President Barack Obama waves to people gathered along the motorcade route from Osawatomie High School to Osawatomie-Paola Municipal Airport in Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Paul Krugman: One crucial thing you need to understand about political journalists is that with some honorable exceptions, they don’t know or care about actual policy …
…. Hence, the awful decision of Politico to give Paul Ryan an award as healthcare policymaker of the year.
…. what became painfully, embarrassingly clear during the debate over the Ryan plan was that Ryan is, well, incompetent …. it’s true that the plan “got everyone talking”, as Politico says – but mostly it got people talking about what a mess Ryan’s effort was.
Oh, and it was pretty clear that Ryan wasn’t being honest about his own numbers.
What’s going on here, I suppose, is that Politico is mistaking theater for policy. Ryan isn’t an important health care reformer, or even minimally competent in his attempted wonkery, but he plays a deep thinker on TV. And the people at Politico either don’t understand the difference, or they don’t care.
President Obama returns to the White House after a visit to Kansas
Steve Benen: President Obama has decided that, from now on, foreign aid decisions will take into consideration how countries treat their LGBT citizens, and he directed U.S. agencies abroad to ensure our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts “promote and protect” the rights of gays and lesbians.
…. today’s announcement marks a historic first …. It also adds to a rather extraordinary record for Obama in this area in his first three years….
…. I realize there are still a sizable number of people in the LGBT community who are unsatisfied with the pace of change, and consider President Obama someone who has ignored, and even betrayed, their interests. Some have even vowed not to lift a finger to help with the president’s re-election effort.
I suspect many social-conservative activists find this inexplicable.
President Obama has dinner with campaign donors and winners of the “Dinner with Barack” contest at The Liberty Tavern in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va.
MSNBC: Medicare’s basic monthly premium will rise significantly less than expected next year, the government announced Thursday. That could pay political dividends for President Barack Obama and for Democrats struggling to win over seniors in a close election.
…. In a statement accompanying release of the Medicare premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that seniors have nothing to fear from the new health care law.
“The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable,” she said. “People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices and lower costs.”
ThinkProgress: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry released a tax plan this week that he and many media reports called a “20 percent flat tax.” But Perry’s new alternative tax scheme is hardly “flat”.
Leaving aside the fact that it is layered on top of the existing tax code, it establishes not one but two different tax rates: 20 percent for wages, and zero percent for investment income. Because capital gains and dividends would be sheltered from taxes under Perry’s plan, some of the wealthiest Americans would wind up paying nowhere near 20 percent overall.
In fact, billionaire Warren Buffett, who has lamented the fact that he currently pays only 11 percent of his adjusted gross income in federal income taxes, would pay as little as 0.2 percent under Perry’s plan.
ABC: Today’s New York Times story … includes an intriguing reference to a staff memo directing those traveling in a car with Mr. Cain, “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to.”
Could the affable Mr. Cain really have a “don’t-talk-to-me-unless-I-talk-to-you” policy?
Yes. He does. Really.
A top aide to Mr. Cain explains to me why.
“It’s the same policy for any Secretary of Defense or four-star general,” a senior Cain staffer explained to ABC News. “You don’t talk to them unless they talk to you, generally. Sometimes you get guests in the car and they want to talk and talk and talk, and then Mr. Cain wants to prepare for the next interview or the next speech and he’s very engaging, so it can be a distraction. After a while, he gets to the point where he doesn’t want to talk, but wants to prepare for what he’s doing next.”
More excellent comedy from Dick Halperin today in Time. He magnificently ignored all the polls that show President Obama leading RomPerryCain in swing states, and concluded that if the election was held today he’d lose.
It’d be nice, though, if Halperin had an original thought:
Mark Halperin (today): Is President Obama on the ropes? …. The coalition that helped elect the President …. has been disbanded.
Mark Halperin (December 2010): The coalition that got Barack Obama elected President just two years ago has been shattered ….
Last year, Alex Pareene of Salon (which I seriously hate linking because it’s become Firebagger Central) did a series on “the worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer …. the most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the media.” Halperin had to settle for the runners-up prize, behind Richard Cohen. It’s worth a read again:
Alex Pareene (2010): Mark Halperin – The Drudge-loving political analyst who gets everything wrong …. his belief in the unerring political instincts of Karl Rove and the godlike omniscience of Matt Drudge ….
…. Halperin’s worst quality is actually that he is constantly wrong. He is a professional political analyst, yet he often seems to be completely, 100 percent wrong about even the horse-race aspects of politics that he specializes in. He kept promising, in 2006, that Bush’s approval ratings would once again surge past 50 percent. Remember when John McCain “suspended his campaign” to fix the economy? Mark Halperin said McCain won the week.
The book Halperin wrote …. “The Way to Win,” his preview of “the way to win” the presidential election in 2008. His advice was to emulate Karl Rove and worship Matt Drudge – the key to victory seemed to involve a lot of Matt Drudge – and the 2008 election as it actually happened made the whole book (which he co-wrote with Politico co-founder John Harris!) look utterly ridiculous.
… All we ask for is a little accountability. At the very least, Halperin’s TV chyron should read, “ALWAYS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.”
Marketwatch: With a little more than two trading days left in the month, it is shaping up to be the best October ever for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And that is saying something, since the Dow has existed since 1896, 115 years ago.
As of mid-day trading on Thursday, the Dow INDU is ahead more than 11% for the month. The previous record for the month of October was held by 1982, when the Dow turned in a 10.7% return. That’s an auspicious historical precedent, since that month came very early in that decade’s spectacular bull market which, arguably, didn’t end until nearly 20 years later.
Here’s a world exclusive preview of what Mark Landler will (probably) write in the New York Times tomorrow:
“It was a demoralizing day for President Obama on his bus tour of North Carolina and Virginia, some of his lowest points, captured by our photographers, demonstrating just how much distance there now is between him and the people who once supported him.
From the moment he took to the stage in the morning to speak at the Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, it was evident how jaded and down he is, no spring in his step, no sign of the energy that he once displayed at these events:
Grim-faced and unsmiling….
….. his speech was so uninspiring it even prompted one member of the audience to start reading the book he’d brought with him just in case he was bored:
After the speech, the President displayed yet more of his professorial aloofness, failing to connect with his audience or show any human warmth:
It got worse later in the day when the President visited Bluestone High School in Skipwith, a group of teenagers (Jon Huntsman supporters, according to Mark Halperin) giving him an angry and hostile reception when he arrived:
There was a particularly ugly exchange with a student in pink:
…. which resulted in Secret Service having to step in:
On to Reidsville, N.C. and Brodnax, Virginia, where the President was confronted by several enraged women, two of them actually attempting to strangle him:
Stunned, the President ran for shelter in a Reidsville restaurant, where he hoped to find a warm and fuzzy reception, but there was to be no respite from the hostility, two enraged seniors confronting him, rather venomously:
The President, by now a broken man, left for Emporia, Virginia, where he gave another speech to a half-empty hall of largely unenthusiastic one-time supporters at Greensville County High School:
Once again, he ignored the issue that is, clearly, the most important to Americans – unemployment:
…. which might have explained the ugly incident that completed his day, when a young black man – possibly a Tavis Smiley and Cornel West fan – attempted to assault him by hitting his hand really hard:
Frankly, it’s hard to know how the President can recover from such a demoralizing day (#VoteMitt).”
First Lady Michelle Obama introduces President Barack Obama at a DNC fundraiser at Gotham Hall, September 20
“This is like our date night,” Michelle Obama said. She thanked organizers for the “intimate” 400-person dinner, at which singer Alicia Keys performed for donors who anted up at least $2,500 each. “Who knows what will happen?”
The first lady said people often ask her if the presidency is taking a toll on her husband. “The only difference I can think of is the salt is starting to catch up with the pepper” in his hair, she said. “I think it’s quite sexy.”
As she spoke about meeting her husband decades ago in Chicago, she said: “That’s the same man who won me over all those nights ago.”
When President Obama himself took the stage later, he declared that he was “in a New York state of mind” but he also seemed to be in an affectionate state of mind.
“She’s not bad. Do you notice how she’s getting cuter,” Obama said. “She is remarkable.”
He called the event “the closest we get to a date,” though he said could perhaps arrange a real date “in about 14 months.”
“This is not my idea of a date night,” he added later. “Normally our dates don’t end with me being before 400 of our closest friends.
Wow, that tweet must have hurt for Mark Knoller to type😆
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk off stage after attending a DNC fundraiser at Gotham Hall
Aw bless, our old buddy Mark Knoller – who’s not even trying any more to be impartial – is not happy with the President’s shocking proposal that the rich pay the same tax rate as the middle class.
He’s tired of hearing about Warren Buffett and his secretary, so he has a solution: in this Twitter exchange with a right-winger, he suggests Buffett pay his secretary in stock, thereby reducing her tax – and then they’ll both shut up.
Yep, that will sure solve the tax inequality issue for the whole of America.
It’s funny, CNN fired Chez Pazienza in 2008 for having a personal blog and contributing opinion pieces to The Huffington Post.
Meanwhile, Knoller regularly expresses his Teabagger-esque views on tax on Twitter, but that’s okay for the CBS White House Correspondent whose job it is to report impartially on the administration?
You know, impartial reports like this:
MediaMatters (August 2011): CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller whitewashed former President Bush’s role in creating $1.2 trillion in deficit for the 2009 fiscal year, instead blaming President Obama for every penny of debt increase since “the day Mr. Obama took office.” But the Congressional Budget Office had already projected $1.2 trillion in deficit before Obama took office, based entirely on Bush’s actions and economic conditions.
Greg Sargent: Beltway head-in-sand-moment of the day: David Brooks is very, very upset with Obama for aggressively articulating his tax-the-rich vision, and signaling he won’t budge from it, in the face of Republicans who are aggressively articulating their no-tax-hikes-at-all-costs vision and signaling they won’t budge from it. That’s silly enough on its own. But then Brooks gives us this:
“He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives.“
Brooks must have missed all those polls that show solid public support for tax hikes on the wealthy, particularly the ones that show solid support for high end tax hikes among independents.
President Barack Obama plays golf with Vernon Jordan, Marvin Nicholson and Eric Whitaker, Aug. 23, at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs
President Obama speaks on the phone after the earthquake that was felt in many areas along the country’s east coast
President Obama on Tuesday was updated on the earthquake that occurred in Virginia via a conference call with officials. Here’s the statement from White House spokesman Josh Earnest:
At 2:50 p.m. EDT this afternoon, the President led a conference call with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards with the Department of Interior Dr. David Applegate, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Heidi Avery, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough to discuss the earthquake and status of critical infrastructure.
The President was told that there are no initial reports of major infrastructure damage, including at airports and nuclear facilities and that there were currently no requests for assistance. The President asked for regular updates on the situation. The President also was provided an update on preparations for Hurricane Irene by Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate.
MediaMatters: CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller whitewashed former President Bush’s role in creating $1.2 trillion in deficit for the 2009 fiscal year, instead blaming President Obama for every penny of debt increase since “the day Mr. Obama took office.” But the Congressional Budget Office had already projected $1.2 trillion in deficit before Obama took office, based entirely on Bush’s actions and economic conditions…..
Steve Benen: CBS News went to some effort yesterday to promote (Knoller’s) piece … “National debt has increased $4 trillion under Obama” … That’s a shame; the piece is woefully devoid of context and meaningful details.
… The piece doesn’t mention, for example, that the debt increase “on President Obama’s watch” includes a $1.3 trillion deficit that was sitting on his desk the day he took office, left there by Bush/Cheney.
Knoller tells readers that the White House “blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt,” but doesn’t tell readers whether the White House’s claims are true or false – Knoller just passes them along without any scrutiny or context.
In this case, when the White House blames policies Obama inherited, the White House happens to be telling the truth (see post for graphs)….
… Knoller’s piece doesn’t provide any of this information. It’s a bit of a mess.
Chicago Sun Times: Is there ever really a good time for the president to go on vacation? President Barack Obama’s 10-day summer getaway from Washington to Martha’s Vineyard – scheduled to start Thursday – has reignited a seemingly annual debate.
…. Mark Knoller of CBS, the unofficial keeper of presidential work schedules, reported that President George W. Bush had taken more time off than Obama at this point in his first term.
Obama’s upcoming vacation is his ninth vacation since taking office. Obama has spent all or part of 38 days on vacation away from the White House. He has also made 14 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 32 days, for a total of 70 days, Knoller said.
Bush, at this point in his first term, had made 14 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 102 days, Knoller said. He also made 40 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 123 days. His vacation total at this point in his presidency was all or part of 225 days away….