Michael Tomasky: How the credulousness of mainstream media figures like Bob Woodward and Ron Fournier enables Republican extremism …. On Saturday, I wrote about what I called the conservative Republican “rage machine” and its poisonous impact on our politics. I argued that a number of prominent conservative thinkers and pundits …. were and are partly responsible for this problem as long as they sit there pretending it doesn’t exist.
But there’s another responsible group here, too: Just as today’s Republican extremists benefit from the silence of conservative pundits, they also gain from the credulousness of mainstream figures who keep pretending that today’s GOP is a responsible party …. So that when the GOP takes a radical position on the sequester and Barack Obama a reasonable one, both are accorded equal seriousness, even when facts have to be ignored to do so.
Bob Cesca: …. the sequestration issue has been one of those rare items that frustrate me to the point of being incapable of spending time on it. When I read about sequestration, my brain seizes. The stupidity of it all simply confounds me to the point of being speechless. For me, this is a shocking and rare predicament.
It’s not even the chronic brinksmanship — the reoccurring doomsday countdowns and the Republican-manifested economic sabotage that’s behind it all. It’s not the Keynesian in me who opposes the very notion of deficit reduction during a sluggish recovery. Granted, these are both points of irritation, but the characteristic of the sequester that ought to force us all into complete apoplexy and subsequent outrage-induced catatonia is the epidemic of ignorance regarding the status of the federal budget deficit.
Charles Pierce: The administration made a sharp play, releasing a list of how the upcoming Sequester Plague is going to affect each individual state. (You will note the predominance of red states with Republican governors in the Top 20. Here’s Kansas, the most enthusiastic lab rat in the Republican experiment, and it will lose $5.5 million in school funding and have around 8000 defense-related employees furloughed….) There’s some not unexpected bleating coming from John Boehner’s office, as they duck phone calls from the district and hide behind either the curtains, or behind Bob Woodward’s reputation, whatever’s handiest.
…..You wanted the White House to play tough. This is Ronnie Lott stuff right here.
Jonathan Bernstein: House Republicans held a quick session with the press to mainly make one point: They have no responsibility for sequestration….
…. This standoff isn’t going to be resolved by rhetoric. But it’s worth noting the extent to which Republican spin simply ignores that there was an election in November.
….. whether Boehner and the Republicans like it or not, Barack Obama was in fact re-elected on a platform of “balanced” deficit reduction — that is, new revenue and new spending cuts. Republicans have of course every right to oppose that, but it’s a little strange hearing them talk as if that campaign and election never happened.
Steve Benen: Did you happen to catch yesterday’s Capitol Hill press conference with the entirety of the House Republican leadership? House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and House Republican Conference Cathy McMorris Rodgers wanted to talk about this week’s sequestration cuts, but in the process, they offered a case study in how to insult Americans’ intelligence.
Dana Milbank: …. With just four days left to stop automatic spending cuts House Republicans had but one item on their agenda Monday: renaming a NASA facility in California.
You’d have to be on another planet to think that renaming NASA operations is Congress’s most pressing order of business this week. But for Republicans …. the naming proposal was taken up at a time when House Republicans are pursuing a considered strategy of deliberate idleness.
After months of fretting over the harmful effects of sequestration, as the automatic cuts are called, House Republicans have belatedly embraced the realization that if they do nothing at all, they will be rewarded on Friday with a 2.5 percent cut in all federal spending without coughing up a single dollar in tax increases. They have learned to stop worrying and love the sequester.
NYT Editorial: This is how voter intimidation worked in 1966: White teenagers in Americus, Ga., harassed black citizens in line to vote, and the police refused to intervene. Black plantation workers in Mississippi had to vote in plantation stores, overseen by their bosses. Black voters in Choctaw County, Ala., had to hand their ballots directly to white election officials for inspection.
This is how it works today: In an ostensible hunt for voter fraud, a Tea Party group, True the Vote, descends on a largely minority precinct and combs the registration records for the slightest misspelling or address error. It uses this information to challenge voters at the polls, and though almost every challenge is baseless, the arguments and delays frustrate those in line and reduce turnout.
The thing that’s different from the days of overt discrimination is the phony pretext of combating voter fraud. Voter identity fraud is all but nonexistent, but the assertion that it might exist is used as an excuse to reduce the political rights of minorities, the poor, students, older Americans and other groups that tend to vote Democratic.
Michael Tomasky: The release of the Romney tax returns is so amateurish that it almost offends me…..
Romney had pledged, in that ABC interview in Israel, that he’d never paid less than 13 percent to the feds. But to make that true for tax year 2011, the campaign admits that he artificially refused to take some deductions so that the rate would stay above the magic number.
But wait a second. Isn’t this the same Mitt Romney who said back in January: “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”
In fact, it is. So he just released returns that, when stacked against his earlier statement, disqualify him for the presidency by his own lights. Amazing…..
Demonstrators hold up signs as Mitt Romney’s motorcade passes enroute to a campaign fundraiser in Hillsborough, California, September 21
Washington Post editorial: Going with the best-defense-is-a-good-offense approach, the Romney campaign is accusing President Obama of being a — gasp! — redistributionist. In a rather pale replay of 2008’s Joe the Plumber spread-the-wealth debate, the GOP dredged up a 14-year-old video.
…. The campaign apparently thinks that voters will find “redistribution” a scary word. But does Mr. Romney really disagree with the belief that part of government’s role is, in Mr. Obama’s words, to help “make sure that everybody’s got a shot”? To tax is to redistribute. To govern is to redistribute….
…. It’s indisputable that Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have diverging views about the danger posed by increasing income inequality and the degree of redistribution in which government should engage. But the Romney campaign’s desperate, clownish portrayal of Mr. Obama does this important debate a serious disservice.
1:30 Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill campaign at a rally in Merrimack, New Hampshire
6:40: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee (I need to check that time, CNN’s live streaming schedule has a habit of getting these things wrong)
7:30 ET: Michelle Obama will address the Congressional Black Caucus – live on C-SPAN