So, doughty warrior of the glibertarians Glenn Greenwald has a MAJOR SCOOP: the National Security Agency obtained a warrant from the FISA court to have Verizon Business hand over millions of phone records. SHOCK! ALARM! OBAMA IS SPYING ON YOU!
Now, I don’t mean to be glib myself. The expanded powers given to intelligence agencies in the wake of 9/11 are a valid subject of debate. Barack Obama’s NDU speech in which he wants to work to curtail the Presidency’s expanded powers is an indication on where he stand on this issue.
But comparing the NSA’s latest data mining to what was occurring under the Bush administration is an exercise in the purest sophistry, and a way for Mr. Greenwald to drive clicks to his Guardian website. (And, really, Guardian, why do you employ a writer who BEGS FOR DONATIONS on your website? )
NYT: Mitt Romney has just come off a couple of rough news weeks in his quest for the presidency, but if Clyde Tennyson, 62, of Hampton, Va., is as typical of the baby boom generation as polling data seem to suggest, there is more bad news to come.
Mr. Tennyson voted for Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election….. This time, he says he’s voting for President Obama, a shift that a sizable number of his fellow boomers are making, according to recent polling data.
…. What is moving the baby boom voters? It may be Medicare … Lark McDonald, 51, who owns a small business in the Denver area, says he voted for Mr. McCain last time, and usually votes a straight Republican ticket, but is leaning toward Mr. Obama. He worries that the Republicans are moving too far right, he said, but he is also concerned they will dismantle the Obama health care program and make major changes in Medicare…..
…. In the last election, Howard Litvack, 53, a finance manager of a car dealership in Franklin, Tenn., backed Ralph Nader, as a protest vote. This time, he says, he’s voting for Mr. Obama. “It’s more important this time to have my vote count,” he said. “There’s more at stake.”
Washington Post: …. The notion that Obama has skipped his intelligence briefings was promoted by a right-leaning research group called the Government Accountability Institute….
….. Ultimately, what matters is what a president does with the information he receives from the CIA. Republican critics may find fault with Obama’s handling of foreign policy. But this attack ad turns a question of process — how does the president handle his intelligence brief? —into a misguided attack because Obama has chosen to receive his information in a different manner than his predecessor.
As it turns out, no president does it the exact same way. Under the standards of this ad, Republican icon Ronald Reagan skipped his intelligence briefings 99 percent of the time.
Paul Krugman: Mitt Romney is optimistic about optimism. In fact, it’s pretty much all he’s got. And that fact should make you very pessimistic about his chances of leading an economic recovery.
As many people have noticed, Mr. Romney’s five-point “economic plan” is very nearly substance-free. It vaguely suggests that he will pursue the same goals Republicans always pursue — weaker environmental protection, lower taxes on the wealthy. But it offers neither specifics nor any indication why returning to George W. Bush’s policies would cure a slump that began on Mr. Bush’s watch.
In his Boca Raton meeting with donors, however, Mr. Romney revealed his real plan, which is to rely on magic. “My own view is,” he declared, “if we win on November 6, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back, and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”
Rupert Cornwell (UK Independent): Has there ever been as inept a recent presidential candidate as Mitt Romney? By comparison Al Gore and John Kerry, both mocked in their day as wooden and robotic, were models of empathy, nimbleness and lightness of touch. The Romney campaign, moreover, is supposed be the tightest-run of ships. Instead it – or more exactly its standard-bearer – generates gaffes by the boatload.
….. for Mitt Romney this time, there may be no recovery. The candidate wants to depict himself as a problem-solving businessman, seeking to improve life for everyone. Instead he has merely reinforced the stereotypical image put about by his opponents that he is a country-club elitist, a Darwinian capitalist who neither understands nor cares one whit about the problems faced by ordinary, less fortunate citizens.
…. It is hard to see now how he rights the ship… The astonishing thing is that he should know better. Mr Romney went through the presidential campaign meat-grinder in 2008, yet he still makes the same mistakes …. Messrs Gore and Kerry were losers. Candidate Romney, barring a massive improvement in these final weeks, looks set to join them.
Michael Tomasky: Conservative columnists are lining up to dump on Romney. But the real problem isn’t the candidate or his campaign. It’s the Republican Party and its pathologies.
Yes, Mitt Romney had a week I wouldn’t wish on … well, Mitt Romney. Yes, his campaign is incompetent, as Peggy Noonan wrote Friday. Yes, there is something really off about the guy personally. But as conservatives like Noonan start in on Romney vilification, I feel the need to stand up and reiterate: Romney’s problems aren’t all Romney’s fault. They’re not even half his fault. They’re chiefly the fault of a movement and political party that has gone off the deep end. Almost every idiotic thing Romney has done, after all, can be traced to the need he feels to placate groups of people who are way out there in their own ideological solar system, with no purchase at all on how normal Americans feel and think about things. This is much the harder question for Noonan and others to confront, and they really ought to ponder it.
Steve Benen: ….Republican campaign strategist Ed Rollins, who recently joined Rep. Michele Bachmann’s team, defended the likely GOP presidential candidate’s credentials:
“…I think the key thing here is she – if she does become a candidate, which I think she will, she will have a good team around her and will basically make sure that everything is fact checked and obviously she’s smart, she’s on the intelligence committee, you know, so she can talk about a lot of different things.”
Republicans realize that being on the Intelligence Committee does not make someone intelligent, right? They know “intelligence,” in this committee context, relates to reviewing materials and documents related to national security, don’t they?
…..I still can’t bring myself to see Bachmann as anything but a joke who would struggle badly to compete nationwide. Her principal problem is, to put it gently, she’s stark raving mad. 😆 Even in a radicalized party … she stands out as one of Congress’ most loony-tunes members.
I won’t deny that this is likely to help Bachmann with many equally-unhinged Republican voters, but I also believe the party desperately wants to win in 2012. Even the most wild-eyed Tea Party fanatic understands, at a certain level, that the American mainstream is far more likely to laugh at Michele Bachmann than vote for her.
Regardless, she’s clearly running, and we’ll see soon enough whether the Republican base is really that far gone.
President Barack Obama studies a document held by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, Feb. 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)