Saturday, August 11, 2012


CHICAGO – Obama for America Campaign Manager Jim Messina released the following statement in response to Mitt Romney picking Congressman Paul Ryan to be his presumptive nominee for vice president:

“In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes.”


Why Closing The Amazon Tax Loophole Would Make Taxes (Slightly) More Progressive

By Pat Garofalo on Aug 10, 2012

Last month, Tea Party Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) warned that a congressional effort close the “Amazon loophole” — which allows online retailers to undercut their competition by not collecting sales tax — would lead to government control of the internet. DeMint also penned an entire op-ed in the Wall Street Journal to rant against the effort, calling an online sales tax “taxation without representation.”

Many prominent Republicans, including Govs. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Mitch Daniels (R-IN) support the measure, which would level the playing field for all retailers, rather than giving online retailers a competitive advantage for no reason. (Current law says that retailers only need to collect sales tax in states in which they have a physical presence.)

Furthermore, since wealthy Americans are more likely to have convenient and reliable internet access, the Amazon loophole makes sales taxes even more regressive:

Even apart from the Internet sales tax issue, poorer families pay a larger share of their income in sales taxes than better-off families do because they have to spend almost everything they earn. Tax-free Internet shopping compounds the problem: many low-income families would love to shop online to avoid sales tax but can’t because they don’t own a computer or can’t afford high-speed Internet access.

Closing the Amazon loophole, which Amazon now actually supports for its own reasons, would allow states to collect billions of dollars in sales taxes that currently go uncollected, while allowing traditional retailers to compete on equal terms. According to a survey conducted this year, many shoppers say that intentionally shop online in order to avoid sales taxes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Funnies: Romney,Chick-Fil-A,Obama,Whatever

 Conan O'Brien: "Tough Olympic news for the Romneys. Ann Romney's horse Rafalka did not advance to the Olympic finals. Apparently it was beat by a smooth-talking socialist horse from Kenya."

"Mitt Romney is claiming he’s going to create 12 million jobs in his first time. But he hasn’t said yet if he’ll create them in China or India.”

"The U.S. team has swept all the medals in the skeet shooting event. So despite our bad economy, it's nice to know our country has never been safer from an attack of skeets."


Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

Cagle Cartoons

Barack’s Olympic Event

Obama's Olympic Event

Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Romney and Those Nuns

  Does this sorry excuse for a humane being get up in the morning just wondering who he is going to insult next?

Sister Simone Campbell had this to say:

“Recent advertisements and statements from the campaign of Governor Romney demonize families in poverty and reflect woeful ignorance about the challenges faced by tens of millions of American families in these tough economic times,” stated Sister Simone Campbell. “We are all God’s children and equal in God’s eyes. Efforts to divide us by class or score political points at the expense of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters reveal the worst side of our country’s politics.”

As NETWORK demonstrated in their recent “Nuns on the Bus” tour, budget cuts proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and endorsed by Mitt Romney will hurt struggling families throughout the nation. The Romney-Ryan budget would devastate services such as nutrition assistance, childhood education and job training that provide pathways out of poverty for millions of families.

   There is no true Christian anywhere on this earth, much less in America, who can morally support Mitt Romney and keep a clear conscience.

Mormon Insider Reveals Insights on Romney

By JLFinch on Tue Aug 07, 2012                  Original

I saw this rather interesting story at The Daily Beast today.  It is an interview with Brigham Young's great great grand-daughter, who, at the age of 55, left the Mormon Church.  Her decision was based primarily on the treatment of women within the Church.  She has formed an Ex-mormon organization to help others with the transition out of the religion.  She is now 71 years old and rarely gives interviews.  She is not a Mormon-basher by any means.  But she has a unique perspective, both on Mormonism in general and Mitt Romney in particular. 

A few of her insights I found interesting:

“Mitt is a product not only of his wealth, but of an organization that gives men power when they are 12 years old,” she says. ...

As for what pundits say is Romney's difficulty connecting with people, Emmett blames it largely on what she calls “the entitled Mormon male syndrome, where the leadership professes compassion and concern but leaves the manifestations of that to the drones.”

Emmett says Romney was a bishop, “a position where everyone defers to you. What a bishop says goes. People come to them to receive blessings.” He then became a stake president, she says, which means he presided over several congregations, and at that point bishops deferred to him.

Mitt has had people defer to him and not challenge him his entire life,” says Emmett. “In the Mormon church if you challenge your priesthood leaders it’s a very bad thing to do, especially for women. As the world can now see, Mitt has a very hard time with being questioned and criticized; he’s had so little of this in his life."

Emmett says she doesn’t think Romney has the ability to separate what leaders of the church want from what the country needs.

“Mitt has been groomed to become president from a very young age,” says Emmett.

Emmett says she thinks Romney’s biggest fault is that he has a “serious problem telling the truth. There is flip-flopping, which he has done more than any politician in modern history, and then there is out and out lying,” she says. “This kind of thing has sadly been a part of the church from the very beginning. Some modern apostles actually taught that it is not always the best thing to tell the truth if it interferes with preaching gospel.”

At a presentation on Lying for the Lord at the 2008 Exmormon Foundation conference, Ken Clark addressed the issue. Clark, who worked as a teacher for the LDS Church Education System (CES) for 27 years and also served as a bishop before leaving the church in 2003, tells The Daily Beast, “Lying has become an institutionalized method of administrative control with the church

Mitt has been told from an early age that he has an entitlement to leadership, he has been fawned over and deferred to his whole life, and he does not like to be questioned. He is an abject liar.  He believes in a hierarchy with men superior to women. He puts his personal religious views above what is best for the country. Not good qualities in a president.  

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Brutal Op-Ed in NYTimes on Romney's So-Called Mormon "Values"

By Dartagnan    Tue Aug 07, 2012       Original

Far be it for me to challenge the man's professed "values." Instead I'll just let Thomas Edsall's op/ed in the New York Times speak for itself:

So what was this ever-so-guarded, moralistic (“I want to clean up the moral pollution on TV and the Internet”) politician doing at a $50,000-a-couple fundraiser in Jerusalem with Sheldon G. Adelson — proprietor of one of the largest, if not the largest, gambling and casino operations in the world — seated in the honored position at his side?

There seems to be a reluctance about directly challenging a political candidate's professions of morality, particularly when they are assumed to be a product of religious belief. We don't see so-called conservative "Christians" taken to task for their blatantly unChristian votes in Congress, for example. It's only when they're caught in some horrific sex scandal that their moralizing or morality are ever brought up, and even then usually as an afterthought.  Even in the wake of a disastrous Presidency that directly and unnecessarily caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands (if not millions), we still, amazingly, don't hear people question what type of "Christian" George W. Bush was supposed to be.

But Edsall, a professor of Journalism at Columbia, is not simply waxing rhetorical when he asks exactly what "values," in fact, are driving Mitt Romney when he stoops to crawl in front of creatures like this:

Adelson and his company are under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice on allegations of foreign bribery. In addition, the United States Attorney’s office in Los Angeles is investigating whether Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation failed to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to casinos in violation of money-laundering laws, the Wall Street Journal reported on August 4.

In its 2011 Annual Report, the Sands Corp., of which Adelson is chairman and C.E.O., disclosed that

    On Feb. 9, 2011, L.V.S.C. received a subpoena from the S.E.C. requesting that we produce documents relating to our compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. We have also been advised by the Department of Justice that it is conducting a similar investigation. Any violation of the F.C.P.A. could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

Of course, the last is just banal, boilerplate legalese, akin to anything you'd read in a company prospectus.  The "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act" --just another pesky legal bump in the road to unchecked corporate profits. And if anyone in the media ever dared to call him on this, Romney's campaign would likely respond with similar evasive boilerplate, just the way he's responded to sensible requests that he show Americans whatever career-dooming revelations are cleverly buried in his Income Tax returns.

Or then again, he might send his wife out again with something like this:

“We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn’t take a salary in the four years. . . We’ve given all you people* need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life.”

You probably never heard of Sheldon Adelson before this campaign. I didn't.  He wasn't exactly a household word. It's likely he preferred it that way, much like certain creeping things prefer to remain hidden under rocks.   There's one answer, and one answer only, why Romney would--ahem--associate himself to Sheldon Adelson. Money. And specifically, money that Romney would not have to spend out of his own vast personal coffers.

There is a succinct answer to the question of why Romney would take the risk of closely associating himself with the immensely controversial Adelson: 10 million dollars — the amount Adelson and his wife have contributed to the super Pac supporting Romney, Restore Our Future.

The Adelsons are the largest donors to the Romney PAC. They have providing just over 12 percent of the $82.2 million Restore Our Future has raised so far

Here, Edsall dispenses with the journalistic taboos and takes Romney's professed Mormon "values" directly to task.  I hope he is not the last to do so:

The source of Adelson’s huge campaign contributions would appear to create a conflict with Romney’s Mormon convictions. The official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states: “The Church opposes gambling in any form, including government-sponsored lotteries.”

Nor does Edsall let go, and again, I'm glad he doesn't:

What Mormons Believe, an unofficial web site explicating the positions of the Church declares:

The Mormon Church has always opposed gambling in every form, including government-sponsored lotteries. Mormon prophets and leaders have counseled the members over time, to avoid gambling of any type. Doing so, leads one away from righteousness and into the hands of Satan. The Mormon belief is that it is an addictive behavior and leads only to destructive habits and practices. It undermines the value of work and motivates one to think that they can get something for nothing. In time, the gambler will deny themselves, as well as their family the basic needs of life. They will oft times steal from others to finance their addiction, which in turn leads to stealing, robbery, etc.

Of course, as Edsall points out, if the rest of the U.S. media did its job (God forbid)  we wouldn't have to spend inordinate amounts of time finding all of this out about Adelson:

Romney has been fortunate that the reporting on the inquiries into Adelson’s finances by the S.E.C. and the Justice Department has been limited in scope. Most coverage of Adelson’s contributions has not included any reference to either of these investigations.

Perhaps this is just too complicated for USA Today or CNN:

Emails and other documents posted by ProPublica on July 16 raised questions about the role of Leonel Alves, a legislator and lawyer in Macau who was hired as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands.

*  * 

These emails revealed concerns among Adelson’s legal advisers that a large payment for legal services to Alves would set off warning bells in the sections of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department that watch out for violations of  the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

*   * 

In a Sept. 30, 2009 email, Alves wrote to Jacobs that at the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China “someone high ranking in Beijing approached me before the official dinner and invited me 2 handle issues related to the Venetian’s projects in Macau.” Alves wrote Jacobs, “There is an amount to be agreed by Mr. Adelson to settle the 2 issues. The amount to be paid to resolve the serviced apartments issue will be paid to a mutually accepted escrow agent and delivered to the gentleman upon official approval in the Official Gazette authorizing the sale of the serviced apartment.”

On Dec. 10, 2009, in another email to Jacobs, Alves wrote that he was returning to Beijing the next day and “will have chance to talk with my friends there.” Alves warned, however, that “what they request is extremely expensive (US300 m, which includes closing the Taiwanese case).”

There's more, and Edsall discusses it all. But if fellating a gambling mogul isn't enough to pique Romney's conscience, how do we really expect him react to a potential bribery investigation in violation of Federal Law?  The point is not Adelson's guilt or innocence, but what is Romney--a candidate for the American Presidency--doing hanging around with this guy in the first place? Are these the kind of "principles" we should expect from a Romney Presidency?

Again, Edsall doesn't  let go:

The toughest charges leveled against Romney as a politician have been distinctly personal: that he lacks authenticity; that he is “a phony”; that “there are two Mitt Romneys”; that he is duplicitous; that he is a hypocrite and a flip-flopper, even on the most serious issues.

Edsall's last point barely needs to be expressed. By the time you've reached the end, it's self-evident:

At a minimum, Romney could tell us how he reconciles the values he says he stands for with the basis on which Adelson’s fortune is built.

That won't happen--"at a minimum" or to any other degree. The only morals or values that Romney has are the ones that conveniently serve

his own interests.

Multiple Sclerosis Advocates Says Mitt Is 'Detrimental' and 'Extremely Harmful'

   One of Mitts and the Missus’s pet projects do not like  Romney’s policies. What a shocker!

Is Mitt Romney the absolute worst guy in the world at making friends and influencing people or what?

It's pretty typical, during an election, for a candidate's spouse to take up some pet cause that, if her husband is elected, will be her thing. Telling kids to Just Say No. (That sure worked, huh?) Literacy. Fitness. What have you.

It's not supposed to be controversial. The role of the first lady is symbolic (and, you know, a little antiquated), but hey, the missus needs something to keep her occupied for four to eight years, so ...

With the Romney's, however, nothing is simple. Even Ann Romney's intended pet cause—multiple sclerosis—just makes things awkward for Mitt:

MS advocates say that policies Romney now supports would be detrimental for many MS sufferers, and they are actively opposing these proposals. Which means that Mitt Romney is now at odds with the MS community he and his wife have long supported.
There's a ringing endorsement. Hey, Romneys, thanks for caring about MS and all, but, uh, your actual policies would be "detrimental" for us.

It's not that MS advocates aren't grateful for the thought:

National MS advocates are appreciative of Ann Romney's efforts to help boost the profile of the disease and raise money for the cause, but they are opposing her husband's campaign health care policy proposals, many of which are mirrors of GOP legislation currently pending in Congress. MS advocates believe many of the proposals would be extremely harmful to most people with multiple sclerosis.
Detrimental. Extremely harmful. How does Ann pitch that the next time she's giving a speech to the MS community? Please vote for my husband, whose policies would be detrimental and extremely harmful to you.

Yeah. Good luck with that one.

But in this case, the MS community has good reason to root for the other team. MS advocates could well face the possibility of having to use money the Romneys helped them raise to fight a President Romney's attempts to kill policies and programs they need to survive.

Mitt can't even go on a glorified photo-op trip abroad without causing an international incident. Ann Romney can't even give her heartfelt speeches about MS without alienating the MS community. Is there anything these people can do right?

Originally posted to Kaili Joy Gray on Tue Aug 07, 2012

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Call Me A Concern Troll, Republicans. But Read This Anyway

   This is for all of the Republicans who will be in Tampa for their convention. A few tips to stay healthy when you forget about all of those Christian values that you claim to believe in

Your GOP convention starts in 20 days in Tampa. There will be speeches, straw hats, smoke-filled rooms, confetti, names of states on dancing poles, and also lots and lots of dancing pole dancers. I'd like to warn you about the latter.

From what the sex industry says, you Republicans are a horny bunch. A survey by the Association of Club Experts, for example, says that you outspend us Democrats three-to-one at stripper bars during your conventions. For all the noise you people make about irresponsible spending, you sure have interesting ways of blowing through your cash. I guess I never knew your road to eternal salvation passed through the lap-dance booth. Does Rick Warren have that sermon posted up on You Tube? But I digress...

I also noticed that Republicans appear to have the backing of the porn industry. As adult actress Jenna Jameson said during her endorsement of Mitt Romney: "When you're rich, you want Republicans in office." Lady, you said a mouthful.

My point is, I'd like to think that you conservatives will be playing it safe at your convention, and no, I don’t mean your choice of vice presidential candidate. I'm talkin' about "Goin' the Full Pokemon"---if ya know what I mean. (Or, as Rick Perry calls it: "Oops.")

Look, I know you think you know how your erotic escapade will play out. You think you'll bring a hot, intellectually-curious escort back to your hotel room, turn your penis off and spend a wild night discussing Ayn Rand's economics, atheism, love of trains and stuff. I know that's what you were taught in abstinence-only class. But it just doesn't work that way. Your wee willie winky is gonna short-circuit your thinkin' brain and switch over to caveman mode. At that moment, your purity ring will become as useless as your trickle-down economics.

There's no other way to say this, so I'll just say it: you're gonna have buy enormous amounts of sex in Tampa. The ladies (and gents) of the evening are going to pay off lots of bills thanks to your GOP convention. But be safe, for cryin' out loud (but not too loud---you never know who might be next door pressing a glass against the wall). The Centers for Disease Control is a good source of info, as they run the gamut from Chlamydia to Syphillis to a bunch of diseases you may not be able to pronounce. You'll also find a list of Tampa STD testing clinics (with directions) here. If you're gonna bring a souvenir back home with ya, better it should be a Grover Norquist snow globe (shake it up and watch it erupt in a blizzard of teeny tiny tax pledges) than the clap. Or worse.

There. I said it.

I know you're a bit---how to put this diplomatically---less reality-based than Democrats who know that comprehensive sex education prevents cases of the creepy crawlies more effectively than abstinence-only education. That's why I'm posting this now…so you'll have a full 20 days to, um, bone up on how to avoid the dreaded D in STD.

We may be ideological opposites, but it's important that you Republicans stay relatively healthy. We'll need you to help turn back the invasion of America by the Soviet Union that Mitt Romney has promised to prepare our defenses for if he becomes president. So sin responsibly, my friends. Sin responsibly.

Bill in Portland Maine for Daily Kos on Tue Aug 07, 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

Mitt Romney: Giving Everybody Equal Opportunity To Vote 'Is An Outrage'

   One job sector in America which will certainly see some growth if Romney and the Koch brothers can steal his way in to the White House will be the late-night talk show and “ comedian “ industry.

The Jed Report on Mon Aug 06, 2012

Mitt Romney's latest harebrained outrage:

Mitt Romney attacked a lawsuit brought by President Obama’s campaign seeking the restoration of early voting rights for Ohio voters by falsely implying that Obama is trying to take away the early voting privileges for members of the military.

“President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage,” Romney said in a statement Saturday.

Actually, the Obama campaign’s lawsuit, filed by the campaign in mid-July, explicitly asks a federal court to restore in-person early voting rights to all eligible Ohio voters on the three days preceding Election Day.

The suit does not seek to prevent members of the military from voting in person during that period, rather it seeks to force Ohio to give other voters (including, for instance, cops and firefighters) the same opportunity to vote.

Before last year, voters in Ohio were allowed to cast their ballots early at voting places throughout the state, starting 35 days before the election and running right up to election day. Then, in June of 2011, the Republican state legislature dramatically curtailed access to the ballot, limiting the early voting period to 16 days before the election and ending it the Friday before the vote. In May, facing the prospect of a ballot initiative overturning their overreach, Ohio Republicans partially restored early voting, restoring the start of early voting to 35 days before the election.

The partial repeal, however, maintained the arbitrary cutoff for early voting of the Friday before the election. Military personnel, however, were given a special exemption to the cutoff, giving them three extra days to vote. The Obama campaign's lawsuit supports maintaining their ability to vote early, but asks that all voters be given the same opportunity to vote. This position, according to Romney, "is an outrage."

In Romney's view, only military personnel should be allowed to vote in the final three days before the election, even though everybody had that right in 2008 and 2010. Of course, Romney didn't complain about it back then. That's no shock—after all, he wasn't running for office, for Pete's sake. And the only thing that Romney is genuinely outraged about now is that he might not be able to rig the election to his advantage.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Tax Breaks For Businesses Led To State Unemployment Funds Going Broke

By Laura Clawson

Over the past four years, a whopping 36 states have had to borrow from the federal government to pay unemployment insurance benefits. Obviously a recession with high unemployment has a lot to do with that, but not as much as you might think. Tax breaks for businesses (PDF) are once again a hidden culprit for state budget problems.

A new report from the National Employment Law Project shows that, recession or not, many states could have avoided borrowing for unemployment payments if they hadn't spent a decade weakening their unemployment insurance trust funds by slashing employer contributions:

Between 1995 and 2005, 31 states reduced employer contribution rates by at least one‐fifth (Henchman 2011, 16), causing the nation’s average employer contribution rate over the decade leading up to the Great Recession to fall to its lowest point in the program’s 75‐year history.
As a result, going into the recession, state unemployment insurance funds were short of recommended minimum solvency standards by a combined $38 billion, and 30 of the 34 states not meeting that minimum standard ended up borrowing, combined with just six of 19 states that started the recession with adequate funds. Adequate unemployment insurance reserves could have reduced borrowing to 13 states borrowing $9 billion rather than what ended up happening, with 31 states borrowing $42 billion.

But while the funding shortfalls came from employers contributing less than at any point in the previous 75 years, it's been jobless people who've gotten the blame and felt the pinch, with "At least ten states [passing] legislation to reduce the number of weeks of benefits available, severely restrict eligibility, or impose measures designed to discourage people from filing UI claims." Taxpayers, too, are paying, since states have already paid $3 billion in interest and penalties on what they've borrowed for unemployment, with more to come.

Businesses paid less when the economy was decent (not even good for many of the years of contribution cuts). Then the bad economy hit unemployed people first when they lost their jobs, second when their benefits were cut despite ongoing high unemployment. Again and again we're told that a bad economy is not the time to raise taxes on businesses or the wealthy—apparently it's never the moment for that, always the moment to cut another hole in the safety net.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Aug 03, 2012

The Company He'd Like To Keep: Mitt Romney's Income and Tax Rates In Presidential Context

  An interesting chart from Laura Clawson at Daily Kos Labor

This scatter plot gives valuable context to Mitt Romney's high income and low tax rates: The addition of Romney to a scatter plot of the income levels of the last five presidents (during their years in office) requires the graph to be more than twice as tall as it otherwise would have needed to be.

Graph showing income and tax rates for presidents from Reagan to Obama and for Mitt Romney, with Romney the lowest tax rate and by far the highest income.

The office of president pays an income most of us would love to have for even four or eight years, the George Bushes H.W. and W. come from old money, and Barack Obama has substantial book sales income, but compared with Mitt Romney's investment income, all of them, with the exception of Obama in 2007 and 2009, are just sort of creeping along at the bottom of the plot looking pathetic. Romney's low year was nearly four times Obama's high year. The median American income wouldn't really even show up on this graph—it would just look like the bottom had a black border.

Then there's taxes. Romney's higher tax rate is still lower than anyone else's lowest rate. Because it's investment income. The presidents had to work for at least a decent chunk of their income, so they paid more. And it's pretty safe to assume that these years represent the high-water mark of Mitt Romney's effective tax rate. Otherwise, he would have disclosed past years of tax returns.

For most of us, Mitt Romney's wealth is like that science project you did in grade school, the model of the solar system that there was absolutely no way to render to scale, because the sun is so much bigger than the planets and the distances are so great that even to make the faintest stab at rendering it to scale wouldn't fit in your classroom. Rich people can have great policy positions, of course, but even when he tries to fake it, Romney can't convincingly pretend that he sees the concerns and the fates of people down there at that invisible-on-this-graph median income as any closer to him than the sun is to Pluto in size or distance.