WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama hits Milwaukee next Saturday for a grass-roots rally — in a state where he was not supposed to be spending any campaign time — or money.Things have changed.Wisconsin is now a battleground.Obama’s 14-point Wisconsin win in 2008 doesn’t guarantee a 2012 victory.
It’s not often that I laugh out loud while reading my e-mail (and that’s not an invitation to forward the jokes from 1996 still circulating, either), but today’s entries left me no choice. No less than three media outlets have scoops about the Mitt Romney campaign this morning that describe changes in strategy and direction. The only problem is that all three contradict each other despite having come from sources inside the campaign.First, we have Politico, which insists that the campaign wants to broaden its message to include more issues and...
When do right-wing websites, radical Christian bloggers and Tea Party fringe characters sincerely care about someone who is targeted simply because he or she may be gay? When they can blame the evil Muslims, President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democratic policies -- that's when.
A deluge of far-right blogs and sites, based on nothing but unnamed sources and speculation, began dutifully claiming over the weekend that: 1) Ambassador Christopher Stevens was gay; 2) that the Obama administration is responsible for his death because it had the supposedly terrible judgement to send a gay man to an Islamic country, or even did it as an intentional provocation, and; 3) that Stevens' corpse was dragged outside and sodomized by an angry mob because that's what Muslims do -- they have sex with the dead bodies of gay men.
It's all beyond the pale in terms of the vile and grotesque lies perpetrated by many on the right, but it's exactly in line with those lies that started this latest explosion of hate and violence -- the film, The Innocence of Muslims, which portrays Mohammed just like they're now portraying Stevens: as a homosexual.
Most of the sites and blog posts have been accompanied by brutal photos and grainy videos of what they purport to be Ambassador Stevens' body after it was pulled from the burned consulate building in Benghazi. The reports on the right-wing blogs seem to have emanated from at least two distinct sites. One is RomanCatholicImperialists.org, which is taking great pleasure in disseminating claims of Stevens being raped before and after his death -- which has not been reported by any news organization of any kind -- with this headline: "Homosexual J. Christopher Stevens U.S. Ambassador Was Sodomized Before And After Being Murdered By Homosexual Muslims. His Inability To Discern The Evils Of Islam Got Him Killed."
And the other is Hillbuzz, where longtime gay conservative blogger and Tea Party smear artist Kevin DuJan, who last week hooked up with prominent birther Jerome Corsi to claim President Obama used to go to Chicago gay bars and bathhouses, now claims people in the gay bars in Chicago told him Stevens is gay. DuJan, who also claimed a while back that gay leftists were trying to poison him, also says it's clear from Stevens' good friend Austin Tichenor's Facebook page that Stevens and playwright and actor Tichenor were in a longtime gay relationship, mostly because of some cheesy 70s-era photos of them together which were posted on the page, as well as some references to Brideshead Revisited posted by some commenters.
That's beside the fact that Tichenor, who expresses sadness on the Facebook page for the loss of his lifelong friend Stevens, with whom he went to high school and college, thanks people for offering their condolences to him "and Dee." A few searches on the web reveals that Dee is his wife, and that they have two children. (I know: Just because a man is married to a woman doesn't necessarily mean he can't be in a relationship with another man, but you'd think the right-wing brigade would have mentioned the fact. By not doing so it betrays how they're trying to twist this into the story they want.)
DuJan claims a Serbian consulate employee in Chicago named "Dino" told him that Muslims sodomize corpses to show "utmost disrespect to the body." (This, by the way, is being reported on the other right-wing blogs as "Serbian Consulate Claims...") Like the great many others who've picked up his claims, DuJan then attacks the Obama administration for sending a gay man to be the ambassador of an Islamic country.
I don't know anything about the sexual orientation of 52-year-old Ambassador Stevens, whom the Washington Post described as "never married and had no children." But even if he were gay, it's absurd to claim he couldn't do the job, nor shouldn't have been sent to Libya, particularly since he'd been working in foreign service in North Africa for most of his working life and doing nothing less than a stellar job according to every news report. To the people who attacked him and to many of those who were scaling Western embassies in other cities, the fact that he was an American or a Westerner was enough to inspire their anger. Being gay or straight is almost beside the point.
It's encouraging, though, to learn that right-wing bloggers actually do care about the well-being of American gay people. Who knew? Now someone just needs to tell them that, when it comes to blocking us from attaining rights, Muslim fundamentalists thousands of miles away are the least of our problems. Maybe they could, oh, get their leaders here in this country to stop bashing us, and perhaps they could, say, get their presidential candidate to drop his plan to make gays second class citizens in the U.S. Constitution.
Bob Woodward knows a failed president when he sees one. The man who was instrumental in bringing down Richard Nixon has now covered eight presidents for the Washington Post while writing more than a dozen books about them.Which is what makes the final verdict he renders on President Obama in his new book, "The Price of Politics," so damning. Woodward writes, "It is a fact that President Obama was handed a miserable, faltering economy and faced a recalcitrant Republican opposition. But presidents work their will -- or should work their will -- on the important matters of...
Republicans' expected financial advantage in the presidential campaign's final weeks may not pay the dividends they had once hoped.Throughout the spring and early-summer months, Mitt Romney bided his time as President Obama's re-election team poured its resources into a series of early advertising blitzes intended to define their opponent as a hard-hearted opportunist.As the former Massachusetts governor worked to replenish his own coffers after a draining primary fight, his campaign pointed to evidence that Obama's assault on Romney's business background was not...
As a former head women's tennis coach at Georgetown University, I know what it's like to inherit a weak team. It's great -- nowhere to go but up! Pressure is off... at least for the first season.
Team Obama is closing in on its first term, fourth season, and the U.S. economy is still weak. GDP only just recovered to its pre-recession peak, and unemployment is still over 8 percent. Our national debt keeps growing. And the administration is not showing the kind of leadership Congress needs to stop kicking the fiscal can further down the road.
This month, Team Romney asked, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" Many Americans couldn't say yes. They're worried about stagnant wages, a tough job market, rising college tuition, and underfunded pension plans. The administration fired back by claiming the question is unfair -- it doesn't account for how bad the recession was and for how misguided the previous administration's tax and spending policies were.
But almost four years later, should the president still get a pass? Going back to the sports metaphor, if Obama is the head coach of the U.S. economy, he has a losing record. Any athletic department would give a head coach a couple years to rebuild and recruit, and then another year to see how the team starts to work together and find its rhythm. After three-and-a-half years without a winning record, any respectable athletic director would give the coach the boot.
At the beginning, just about anything can be blamed for a bad performance -- the previous coach's record, a shortage of funds, injuries... or even the weather.
But at some point, the buck has to stop at a coach's door. She has to own her team's problems and take responsibility for performance. That's what leadership is. And if she can't deliver, fire her!
President Obama certainly inherited a weak economy -- nowhere to go but up. But he can't keep blaming continued weakness on past crises, inheriting poor monetary policy, or policy mistakes.
As a big basketball player and fan, Obama certainly would be impatient if his favorite team had a losing record for three years. I wonder, would he fire the coach?
So, let me get this straight:It is September 11, 2012. An Al Qaeda sponsored mob is marching, running, screaming towards the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Supposedly they are angry about an e-mail cartoon about the Islamic figure, Mohammed. It is known right away that the organizers of the march are the same entity that did the mass murder of Americans on 9.11.01.The Embassy issues an apology for an American using his free speech rights about a matter of deep concern. They attempt to appease the mob. It doesn't work. The mobs acts violently and disrespectfully towards the U.S. Embassy. They are...
Mitt Romney, as I've noted, has been heating up the issue of Obama's failure to stop China's currency manipulation.
This currency manipulation is a big distorter of our trade with China, and therefore a big driver of America's trade deficit, which makes it a big driver of job loss and deindustrialization.
Romney is promising to do something about this problem, though, as I've written, it's not 100 percent clear whether he intends to keep his promises on this issue or not.
He's running an ad attacking the administration.
Which is hitting back with an ad of its own, below, calling Romney a phony on the issue because, in his days at Bain Capital, companies his firm controlled were involved in outsourcing American jobs:
This is, frankly, a dumb criticism.
If America's laws and policy environment are set up so that it is legal to, for example, make furniture in cheap-labor nations overseas and import it to the U.S., then companies in this industry either have to match the cost of the importers or go broke.
Which usually, in an industry where labor is the main cost of production susceptible to change, means moving production offshore themselves.
There may be limited exceptions for special niche products or goods that are beyond the industrial sophistication of such nations, but other than that, individual companies really don't have the option of defying the overall economic environment.
This is not an abstraction. I've worked in industries, like the garment trade, where foreign labor costs set the industry's pricing structure. We may not have liked it, and we might have preferred a different U.S. government policy that would have enabled us to afford to employ American labor and still make a profit. But we were stuck.
Any one-firm heroics on our part would just have resulted in our not being there anymore.
So when Bain Capital was investing in industries open to competition from low-wage nations, they didn't have a whole lot of choice about offshoring. Some, maybe, but not a lot.
Therefore, I don't think Mitt Romney is a "hypocrite" to have rationally responded, as a businessman, to the policy environment of 10 years ago and want, today, to change that environment.
Whether he intends to keep his promises is still an open question, but I don't think anything he's done as a businessman proves, per se, that he doesn't.
Some issues in our economy simply cannot be meaningfully responded to at the level of individual people or individual companies. They are systemic, macro-scale issues where our government is the only entity that can provide a solution.
There are legitimate criticisms of Bain Capital to be made. This isn't one of them.
The Washington Post editorial board on Saturday published another critical review of Mitt Romney's campaign, this time focusing on his tax plan.
"For several weeks, we’ve been asking Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to explain how he can cut taxes, as promised, without adding to the nation’s debt, as also promised," the piece said. "Now he’s effectively let the cat out of the bag: He can’t."
The editorial attacked Romney's plan as "counting on magic" and compared it to "the wishful thinking of President George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that helped turn a surplus into the deficit now weighing the nation’s economy."
WaPo's editorial staff has come after Romney in recent weeks for his tax plan, his lack of foreign policy experience, and for being too vague. It also criticized the Republican presidential nominee over comments he made about the attacks in Libya last week.
President Obama has also targeted Romney over his tax plan.
"I guess my opponent has a plan, but there's one thing missing from it: arithmetic," Obama told supporters in Florida last week, according to ABC. "They couldn't answer the question of how you already have deficits, you add five trillion dollars in new tax cuts, two trillion dollars in new defense spending and somehow you're going to close the deficit without raising taxes on middle class families?"
As anti-American and anti-Western violence spread in the Middle East on Friday, President Obama said the United States will maintain its missions abroad to support democratic rule and would seek justice after the deaths of four U.S. diplomats killed in Libya this week. The deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was described by some senators Friday as a well-armed and organized assault rather than spontaneous mob violence.Obama joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a somber ceremony at Joint Base Andrews (formerly Andrews Air Force Base) in Maryland as the remains of...
After days of protests over an anti-Islam film, American diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa were braced for further violence after Friday prayers. The US put its overseas missions on high alert. Germany has closed its embassies in a number of Muslim-majority countries in fear of attacks. "We are observing how the security situation develops with great attentiveness and we have increased security precautions at a number of foreign missions," a spokesman for the German Foreign Office told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Embassies in North Africa,...
WASHINGTON "” The cascade of anti-American protests in the Middle East this week is a jolting reminder to the White House of a dangerous dimension of the "Arab Spring" revolutions: Freedom for long-suppressed Islamist groups that weak elected governments can't manage and that America can't control.Although President Obama welcomed the uprisings that toppled authoritarian leaders like dominoes last year, attacks on U.S. missions and other protests across the Middle East and North Africa have created a deepening crisis in Washington as White House aides...
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are attending the return of the remains of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed in an attack of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, this week.
Obama and Clinton were to go to Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland for the return ceremony.
Stevens and the other victims were killed Tuesday during an attack at the U.S. Consulate.
U.S. officials are investigating whether the assault was a coordinated terrorist attack that took advantage of protests in the Arab world over an anti-Muslim video.
"What we are seeing on the screen is the meltdown, collapse of the Obama policy on the Muslim world," Charles Krauthammer said on the panel segment of FOX News' "Special Report" tonight. "The irony is that it began in Cairo, in the same place where the speech he made in the beginning of his presidency in which he said, you wanted a new beginning with mutual respect, implying under the other presidents, particularly Bush, there was a lack of mutual respect. Which was an insult to the United States, which had gone to war six times in the last 20 years on behalf of...
When this column was written, the smart money was once again saying that the bad times were behind us. “Nearly seven years after the housing bubble burst, most indexes of house prices are bending up,” David Wessel wrote in The Wall Street Journal in July. “Nearly 10 percent more existing homes were sold in May than in the same month a year earlier, many purchased by investors who plan to rent them for now and sell them later, an important sign of an inflection point.”
An instant consensus appears to have developed among reporters and commentators that Mitt Romney made a mistake when he released a statement last night condemning the Obama administration's response to attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt. At Romney's hastily-arranged news conference in Florida Wednesday morning, nearly every question was predicated on the assumption that Romney's statement was a miscalculation. Also on Wednesday morning, journalist Mark Halperin, a reliable indicator of media insider sentiment, tweeted that Romney's...
Matt Stoller pointed out that income disparity, which is associated strongly with negative social indicators (crime rates, poor health outcomes) as well as lower growth, rose faster under Obama than Bush.Newly released Census data provides more evidence of the failure of Obama’s economic policies. A Bloomberg story summarizes how it shows that median incomes fell even as those at the top showed income gains. And why might Obama think he can be indifferent to the fate of ordinary Americans? Might it not be unrelated to the disproportionate role that the 1% and even more important,...
It has certainly been a terrible 48 hours. In Libya, violent extremists killed American diplomats. In Cairo, mobs breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy, ripped down the American flag and replaced it with the al Qaeda flag.In response to the attack in Cairo, diplomats there condemned not the attackers but those who "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." The president appeared in the Rose Garden less than 24 hours later to condemn the Libya assault and failed even to mention the attack in Egypt. The message sent to radicals throughout the region: If you assault an American embassy...
Mitt Romney just held a press availability about the attacks in Libya and Egypt and the death of the U.S. Ambassador John Christopher Stevens. Remarkably, Romney doubled down on his claim that the Obama administration "sympathized" with the attackers."The administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our Embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions," Romney said. "It's never too early for the United States government to condemn acts on Americans and to defend our values."Romney...