes. The White House’s view that in an era of high inequality the rich should pay more is perfectly reasonable, but Obama’s politically motivated insistence that the rich be the exclusive payers of higher taxes is paralyzing. A sensible, economically efficient, loophole-closing tax reform such as the one proposed by Diane Rogers Lim for the Hamilton Project would raise more money from rich taxpayers than middle class ones but at least some Americans all across the income spectrum would pay somewhat more.
A big concession on taxes would also give Boehner the high ground in the debate over spending. For much too long, GOP intransigence has papered over divides in the Democratic coalition. Democrats—correctly—like to tout the role of federal spending on R&D, infrastructure, and education as important to economic growth. But the lion’s share of nonmilitary spending doesn’t go to investments in the future, it goes to subsidies for the elderly. Obama has often stated a desire to curb this spending in the context of a balanced deal, but that position has always been controversial within his party. It’s never truly been clear how many Democrats Obama could bring along with him for a deal, and we’ve never had to find out because there’s been no Republican partner.
is a comfortable common denominator view for Democratic leaders, uniting the liberal and moderate wings of the party. And it’s a potent electoral combination that clearly polls better than the all-cuts alternative. Boehner is absolutely correct to say that the long-run fiscal gap is mostly a question of excessive projected entitlement spending and not tax shortfalls. But if Boehner really wants to reduce that spending, he must show some leadership and bring at least a fraction of his caucus to the table, ready to compromise.
- Sequestration: Boehner says Senate need to get ‘off their ass’ (suntimes.com)
- The sequestration show: Obama holds shipyard rally; Boehner talks tough (bizjournals.com)
- John Boehner: Sequester Requires Senate To Get ‘Off Their Ass’ (VIDEO … (huffingtonpost.com)
- Sequestration Debate: Obama Campaigns, Republicans Don’t Act (theepochtimes.com)
- White House, Republicans dig in ahead of budget talks – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Boehner blasts Senate Democrats for inaction (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- Sequestration cuts: Obama cites Navy threat, immigrants freed as cuts loom – Chicago Tribune (chicagotribune.com)
- John Boehner’s Wall Street Journal Op-ed Failed (teaparty911.com)
- Boehner starts to lose his cool (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- Obama highlights the defense hit in budget cuts battle – Reuters (reuters.com)
Even Mainstream Pundits Are Now Saying, Republicans ‘No Longer a Normal Governing Party,’ ‘Unfit for Government’ | Alternet
Even Mainstream Pundits Are Now Saying, Republicans ‘No Longer a Normal Governing Party,’ ‘Unfit for Government’
Outrage is growing over Republican sabotage of … well, everything.
December 26, 2012
Outrage is growing over Republican sabotage of … well, everything.
E. J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post, writing in It’s our system on the cliff, (emphasis added, for emphasis)
The United States faces a crisis in our political system because the Republican Party, particularly in the House of Representatives, is no longer a normal, governing party.
The only way we will avoid a constitutional crackup is for a new, bipartisan majority to take effective control of the House and isolate those who would rather see the country fall into chaos than vote for anything that might offend their ideological sensibilities.
Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast, in The GOP Brings Politics to a Crisis Point,
Really, what is to be done about this Republican Party? What force can change it—can stop Republicans from being ideological saboteurs and convert at least a workable minority of them into people interested in governing rather than sabotage? … They are a direct threat to the economy, which could slip back into recession next year if the government doesn’t, well, govern. They are an ongoing, at this point almost mundane, threat to democracy, subverting and preventing progress the American people clearly desire across a number of fronts. They have to be stopped, and the only people who can really stop them are corporate titans and Wall Streeters, who surely now are finally beginning to see that America’s problem is not Barack Obama and his alleged “socialism,” but a political party that has become psychologically incapable of operating within the American political system.
[. . . They didn’t come to Washington to govern. They came to sabotage. So our working assumption must be whatever the issue, sabotage is what they’re going to do.
Andrew Sullivan, also at The Daily Beast, says Enough!, (emphasis added, for emphasis)
Between the humiliating and chaotic collapse of Speaker Boehner's already ludicrously extreme Plan B and Wayne La Pierre's deranged proposal to put government agents in schools with guns, the Republican slide into total epistemic closure and political marginalization has now become a free-fall. This party, not to mince words, is unfit for government.
[. . .] Enough. This faction and its unhinged fanaticism has no place in any advanced democracy. They must be broken. … We need a new governing coalition in the House – Democrats and those few sane Republicans willing to put country before ideology. But even that may be impossible.
Mark McKinnon, also at The Deaily Beast, All I Want for Christmas Is a New GOP, (emphasis added, for emphasis)
But here’s the deeper point and the bigger problem for the GOP. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the party is against everything and for nothing.
Nothing on taxes. Nothing on gun control. Nothing on climate change. Nothing on gay marriage. Nothing on immigration reform (or an incremental, piece-by-piece approach, which will result in nothing). It’s a very odd situation when the losing party is the party refusing to negotiate. It may be how you disrupt, but it is not how you govern, or how you ever hope to regain a majority.
And so, we have a Republican Party today willing to eliminate any prospect for a decent future for anyone, including itself, if it cannot be a future that is 100 percent in accordance with its core beliefs and principles. That’s not governing. That’s just lobbing hand grenades. If you’re only standing on principle to appear taller, then you appear smaller. And the GOP is shrinking daily before our eyes.
The incomparably great Dave Johnson, writing at Campaign for America’s Future’s blog last week in, Radical Plan B Failed Because It Was Not Extreme Enough,
Just how radical and extreme are the Republicans today? Republicans didn’t oppose Boehner’s radical “Plan B” because it would devastate American families and small businesses and destroy government — that was OK, in fact that wasn’t even enough destruction for them. They opposed it because it would raise taxes a small bit on the billionaires who grease their wheels. In other words, they opposed it because it was not extreme and radical enough.
… You can’t even imagine that you have the responsibility of being a legislator — never mind Speaker of the House — if you are prepared to offer a bill like this to the Congress, never mind that most of them favored this, and opposed it only because it was not radical enough. The cuts and destruction were fine with them, they wanted no tax increase whatsoever on the billionaires.
So here we are. A destructive, radical group is in control of part of the government. It is bent on sabotage and destruction. When you elect people who hate government, don’t be surprised when they set out to destroy our government.
- Even Mainstream Pundits Are Now Saying, Republicans ‘No Longer a Normal Governing Party,’ ‘Unfit for Government’ (alternet.org)
- Republicans “No Longer a Normal Governing Party,” “Unfit for Government” (ourfuture.org)
- Republicans No Longer a Normal Governing Party,Unfit for Government (powerisknowledge.newsvine.com)
- The Tea Party Mindset Still Dominates the GOP | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Mitt Hits the Panic Button | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- “Unfit For Responsibility”: What Americans Should Learn From The “Republican Apocalypse” (mbcalyn.com)
- E.J. Dionne Jr.: It’s our political system on the cliff – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- “It’s Our System On The Cliff”: Republicans Can Spend Two Years Doing Absolutely Nothing Or Try To Help Solve The Country’s Problems (mbcalyn.com)
- Stories of the Elderly Remind Us of the Pain of Cutting Social Security Payments | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Orcs v. Goblins: Crazed Republicans Turn on Each Other in Ugly Fiscal Cliff Battle | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
House Speaker John Boehner apparently broke from Republican Party principles yet again this weekend, this time with a reported agreement to give President Barack Obama a full year-long free ride that would give up all GOP leverage until early 2014 on the debt ceiling.
“House Speaker John A. Boehner has offered to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year, a major concession that would deprive Republicans of leverage in the budget battle but is breathing new life into stalled talks over the year-end ‘fiscal cliff,’” the Washington Post reported late Sunday evening. “The offer came Friday, according to people in both parties familiar with the talks, as part of the latest effort by Boehner (R-Ohio) to strike a deal with President Obama to replace more than $500 billion in painful deficit-reduction measures set to take effect in January.”
The most recent rise in the debt ceiling limit was to $16.4 trillion, as set by Congress last year. The national debt is creeping up on that $16.4 trillion now; the country is less than $20 billion away.
According to the Post, Boehner’s offer doesn’t go as far as what Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wanted: absolute executive control over the federal debt limit indefinitely into the future. But the deal also leaves Republicans with little leverage with the White House in budget negotiations and other deals over the next year.
Boehner is now in an apparent rift with his Senate Republican counterparts. When Geithner asked congressional Republicans for leeway on the debt ceiling two weeks ago, McConnell reportedly “burst into laughter” in Geithner’s face. McConnell also disagreeswith Boehner on tax increases, and a spokesman says he won’t support any increases in tax rates on anyone.
This is Boehner’s second reported cave this weekend; earlier this weekend, he reportedly offered to increase tax rates on those earning more than $1 million per year. Obama reportedly rejected the offer, claiming Boehner hadn’t caved on Republican principles enough. Other media outlets confirmed Politico’s reporting shortly thereafter.
“Speaker John Boehner has proposed allowing tax rates to rise for the wealthiest Americans if President Barack Obama agrees to major entitlement cuts, according to several sources close to the talks,” Politico reported. “It is the first time Boehner has offered any boost in marginal tax rates for any income group, and it would represent a major concession for the Ohio Republican. Boehner suggested hiking the Bush-era tax rates for top wage earners, including those with annual incomes of $1 million or more annually, beginning Jan. 1, two sources said.”
Since Boehner’s and Obama’s fiscal cliff negotiations have been conducted in secret, behind closed doors, it’s unclear which team is leaking this information about the talks. It could be the president’s staff, or it could be the speaker’s staff. Either way, liberal media outlets are clearly getting the leaked reports first — a sign that whomever is doing the leaking knows the information is embarrassing for Boehner.
- John Boehner caves again – Tea Party Nation (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Report: Boehner proposes tax hike for nation’s millionaires – The Hill’s On The Money (mbcalyn.com)
- McConnell: Obama Wins The Tax Fight — Now On To The Debt Limit (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Pres. Obama, House Speaker Boehner meet again on fiscal cliff (fox6now.com)
- MORE CAVING: Boehner Removes Debt Limit Threat for 1 Yr (thebrennerbrief.com)
- Hoyer: The Debt Ceiling ‘Is Not Real’ (cnsnews.com)
- Democrats urge Obama to declare debt ceiling unconstitutional (mysanantonio.com)
- Sources: Boehner Caves On Taxes For Wealthiest Americans (huffingtonpost.com)
- Republicans can’t waive their “forcing mechanisms” without having forced something (powerlineblog.com)
- BOEHNER: I Looked At Geithner And I Said, ‘You Can’t Be Serious?’ (businessinsider.com)
This country has truly changed, and I believe there will be no going back. Hate lost on Election Day. That is amazing in and of itself. Add to that all the women who were elected and you have a total rebuke of Neanderthal attitudes.
Now the real work begins. Millions of us — the majority — must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do. Mr. President, do not listen to the pundits who call for you to “compromise.” You already tried that. It didn’t work. You can compromise later if you need to, but please, no more beginning by compromising. If the Republican House doesn’t want to play ball, do a massive end run around them with one executive order after another — just like they have done and will do if given the chance again.
We have to have Obama’s back. As he is blocked and attacked by the Right, we need to be there with him. We are the majority. Let’s act like it.
And please Mr. President, make the banks and Wall Street pay. You’re the boss, not them. Lead the fight to get money out of politics — the spending on this election is shameful and dangerous. Don’t wait until 2014 to bring the troops home — bring them home now. Stop the drone strikes on civilians. End the senseless war on drugs. Act like a pit bull when it comes to climate change — ignore the nuts, and fix this now. Take the profit motive out of things that any civilized country would say, “this is for the common good.” Make higher educational affordable for everyone and don’t send 22-year-olds out into the world already in massive debt. Order a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions. Enact economic policy that will create good-paying jobs and spend the money that’s needed to do that. Make your second term one for the history books.
Finally, thanks must be given to the Occupy movement who, a year ago, set the tone of this election year by getting everyone to talk about the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. It inspired Obama and his campaign to realize there was a huge popular sentiment against what the wealthy have done to the country, and there was something wrong if just 400 rich guys owned more than 160 million Americans combined (all those moochers and bums). This led to Romney’s “47 percent” remarks, which were the beginning of the end of his campaign. Thank you Mother Jones for releasing that secret tape, and thank you to the minimum wage worker who placed a camera on the serving buffet next to the candle.
The Washington Post’s headline following Election Day said it all: “At Romney headquarters, the defeat of the 1 percent.”
Thank you Sandra Fluke for enduring the insults hurled at you and then becoming an important grassroots leader against the war on women. Thank you Todd Akin for… well, for just being you. Thank you CEOs of Chrysler and GM for coming out forcefully against the Republican(!) candidate, saying he lived in “some parallel universe” when he lied about Jeep. Thank you Governor Christie for your new bromance with Obama. You know, you really didn’t have to!
And you, Mother Nature, with all your horrific damage, death and destruction you caused last week, you became, ironically, the undoing of a Party that didn’t believe in you or your climate changing powers.
Perhaps they’ll believe now.
Once again, thanks to all of you who brought a nonvoter to the polls. In a last minute effort to get Obama an extra million votes he wasn’t counting on, I enjoyed talking and texting with your loved ones and friends yesterday who weren’t going to vote — but then changed their minds after a little nudge and some TLC (“Damn! Michael Moore? I’m getting in to car right now to go vote.”).
To my fellow Americans, I think you’ll agree: it was nice to wake up following the election in the United States of America.
- Michael Moore: Morning in America (huffingtonpost.com)
- Michael Moore: Election Night was a Rebuke to Neanderthals Across America (alternet.org)
- Morning in America … A Note from Michael Moore (the2012scenario.com)
- Morning in America …a note from Michael Moore (losangelesnewsone.wordpress.com)
- POSTED ON WEDNESDAY, November 7, 2012 | Morning in America …a note from Michael Moore (womensphilanthropy.typepad.com)
- Morning in America … A Note from Michael Moore (nalonmit.wordpress.com)
- Morning in America (opinion-maker.org)
- Michael Moore: Morning in America (cadesertvoice.wordpress.com)
- A rebuke to neanderthals across America (wnd.com)
- Morning in America (readersupportednews.org)
Mitt Romney changing his tune in final hours
By Dana Milbank, Published: November 5
As he made his closing appeal to voters on the final day before the election, Mitt Romney sounded as though, at any moment, he might burst into a song from the musical “Annie.”
“Tomorrow’s a moment to look into the future and imagine what we can do,” he said.
“Tomorrow, we get to work rebuilding our country, restoring our confidence and renewing our conviction.”
“Tomorrow, on November 6th, we come together for a better future.”
“Tomorrow is a new beginning. Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow.”
There was something new and unusual about this Romney — and not only that he had appropriated Stephen Colbert’s campaign theme, “Making a better tomorrow, tomorrow.” In the waning days of the campaign, Romney was uplifting, optimistic and inspirational — in other words, almost entirely different from the man we saw and heard these past many months.
“The best achievements are shared achievements,” the reformed Romney told about 5,000 supporters at the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax County. “I’ve learned that respect and goodwill go a long way and are usually returned in kind. That’s how I’ll conduct myself as president. I’ll bring people together. I won’t just represent one party, I’ll represent one nation.”
Jettisoned from the “closing argument” he has made on the stump the last four days of the campaign are the harshest attacks and the most mendacious of his accusations against President Obama. Gone is the charge that Obama is leading the nation into European socialism, his false claims that Obama took an “apology tour” of the country, his insinuations that Obama doesn’t understand the United States, that he’s in over his head — and other lines that identified Obama as un-American, as alien.
In place of those lines, Romney substituted tough but reasonable criticism of Obama, coupled with an appeal for Americans to come together. “I’d like you to reach across the street to that neighbor with the other yard sign,” he said, “and we’ll reach across the aisle here in Washington to people of good faith in the other party.”
As I listened to these rare words come out of Romney’s mouth, I was joined on the floor of the Patriot Center by Stuart Stevens, Romney’s top strategist, who is justifiably pleased that his candidate, left for dead by the pundit class several weeks ago, appears to be heading for a close finish. The Obama campaign, Stevens said, “didn’t disqualify him.”
That’s true, but hearing Romney’s new tone for the last days of the campaign, I couldn’t help but wonder whether he would be in a better position if he had taken the high road months ago. Stevens’s answer: “It would be old by now.”
Maybe so. And maybe Romney would have been destroyed by the Obama campaign’s attacks if he had tried to stay above the fray. But maybe he would have appeared more presidential — which is the image Stevens was going for in the revamped stump speech, delivered off the teleprompter Republicans love to revile when Obama uses it.
The uplifting Mitt has been introduced to crowds in the final days with a soft-focus video set to gentle piano music. Volunteers hand out “Moms for Mitt” signs to audience members, adding to the soft-and-fuzzy feel. The speech begins with a few brief words from Ann Romney, who asked those gathered in Fairfax, “Are we going to be neighbors soon?”
The crowd was big (the campaign decided to use only half of the 10,000-capacity arena, which created an overflow of a couple of thousand outside), but Romney gave them few of the anti-Obama applause lines, delivering his criticism more in sadness than anger: “Four years ago, then-candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he’s done so very little.”
Of course, Romney’s lofty closing isn’t likely to erase his divisive campaign, in which he wrote off 47 percent of Americans as moochers and went after Obama in ways that were flagrantly false and sometimes racially tinged. And few are likely to believe his late call for bonhomie — that’s a staple of presidential campaigns’ closing arguments — or to accept that he no longer holds the “severely conservative” views that won him the GOP nomination.
Had he offered these views earlier, he might have been viewed as a bigger man, and a better candidate. “I won’t spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation that’s unrelated to job growth,” he vowed, promising to “speak for the aspirations of all Americans.”
“Walk with me. Let’s walk together,” he offered. A nice sentiment — but it would have been more plausible if he hadn’t spent the past year kneecapping his opponents.
- Dana Milbank: The zinger, junk-food politics – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Dana Milbank: Romney’s Jeep ad drives off the road of truth – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Washington Post’s Dana Milbank Still Wondering: Which Mitt Romney? (thedailybeast.com)
- Milbank: On last lap, Romney takes high road (wickedlocal.com)
- Milbank: On last lap, Romney takes high road (metrowestdailynews.com)
- DANA MILBANK OF THE WASHINGTON POST FINALLY CATCHES UP WITH THE CONSERVATIVE BLOGOSPHERE: ● Fre… (pjmedia.com)
- I Predict Dana Milbank Will Continue to Personify False Balance (fair.org)
- Cable Highlights – Romney Hardly Hits Pause On Partisanship, False ‘Jeep’ Ads Post Sandy (hulu.com)
- Dana Milbank: The tea party is helping Democrats – The Washington Post (johnny99america.wordpress.com)
- Milbank: Dead-heat consequences clear (goerie.com)
Soup, Charity and the American Way
Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesMitt Romney collecting food at a storm relief effort in Kettering, Ohio for victims of “Sandy”.
On a day when millions of Americans face serious hardship as they recover from Hurricane Sandy’s damage, Mitt Romney clearly decided it would be crass to campaign in a conventional way. So he turned a scheduled rally in Kettering, Ohio, this morning into a “storm relief event,” and posed before piles of donated canned goods.
“We’re going to box these things up in just a minute and put them on some trucks, and then we’re going to send them into, I think it’s New Jersey,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “There’s a site we’ve identified where we can take these goods and distribute them to people who need them.”
He described such donations as “the American way,” and there’s no doubt that dropping off a few cans of Campbell’s tomato soup makes people feel as if they’re contributing.
But the real “American way” is quite different. Most disaster agencies don’t want donated goods; they need cash. And in the modern era, the most important cash comes from taking people’s tax dollars and distributing them in the form of federal aid to communities hard-hit by a disaster. Because that involves the federal government, it is tainted in the minds of Mr. Romney and his party. It is compulsory, and thus not an offering of the heart.
As our editorial noted this morning, Mr. Romney wants to end centralized emergency relief and let states handle the load themselves, though few states can do so without federal assistance. In any event, storms, as we have seen time and time again, cross state lines. (Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose state may have been the hardest hit by the storm, was effusive in thanking President Obama for assistance today, drawing criticism from Republicans who are more interested in politics than recovery.)
Mr. Romney’s rash promise to put a hard ceiling on discretionary spending – which includes emergency response – would mean far less money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The House budgets developed by his running mate, Paul Ryan, would cut this kind of spending even further, an idea that Mr. Romney considers “excellent.”
Mr. Romney ignored all questions this morning about his plans for federal emergency management. It’s probably embarrassing to admit those plans consist largely of collecting soup cans.
- Soup, Charity and the American Way (takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Romney: Hurricane Relief Events Today (nationalreview.com)
- Romney’s ‘Storm Relief Event’ Is a Campaign Stop with Soup Cans (theatlanticwire.com)
- Romney ignores questions about eliminating FEMA (washingtonpost.com)
- A $5,000 Shopping Run to Walmart Turned Romney’s Campaign Stop into a ‘Relief Event’ (theatlanticwire.com)
- Romney campaign event in Ohio now ‘storm relief’ effort (tv.msnbc.com)
- A Big Storm Requires Big Government – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Ohio campaign event turns into storm relief effort (washingtonpost.com)
- Romney Rally Morphs Into Relief Effort (abcnews.go.com)
- At Romney storm event, some donations supplied by campaign (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
Report: While American Families Lost a Ton of Wealth in the Crash, Members of Congress Did Just Fine | Alternet
Report: While American Families Lost a Ton of Wealth in the Crash, Members of Congress Did Just Fine
The Washington Post reveals how lawmakers personally benefit from legislation they pass.
October 9, 2012
The Washington Post has a new multi-part investigation into the wealth of Congressmembers, including an in-depth look at how legislators personally benefit from laws that they pass. They dug into financial disclosure forms from all 535 members of the Senate and House of Representatives, looking at how many millionaires there are on Capitol Hill, who made money and who lost it during their time in office, and much, much more.
One of the key findings was that while Americans saw their median net worth fall a full 39 percent during the crisis years of 2007-2010, the median wealth of members of Congress rose 5 percent in that time, and the wealthiest third saw their riches increase by 14 percent.
Interestingly, the 253 millionaires in the current session of Congress, the Postnoted, is the smallest group in eight years—though “The numbers are likely to be underestimated because lawmakers are not required to list their homes among their assets.” That may be a result of an influx of Tea Party freshmen in 2010 – many of them “outsiders” who bested more established canidates.
Seventy-two of those members may have doubled their estimated wealth between 2004 and 2010, though the Post‘s estimates are inexact because members of Congress don’t have to report exact details. Eleven of them, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, may have added more than $10 million to their net worth. (The Post has statements by spokespeople for many of the members called out by name in the piece; Pelosi’s explained that, “San Francisco is one of the places where the market has skyrocketed in terms of price per square foot and has been fairly insulated in terms of the 2008 financial crisis.”)
But leadership positions aren’t a guarantee of stability. Steny Hoyer was the Dems’ majority leader in 2007, but the Post estimates his wealth declined some 90 percent between 2004 and 2010. And at least one member of Congress declared bankruptcy after the financial crisis. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) had guaranteed a loan for his family’s business and wound up responsible for millions in debts—the largest of them to Wells Fargo, the bank that had gotten billions in taxpayer bailout dollars.
Some 73 members of Congress have helped push legislation that could benefit their family businesses or investments, the Post noted. And yet these apparent conflicts appear not to violate any of Congress’ ethics rules.
In some cases, the public interest in a bill is obvious—for example, in the GOP’s last round of attacks on public broadcasting, Rep. William L. Owens, a New York Democrat, was one of those who fought back, speaking on the House floor about his position and disclosing the fact that his wife is an executive at an upstate New York public TV station.
In other cases, members of Congress took advantage of laws after they passed them. Dennis Cardoza, a Democratic Representative from California, was instrumental in putting a provision into the farm bill that saved racehorse owners money in taxes on their horses. The next year, he purchased seven racehorses—and then, according to the Post, joined the Congressional Horse Caucus and started holding fundraisers at racetracks. (Cardoza resigned from Congress this summer, citing family issues, and joined up with a “law-and-lobbying” firm, according to the Fresno Bee, although he’s prohibited by ethics rules from actually lobbying for a year.)
Many of the members who personally benefited from legislation they passed have financial interests that are close to those of their district. Senator Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican, makes big bucks from timberland, and timber production is, the Post notes, one of his state’s largest industries. So his efforts to “revamp” and “reform” the tax laws (Republican-ese for tax cuts) pass ethics rules, which are pretty flexible. According to the Post, the rules “allow lawmakers to take actions that benefit themselves or their families except when they are the lone beneficiaries.” They also don’t have to identify potential conflicts at the time that they take actions that might “intersect or overlap” with their financial interests.
As I reported last December, some of the richest members of Congress represent districts where their constituents are seriously struggling. Darrell Issa, the richest member of Congress, represents a California district where 14 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Issa took some hits during the financial crisis, but rebounded—somewhat amazingly:
Issa appeared to lose about $90 million in 2008, but his portfolio regained an estimated $197 million within two years of the financial meltdown. The rises were fueled by his commercial real estate ventures in San Diego and successful investments in mutual funds, bonds and other securities.
Eric Lichtblau, writing in the New York Times last summer, noted, “In Mr. Issa’s case, it is sometimes difficult to separate the business of Congress from the business of Darrell Issa.”
The real problem is that, while most Americans struggle, members of the body that purports to represent them remain largely separated from the problems of the general population. While millions of Americans face foreclosure, search for work, or labor in low-wage, zero-benefit jobs, a member of Congress’s $174,000-a-year salary (plus excellent benefits) is out of reach enough; let alone a financial portfolio capable of dropping $90 million and then regaining more than twice that. It’s easy for Sessions and others to argue that their personal interests dovetail with those of their state, but what happens when we’re increasingly represented by a political class financially insulated from the consequences of so many of their actions—and able to make laws that make sure that stays the case?
- Report: While American Families Lost a Ton of Wealth in the Crash, Members of Congress Did Just Fine (alternet.org)
- Obama to Congress in Weekly Address: Get Back in Town and Pass Some Bills | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Surprise: During recession, Congress’s wealth went up 5% while rest of Americans lost 39% (headlineclicker.com)
- Forbes 400 List Reveals Why the Greedy Rich Fully Deserve Your Contempt – And Jesus’s | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Surprise: During Recession, Congress’s Wealth Went Up 5% while Rest of Americans Lost 39% (chasvoice.blogspot.com)
- Most of Minnesota’s members of Congress are less wealthy than their peers on Capitol Hill (bizjournals.com)
- Wealth gap between Congress, average Americans widens (finance.yahoo.com)
- News Flash: Many U.S. Reps Got Much Richer During Recession (crooksandliars.com)
- Electrical problems following crash shut down Wood Mode today (dailyitem.com)
- Find out how rich (or poor) your Member of Congress is – in 1 amazing chart (washingtonpost.com)
Idiot’s DelightBy TIMOTHY EGAN
You’re an undecided voter. Your time is up. The rest of us are sick of pretending to care about you, saying nice things to you, doing your damn laundry.
Decide, O.K.? When the choice was between Scrooge McDuck and the Kenyan Socialist, you couldn’t make up your mind. Now that you know it’s between two Harvard know-it-alls, with clear, divergent views of government, you’re waiting for — what? The long-lost Mormon tablets to reappear? Donald Trump to reveal what his phantom investigators found among the birth records in Hawaii?
No, of course not. To your credit, you don’t take your talking points from the toxic menu of far-right radio nor from the conspiracy theorists of the paranoid left. But that’s the only nice thing I’m going to say about you.
You’re not Solomon, carefully weighing the choices. You’re a ditherer. You probably panic at “paper or plastic” in the supermarket, backing up the checkout line. We know all about you, because the campaigns have spent millions studying you, probing you, stuffing you with those little sausage things. Your every emotion is wired and registered.
And here’s what we know: there aren’t that many of you, not compared with past years. In 2008, 1 in 7 voters was persuadable at one time. This year it is closer to 1 in 20 — about 5 percent. And in your hands, the savants of politics say, rests the future of the republic.
But here’s the thing: while we’re paying so much attention to you, you’re not paying that much attention to known facts about the two men who want to lead the United States. You barely keep up on the news. If you’d been paying attention, of course, you wouldn’t be undecided.
You, most likely, were not among the millions of Americans who watched the first presidential debate. Of all voters, the undecided were the least interested in the debates, a Washington Post poll found last week.
So, here’s what you missed, or may have heard something about today: Mitt Romney wants to fire Big Bird. He’s got a plan, mostly secret, to restore America to fiscal sanity. But first, he wants to cut taxes by 20 percent. Ultimately, that will cost $5 trillion. At the same time, he wants to add things to the defense budget. And none of this will add a penny to the debt.
A third grader could tell you that his numbers don’t add up. Go ahead, ask a third grader. Romney knows it doesn’t add up, so he’s not specific. Oh, except for Big Bird — no more subsidies for PBS, you monotoned moochers. That’s 0.00014 percent of the budget.
I forgot: you hate policy-wonk stuff, so those numbers are not likely to move you. Then listen to your heart — the one that may stop beating earlier than you think, if you have a pre-existing condition. Romney vows to throw out Obamacare, which will cover that condition. But he says his plan would cover it as well. That’s true, but only if you live in a state, like Massachusetts, that already has Obamacare. Otherwise, in all truth, you’re toast. He said so earlier this month, when he explained that the millions of Americans who would lose health care once he kills it can always go the hospital emergency room.
Maybe you just want an overarching philosophy. Romney’s slogan is “Believe in America” (as opposed to, say, Lichtenstein). He summarized his view Wednesday night: “I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again.” You would think he has some fiscal Viagra in mind, but again — no specifics.
On to Obama. He saved the auto industry; the recovery in Michigan and Ohio was not an accident. You didn’t like the stimulus because, like, where’s my bailout, dude? But the unemployment rate would be 10 percent, not 8, without the stimulus. Whatever. You don’t know about any of this because Obama never brought it home on Wednesday, and therefore it will not be part of the distant chatter that will find its way into your orbit over the next few days.
Obama’s opponent thinks that nearly half of all Americans — many among you — are deadbeats and victims. Obama didn’t bring this up, either, and Romney certainly wasn’t going to.
For philosophy, Obama gave you this: “Are we going to double down on the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess, or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says America does best when the middle class does best.”
There you have it — a clear choice, as everyone keeps telling you. But still, you’re not sure. You say you don’t like either of them. Romney’s too snooty and just plain weird. Obama’s too professorial and goes on, and on, and on. You say they’re corrupt, all politicians. You say there’s no difference between the parties. You’re wrong, but we’re not supposed to tell you that.
The headline of an Associated Press story on you was typical: “Many Watch Debate; Some Are Pleased, Few Are Moved.” After the debate, a CNN focus group of your type found that eight of you were now leaning toward Romney, and eight of you were coming over to the Obama side. No real movement, in other words.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, after many years of sitting with you during past presidential debates: we don’t like you. Not because you can’t make up your mind, but because you won’t.
- Idiot’s Delight (opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Romney’s Sick Joke – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- 7 Best Jokes About Romney’s Threat to Off Big Bird | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Entering Stage Right, Romney Moved to Center – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Mitt Romney’s Big Bird Attack Threatens Thousands Of U.S. Jobs (mbcalyn.com)
- You do not mess with Big Bird – Salon.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Early Morning Open Thread: The Opinionators Are Starting to Snap (balloon-juice.com)
- Mitt Romney vows to fire Big Bird to save 0.00014% of the budget (dailykos.com)
- Thoughts on “Big Bird” and Mitt Romney Meme — Why the Media Sucks (futuretwit.com)
- An Unhelpful Presidential Debate – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)