Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thom Hartmann: Conservatives Fight For “Freedom” Of The Wealthy

Progressive radio host Thom Hartmann considers the idea of “freedom” promoted by Mitt Romney and the conservative movement since Reagan. Specifically, their conception centers around freedom from taxation and regulation for the wealthy and corporations, including Romney’s freedom to pay a lower tax rate on capital gains; freedom for corporations like General Electric to pay no taxes; freedom for Koch Industries to pollute and more trends that have benefited the one percent and hurt the rest. Hartmann also contrasts Romney’s vision with Obama’s and concludes, “Freedom should not be reserved just for the one percent… You want freedom? Provide a social safety net.” Watch:

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

65-Year Study: Tax Cuts Lead To Economic Inequality, Not Growth

Findings from a 65-year study by the Congressional Research Service, "Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945," strike at the heart of conservative economic orthodoxy. The study concludes that tax cuts do not lead to economic growth; instead, they lead to economic inequality:

The top income tax rates have changed considerably since the end of World War II. Throughout the late-1940s and 1950s, the top marginal tax rate was typically above 90%; today it is 35%. Additionally, the top capital gains tax rate was 25% in the 1950s and 1960s, 35% in the 1970s; today it is 15%. The average tax rate faced by the top 0.01% of taxpayers was above 40% until the mid-1980s; today it is below 25%. Tax rates affecting taxpayers at the top of the income distribution are currently at their lowest levels since the end of the second World War.

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.

However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.

The graph above from the New York Times shows the economic boom after Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised taxes in the early 1990s; in contrast, President George Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were followed by a disappointing expansion and tremendous downturn.

Robert Reich: The Seven Biggest Economic Lies

Robert Reich explains the seven biggest economic lies, all of which have been foisted on us by the Republicans for the benefit of their wealthy constituents. In less than three minutes, Reich exposes the biggest financial whoppers, starting with one recently pushed by Mitt Romney, "Tax cuts to the rich trickle down to the rest of us." Watch Reich employ his lucid analyses and cartoonist skills:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Devastating Ad Sets Romney's Words To "47 Percent" Images

There's mounting evidence that Mitt Romney's comments about the "47 percent" particularly damaged him–and the Democrats have been focusing on them in campaign ads. The Obama campaign released a particularly devastating ad; in just 33 seconds, it features Romney's own words with images of working people, veterans and families–among the people he disparaged as "dependent" and "victims." Watch:

Ann Romney's Top Worry If Mitt Becomes President: "His Mental Well-Being"

Ann Romney told Nevada television station KTVN that her "biggest concern" should her husband become president would be "his mental well-being" and "the emotional part of it." That should boost the country's confidence in handing Romney the nuclear launch codes. Watch:

ANN ROMNEY: I think my biggest concern obviously would just be for his mental well-being. I have all the confidence in the world in his ability, in his decisiveness, in his leadership skills, in his understanding of the economy. ...So for me I think it would just be the emotional part of it.

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Alvin Youngblood Hart

Alvin Youngblood Hart, one of today's finest practitioners of the acoustic blues and other musical genres, performed a haunting rendition of Skip James' "Illinois Blues" in October 1998 at the BBC Television Centre, London.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Romney Reminds Crowd: Hey, Chant For Me Too!

Mitt Romney must have been feeling pretty insecure about something when he insisted that the crowd at a Vandalia, Ohio, rally switch its chant from "Ryan" to "Romney-Ryan." Watch Romney cheerlead...for himself:

Also watch Joe Scarborough's incredulity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ralph Reed's Group Likens Obama's Policies To Nazi And Communist Threats

After being disgraced due to his association with Jack Abramoff's casino lobbying scandal, Ralph Reed is back with an evangelical vote operation on behalf of Mitt Romney. Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition is distributing a mailer that asks recipients to pledge to vote and includes such leading, absurd questions as whether President Obama's policies threaten our liberty as much as Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II, the Soviet Union during the Cold War or the American Civil War:

The mailer also asks,"Do you think Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro see President Obama as an ally of theirs?"

Mitt Romney doesn't view this mailer as another sleazy effort on Reid's part. Romney stated, “Ralph Reed is doing a great job here with the Faith & Freedom Coalition. This is going to make a big impact across America and I appreciate the work you are doing here.”

Memo To Romney: Watch "Goldfinger," Keep Airplane Window Shut

After an airplane that his wife Ann was on had to make an emergency landing, Mitt Romney said, “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that." Noting Romney's "latest gaffe," Discovery News explains why. Romney also might want to take a look at "Goldfinger" (1964), the James Bond movie in which the villain meets a terrifying mid-flight fate. Watch:

(h/t: Crooks and Liars)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Romney: It's "Fair" For Those With $50,000 Salary To Pay Higher Tax Rate

During his Sunday interview on "60 Minutes," Mitt Romney told Scott Pelley that it's "fair" for someone earning $50,000 a year to pay a higher tax rate than the 14 percent he paid on his $20 million investment income for 2011. According to Romney, it will "encourage economic growth" and "put people to work." Tax cuts for the rich, then, trickle down to the rest of us! Why haven't we tried that before? Now we know how Romney would put people back to work:

PELLEY: Now, you made on your investments, personally, about $20 million last year. And you paid 14 percent in federal taxes. That’s the capital gains rate. Is that fair to the guy who makes $50,000 and paid a higher rate than you did?

ROMNEY: It is a low rate. And one of the reasons why the capital gains tax rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once at the corporate level, as high as 35 percent.

PELLEY: So you think it is fair?

ROMNEY: Yeah, I think it’s the right way to encourage economic growth, to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work.

Think Progress points out, "There is little economic evidence to support Romney’s argument that higher capital gains and dividend rates will discourage investment."

Romney: Uninsured Can Go To The Emergency Room

What's all the fuss about 50 million Americans without health insurance? Interviewed yesterday by Scott Pelley on "60 Minutes," Mitt Romney said that the government already provides care to the uninsured. All they have to do is go to the emergency room. Pelly pointed out that that's the most expensive way to provide care, which didn't faze Romney. Watch:

In 2007, however, Romney said that people don't purchase insurance because they can show up at the hospital and get a "free ride" at the expense of taxpayers. Watch Romney defend the health insurance mandate he instituted as governor of Massachusetts:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Absorbed By Color: Art In The 20th Century" At The Heckscher Museum Of Art

"Absorbed By Color: Art in the 20th Century" at the Hecksher Museum of Art, Huntington, Long Island (38 miles from NYC), explores the primacy of color over the past 100 years of painting as abstraction became a major force. Though relatively small, this exhibit includes works representing a wide variety of major 20th-century art movements (along with detailed signage): the vivid colors of the Fauves, the geometric designs of the Neoplasticists, the gestural action painting of the Abstract Expressionists and the intimations of the sublime in the Color Field painters. Regarding the latter, I was particularly struck by Carol Summers' "Kali Gandaki" (above), a woodcut whose washes of deep blues and greens evoke the majesty and mystery of this gorge in the Himalayas in Nepal.

"Absorbed By Color: Art in the 20th Century" will run through Dec. 2 at the Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, NY, (631) 351-3250,

Limbaugh: Male Private Parts Shrinking Due To "Feminazis," "Chickification"

Rush Limbaugh cited Italian research stating that male private parts are shrinking due to air pollution and global warming. Since environmental threats are a hoax in Limbaugh’s world, this phenomenon can only be due to the usual suspects, “feminazis” and “chickification.” Listen to Rush explain feminism’s effect on male anatomy:

LIMBAUGH: I have a story, it's from Philadelphia, CBS News, CBS Eyeball News. "If size matters, male private parts are shrinking, according to a new Italian study on sexuality. ...The study’s leaders claim to have bona fide research that says the average size of a penis is roughly 10 percent smaller than it was 50 years ago." And the researchers say air pollution is why. Air pollution, global warming, has been shown to negatively impact penis size, say Italian researchers. I don't buy this. I think it's feminism. If it's tied to the last 50 years, the average size of a member is 10% smaller in 50 years, it has to be the feminazis. I mean, the chickification, everything else. Give 'em time and they'll blame Bush. Give 'em time. But air pollution versus feminazis? Ha.

How About That! The Stimulus Package Worked

Democrats have shied away from talking about President Obama's economic stimulus package, due to GOP attacks on it as "wasteful" (even though a number of Republicans benefited from it in their states while criticizing it). A new book, "The New New Deal" by Michael Grunwald, finds that the stimulus worked in terms of jobs, the economy, the vulnerable and investments:

On the most basic level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. The majority of economists agree that it helped the economy grow by as much as 3.8 percent, and kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent.

The stimulus is the reason, in fact, that most Americans are better off than they were four years ago, when the economy was in serious danger of shutting down.

But the stimulus did far more than stimulate: it protected the most vulnerable from the recession’s heavy winds. Of the act’s $840 billion final cost, $1.5 billion went to rent subsidies and emergency housing that kept 1.2 million people under roofs. (That’s why the recession didn’t produce rampant homelessness.) It increased spending on food stamps, unemployment benefits and Medicaid, keeping at least seven million Americans from falling below the poverty line.

And as Mr. Grunwald shows, it made crucial investments in neglected economic sectors that are likely to pay off for decades. It jump-started the switch to electronic medical records, which will largely end the use of paper records by 2015. It poured more than $1 billion into comparative-effectiveness research on pharmaceuticals. It extended broadband Internet to thousands of rural communities. And it spent $90 billion on a huge variety of wind, solar and other clean energy projects that revived the industry. Republicans, of course, only want to talk about Solyndra, but most of the green investments have been quite successful, and renewable power output has doubled.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ryan Booed At AARP Conference

Paul Ryan spoke at the AARP National Convention in New Orleans, attacking the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for taking $716 billion from Medicare–the same amount that Ryan's budget takes from the program. In addition, while the ACA slows the growth in Medicare payments to providers, it doesn't cut benefits. Ryan also said that in order to strengthen Medicare, we must repeal "Obamacare." The audience didn't react favorably, as Ryan was repeatedly booed. Watch:

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Sue Foley Live

Canadian-born Sue Foley applies her brand of blistering blues guitar to "Blues in D Natural" and "I'm a Queen Bee" (adapted from Slim Harpo's "I'm a King Bee").

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Obama On 47% Remark: Maybe Romney Hasn't "Gotten Around A Lot"

Despite widespread viewing of a video in which he disparages almost half of America as freeloaders, Mitt Romney told a Miami forum hosted by the Spanish-language TV network Univision on Wednesday, "My campaign is about the 100 percent in America." Today in the same setting, President Obama was asked which is the true Romney? Obama said that he'd leave that answer to his opponent, but suggested that Romney's attitude about the 47 percent may reflect the fact that he hasn't "gotten around a lot"; had he done so, he'd have realized that "the American people are the hardest working people there are." Watch:

OBAMA: When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot, because I travel around the country all the time and the American people are the hardest working people there are. Their problem is not that they’re not working hard enough or they don’t want to work or they’re being taxed too little or they just want to loaf around and gather government checks. We’ve gone through a challenging time. People want a hand up, not a handout. Are there people who abuse the system? Yes. Both at the bottom and at the top. Because there are whole bunch of millionaires who aren’t paying taxes at all either.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 47 Percent Reality Versus Romney's Fantasy

Just who makes up the 47 percent of households that pay no federal income tax? Mitt Romney maligned them as refusing to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives." The Tax Policy Center has the breakdown and Brad Plumer provides analysis in the Washington Post. The reality does not correspond to Romney's fantasy of spoiled freeloaders:

28.3 percent of households pay no federal income tax, but they do pay the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. That means they don’t need Mitt Romney to convince them to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” They already have jobs.

Most of the households in this group don’t pay any federal income tax because they qualify for enough deductions that their income tax liability has shrunk to zero. See this Tax Policy Center report for more, which gives an example of “a couple with two children earning less than $26,400. They get an $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700, and that takes their liability to zero.” Indeed, it’s worth noting that many of these deductions and credits were part of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which Romney wants to extend.

10.3 percent of households pay no federal income tax because they’re retired and elderly. Many retirees aren’t taxed on their Social Security benefits, which they earned by paying into the system over many years. If Mitt Romney secretly thinks that these households are all irresponsible freeloaders, he has a weird way of showing it, as he keeps insisting that he doesn’t want to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits for those over the age of 65.

— That leaves 6.9 percent of households which are non-elderly and have incomes less than $20,000 per year and aren’t paying the payroll tax. These poorer households pay neither income taxes nor payroll taxes. Perhaps Romney thinks that they should all pay more in federal taxes. It’s hard to say. But this is also a much smaller fraction of Americans.

David Brooks: Romney “Doesn’t Know Much About The Country”

Conservative commentator David Brooks (left) writes that Mitt Romney’s comments at a fundraiser disparaging 47 percent of Americans, as revealed in a video, show his ignorance about who these supposed “freeloaders” are and about the country he seeks to lead:

[Romney's] comment...suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.

...The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.

Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.

Romney Stands By Comments Disparaging 47% Of Americans

Following the release of a video in which Mitt Romney disparaged Obama supporters as freeloaders, he quickly called a press conference in which he admitted that his remarks at a fundraiser were “not elegantly stated" and were made “off the cuff.” Yet he also stated, "This is the same message that I give to people.” Romney reassured reporters, “Of course, individuals are going to take responsibility for their life.” Apparently not all individuals, though; Romney soon claimed, “The president’s approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes.” After taking just three questions, Romney abruptly exited as he was asked whether the comments he made in the video were his “core convictions.” Watch this most strange press conference:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney: 47% Of Country Are Freeloaders Who Will Vote For Obama

Mother Jones has obtained a video in which Mitt Romney tells wealthy donors that 47% of the country depends on the government, believes they are victims–and are therefore firmly in President Obama's corner. Listen as Romney disparages almost half the country that he wants to lead as freeloaders:

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

"Signs & Symbols" At The Whitney Museum

"Signs & Symbols" at the Whitney Museum of American Art focuses on the work of postwar American artists before the triumph of the "all-over" canvases of Pollock, de Kooning and other abstract expressionists. Following World War II, artists and sculptors created works filled with symbols and calligraphy influenced by African, Native American, Eastern and surrealist art. I was particularly drawn to the "oceanic" forms of painters Theodoros Stamos and William Baziotes, the scrap metal totemic "Kabuki Dancer" by sculptor Richard Stankiewicz, and the mask imagery in Adolph Gottlieb's "Vigil," 1948 (above). The exhibition provides an illuminating look at an important period in the development of American abstract art. 

"Signs & Symbols" will run through Oct. 28 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave. at 75th St., NYC, (212) 570-3600,

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Santorum: "We Will Never Have The Elite, Smart People On Our Side"

Speaking at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC, Rick Santorum said that conservatives will never have the media or "elite, smart people" on its side "because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do." That's an ironic comment from someone who wants to invalidate gay marriages and prosecute doctors who perform abortions on rape and incest victims. Santorum, who made disparaging comments about higher education during his presidential run, also said that "colleges and universities" will not support the conservative movement, which can only depend on "the church and the family." Watch:

Powell's Foreign Policy Advice To Romney: “C’mon, Mitt, think.”

Besides his disastrous overseas tour and despicable attempt to play politics with recent attacks on U.S. embassies, Mitt Romney also showed ineptness with foreign affairs when he called Russia the "No. 1 geopolitical foe" of the United States. President Vladimir Putin said that Romney's remarks justified Russia's opposition to American missile defense plans in Europe. Appearing on "Morning Joe," Colin Powell expressed concern about Romney's neo-conservative foreign policy advisers, stating, "Some of them are quite far to the right." Regarding Romney's assessment of Russia, Powell said, "C'mon, Mitt, think. That isn't the case." Watch:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Katha Pollitt: What's The Matter With Women Who Love Republicans?

We recently considered conservative columnist Kathleen Parker's question, "What the *#@% Is Wrong With Republican Men?!" At least as intriguing is why some women vote for a party whose policies are hostile to them. Writing in The Nation, Katha Pollitt (left) expresses perplexity about "Women Who Love Republicans Who Hate Them":

...Women! WTF?! After all the weird, heartless, misogynistic, ignorant things Republican men have said about women and pregnancy and rape over the past month, I’m ashamed for my sex that any woman is still planning to vote for Romney and Ryan.

And a lot of them are: 51 percent of white women, to be exact. What’s the matter with them? Do they have Stockholm syndrome? And how about you, women of Virginia—21 percent of whom in a just-issued Public Policy Polling survey say they “strongly” agree that abortion should be banned even in cases of rape and incest? (For women 18 to 29, it’s 32 percent.)

Ladies,...The Republican Party is not your friend! It does not respect you or even like you. Rush Limbaugh thinks women who use birth control are sluts and prostitutes. Ann Coulter regrets that women can even vote. Most recently, you may have heard, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said it’s “really rare” for women to get pregnant from rape because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” ...both ideas—that only some rape really counts as rape, and that such rape doesn’t cause pregnancies—have long, inglorious Republican pedigrees...

...You would think even anti-choice women would pick up on the indifference, distrust, callousness and obtuseness toward women exhibited by the GOP. But no. Sometimes I feel women have been hit on the head with a great big frying pan.

...Come on, women voters. Show you have a better grasp of government than the Republican who wants to run it.

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Joni Mitchell Live

Joni Mitchell performed her "Big Yellow Taxi," complete with a Bob Dylan imitation, on the Warner Brother's lot in Los Angeles, 1998. The song's theme is epitomized by a question worth contemplating: "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romney Makes Desperate Attacks About Riots Abroad

In case one doubted the ample evidence that Mitt Romney is a disaster regarding foreign affairs, he proved it on Tuesday when he accused the Obama administration of sympathizing with attackers abroad who killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens (the administration has vowed to track down the killers). Romney's reprehensible, desperate attempt–on 9/11, no less–to play politics with the attacks at U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya left foreign policy veterans and strategists from both parties in disbelief; conservative writer Peggy Noonan said, "Romney is not doing himself any favors." "First Read" of NBC News presented a chronology of Romney's "Over the top" statement:

Yesterday we noted that Mitt Romney, down in the polls after the convention, was throwing the kitchen sink at President Obama. Little did we know the kitchen sink would include -- on the anniversary of 9/11 -- one of the most over-the-top and (it turns out) incorrect attacks of the general-election campaign . Last night after 10:00 pm ET, Romney released a statement on the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya. After saying he was “outraged” by these attacks and the death of an American consulate worker, Romney said, “It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” Yet after learning every piece of new information about those attacks, the Romney statement looks worse and worse -- and simply off-key. First, Romney was referring to a statement that the U.S. embassy in Egypt issued condemning the “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” But that embassy statement, which the White House has distanced itself from, was in reference to an anti-Islam movie and anti-Islam pastor Terry Jones, and it came out BEFORE the embassy attacks began. Then this morning, we learned that the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and others died in one of the attacks.

Bottom line: This was news-cycle campaigning by the Romney campaign gone awry. Why didn’t the Romney campaign wait until it had all the facts? On his overseas trip in the summer, Romney was so careful not to criticize Obama while on foreign soil. But how much time do you give an administration to work through a diplomatic and international crisis before trying to score immediate political points? You’d expect the Sarah Palins of the world to quickly pounce on something like this, and she predictably did. But a presidential nominee running for the highest office in the land? After the facts have come out, last night’s Romney statement only feeds the narrative that his campaign is desperate...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ryan Opposed Bill To Help 9/11 First Responders

"For me, this is a day to remember those who perished on that day of terror, including the first responders," said Paul Ryan today at the Republicans' weekly press conference. What Ryan didn't mention was his repeated opposition to the Zadroga Act, whose purpose was to help 9/11 first responders who subsequently suffered health problems. Ryan explained that he was opposed to the bill since it "would create a new health care entitlement":

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president, voted July 29, 2010 against the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act when the measure first came up for a vote in the House of Representatives...

...Eight weeks later on Sept. 29, when the $7.4 billion package returned to the House floor under regular order, Ryan voted no again...

...The Democrat-controlled Senate made its changes to the bill and the House voted on final passage during the lame duck session on Dec. 22, 2010. Ryan, along with 167 other members of the House, did not vote on final passage in the House, having already skipped town to return to their congressional districts for the holidays.

Ryan explained in a floor statement that he would have opposed the final passage vote, too, calling the bill “deeply flawed.” He also complained that it “would create a new health care entitlement, the World Trade Center Health Program, while also extending eligibility for compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001.”

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ryan Refuses To Say How Romney Pays For Tax Cuts For The Rich

Recently, Romney spokesman Lanhee Chen refused to tell Fox's Gregg Jarrett which tax loopholes will be closed to make Romney's tax cuts for the rich revenue neutral. Today, it was Paul Ryan's turn to repeatedly evade ABC's George Stephanopoulos's question, "Don't voters have a right to know which loopholes you're going to go after?" Watch Ryan present various answers that add up to "No, they don't have that right":

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you make the math work without eliminating the big deductions that middle-class families rely on?

RYAN: Well, first of all, that — those claims have been pretty discredited. There have been five different studies –

STEPHANOPOULOS: How have they been discredited?

RYAN: — that show — that this — that this plan works. So the analysis you’re citing wasn’t even an analysis of the Romney plan. But here’s the point I am trying to make here, George. We think the secret to economic growth is lower tax rates for families and successful small businesses by plugging loopholes. Now the question is, not necessarily what loopholes go, but who gets them...

[...] STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Congressman, as you know, many say it’s difficult to accept your word if you’re not going to specify which tax loopholes you’re willing to close. Don’t voters have a right to know which loopholes you’re going to go after?

RYAN: So Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this is to show the framework, show the outlines of these plans, and then to work with Congress to do this. That’s how you get things done...

[...] STEPHANOPOULOS: But why not specify the...loopholes now...out in the open?

[...] RYAN: — we want to have this — George, because we want to have this debate in the public. We want to have this debate with Congress...

Romney Suddenly Likes Parts Of Health Care Reform

Mitt Romney has a long history of flip flops, not surprising for someone who has no core principles and will say anything to get elected. The "Etch-A Sketch" candidate's latest reversal is on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His "Five Point Plan" states, "We must repeal and replace Obamacare"–a point that he's repeatedly emphasized in speeches. Romney has suddenly had a change of heart; today he told "Meet The Press" that he likes parts of the ACA:

“I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place,” he said on NBC’s “Meet The Press. “One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.”

The remarks could have huge implications as they signal a marked shift from Romney’s strong, unequivocal support for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which he has consistently held since the Republican primaries.

Image: Steve Sack, Star Tribune

"A Vagina Monologue: A Vagina, Interrupted"

Full Frontal Freedom presents a brief drama in which a "proud, free American vagina" finds that its freedom has been interrupted by Republican penises attempting to restrict abortion rights and re-define rape. The actress then states that she's also a woman and "another 'V' "–a voter–and warns that "If you mess with this 'V,' this 'V' is going to kick your ass." Watch:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Romney Implies Obama Will Take God Off Coins

Just how desperate Mitt Romney has become is evident from a speech today in Virginia Beach in which he implied that President Obama wants to remove God from coins. To the crowd's approval, Romney pledged that he "will not take God off our coins." Watch Romney's shameless pandering:

ROMNEY: I will not take God out of our platform. I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart.

Kathleen Parker: "What the *#@% Is Wrong With Republican Men?!"

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker (left) warns Republican men that their "invasive state policies" are alienating women–and she wonders "What the *#@% Is Wrong With Republican Men?!" Parker considers the anti-women stances of Todd Akin and Paul Ryan and argues that they reflect the positions taken by Republican lawmakers all year:

[Akin's] timing [in stating that "legitimate rape" victims rarely get pregnant] was, shall we say, immaculate, coinciding with GOP platform committee meetings and Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate. The platform includes one of Ryan’s signature issues—a human life amendment to the Constitution that could preclude abortion even for rape or incest. And Ryan, in addition to being the party’s budget genie, happens to have coauthored with Akin legislation seeking to redefine rape as “forcible” (as opposed to statutory) as a way of limiting public spending on abortion.

...Alas, Akin’s comments were not in isolation. They followed a year of explosive events and remarks involving Republican lawmakers and leaders—and the women they seek to “protect.” A one-man firing squad, Akin simply provided the exclamation point at the end of a Faulknerian paragraph of Republican offenses, from laws attempting to require transvaginal probes for women seeking abortion to promises to defund Planned Parenthood to Rush Limbaugh’s calling law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” when she testified about the need for insurance coverage for contraception. Agree or not with her argument, powerful men shouldn’t call young women sluts for attempting to participate in a grown-up debate about health care. Agree or not with a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy, elected officials shouldn’t parse the definition of rape as “legitimate” or otherwise. For the record, the bill to redefine rape as “forcible” had 227 Republican cosponsors.

...How tragically ironic that the party of small government and individual liberty may have orchestrated its own defeat by insisting on some of the most invasive state policies in the history of man. Perhaps it is time for a new kind of history.

Romney Campaign Refuses To Clarify Tax Plan

Romney's tax plan follows the GOP blueprint: it helps the wealthy at the expense of everyone else; it blatantly contradicts the Republicans' "deficit hawk" stance; and it lacks details as to which tax deductions and loopholes will be eliminated to make tax cuts for the rich revenue neutral. Regarding the latter point, even Fox host Gregg Jarrett lost patience with Romney spokesman Lanhee Chen's refusal to be clear. Watch as Chen evades Jarrett's question three consecutive times:

JARRETT: He’s not saying which of the loopholes and deductions and credits and exemptions he wants to close. That is huge. That’s significant. How can he not tell the American people those facts?

CHEN: Well, let’s back up for a second. This is a race about two dramatically different philosophies. [...] As you’ve said, they’re going to get rid of some of this underbrush, some of the deductions and some of the exemptions that are clouding our tax code.

JARRETT: But why won’t he explain how and which ones and by how much?

CHEN: Well, you know, a number of different bipartisan commissions over the years have told us exactly how we get there. The key is presidential leadership and that’s something that’s been lacking. That’s something that Governor Mitt Romney is going to provide in the White House.

JARRETT: But Mr. Chen, forgive me, you’re just not answering my question. So let me put it again: which loopholes and deductions and credits and exemptions the President’s going to get rid of would affect all Americans. Before they cast their ballot, don’t they deserve to know which ones are going, which ones are not, and by how much?

CHEN: Look Greg, Governor Romney’s been very clear that first of all we’re going to look to curb deductions for high-income taxpayers. And secondly, a lot of different deductions and exemptions are out there, we’ve got a lot of different ways to get there.

Romney Didn't Mention Troops Because "You Talk About Things That Are Important"

Interviewed by Fox's Brett Baier, Mitt Romney responded to critics, including DNC speaker John Kerry, conservative Bill Kristol and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who complained about his omitting mention of Afghanistan and U.S. troops at the RNC. Romney explained to Baier, "You talk about the things that you think are important." Romney also told Baier about his supporting aid to the military, as if that is the same as paying tribute to those actually serving in uniform. This lack of emphasis on real people, though, is to be expected from someone who believes that "corporations are people." Watch:

BAIER: To hear several speakers in Charlotte … they were essentially saying that you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech. … Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech.

ROMNEY: I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Ornette Coleman Live

Ornette Coleman's album "The Shape Of Jazz To Come" (1959) was fittingly titled, as it turned out to be a tremendously influential avant-garde jazz recording. Coleman is shown above performing the first track, "Lonely Woman," in Vienna, 2008. In his book "1959: The Year Everything Changed," recently reviewed here, author Fred Kaplan devotes a chapter to saxophonist Coleman's groundbreaking album.

Friday, September 7, 2012

President Obama Makes America's Choice Clear

"It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future." In his spectacular speech tonight, President Obama made as clear as possible the choice we face–and why, on issue after issue, his is the vision that must prevail in November:

Now, I've cut taxes for those who need it - middle-class families and small businesses. But I don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down our deficit. I don't believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all that we've been through, I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker keep his home. We've been there, we've tried that, and we're not going back. We're moving forward.

...I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire's tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled - all so those with the most can pay less.

And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we'll do it by reducing the cost of health care - not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it - not by turning it over to Wall Street.

This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pat Robertson: Democrats Are "Going After God"

The latest fake outrage among the right wing is the absence of the word "God" in the 2012 Democratic National Platform. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, "...when you have planks in your platform that support abortion rights and gay marriage then it's no wonder that God's name would be dropped as well." The fact that the platform has a passage affirming faith as "a central part of the American story" doesn't satisfy the American Taliban. Naturally, Pat Robertson has joined in the criticism, stating that the Democrats are the party of "gays, godlessness and whatever else" and are "going after God." He expressed astonishment that "same-sex marriage is in the platform." Watch:

ROBERTSON: Back in the 1850s or 60s there was a charge that one party was the party of rum, Romanism and rebellion. I don’t know what you label the Democrats now but it’s the party of gays, godlessness and whatever else. I mean, same-sex marriage is in the platform, they want to go along with that as a right, I’m just astounded, because they can’t defend it and you ask yourself, you’re going to go before the American people and that’s going to be the face you're going to present to America. You have insulted the Catholic Church with your rules, you have insulted right-to-work states, you have insulted certain union groups with your stand on the pipeline and now you’re going after God. It makes no sense but that’s what they want to do.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chuck Norris: Oust Obama Or Face “1,000 Years Of Darkness”

Continuing the hysteria that has gripped the right wing since Obama's election, Chuck Norris and his wife Gena issued a dire warning to America and, specifically, to evangelicals: vote against the president or our country “may be lost forever”–followed by “1,000 years of darkness.” Watch:

Kristol: Romney Didn't Make A "Positive Case" At RNC

Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, praised Romney's criticisms of Obama at the RNC but said that he fell short in making a "positive case" for his candidacy. Kristol's comments actually reflect Romney's entire campaign, which is short on details and can be summarized as "I'm not Obama. Trust me." Watch:

CHRIS WALLACE: What did Romney need to do in Tampa and to what degree did he succeed? [...]

KRISTOL: I thought that they should do a more forward looking emphasis on the next four years. They thought they’re comfortable with asking voters to pass judgement on the last four years and Kirsten’s right, just reassuring people about Mitt Romney.

You talk to the top Romney strategists, they use that word an awful lot. We have to reassure voters about Mitt Romney. He doesn’t hate women, he’s a likable guy. He’s a generous guy. The Republican Party is diverse. That’s enough, plus the case against Obama. That’s their theory of the race and they had a convention that fit with their theory of the race. If you believe and I’m more inclined to this other belief, that you need to actually convince voters by making a positive case for the Romney-Ryan ticket, there was much less of that.

Right Wing Conducts Campaign Of Hatred Since Obama’s Election

The right wing has conducted a campaign of hatred, delegitimization and crackpot conspiracy theories ever since Barack Obama was elected president. Whether called a Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist or anything else, Obama has been characterized as “other” in a way that no other president has–all backed up by Fox News and other conservative media. Mitt Romney has played into this with his birther “joke” and numerous references to Obama’s “foreign” outlook. In addition, the RNC featured seven speakers who have shown sympathy for birtherism. The subtext of it all is racism: the inability to accept a black man as president. Watch four years of this right-wing nervous breakdown:

Bush Strategist On Ryan Speech: "At Some Point, The Truth Should Matter"

Add Matthew Dowd, chief political strategist for George Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, to those criticizing Paul Ryan for an RNC speech filled with lies. Dowd refers to Ryan's blaming Obama for a 2008 GM plant closure that took place before the president took office. Ryan made this false charge in Ohio on August 16th and repeated it at the convention. Dowd also refers to Ryan's criticizing Obama for not acting on the Bowles-Simpson debt commission–yet Ryan was instrumental to killing the bipartisan agreement. Watch Dowd criticize Ryan's falsehoods on ABC's This Week:

DOWD: Paul Ryan, what he did in his speech, I think so stretched the truth. And I like Paul Ryan, have a lot of great respect for Paul Ryan, but the elements that he said about closing the GM plant which closed before Barack Obama took president [sic], about the Simpson-Bowles bill which he opposed and then all of a sudden he faults Barack Obama for. At some point, the truth should matter…He was trying to convey that Barack Obama was responsible for the closing of the GM plant and that isn’t true.

Ryan Corrects Misstatement...About Marathon Time

Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican National Convention was replete with lies about President Obama's record, from a plant closing to Medicare to stimulus to the deficit and more. He hasn't corrected any of these falsehoods delivered to a national audience; however, before you think that Ryan has no regard for the truth, be aware that he has corrected his misstatement that he ran a marathon in less than three hours:

The vice presidential hopeful acknowledged Saturday he had misstated his marathon time by more than an hour. He released a statement correcting the record after Runner's World magazine found evidence he had completed one marathon and finished in just over four hours.

Ryan told radio host Hugh Hewitt last month he had run a "two hour and fifty-something" marathon. That's a pace of less than 7 minutes per mile for the 26.2 mile course — extremely fast for recreational runners.

Ryan said he should have rounded his marathon time to four hours, not three.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sen. Graham On GOP's Future: "We're Not Generating Enough Angry White Guys"

While 2008 exit polls showed that 90 percent of Republican voters were white, white births are no longer a majority in the U.S. The Republican Party's homogeneity was reflected in a Richmond Free Press headline about the RNC, "Ocean of Whiteness: Diversity nowhere in sight." This "ocean" was also evident in a Romney video, "The Promise of America," depicting a white country. Shifting demographics have led the GOP to voter suppression schemes aimed in great part at black and Hispanic voters; the Republicans must have paid heed to a recent NBC-WSJ poll finding African American support for Romney registering at 0 percent. Within this context, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made a remarkably candid assessment of his party's future prospects:

The nation’s shifting demographics have caused some Republican leaders to worry not only about the party’s future but about winning in November, particularly in key swing states such as Virginia and Nevada.

“The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

The Romney Girl Celebrates A Romney World

"I'm a Romney girl in a Romney world. Life is taxless; it's fantastic. Silver tip your hair; tax shelters everywhere." So sings the Romney Girl in praise of the candidate who completely embodies the interests of the one percent to the detriment of the vast majority. Highlighted in the video is Romney's lack of transparency in his financial dealings. Watch the Romney Girl party in this gilded paradise:

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: CSN Live

Crosby, Stills & Nash sang their classic "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" at the New Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, November 1982. The performance features the trio's renowned harmonies and Stephen Stills' guitar virtuosity.