Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Romney Vision

Reflecting on the upcoming Labor Day holiday, Robert Reich Reflecting on the upcoming Labor Day holiday, Robert Reich noticed "Big American corporations are making more money, and creating more jobs, outside the United States than in it" while CEO pay has "soared" and " the ratio of corporate profits to wages is now higher than at any time since just before the Great Depression." Soon afterward, Politifact grudgingly conceded "Reich's claim is essentially correct."

Little has changed in the succeeding five months, though private sector employment has risen, which no Republican dares admit.        President Obama has extended the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and the struggling alike while the overall, combined tax rate of Americans is lower than at anytime in the past half century.

And so the leading GOP presidential contender continues to campaign sans substance, as Joe Scarborough noted this morning on the cleverly named
Morning Joe ("powered by Starbucks!").            Earlier this month, Mitt Romney charged 

President Obama wants to make us a European style welfare state, where instead of being a merit society we're an entitlement society, where government's role is to take from some and give to others.     What I know is if they do that, they'll substitute envy for ambition,and they'll poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God.

Romney was on message, having late last year boasted

Let me make this very clear.    As President of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century.      And I will never, ever apologize for America....

I believe we are an exceptional country with a unique destiny and role in the world.      Not exceptional, as the President has derisively said, in the way that the British think Great Britain is exceptional or the Greeks think Greece is exceptional.    In Barack Obama's profoundly mistaken view, there is nothing unique about the United States.

There is little if no substance there, mostly generalities and platitudes, bereft of facts or figures and not even advancing a cogent argument.          Not surprisingly, columnist Eugene Robinson finds that Romney's "core message" seems to be "yes, I made a ton of money.      You got a problem with that."     (The second part would sound more natural, though, coming from Romney's prime surrogate, Chris Christie.)         

Robinson concedes that Romney may successfully adapt his message and defeat Obama.       But perhaps unaware that he has shifted his argument, he concludes of the candidate "what he doesn't seem to have is a compelling narrative about the kind of America he envisions and the road he will take to us there."   

There is no roadmap- winning candidates generally avoid specifics- but there is a compelling narrative about the kind of America the former governor envisions. Borrowing from the Pledge of Allegiance,  it's "one nation under God." 
Romney, unlike that acolyte of Jeremiah Wright, believes in God- however strange his religion may seem to many voters.         And practically every American professes to believe in God, however he or she may define, or defy, the deity. 

America is the best (exceptional) anywhere and deserving of an "American century"- us and us alone!        Romney hints at a nation based entirely on merit which, many non-minority citizens believe, once existed.  In a nod (which no one will recognize as such) to political correctness, Romney takes a swipe at Europe, which most Americans, including Donald Rumsfeld, don't especially like- and which is economically distressed currently.           

Blacks and Hispanics, roughly as patriotic as the rest of the country, may nonetheless may be less enthusiastic about claims of exceptionalism and uniqueness.      This is of little significance, however, given that the base of the G.O.P.  is white and the party's opportunity to tap into minority support is somewhat limited with Barack Obama on the ballot.       

This is not strictly, or even primarily, a racial appeal, though the reference to "take from some and give to others" is an echo- however subtle- of Newt Gingrich's "food-stamp president" knock on the first black Chief Executive.        Meanwhile, the Village might find in Romney's skepticism of an "entitlement society" a helpful skepticism about Medicare and Social Security.      To most Americans, who intuitively recognize those programs as earned benefits, "entitlement" has a different implication.        And that is especially so when when contrasted with "merit," which itself is considered in many minds incompatible with affirmative action, a bugaboo among many white Americans.

In a throwback to a theme adopted, and dropped, by the 2012 McCain campaign (video below), the objective is to paint the candidate himself as a traditional American patriot, godly, and even macho- never, ever apologizing for America.  (In Republican fantasy, Barack Obama always apologizes, never mind Osama bin Laden, Muammar Ghaddafi, and Somali pirates.)        In this formulation, Mitt Romney will be a conventional American president, like we used to have before this strange guy somehow got elected.         Romney doesn't have to say that he is white, was born and raised in the American heartland, and doesn't practice radical religion.         (A more overt message would be objectionable to the media and the vast majority of citizens.)       The voter understands- and little else matters.

Share |

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In Vain

Back before Republicans were Republicans, a Republican president stood at a battlefield in Pennsylvania and stated

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

In an unincorporated area outside of Tucson, Arizona in January, 2011 six people were killed and 23 individuals injured, apparently by one Jared Lee Loughner.             Critically injured, Representative Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) survived but last week announced her retirement from congress.

No verdict is anywhere in sight for Loughner, who faces a hearing in four months to be determined whether he has become mentally competent and hence able to stand trial.          But the verdict is in on the the results of the shooting: the dead have in fact died in vain.

In the justified celebration over Giffords' improvement and spectacular recovery from a horrific activity, noting that the dead have died in vain is almost as popular as was Bill Maher's statement, in the wake of the September, 2011 terrorist attacks, that the Muslim terrorists were not "cowardly."       Maher was right, of course; the perpetrators were evil but, expecting to die in their abhorrent act, were not cowardly.

Commonly, we try to make sense and to find good in the death of individuals, especially if it comes in the course of a vicious crime.      It is some consolation to the living, especially to the friends and loved ones of the deceased.

But just as the stakes were sufficiently high for Abraham Lincoln to to urge that the dead of the Civil War should not be in vain, so it is that the consequences of that January day in Arizona be seen clearly.       Last Wednesday, Pia Carusone, Chief of Staff to Giffords, told Chris Matthews on Hardball

It was determined it seems that the gentleman was, you know, really mentally ill.    And it had nothing to do with it being in Arizona or it being a difficult part of the country politically.    It wasn't that.    It could be in anyone's community.

We don't know whether the shooting had anything to do with the politics of the southwest.     And Lougner's elevator probably didn't reach the top, though, contrary to Carusone's suggestion, he has been found not mentally ill but not presently competent to stand trial.

But that is of minor significance compared to Carusone's assertion "it had nothing to do with it being in Arizona."       Because it likely had a great deal to do with "being in Arizona."      Shortly after the shooting, we read in the Arizona Republic

One thing lawmakers could do is ban high-capacity magazines like the 33-round type apparently used in the Tucson shooting, said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Legal Community Against Violence, a San Francisco group dedicated to preventing gun violence.

"That created a huge part of the problem in and of itself," she said. The shooters in the Columbine, Fort Hood and Virginia Tech massacres used these types of magazines, Thomas said.

Magazines holding more than 10 rounds were banned under the 1994 assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004. Even during the ban, existing high-capacity magazines were still permitted for sale.

"It's not to say that would have stopped him, but it might saved lives had he not been able to discharge so many bullets so quickly without even having to stop for a moment," she said.

Arizona is not the only state which has failed to enact its own restrictions on high-capacity magazines.     But some states have, and Arizona is one of only three states to allow citizens 21 years and older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.       (The other two are the extremely rural states of Alaska and Vermont.)

Barack Obama, elected on a slogan of "change we can believe in," gave a well-received speech following the crime in which he claimed

Already we've seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized - at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do - it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

When leadership was called for, the President cowered.      The murders had little to do with guns or the murderer- it was because we say mean things to each other.      The response was so inadequate as to be reprehensible.     On the positive side, however, Obama was no doubt pleased that it enabled the mainstream media to claim that both sides poison the political environment.      And to keep the NRA off his back.

Last Tuesday, President Obama gave his third State of the Union message.       A partial list of the broad range of topics would include:      manufacturing employment; the financial sector; China; Iraq; secondary and higher education and vocational training; immigration; energy; infrastructure repair; governmental regulation; earned benefits; tax reform; Osama bin Laden; Muammar Qaddafi.         After a year to think about it, and on an occasion which featured the triumphant return to Capitol Hill and the hurrah of Representative Giffords, President Obama said the following about gun violence:

Share |

Friday, January 27, 2012

If It's Broken, Expand It

The thermometer may be plunging, with rain, snow, or sleet the forecast in your area.      But it's always a good day to criticize Newt Gingrich's immigration plan.

Two of the litmus tests for a Republican is a demand that taxes be lowered for the wealthy and reasonable regulations on the business community be minimized.        Joining those non-negotiable items now is the determination to "control the border."        Though far more reasonable than the other GOP demands, no Republican has yet acknowledged that President Obama has been far more successful pursuing this goal than was either George W. Bush or Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6).          (Bush the Elder has become largely disowned by the party faithful.)       Part of Gingrich's immigration policy, at various times described as "compassionate" and "humane" is the idea Newt often repeats, as he did at last night's GOP presidential debate (transcript, here) in Florida:

You should have a guest worker program, probably run by American Express, Visa or MasterCard so they minimize fraud, which the federal government won’t do. And you should have much stronger employer penalties at that point because you can validate it.

The federal government's current temporary worker program consists of the H-2 visa, broken down into the H-2a visa (agricultural) and the H-2b (non-agricultural) visa.       Owing to the greater worker protections afforded under its terms, H-2b alone has grown in favor among employers.          

Mary Bauer and Sarah Reynolds of the Southern Poverty Law Center explained in March, 2007

In the process of attaining a H-2 guest worker visa, workers typically fall victim to bait-and-switch schemes that force them to borrow huge sums of money at high interest rates (often leveraging family homes) in order to land short-term, low-wage jobs that all too often end up shorter-term and lower-waged than promised. Under crushing debt, and legally bound to work only for the employer who filed petition for them, these workers often face the most dangerous and harsh of working conditions in places like shipyards, the forestry department, or construction, with no medical benefits for on-the-job injuries or access to legal services. Bosses often hold workers’ documents to make sure they don’t “jump jobs.”

There are two levels of the current guest worker program—H-2a for agricultural work, and H-2b for non-agricultural work. Though the H-2a program provides legal protections for foreign farm workers—such as a guarantee of at least three quarters of the total employment hours promised, free housing, transportation compensation, medical benefits, and legal representation—many of these protections exist only on paper. H-2b workers, on the other hand, have no rights or protections.
The exploitation of guest workers begins with the initial recruitment in their home country—a process that often leaves them in a precarious economic state and therefore extremely vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous employers in this country. US employers almost universally rely on private agencies to find and recruit guest workers in their home countries.
These labor recruiters usually charge fees to the worker—sometimes many thousands of dollars to cover travel, visas, and other costs, including profit for the recruiters. The workers, most of whom live in poverty, frequently obtain high-interest loans to come up with the money to pay the fees. In addition, recruiters sometimes require them to leave collateral, such as the deed to their house or car, to ensure that they fulfill the terms of their individual labor contract.
The entirely unregulated recruiting business is quite lucrative. With more than 121,000 workers recruited in 2005 alone, tens of millions of dollars in recruiting fees are at stake. This financial bonanza provides a powerful incentive for recruiters and agencies to import as many workers as possible, with little or no regard to the impact on individual workers and their families.
Shorter explanation:   workers are exploited by unscrupulous employers and manipulative middle-men. Expansion of the guest worker concept is a truly terrible idea.      Its only saving grace is that it makes Newt Gingrich's harebrained scheme for "citizen" panels seem almost reasonable by comparison.     Barely.

Share |

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Backbone Missing

When the great Dan Rather closed his last newscast as anchorman of CBS News, ending it with his signature word, he stated

To our soldiers in dangerous places. To those who have endured the tsunami and to all who have suffered natural disasters, and who must find the will to rebuild. To the oppressed and to those whose lot it is to struggle, in financial hardship or in failing health. To my fellow journalists in places where reporting the truth means risking all. And to each of you: 'Courage.'

Few of us are as courageous as those soldiers, victims of a tsunami, or anyone victim of a great tragedy or willingly risking their lives in combat.     And that is especially true of Chris Christie.    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday

Opening a new front in the battle over same-sex marriage, Gov. Christie called Tuesday for the issue to be put to voters in November as a proposed amendment to the state constitution.

The Republican governor's proposal, which would need three-fifths approval in the Legislature to be implemented, could for the first time in U.S. history ask voters to legalize same-sex marriage via a ballot question.

Christie's announcement came at an unusually timed news conference after a town-hall meeting in central New Jersey just as Democrats in Trenton held the first hearing on their new marriage-equality bill.

That bill, Christie said for the first time, will be vetoed if it reaches his desk because he opposes changing the institution of marriage. But a ballot question would avoid such an impasse, he argued, and be a more democratic way to "overturn hundreds of years of societal and religious tradition."

"This issue is too big and too consequential not to trust the people who will be governed ultimately by any change in law or maintenance of the current law," 

Christie said, suggesting that even the civil-rights battles of the 1960s could have been avoided had the issue been put to a referendum. "So I say today, let the people decide."

The legislation is likely to pass the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate.    However, Christie's move makes unlikely an override of the governor's veto because it gives GOP legislators cover.

Christie's reasoning, however, did spark a heated response from black leaders in the state, who apparently have a greater knowledge of recent American history than the governor.  The ambitious and opportunistic Newark mayor, Cory Booker, remarked "I shudder to think what would have happened if the civil rights gains, heroically established by courageous lawmakers in the 1960s, were instead conveniently left up to popular votes in our 50 states." Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver explained "people were fighting and dying in the streets of the South for a reason.    They were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It took legislative action to bring justice to all Americans...."   And the chairman of the Black Issues Convention pointed out "The 1965 Voting Rights act was enacted to overcome the systemic, intentional racial suppression of the black vote. It’s certainly a lack of historical understanding about how the expanding definition of who ‘We the People’ are has happened."

Chris Christie would like to become President someday.      Having decided to forego a bid for the nomination this year and instead become a prime surrogate for Mitt Romney, he likely will run in 2013 for re-election as governor in a state in which, according to poll(s), a slight majority of the electorate favors same-sex marriage.    

If Christie's veto is, as expected, upheld, he risks a backlash in a culturally liberal/progressive state with a strong gay rights lobby.       But if voters thereafter approve same-sex marriage, there will be far less hostility toward Christie's obstruction because it will have gone for naught.    Nevertheless, he will be able to go before a conservative national Republican audience in 2016 or 2020 and not have to defend gay marriage in New Jersey, given that it would have come about through a referendum over his personal objection.

Consequently, Chris Christie's call for a referendum is a brilliant political stroke.    But far from an impulse to honor the will of the populace, it is a profile in political cowardice from a guy, who, in the words of the New York Times' Kate Zernike, "has promoted his reputation as the big, blunt-talking guy." Christie should sign the bill or veto it; if the latter, he should stand by it and not slink behind a call for a referendum.      Lack of principle is no virtue.

The New Jersey governor may be demonstrating that cowardice is convenient and courage optional when a Repub politician is big and blunt-talking.      Zernike concludes by noting  

But as Democrats ridiculed him, Mr. Christie was commanding another news conference, this one about dismantling the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a longtime goal.

A reporter noted that previous governors had the same goal. What made him think he would succeed? Mr. Christie looked exasperated in a friendly way, then smiled, and explained: “It’s me.”

Share |

Debate Whine

Yesterday, I was blessed with an e-mail, addressed "Dear Conservative," from Newt 2012 in which the candidate stressed his biggest campaign message (no, not racial animus):    I can bash Obama one-on-one.              

"I think I've proven I could take him on in a series of debates," the former House Speaker boasted, "and undo his billion-dollar campaign. It’s very important that we have a candidate who's strong enough, and tough enough to be able to take on President Obama in a series of debates."        Vowing to hold "President Obama accountable," Gingrich promised he "will defeat him in the debates and show the American people that there is a better, more conservative direction."     He added

This is not just a Presidential campaign. It's a battle for the future of this country. That's why I will immediately challenge President Obama to a series of three hour Lincoln-Douglas style debates, and make him defend the passage of ObamaCare, 15 trillion dollars in debt, and out of control unemployment. I'll even let him use his teleprompter!

Republican primary voters are excited by the prospect that Newt would will beat Obama to a figurative bloody pulp in debates.     Except that we learned Tuesday that the tough guy, Newton Leroy Gingrich, is going to take his ball and go home if he doesn't get his way.     On Tuesday morning, he

threatened not to participate in any future debates with audiences that have been instructed to be silent.   That was the case on Monday, when Brian Williams of NBC News asked the audience of about 500 who assembled for a debate in Tampa to hold their applause until the commercial breaks.

In an interview with the morning show "Fox and Friends," Mr. Gingrich said NBC's rules amounted to stifling free speech.    In what has become a standard line of attack for his anti-establishment campaign, Mr. Gingrich blamed the media for trying to silence a dissenting point of view.

"I wish in retrospect I'd protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it's wrong," Mr. Gingrich said.   "And I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that the audience is going to side with the candidates against the media, which is what they've done in every debate."

Yes, the tough guy, Newton Leroy Gingrich, is going to take his ball and go home if he doesn't get his way.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who will be moderating tonight's debate in Florida, has gotten the message, assuring radio host Bill Press "It's going to be respectful.     People are going to be able to applaud if they want.   But I don't want to see any craziness; I want the audience to be respectful of these four candidates."    

Intimidated by the Gingrich campaign, it's a metaphor for the mainstream media, which is afraid to call out Republicans when they play fast and loose with the truth; better to pretend that both sides are equally to blame for a lack of bipartisanship, incivility, and rampant dishonesty.

In the unlikely event Gingrich is nominated, however, he would face a problem few of his supporters have contemplated.         But as Rachel Weiner notes at The Fix, "cheering and shouting were banned in all three general election debates between Barack Obama and John McCain."      

The Obama team, preferring that general election debates not turn into a cheap imitation of Barnum & Bailey, no doubt would demand that arrangements for any debate preclude it from being turned into a circus.     Gingrich supporters would try to portray themselves as victims, but that would be little consolation after an overwhelming presidential and congressional defeat in November.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jobs, Not Job-Seekers

It's the myth that won't die, apparently.

Five or six weeks ago, Robert Oak stated flatly "there is no labor shortage in the United States.    None, and that includes high skilled labor.     Relying on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he explained

In 2010, there were 3,531,000 computer & mathematical related occupation workers. Yet in 2008, there were 3,676,000. In just this occupational category alone, the United States is down 145,000 jobs, or -4%. The same is true for engineers and architects. In 2010 there were 2,619,000 people employed in these occupations, yet magically, in 2008, average, there were 2,931,000, another drop of 312,000 jobs, or -10.6%.  

He noted, as the graph (below) from the BLS indicates,

the unemployment rate for professionals, those with college degrees in specialized areas should be below 2.2% for full employment. Clearly the above shows not only is there no worker shortage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, there are U.S. citizens needing a job.

Yet, the President remarked in his State of the Union message

I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can't find workers with the right skills.    Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.     Think about that- openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.    It's inexcusable.   And we know how to fix it.

Oh, no, he doesn't.    Or at least if he does, he's not letting on that he knows.       Instead, the President has a scheme, to be led by Education Secretary Arne Duncan of Chicago, which would hasten the demise of the  American public school system through a combination of abridging teacher tenure, expanding the scope of charter schools, and other "reforms" which have failed to demonstrate success.

Obama, more intent on being "transformative" than effective, continues to peddle the self-serving fable from the American business community that it would so love to hire more individuals, but they just aren't qualified.      It is, though, self-serving also for the President.   Were he to propose the corporate world assume even a modicum of accountability for devastating unemployment, he not only would incur condemnation from the GOP but would indirectly be acknowledging that joblessness remains far too high.     The problem is not the Washington establishment, public or private, you see; it's American workers.      They simply are too darned uneducated.

Until recently at least, the White House was expecting the nomination of Mitt Romney, the worst possible scenario imaginable, given the individuals who have been part of the GOP's presidential race.      Romney, of course, wouldn't suggest that the private sector should assume any responsibility for the high  unemployment rate.      But his campaign slogan is "Believe in America."       "Americans" might be conflated with "America" in the minds of American voters, who might come to suspect that the challenger believes in America, and in American workers, more than the incumbent.      And that could be disastrous.

Share |

A Debt He Knows Intimately

MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell remarked Tuesday

I talked to a top Romney adviser tonight who said, 'Look, if Mitt Romney can not win here in Florida then we're going to have to try to reinvent the smoke-filled room which has been democratized by all these primaries. And we're going to have try to come with someone as an alternative to Newt Gingrich who could be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, someone.' Because there is such a desperation by the so-called party elites, but that's exactly what Gingrich is playing against.

That reflects the thinking of Steve Schmidt, campaign advisor for presidential nominee John McCain, who after the South Carolina primary projected "we're probably moving toward the declaration of war on Newt Gingrich by the Republican establishment. And if Newt Gingrich is able to win the Florida primary, you will see a panic and a meltdown of the Republican establishment that is beyond my ability to articulate in the English language."

Jeb Bush probably could have his arm twisted, but likely would prefer another four years for people to forget the disastrous presidency of brother George.        With Chris Christie the primary surrogate of Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour exposed as the best friend a felon ever had, there is renewed interest in the GOP establishment in Mitch Daniels.       The Indiana governor had a minor audition last night as he delivered the Repub rebuttal to the President's State of the Union address, in which we heard "in three short years, an unprecedented explosionof spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffodable national debt.    And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead."

When The New York Times' Ross Douthat in early 2010 promoted Daniels as a presidential contender, The New Yorker's George Packer recalled

Daniels was Bush’s head of the Office of Management and Budget from 2001-2003 (what happened to the surplus inherited from Bill Clinton during those years is a separate story). He was responsible for forecasting the budget in the event of a war with Iraq. His number came in at fifty to sixty billion dollars. Compared to what some experts were forecasting, it was an astonishingly low figure. But even Daniels’s projection was too much for the Bush White House, which was intent on keeping unpleasant scenarios about the war out of the public eye, and Daniels’s own spokesman, Trent Duffy, was sent out to talk the number down. Lawrence Lindsey, Bush’s top economic adviser, had said the war could cost as much as two hundred billion, and Daniels had dismissed the figure as “very, very high.” As for the cost of rebuilding Iraq, by April of 2003—with the war already under way—O.M.B. had asked Congress for the paltry sum of 2.5 billion. By the end of last year, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had cost over a trillion dollars.

A lot of people underestimated the consequences of that war. What worries me is that Daniels’s projection was the budgetary equivalent of the Rumsfeld Pentagon’s failure to commit enough troops for the occupation. “Very, very high” reminds me of what Paul Wolfowitz said in response to General Eric Shinseki’s estimate that stabilizing Iraq would take several hundred thousand troops: he dismissed it as “wildly off the mark.” Wolfowitz and Daniels weren’t just mistaken. They were guaranteeing that the Administration wouldn’t be ready if things went wrong. They were contributing directly to the disaster that followed the fall of Saddam. And they were acting out of ideological conviction or bureaucratic loyalty rather than cold analytical judgment. In short, when the stakes were as high as possible, Daniels showed very little independence or common sense, the qualities that Douthat credits him with.

Daniels also helped turn the large surplus handed to President Bush by President Clinton into a huge surplus.      As the chart below, from a signed editorial by Teresa Tritch of the NYT, indicates, today's deficit results far more from the wars Bush waged and his big defense budgets, the economy which tanked during Bush's second term and, especially, the tax cuts he implemented.      The 43rd President is far more responsible than is the 44th President for the national debt Republicans suddenly became concerned about 36 months ago.      The seeds of, in Daniels phrase, impending "national bankruptcy," were planted not by Barack Obama or  the "big, bossy government,"  the which he considered far less "bossy" when it was supplying the Indiana governor with the stimulus funds that allowed him to balance state government.        Some of those seeds were planted by Mitch Daniels and thereafter continually watered by the president whose critical contribution to economic disaster he ignores.

Criticize, even condemn President Obama who, after all, extended the Bush tax cuts which helped drive deficits and the national debt.     But doing so with the guy who applauded the policies is shameless- or would be if his party had any sense of shame.

Share |

Chinese Spoken Here

If President Obama is to be believed- a leap of faith with any president- we won't have to join Jon Huntsman in an immersion course of Mandarin Chinese.

In the inspiring and progressive first portion of the President's State of the Union message last night, Obama declared

Meanwhile, America is more productive.  A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home.  (Applause.)  Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.  (Applause.)

So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back.  But we have to seize it.  Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple:  Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.  (Applause.)

We should start with our tax code.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.  Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.  So let’s change it.

First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.  (Applause.)  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.  (Applause.)

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.  (Applause.)  From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.  And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America.  (Applause.)

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut.  If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making your products here.  And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.  (Applause.)

So my message is simple.  It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.  Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away.  (Applause.)

Hopefully, the side will join the President and congressional Democrats in that effort.

Hopefully, but improbably.        At approximately 4:30 into his rebuttal (video, below) to the State of the Union message, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels contended

The late Steve Jobs- what a fitting name he had- created more of them than all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew.      Out here in Indiana, when a businessperson asks me what he can do for our sate, I say 'First, make money.    Be successful, if you make a profit, you'll have something left to hire someone else, and some to donate to the good causes we love.'

Steve Jobs was nearly unparalleled (and maybe not "nearly") in making a profit, roughly $8.3 billion of it.      But he used little of that money "to donate to the good causes we love," apparently choosing (as is his right) to donate little to charity.  

It's fitting, too,  that the notoriously anti-union governor of Indiana would identify the late co-founder of Apple as the prototype of a company which creates jobs.

It seems that Jobs did create jobs- just not primarily in the United States.        Soon after the entreprenuer's death in October, Mike Daisey, in an op-ed in The New York Times, acknowledged the "design perfection and business acumen" of Jobs, then added

Apple’s rise to power in our time directly paralleled the transformation of global manufacturing. As recently as 10 years ago Apple’s computers were assembled in the United States, but today they are built in southern China under appalling labor conditions. Apple, like the vast majority of the electronics industry, skirts labor laws by subcontracting all its manufacturing to companies like Foxconn, a firm made infamous for suicides at its plants, a worker dying after working a 34-hour shift, widespread beatings, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to meet high quotas set by tech companies like Apple.

I have traveled to southern China and interviewed workers employed in the production of electronics. I spoke with a man whose right hand was permanently curled into a claw from being smashed in a metal press at Foxconn, where he worked assembling Apple laptops and iPads.  

On Saturday, The Times reported

Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas, a small fraction of the over 400,000 American workers at General Motors in the 1950s, or the hundreds of thousands at General Electric in the 1980s. Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.

“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.

“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”

Though Obama proposes to reward companies which employ Americans and stop rewarding companies which believe their patriotic duty is lowering the unemployment rate abroad, congressional Democrats have been down this road before.      Sixteen months ago, Senate Democrats voted overwhelmingly for legislation which would have exempted

companies that import jobs from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax for new U.S. employees who replace overseas workers who had been doing similar work.

The two-year exemption would be available for workers hired over the next three years. The tax cut — estimated to cost about $1 billion — would be partially offset by tax increases on companies that move jobs overseas.

The bill would prohibit firms from taking deductions for business expenses associated with expanding operations in other countries. It would increase taxes on U.S. companies that close domestic operations and expand foreign ones to import products to the U.S.

The bill failed when every Republican in the United States Senate voted to encourage companies to keep employment up in other countries, and down in the U.S.

Good luck, Mr. President.    But getting congressional Republicans to commit to this country rather than other nations- when a rhetorical appeal to American Exceptionalism is far more emotionally satisfying- will not be easy.

Share |

Monday, January 23, 2012

Merely Abortion Politics

Ron Santorum has not been the worst Republican running for his party's presidential nomination and, at least as long as Newt Gingrich is around, will not be.      He did for example, offer up the finest comment at the first South Carolina (Myrtle Beach) debate, stating

This is Martin Luther King Day.     This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately high rates, particularly with drug crimes, in the African-American community.

The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill.      And this was a provision that said, particularly targeted African-Americans.     And I voted to allow- to allow them to have their voting rights back once they completed their sentence.

Less impressive than Santorum's singular reference to Martin Luther King Day (though he probably knew it would gain him applause from neither GOP activists nor primary voters) was Santorum's actual position on the issue.       Once felons have "done their time," completed their sentence, states should allow them to vote, which might give them a sense of having a small stake in the functioning of society- and is simply a matter of fairness.    The courage, in an age of vigorous Republican efforts at voter suppression (aimed at blacks most of all) to support voting rights for felons who have completed their sentence, should not be underestimated.        Most of those affected aren't black- but as Republican audiences know (and Santorum acknowledged), a disproportionate number are.

However,  the former Pennsylvania senator and Virginia resident probably would be offended if he weren't judged most of all on his pro-life credentials.       Accordingly, in a column conveniently published in The Wall Street Journal on the Christian day of worship, Santorum emphasizes "my opponents whisper that they are pro-life, but I fight the battle in the trenches and will continue to do so."

That is demonstrably true in the case of his primary primary opponents, Gingrich and Mitt Romney.     (Ron Paul whispers louder but as the states-rights candidate, wants abortion policy left to the states.)      But Santorum's accuracy otherwise wanes, notably when he claims President Obama

supported federal funds for abortion through ObamaCare and told Catholic Charities that there was no room in the inn if they wanted to help women abused by sex traffickers and be pro-life at the same time.

Except in rare instances, no*; and no (although "no room in the inn" is a nice, if obvious, touch).

Opinions differ as to whether the Affordable Care Act authorizes "federal funds for abortion." Unfortunately, those on Santorum's side are mostly wrong.  

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a faithful supporter of the anti-abortion cause, maintains

(T)he Senate bill allows elective abortions to be offered through the newly-created individual state health insurance exchanges and multi-state health plans administered by the Office of Personnel Managment (OPM), and through federally-subsidized plans in already-existing community health centers.

Anyone who doesn't earn enough money would qualify for a federal subsidy to help pay for their health plan in the state exchanges, including plans offering elective abortion coverage.

(U)nder this proposal, community health centers would receive a dedicated stream of money outside the annual congressional process to fund the government which is where the Hyde prohibition is maintained.    So that means that for the first time federal money could be used to fund abortion at a community health center.

Admittedly, the Act does not preclude abortions to be offered through the individual state health insurance exchanges and multi-state health plans.       But they cannot be aided, directly or indirectly, by government funds.       Timothy S. Jost of the Washington and Lee University School of Law explains

The Senate bill, like the House bill, prohibits the use of federal premium subsidies to pay for abortions that are not covered by Medicaid (that is, cases of rape and incest or of physical threat to the life of the mother); provides that the government cannot require health plans to cover abortion; prohibits health plans and federal agencies or state and local governments receiving federal funds from discriminating against providers because of their unwillingness to provide for, pay for, provide coverage for or refer for abortion; and leaves in place all state laws regulating abortion and federal law regarding conscience protection or willingness to provide abortion.

Moreover, the Act requires those plans which provide coverage to collect a separate premium, which must be held in a separate, strictly-regulated account.      *In pre-existing condition plans, whether run by the state, or the federal, government, no public funds can be used for any abortion not necessitated by rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother.

Community health centers now will receive additional funding, through a new Community Health Center Fund.       The ACA does not change the centers' policy on funding of abortions, which have been subsidized only in the aforementioned instances in which pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or poses a threat to the life of the mother.

Last year, according to ABC News, the Department of Health and Human Services changed its program to combat sex trafficking from a contract to a competitive grant.     It also added a clause "about giving strong preference to applicants that provide victims with comprehensive case management services" including information on, and referrals to, 'family planning services and the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care."

HHS officials appear determined to arm such victims with as much information as possible about their options rather than leaving them in the figurative dark; their opponents, not so much.      The critics, moreover, choose to slander the Obama Administration additionally with being anti-Catholic, including Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) charging "If we were to have a litmus test that Catholics need not apply...."    

Catholic groups, primarily Catholic Charities and the Conference of Bishops, have received approximately $100 million more in grants from Obama's HHS than they did in the last three years of the Bush Administration.      But that inconvenient fact will not deter Santorum nor anti-abortion activist Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has accused the Department of "an unconscionable abuse of power."

Notwithstanding Santorum's charge that Catholic Charities "cannot help women abused by traffickers and be pro-life at the same time," the organization can help women abused by traffickers and be pro-life.    It even can help the women, be pro-life, and receive federal funds; it simply cannot help the women, be pro-life, and play by a different set of rules from others receiving a subsidy.     If Rick Santorum does not recognize that, he ought to identify the article and section of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing a right to a government subsidy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gingrich Wins, For Now

"If Nancy Pelosi has this information, Barack Obama has this information."

That might have been wishful thinking on the part of Romney communications director Gail Gitchko.      She spoke a day or two before the South Carolina primary when her candidate, contrary to what I expected a week and a half ago, was poised to lose to Newt Gingrich. But it may have been more than grasping at straws.    

Gingrich voters are under what is likely a false impression. Analyzing the Gingrich victory, Dave Weigel this morning noted that when he talked to South Carolina Republicans

In Charleston, a voter named Jayne Harmon claimed that Gingrich would “dismantle” the president.In Monck’s Corner, I learned that Gingrich would “humiliate” him. 

In Columbia, I was told that Obama would be “lacerated” or “annihilated.” When Gingrich spoke, and repeated his promise to challenge Obama to seven debates, a biker named Vincent Sbraccia hoisted his sign and screamed: “Wipe the floor with him! Wipe the floor with him!”

Not so fast. Let's turn the clock back to Newt's heyday, when he was obsessed with the evils of adultery when committed by Democrats.     Marvin Olasky interviewed Gingrich to determine what David Schippers, chief investigative council to Representative Henry Hyde (R-Ill) for the inquiry into impeachment of Bill Clinton, termed the "roadblocks" put up by Gingrich to investigation of the President. Olasky reported

My interviewing was part of an attempt to reexamine an extraordinary statement by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Gingrich's chief lieutenant from 1995 through 1998. In the course of a long interview last fall, he told me that President Bill Clinton "found out about the Gingrich affair and called Newt over to the White House for a private meeting between the two of them." Armey argued that Clinton pressured Gingrich to go easy on that year's impeachment drive "or I'll start telling your story." He claimed the two leaders "had many meetings that we didn't know about where they'd drink wine and smoke cigars and talk about their girlfriends."

Olasky found that opinions differed as to the likelihood that Clinton met with Gingrich and blackmailed him.  He concludes

Gingrich insists there was no blackmail, and my sense is that he's telling the truth—but knowing blackmail is possible plays on a man's mind. Based on all the interviews, it's clear that Gingrich had secret meetings with Clinton and that Democratic Congressmen Beryl Anthony and Barney Frank knew about Gingrich's affair. It seems highly likely that the White House knew about the affair and that Gingrich suspected Clinton knew. It seems likely that this concern affected his conduct in some way.

Today's intelligence report is of a very different sort but emanates from that era.    The House Ethics Committee concluded its investigation in 1997

saying in its findings that Gingrich had misled the committee in its investigations. The eight-member panel stopped short of saying Gingrich had lied, but said the then-speaker had been either "intentional" or "reckless" in his representtions of his activities during the investigation.   The ethics committee, which is divided evenly on party lines, voted 7-1 in favor of its judgment, and recommendation that the full House vote to reprimand Gingrich and require the reimbursement of $300,000 for extra time spent on the investigation as a result of Gingrich's misstatements.

The House did overwhelmingly approve the reprimand, voting 395-28 to approve the punishment.   Twenty-sic Republicans broke ranks to oppose the punishment. An official reprimand is a step below censure in severity of congressional discipline.

The committee's report long ago was made public. However, additional documents and details considered by the committee remain confidential and are probably what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was referring to when in December she told Talking Points Memo

One of these days we'll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich. I now a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.

The time is not now, not when Gingrich threatens to upend the only declared GOP candidate who stands a reasonable chance of defeating President Obama. And the vehicle may not be Nancy Pelosi, given that after her statement, she would be a prime suspect.      

If Newt is nominated, there may be no need to get the information into the public domain, just as there was no need for Bill Clinton to blow the whistle on the Georgian in 1989. Gingrich knows the material exists and is accessible and if he is nominated, it might be enough to turn him from the tiger he portrays into the pussycat who would face Barack Obama.

Share |

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What He Is

Let's be clear about this.

Newt Gingrich's considerable surge nationally, and near-astronomical surge among Republicans in South Carolina, may be due to a few factors.    But the combative style which has endeared him to Republican voters was most significantly manifested in the Monday night debate in South Carolina.

Five Thirty Eight's Nate Silver, who as of this morning gives Newt Gingrich an 82% chance of winning today's primary, notes "one pollster showed an incredible 22-point swing against Mr. Romney and toward Newt Gingrich over the course of a 24-hour period after the Monday night debate."

One of the two major clips coming out of the presidential debate hosted by GOP TV and GOP Press on Monday night featured Mitt Romney unable to defuse the issue of release of his tax return(s) which, incomprehensibly, he also was unable to accomplish in the Thursday night debate, sponsored by CNN, the Tea Party Patriots, and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

But the most dramatic moment occurred when Gingrich was asked about his idea that children supplant janitors in schools.       Charging (without detail, facts, or statistics) that New York City janitors "make an absurd amount of money," the Pennsylvanian turned Georgian turned Virginian lectured Juan Williams and asserted "the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history."

You won't be surprised that the claim is false.     Brooks Jackson of USA Today's factcheck.org reports (emphasis theirs)

We asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition service for month-by-month figures going back to January 2001.     And they show that under President George W. Bush the number of recipients rose by nearly 14.7 million.    Nothing before comes close to that.

And under Obama, the increase so far has been 14.2 million.   To be exact, the program has so far grown by 444,574 fewer recipients during Obama's time in office than during Bush's.

Jackson notes "Gingrich would have been correct to say the number now on food aid is historically high" (or that) "the number has risen sharply since Obama took office.

But that wouldn't have gotten the job done.       It's one thing to point out that more individuals are on food stamps now than ever before but that doesn't directly tie the situation to President Obama.       Neither does noting the number of people on food stamps has jumped considerably since Obama became president; it the reason may have been unrelated, and it does not suggest (directly or indirectly) that it wasn't Barack Obama's intent.       Make no mistake, however:     "more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama" means that Obama himself has done it- and apparently, with intent and motive.      Unless Mr. Obama is moonlighting as social services/human services director of 50 states, he couldn't have done it himself.         Or intentionally, even indirectly.      

The claim is absurd, suggesting that Newt Gingrich's motive may not be pristine.       James Fallows understands (emphasis his)

Newt Gingrich knows exactly what he is doing when he calls Obama the "food stamp" president, just as Ronald Reagan knew exactly what he was doing when talking about "welfare Cadillacs."    There are lots of other ways to make the point about economic hard times - entirely apart from which person and which policies are to blame for today's mammoth joblessness, and apart from the fact that Congress sets food stamp policies.    You could call him the "pink slip president," the "foreclosure president," the Walmart president," the "Wall Street president," the "Citibank president," the "bailout president," or any of a dozen other images that convey distress.     You decide to go with "the food stamp president," and you're doing it on purpose.

If Joe Lieberman had been elected, I would be wary of attacks on his economic policy that called him "the cunning, tight-fisted president."     If Henry Cisneros had or Ken Salazar does, I would notice arguments about ineffectiveness phrased as "the manana administration."   If Gary Locke were in office, then "the Manchurian candidate" jokes that had been used on Jon Huntsman would have a different edge. And so on.

It shouldn't take a two-by-four applied to the cranium of the nation's media for Newt Gingrich to be recognized, and identified, as what he is.

Share |

Friday, January 20, 2012

CNN's Hanging Curve

Newton Leroy Gingrich gets caught with his pants down, a story which "has now gone viral on the Internet," as CNN's John King put during Thursday's GOP presidential debate (transcript, here).        

Working on his second wife, Gingrich was on the sixth or seventh year of his affair with Callista Bisek, conducted in part at his marital home.      After he called Marianne Gingrich and asked for a divorce, they went into counseling, and soon afterward Newt asked for an open marriage.      His wife was not pleased.    He left Marianne and later married Callista.

That didn't come from the recent interview, practically on the eve of the critical South Carolina primary, Marianne gave to ABC News, but from her interview over 17 months earlier with Charles Pierce.      Still, there was Newt Gingrich defiantly telling John King last night "My--my two daughters, my two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it."     (There was no word from Gingrich on whether famed right-wing Republican blogger Matt Drudge should be flogged for obsessing over the matter during the day.)

Not surprising really.     After an interview with the second Mrs. Gingrich, The Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi revealed that Newt's two daughters- Kathy Lubbers, as president and chief executive of Gingrich Communications (disbanded when Gingrich decided to run for president last year); and Jackie Gingrich Cushman, who has earned over $56,000 working for her father's campaign committees- were/are on Gingrich's payroll.       No one ever accused the former House Speaker of being stupid.

So it is a fantasy of the right that the interviews with Marianne Gingrich recently held with ABC and The Washington Post were a part of a liberal media conspiracy to destroy any chance that Newt or any of the other GOP candidates has to defeat President Obama.     (Other than Romney, each has taken care of that himself or herself.)      Grimaldi writes Marianne "said she was speaking out because she wanted her story told from her point of view rather than to be depicted as a victim or suffer a whisper campaign by supporters of her former husband's presidential bid.     She said she had received so many requests for interviews that 'it was unavoidable' and 'I knew I wouldn't get through this year without' doing an interview."

But of course the real issue isn't the candidate's infidelity or his impulse to have his daughters do his dirty work.    Nor was it likely he was lying when he termed the story "false," though given that he didn't say what part of the story was "false," Newt may have avoided actually lying.     Republicans, after all, do nuance, even less than they do accuracy.

The disconnect between Newt Gingrich's private behavior and his public advocacy makes clear how so little Gingrich may say as a candidate can be believed.       Grimaldi describes the scene two days after Newt asked Wife #2 for a divorce:

Newt Gingrich gave a speech at a conference titled "The Demise of American Culture" sponsored by the Republican Women Leaders Forum in Erie, Pa.  Gingrich extolled the virtues of the Founding Fathers and criticized liberal politicians for supporting tax increases, which he said hurt families and children.    In the speech, which was televised on C-SPAN, he spoke often of God, families and values.

"When a liberal talks about values, will he or she actually like us to teach American history?"   Gingrich told the women's group.   "Will they actually like young people to learn that George Washington was an ethical man?   A man of standards, a man who earned the right to be father of this country?"

Marianne Gingrich said she was surprised at the timing.   "How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people?" she said.

But the hypocrisy isn't news to anyone over, say, the age of 40, or anyone who can remember this is the way Republicans used to do business.       They would talk about family values publicly and then behave privately as they wish- precisely because their rhetoric gave them license with their base.     In a May, 1988 piece Gingrich wrote for the hard-right Human Events, he

attacked Clinton and the Democrats for both the outrageous demonization of Independent Counsel Ken Starr and the House Democrats for refusing to vote for immunity for four potential witnesses in the campaign finance investigation.

The administration's legal fight to shield the testimony of Secret Service agents in the Lewinsky case was the last straw, Gingrich said.

The speaker once again pledged to say during every public appearance that Americans have the right to know the truth about the Lewinsky matter and that the president is not above the law.

But Republicans will be largely excused by their base for their ethical failings because they really didn't want to do it.      Their words, it is believed, prove as much.

The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman, though, gets to the heart of the distortion of the democratic process the debates inadvertently have created.      Before the debate began, he presciently noted "The audience of 1,500 will comprise members of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and Tea Party Patriots, as well as state and local officials from South Carolina.     Expect them to boo lustily- and to amplify an already loud theme in conservative and Republican circles; that the "mainstream" media is against them."      Fineman wrote

The changing role of the "mainstream" media is one explanation for the vox populi tone. Facing conservative suspicion, some networks decided to partner with Tea Party, state party or other grassroots organizations to stage the debates, and part of the co-sponsors' price was to bring along a partisan audience. (Thursday night's CNN debate is co-sponsored by the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.)

In an era of reality TV shows and other in-front-of-a-live-audience programming, a debate with an absent or silent crowd is also a tough sell, too sedate and silent for today's tastes.And even by the standards of the recent past, this season's debate formats and candidate strategies seem to lead more inexorably to snappy sound bites designed to play to the crowd.

Digby responds "well, yeah.    CNN has been especially whorish in this regard, not only sponsoring debates with the Tea Party but hiring their spokespeople as "analysts" and catering to them as Real Americans in contrast to everyone else." The pairing of the mainstream media with the GOP will be far more potent than any arrangement they could make with the Democratic Party.      Fineman quotes Democratic consultant Mandy Grunwald observing "First, there weren't always audiences. And if there were, they would tend to cheer for their guy or gal, and that was about it. Nothing like this."    

And there will be "nothing like this" at Democratic debates.      Most of the hootin' and hollerin' by the GOP faithful has been linked to criticism of the media by a (Republican) candidate.     Democrats don't do media bashing.     (Think, for example, of Congressman- uh, er, ex-Congressman Weiner.   And ex-Governor Spitzer.    And John Edwards.)       And if the media continue its collaboration in debates with the Republican Party (or even both parties), the Democratic Party will be fighting with one arm figuratively tied behind its back.   

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Republican Media- No. 31

We all laughed.

No doubt a howl went up from the crowd when Mitt Romney quipped in Spartanburg, South Carolina "Congressmen taking responsibility or taking credit for helping create jobs is like Al Gore taking credit for the Internet."       Vice-President Gore had stated on CNN

During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.       I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

The claim that Al Gore claimed he took credit for the Internet has been thoroughly debunked more than once, in this case by snopes.net, which explained Gore

was not claiming that he had "invented" the Internet (in the sense of having designed or implemented it) but that he was responsible, in an economic and legislative sense, for fostering the development (of) the technology that we now know as the Internet.,,,

Gore never used the word "invent" and the words "create" and "invent" have distinctly different meanings- the former is used in the sense of "to bring about" or "to bring into existence" while the latter is generally used to signify the first instance of someone thinking up or implementing an idea...

If President Eisenhower had said in the mid-1960s that he, while president, "created" the Interstate Highway System, we would not have seen dozens and dozens of editorials lampooning him for claiming he "invented" the concept of highways or simply lying that he personally went out and dug ditches across the country to help build the roadway.   Everyone would have understood that he meant he was a driving force behind the legislation that created the highway system and this was the very same concept Al Gore was expressing about himself with his Internet statement.

Romney's biggest critic, Newt Gingrich, once stated "In all fairness, it's something Gore had worked on a long time. Gore is not the Father of the Internet, but in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet, and the truth is -- and I worked with him starting in 1978 when I got to Congress."       Of course, the former House Speaker now apologizes for agreeing with Nancy Pelosi about climate change and said about Paul Ryan's Medicare plan "any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood."      So, admittedly, Newt Gingrich is not the best source- on anything.

But the Internet myth played a major part in the War on Gore (as the Daily Howler's Bob Somerby terms it) conducted by the nation's print and broadcast journalists.     Though the media in its initial reports never suggested that Gore had claimed to have invented the Internet, once the Republican National Committee went to work ginning up its propaganda machine, the mainstream media went into action.

Al Gore, however, never will become president, nor was he allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to take office twelve years ago after he was elected president.      But Barack Obama would like to be re-elected and Mitt Romney is determined to prevent him from being so.      Yet, after Romney re-invented history in Spartanburg, the news media, perhaps because it is invested in its enduring and false narrative, stayed silent.

And not only about Al Gore but also in response to Romney, leading in to his "joke," alleging "Government doesn't create jobs.    It's the private sector that creates jobs."

Mitt Romney's Repub Party itself (indirectly) acknowledges that government creates jobs- when the GOP argues for yet more income tax cuts.        Private sector job growth continues in this economy partly in response to the President's stimulus package.     And teachers, police officers, FBI agents, and clerical workers throughout the land testify to the fact that government creates jobs.    Mitt Romney' job itself as governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was "created" by government.     But the leading and likely Republican candidate for President of the United States- a government job!- says "government doesn't create jobs."     And the media goes collectively silent.

Share |


Literally big, a former New York Giants offensive tackle is coming up big figuratively : So theres an active shooter and trump tells h...