Josh Marshall has a very funny take on all these Mitt sightings. I'm sure you've seen them. Josh theorizes, I think accurately:
Is it something about Romney? Or is this just the first post-non-presidency of the Twitter era. Because we didn’t see anything remotely like this with John Kerry or John McCain or Al Gore for that matter. More than just a Twitter meme, it’s like a 21st century version of the old post-demise Elvis sighting from the late 70s and early 80s. And I think that’s because Romney’s vanished entirely from official media existence — no television interviews or appearances — and yet he’s seemingly everywhere where ordinary people can get a snap of him with the smartphone.
In perfect Buzzfeed fashion Andrew Kaczynski put together a list of “15 People Who Just Saw Mitt Romney” and reported it on Twitter. As the phenomenon has grown though it’s become clear that at least a decent number of these people couldn’t possibly have actually seen Romney. I saw Romney at a midnight 7/11 in Tampa. I saw him at a Hooters in Boise. I saw him working on a fishing boat outside of Delacroix. I saw him shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
I love those last two! Let's play along. I saw Mitt Romney...at the Chelsea drugstore, to get his prescription filled. I saw Mitt Romney darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there, what does he care? I saw Mitt Romney kissing Santa Claus, underneath the mistletoe last night. Got it? Enter your "sightings" in the comment thread.
Matt Miller spins out a lot of good columns at The Washington Post, and today he has another winner. He's hit on the interesting idea about how Obama should frame the coming debt-limit fight under which Obama would...well, let him explain it:
The linchpin of the Republican argument is that the debt limit represents their only leverage to curb your insatiable spending appetites — the only way to deny you a blank check that soaks the nation in debt. “We’re not going to let Obama borrow any more money .... until we fix this country from becoming Greece,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in a typical blast Monday on Fox News. “Every big idea he has is a liberal idea that drowns us in debt.”
To listen to the GOP, in other words, you’d think they support budgets that don’t add much to the debt at all. This is demonstrably, laughably, even shockingly false. But only a president can emblazon this fact on America’s consciousness and move it to the center of the conversation. Once you do, it will force Republicans to alter their calculations in the current showdown.
The way to do this is to propose (in a bipartisan spirit, if you’re feeling sly) that the debt limit be raised just by the amount it would take to accommodate the debt Republicans voted for in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget last year — $6 trillion over the next decade.
It tells us something that Governor Rick Snyder signed the right-to-work bill into law with no fanfare, in private, as if he didn't quite want to own up to it. The whole question of how this came about is an interesting one, and light is shed here by this post by Theresa Riley, which appeared yesterday on Bill Moyers's web site.
She cites Detroit News reports fingering the usual suspects:
The Detroit News reports that after requests from Grover Norquist and others, Snyder switched sides on the issue. United Auto Workers President Robert King said in an interview, that the Koch brothers and Amway owner Dick DeVos “bullied and bought their way to get this legislation in Michigan.”
In an editorial headlined “Drinking the Kochs’ Kool Aid,” the Detroit Free Press was unable to account for the governor’s change of heart, but offered some theories on the motivations of State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville. He may have been under pressure, the newspaper said, from the anti-union Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both financially supported by the Koch brothers. ALEC’s model right-to-work bill “mirrors the Michigan law word for word.
If Obama is really considering hiking the Medicare eligibility age, he's off to a bad start with the base. Michael Tomasky on the potentially colossal blunder.
Sunday afternoon I received an email from Howard Dean. Not a personal one, but nevertheless seeing his name there made me look twice, because I never get emails of any kind from Howard Dean. This one warned me ominously about the looming cuts to Medicare, and while the Deanian digit of outrage was pointed at the Republicans, the email also noted that my voice was needed to ensure that the Democrats stood united against the assault. Translated, this means that liberals are terrified that the White House is about to agree to increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67. I don’t personally feel quite as strongly about this as many others do, for reasons I’ll get into. But my own views aside, I think the White House ought to know that by all existing evidence, if it agrees to such a deal, Barack Obama will lose liberal support far more quickly, more despondently, and more, if I may put it this way, ferociously and furiously than he ever lost it over the public option.
Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo
Here’s the talk that started over the weekend: That the White House was … well, the correct verb is an interesting question here … contemplating? Pushing? Offering? … a deal that quickly was dubbed 67-for-37. The Democrats would agree to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from the current 65, and Republicans would agree to hike the marginal tax rate on taxable dollars earned above $250,000 to 37 percent (down from Obama’s desired 39.6 percent). Both sides give, both sides get. It looks, to your average person, reasonable. It could be done before the New Year. As we say in Appalachia, Bob’s your uncle.
Except that it isn’t that simple. As clean and balanced as this might look to the unschooled eye, it would actually constitute a huge win for the Republicans—the party at the table, remember, that is presumed to have little to no leverage here. Why would that be? Because it’s a lot easier to change marginal tax rates around than it is to go back in and fiddle with an entitlement rule. Tax rates aren’t easy to change, mind you. But entitlement changes are really, really hard and rare. If the Medicare age got bumped up to 67, I can’t imagine a force in the future that could bump it back down, what with the deficit-obsessed establishment that we have in this town. So Obama would be giving the Republicans something much more likely to remain permanent in exchange for a thing the Republicans can change pretty quickly the next time they have a president and majorities in Congress.
TPM's Sahil Kapur recalls the great man's reaction to the Lawrence v. Texas, ruling, as we reflect on the recent news that the Court will hear two gay-marriage cases:
In a landmark 2003 decision, the Court ruled that states may not outlaw sodomy among consenting adults of the same sex. The minority dissent in the 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas was authored by Justice Scalia, who argued that the Court’s reasoning effectively, if not explicitly, knocked down the legal basis for outlawing gay marriage.
“Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned,” Scalia wrote.
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion said the Court’s ruling against anti-sodomy laws “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.”
This discussion appears to been kickstarted by Frank Bruni in the Times, who noted in his Sunday column that Zero Dark Thirty, the we-got-bin-Laden movie by the acclaimed Kathryn Bigelow, appears to argue, quite against the known historical record, that torture was crucial to learning OBL's whereabouts. Bruni:
But the movie of the year is also the political conundrum of the year, a far, far cry from the rousing piece of pro-Obama propaganda that some conservatives feared it would be. “Zero Dark Thirty,” which opens in theaters on Dec. 19 and presents itself as a quasi-journalistic account of what really happened, gives primary credit for the killing of Bin Laden to neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations but to one obsessive C.I.A. analyst whose work spans both presidencies. And it presents the kind of torture that Cheney advocated — but that President Obama ended — as something of an information-extracting necessity, repellent but fruitful.
Dexter Filkins, in a New Yorker piece released today, takes note of the problem:
Bigelow maintains that everything in the film is based on first-hand accounts, but the waterboarding scene, which is likely to stir up controversy, appears to have strayed from real life. According to several official sources, including Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the identity of bin Laden’s courier, whose trail led the C.I.A. to the hideout in Pakistan, was not discovered through waterboarding.
I was quite surprised and saddened as I flipped through my Saturday Times to see that Jon Kest died. I knew Jon fairly well in my New York days. He was an organizer and activist who helped poor people in any number of ways. He helped found the Working Families Party, and, according to the obit, he conceived and organized the recent one-day action by fast food workers in New York. He was a terrific guy, and I was proud to have known him.
He died of cancer at age 57. That's plenty sad enough. But read this paragraph from the obit:
Besides his brother, Mr. Kest is survived by a sister, Amy Kest; his parents, Martin and Ruth Kest; his wife, Fran Streich; and a son, Jake Streich-Kest. A daughter, Jessie Streich-Kest, was killed in Brooklyn on Oct. 29, when she was struck by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy.
What can one say about that? Knowing that you're facing death and having to bury your daughter under unspeakably senseless and shocking circumstances. I started shaking when I read that sentence.
It's just sad and depressing to read stuff like this, from yesterday's Times, about the big speech by Hamas leader Khaled Meshal:
Speaking before tens of thousands of supporters to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Mr. Meshal said the Jewish state would be wiped away through “resistance,” or military action. “The state will come from resistance, not negotiation,” he said. “Liberation first, then statehood.”
His voice rising to a shout, Mr. Meshal said: “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on any inch of the land.” He vowed that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants would one day return to their original homes in what is now Israel.
“We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take,” he said. “We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.” He also promised Palestinian prisoners held in Israel that they would be freed using the same methods that had worked in the past — the kidnapping of Israelis and Israeli soldiers, like Gilad Shalit, who was released last year in a prisoner exchange after five years as a hostage.
The Obama years look like they may end up a huge success for progressives. Which is why they’ll need to ensure that Hillary wins the White House in 2016.
Is it too early to talk about 2016? Of course it is. It’s preposterous. So I’m not talking about 2016. Instead, I’m talking about something much bigger: I’m talking, let us say, about the great march of history, the ineluctable links of causality, the tempora and the mores, the old mole working both underground and above. And in this context, this context of keeping history moving forward, Hillary Clinton has not just the chance to run in 2016. She has the obligation to do so. Her party, and her country, will need her then, to consolidate gains and prevent the backsliding that the backsliders just can’t wait to commence. In other words, if the next four years go the way I suspect they might, it will be of the most fundamental importance that the Democrats hold the White House thereafter, and the burden of so ensuring falls squarely on the shoulders of Hugh Rodham’s rebellious daughter.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton extends her hand on May 5, 2012 before boarding a plane at Beijing airport for Bangladesh. (Shannon Stapleton, AFP / Getty Images)
Here’s what I mean. I suspect that the next four years will go rather nicely for my side. The economy shows every sign of turning around and, one hopes, going like gangbusters three years hence. Obamacare will be implemented. Taxes—tax rates—will have been hiked. Immigration reform may well have been enacted. With a ridiculous amount of luck, a carbon tax. And all that will have been on top of Dodd-Frank, the equal pay act, and the other first-Obama-term accomplishments. We stand a decent chance, come 2016, of looking back on a pretty darn good eight years.
Well, that’s my “we.” There’s another we—the we on the other side of the ideological parking lot, who’ll be looking back on eight years of unmitigated socialistic disaster that they’ll be aching to undo. They’ll be desperate to get the top tax rate back down as low as they can get it. They’ll be itching to repeal Dodd-Frank, or at the very least eliminate its most visible and progressive manifestation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They’ll be pining to roll back myriad rules and regulations that don’t get much press attention but have certainly helped make a more progressive country in areas like labor, the environment, energy, and more. And they’ll never stop poking at Obamacare’s perimeter fence, looking for weaknesses.
That's an excellent emblem of the silliness of the Repubilcan position on the debt ceiling, the way Mitch McConnell filibustered his own bill yesterday. If you don't know the details, quickly: During last year's debt talks, McConnell proposed a way for the administration to increase the debt limit by itself; Congress would not have to approve it, but would vote only to disapprove it if it didn't like it. The administration would agree to spending cuts, which Congress would pass later.
Most observers knew at the time that this fact--the debt limit would go up first, then Congress would pass equivalent cuts, meaning in reality that Congress could pass a smaller amount of cuts, or no cuts at all--was a strange wrinkle for McConnell to embrace. Now that push has come to shove and the Democrats took him up on his offer, he ended up yesterday opposing himself. Oops.
Meanwhile on the fiscal slope, it seems to me that pressure grew on the Republicans this week. Mostly it was the Business Roundtable people who went to the White House Wednesday and emerged pretty much agreeing that taxes should go up. If there's air between the GOP and the Business Roundtable, with the latter mostly accepting Obama's position, then the circle around the R's is getting narrower and narrower.
Also the appearance of a handful of polls showing the unpopularity of basically all the GOP positions. People want taxes to go up at the high end, and they don't want entitlement cuts. There's just no way the R's can talk their way around that.
I am tickled to see that pundittracker.com has named me one of three finalists for best political prediction of 2012. My prediction was that Obama would be reelected, the Democrats would hold the Senate, and the GOP would hold the House. Ho hum, you say?
Well, it’s all about when I said it:
Tomasky (Daily Beast) hit the trifecta here. While the odds for this prediction grew throughout the year, Tomasky made it in December 2011, when it was considered unlikely. Intrade, for instance, pegged the probability at roughly 20%.
Personally, I think I made an even better prediction in early August 2012, when I wrote that “most political journalists would chuckle derisively at the idea that Obama is going to carry home 330 EV’s. Deride away.”
Well, this sure came out of the blue to me, Jim DeMint’s announcement that he’s resigning from the Senate. Let’s get right to the theories:
1. He’s just interested in having a better quality of life. He’s going to make a million dollars a year and have a car and driver and all that; more importantly, no more going back to South Carolina on weekends and being harangued by people about their SSI checks and their small-business loan applications. Plus one doubts it’s a hard job at all. It’s mostly fund-raising, but he already does that anyway as a senator.
2. He is in some sense dispirited right about now. Obama won, his party didn’t take the Senate, and his movement is in the doldrums right about now. That could change, since history suggests that the 2014 by-elections will be good for the out party, but certainly the zeitgeist right now ain’t very tea party-ish.
3. Conversely, he may feel his work is finished. Several tea-party people have been elected to the Senate, they’ve attained a certain critical mass. They can’t pass anything, but they can still block plenty.
Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio recently laid out a vision for the GOP’s future. Too bad it shows Republicans have learned nothing at all from their historic trouncing on Election Day.
So we saw Tuesday night the unveiling of the “new” Republican Party at the Jack Kemp Foundation dinner. The two young stars spoke, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio. Politico gave it a big write up, noting how many times Ryan mentioned the word “poverty” and how many times Rubio said “middle class.” One can see already that the media is going to hype these two and their supposed new thinking relentlessly. Is there anything to the hype? Of course not, and the reason is simple. Neither they nor the people they’re talking to are ready to accept that they’ve been wrong about anything except messaging, and until they are, this is just gaseous rhetoric.
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The rhetoric, I admit, they’ve got down. No 53 percenters, these two! They love everybody. The GOP, Ryan said in his speech, knows how to talk to the “risk-takers.” But unlike Mitt Romney, he sees that “there is another part of the American creed: when our neighbors are struggling, we look out for one another. We do that best through our families and communities—and our party must stand for making them stronger. We have a compassionate vision based on ideas that work—but sometimes we don’t do a good job of laying out that vision. We need to do better.”
Rubio went so far in his remarks as to mimic liberal economic belief, sounding not too unlike Barack Obama at certain moments: “The emergence of a strong, vibrant, and growing 21st-century American middle class is the answer to the most pressing challenges we face. Millions of Americans with jobs that pay more means more buyers for our products, more customers for our businesses, and more taxpayers for our governments. The more they spend, the more jobs they create for others…” And so on. You get the picture. There’s an implicit rejection of supply-side theology in there, which I doubt would have made old Mr. Kemp very happy.
Adelson, who spent maybe $150 million trying to defeat Barack Obama this year, tells the Wall Street Journal he's pro-choice, pro-stem cell research, pro-DREAM Act, pro-socialized medicine (because it exists and works in Israel, where he was impressed with it).
So why spend that much money fighting the party that supports these positions (except the last one, exactly)?:
He added that he used to be a Democrat—like most Jewish Americans, he noted –until he attended the 1988 Democratic convention. He said he was appalled at the self-interested politicians he says were all over the place.
He then went to the 1992 Republican convention in Houston — where, he said, people were less concerned in what they were going to get from the presidential election, and more focused on helping the country.
El Prez is meeting with business leaders today, and I think he ought to throw them a bone while throwing the Republicans a tricky little curve ball: He should propose lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 30 percent.
That 35 figure is higher than most countries. The problem, of course, is all the loopholes, which enable many corporations to pay no income tax at all. The closing of loopholes would have to be figured out over time.
But he could state the principle now, which I think would be the smart thing to do. He sends a signal thereby that he's not just about increasing taxes. Takes that weapon out of the GOP's hands. And it's one of their last weapons. If this were chess, this would be like cornering their queen, rendering her unable to play offense.
It's the right policy, too. This is actually a tax cut on which many liberal agree in my experience, provided some loopholes are closed, which is always a big if, given the power of the lobbies who'll circle like hyenas around the whole project, but it's sound policy. It would win him a lot of good will in the biz world and would likely spur some corporate leaders to say to Republicans, okay, children, now grow up and be reasonable about taxes and the debt limit. And all that would really put Obama on the high political ground. No downside that I can see.
Don't have an hour to watch President Obama pontificate on the future of national security? No worries! Watch the key moments from his speech in less than 250 seconds.
What’s so bad about the IRS investigating nonprofit applications?