Friday, September 21, 2012

Last Call

Oh, and if you're wondering what Paul Ryan was up to today?

Getting booed at the AARP Conference in New Orleans.

Easily the worst moments came as Ryan discussed repealing the Affordable Care Act, which increased prescription drug and preventive service benefits for seniors.

“The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal ‘Obamacare,’” Ryan said, prompting a chorus of boos. After the outcry, he said: “I had a feeling there would be mixed reaction, so let me get into it.”

He drew a second wave of disapproval for saying the president’s law “turned Medicare into a piggy bank for ‘Obamacare.’” Ryan was referring to $716 billion in Medicare savings enacted by the ACA — savings he himself has included in two budgets — that largely came out of payments to insurance providers.

Another tough response from the crowd came as Ryan attacked Obama as a cynical failure for not negotiating changes to Social Security cuts with Republicans.

That's putting it gently, guys.  And keep in mind the Romney camp immediately dumped Mitt's lone tax return just after this happened.

Returns Of The King

Mitt Romney threw a Friday afternoon news dump smokescreen today by releasing his complete tax return for last year only, showing A) his income estimates were off by 50% or so and B) the wheels are coming off for good.

OFA deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Mitt Romney's tax returns showed why the president's call for higher taxes on the wealthy made sense.

“Today’s release of Mitt Romney’s 2011 tax returns confirms what we already knew – that people like Mitt Romney pay a lower tax rate than many middle class families because of a set of complex loopholes and tax shelters only available to those at the top," she said in a statement. "Yet, Mitt Romney still wants to give multi-millionaires an additional $250,000 tax cut at the expense of middle class taxpayers who will see their taxes go up."

Stephanie Cutter is quite good at her job, folks.  Unlike the other team.

Cutter added that Romney still had not released any tax returns from before 2010, despite disclosing about one page of details on his effective tax rates from 1990-2009 on Friday.

Yeah, those details are a summary of Mitt's tax returns for the last 20 years, according to accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.   Not the actual returns.  So, hey.  But it's notarized, right?  As Chris Hayes remarked on Twitter on Friday:

 Cutter cuts on:

"While the tax return for the one year released today continues to mask Romney’s true wealth and income from Bain Capital, leaving the American people in the dark about critical details about his finances,  it does confirm that he continues to profit from millions of dollars invested overseas," Cutter said. "These types of investments, the use of tax loopholes, and the resort to foreign blocker corporations enabling him to reduce his U.S. tax obligations, all raise basic and still unanswered question – why does Mitt Romney not just release the full returns , instead of the bare summary he has provided of the last 20 years, so voters can make their own judgments about Mitt Romney’s finances?   As Mitt Romney’s father said, candidates should release several years of returns, because one year could be a fluke. President Obama, Vice President Biden and nearly every other candidate in recent memory has met that test, but Mitt Romney continues to fail it.”    

Why Stef, you people don't get to sit in judgment of Romney, you know.

Funny part is the Romneys didn't take all the deductions they could of on Mitt's charitable giving, as accounting firm PWC explains:

The Romneys’ generous charitable donations in 2011 would have significantly reduced their tax obligation for the year. The Romneys thus limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the Governor's statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13% in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.

So the Romneys could have paid even less taxes, but they chose not to because of politics.

Better part, when Mitt loses in November, he can amend his tax return and get his lower tax rate back.  He has until Dec 31 to do that.

Absolute best part?

When Mitt Romney released his official 2011 tax return Friday, the GOP presidential candidate seems to have inadvertently called the United States a foreign country.

“If you have a foreign address,” the tax return instruction reads, “also complete spaces below.” In the space below, under “foreign country name,” Romney’s form reads “USA.”

The mistake was likely accidental, but the Harry Reids of the world must be asking themselves: Did Romney think his local address was in Switzerland?

This is now bordering on comical.

Brown 'N' Served

Last night was the first of the state debates for the Massachusetts Senate race between Republican Scott Brown, currently serving as Senator finishing out the late Ted Kennedy's term and Democrat and former Obama administration official Elizabeth Warren.  On the Rachel Maddow show after the debate, Barney Frank was brutal on the subject.

Frank pushed back against Brown’s claims that he was willing to work with Democrats, describing him as a “cog in this right-wing Republican machine.”

“A key moment came when Elizabeth Warren talked about Jim Inhofe who Scott Brown would like to make Chairman on the Committee on the Environment, who says global warming is a hoax and would dismantle the EPA,” he said on MSNBC. “And [Brown] said, ‘you’re not running against Jim Inhofe, you’re running against me.’ That’s not true. Elizabeth Warren is running against a Scott Brown who wants to make Jim Inhofe the chairman of the Environment Committee.”

“He’s not running for class president. He’s running for United States senator, and by the way, you’re right that you couldn’t get him to say the word ‘Romney’ with a subpoena. He talks about support for some of Obama’s policies, but he would vote to make Mitch McConnell the majority leader.”

And Warren made this point a number of times, reminding voters that as much as Scott Brown is trying to avoid Mitt Romney, in the end, he's a Republican who will vote for and has voted for Republican measures and obstruction in the Senate. 

There was also a very good exchange on climate change in the debate.  Brown absolutely believes in it, he says, but Warren counted with the fact that the rest of his party most certainly does not, and in the end, he'll vote with them to block any measures that would help stop it.

The same goes of course with abortion and women's rights.  It's a tough sell now that Brown has gone on record against these subjects time and time again.

Akin Can't Spell Or Woo Women Voters

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Missouri Senate candidate's campaign was forced to take down its "Women for Akin" site after the paper pointed out that one of the women in the prominent photo was not a supporter of Akin, and, in fact, worked on behalf of his opponent, incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
The website featured a photo of Akin with standing with his wife and two women, but one of the women was Corinne Matti, a tracker for the state's Democratic Party.
But that wasn't the only mistake. Text to the right of the photo read, "I'm a women and I support Todd." 
Of course, "women" should be the singular "woman."
For its part, the Akin campaign told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that this was a draft version of the site that wasn't yet supposed to go live. 
The paper heard from a McCaskill spokesperson, so click over to the Post-Dispatch to see what she had to say about the image.
They knowingly lied.  They are so desperate to show women love Akin that they had to hijack a photo of a woman they knew did not support them.

Personally, I'm glad that Akin didn't drop out of the race.  It all but guarantees McCaskill's victory.

Any woman who backs Akin is a traitor to her own kind.  The sole exception is his wife, who knew what she married.  But when she continues to compare the GOP's actions to rape, she is also doing her man no favors.

Crash and burn, baby.  Crash and burn.

Must-Read Article

Sandra Harmon, a successful TV writer and producer.  However, she got her start in New York when she was so young that $96 a month in rent stretched her resources.  It was also when she was raped and abused by a diplomat who knew her living circumstances, a man who knew she did not have a bed and offered to let her borrow one while she waited.

Harmon writes an amazing story, and the ending is not without satisfaction.  She's a tough, ballsy broad.  But she has a lot to say about legitimate rape, and the pregnancy that ensued, and what women could find themselves facing in the future under the same circumstances.  It is nervy of me to presume to speak for her, but I bet she would also surely be disgusted about Akin's wife comparing people's reactions to rape, saying they have caused him enough pain that it is similar.

No, this is a real story about what happens when a young, poor woman finds herself attacked through no fault of her own.  I've got a teaser here, but I very much recommend that you read the whole thing.

For the next few weeks, I tried not to think about what happened, avoided the neighborhood coffee shop and didn’t confide in anyone. I didn’t tell my mother because she was still angry I’d moved alone to Manhattan. I knew she wouldn’t understand, and would blame me. I thought briefly of going to the police, but remembered that Enrique, as an Chilean diplomat, was immune to prosecution. Besides, who would believe my word over his after I’d invited him to come up to my apartment with a bed? 
When my period didn’t come, I went to the doctor and learned I was pregnant. I was in shock. Getting pregnant with an unwanted child was one of the worst situations a poor young woman could get herself into. I didn’t want a baby, and there was no way I could have afforded one. I felt I had no choice but to get an abortion. But abortions were illegal, albeit not impossible. In those days, real doctors, wanted a thousand dollars, and I didn’t have it. All my salary went to pay for rent and groceries. 
I refused to even consider the not-so-secret world of incompetent abortionists who were not doctors, who emphasized speed and their own protection. They didn’t use anesthesia because it took too long for women to recover; they wanted them out as quickly as possible. Some abortionists were rough and sadistic, or even drunk. Setting up shop in cheap, rundown, often filthy apartments, or in the back room of a commercial store, or even in the back of a car, almost none took adequate precautions against hemorrhage or infection. Some women turned to dangerous self-abortions, such as inserting knitting needles or coat hangers into their vagina or uterus, douching with lye, or swallowing strong drugs or chemicals. Many women died, and others had been left with chronic illness and pain, or disfigurement or infertility.

His Own Pocket Universe

Rand Paul, Kentucky senator and professional idiot, showed up to offer his solution for health care costs:  insurance with deductibles so high that everybody pays in cash.

Capitalism has not been tried yet in health care. Most of health care is government-fixed prices and there’s very little capitalism. In fact, I’m a physician. In my practice, about 3% of my practice was capitalism. Those are people who came in with high deductibles or paid cash. That marketplace worked because we did bid down prices on things that people came in and paid for.

Sure.  See, without the profit motive in health care, people just get sick and expect insurance they're paying premiums for every month to actually pay for their health care, the crazy bastards.  You're supposed to be healthy, and not get sick, so you don't need to burden America with the cost of your illness.

Of course, when your deductible for everything is so high that you're basically paying cash up front for health care, it'll scare everyone into being healthier, right?


Furthermore, the idea that shifting costs onto consumers will force them to change their health-related behavior doesn’t hold water because 70 percent of national health costs derive from 10 percent of the population. That 10 percent consists of the Americans who have such extensive health care needs and high medical costs that their treatments fall well outside the scope of their deductibles — so in many cases, they don’t have either the incentive or the ability to choose to lead healthier lifestyles.

So people who are really sick, who really need health care the most, are responsible for most of the costs.  Capitalism would suggest we start addressing the issues with how that care is given out, not punishing people with health insurance that won't pay out 90% of the time.

Oh wait, Rand Paul.  Punishing the poor for being poor is all that matters to him.


Looks like Chik-Fil-A really did fold on its support for anti-equality groups in order to get into markets like Chicago and California, and the right is now furious.

Chick-fil-A stopped funding traditional-marriage groups in an effort to open a new Chicago restaurant, but the company initially kept quiet about the decision, prompting gay rights groups to speculate that the company feared a backlash from conservative customers.

The Christian-rooted fast food restaurant agreed to stop funding groups such as Focus on the Family that oppose same-sex marriage in a meeting with the Chicago politician who had been blocking the company’s move there. Chick-fil-A wrote a letter to Alderman Joe Moreno affirming this, according to his spokesman, Matt Bailey, but the company initially wouldn’t allow his office to release the letter to the public. Three weeks later they relented.

“There was concern from them,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director for the Civil Rights Agenda, the Illinois lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender group that negotiated with both Chick-fil-A and the alderman to stop funding for so-called anti-gay groups. “They really didn’t want to announce it, really, but, of course, the alderman needed to clarify why he was changing his stance on them opening a restaurant within his ward.”

Chick-fil-A did not returns requests for comment, and has previously said it will not discuss the issue with the media.

And oh, the whining from the winger blogs on the right.   That prompted this "clarification" from the company:

“For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized,” executives said in today’s statement. “And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving. For that reason, we want to provide some context and clarity around who we are, what we believe and our priorities in relation to corporate giving.

“A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.

“As we have stated, the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators.”

Nobody who runs an openly religious business that makes political donations should expect to stay out of the limelight, folks.  You can't have it both ways, and that's what they are trying to do here.  And yes, the company has been playing the evangelical right for fools all this time.  Not hard to do, since most of them don't believe in science or facts.

Good luck with your chicken there, guys.


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