Steve Benen: At the most recent debate for the Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney wanted to show off his understanding of international affairs, and told the audience that Syria is Iran’s “key ally” and Iranians’ “route to the sea.”
Iran, of course, has 1,520 miles of its own coastline – and doesn’t share a border with Syria….
Today he has an op-ed in the Washington Post, calling for …. shaping a U.S. policy towards Iran that’s “the same as Ronald Reagan’s.”
Um, Mitt? The Reagan administration sold Iran weapons, in violation of an arms embargo, in order to help illegally finance the Contras in Nicaragua…..
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.
Many thanks to AJ for this – I posted the President’s 2004 Convention speech in the new speeches’ section here and AJ let me know about this video of the reaction at the time of the PBS panel (Mark Shields, David Brooks and Richard Norton Smith):
MSNBC: U.S. private-sector employers added 110,000 jobs in October, beating economists’ expectations, a report by a payrolls processor showed Wednesday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP National Employment Report would show a gain of 101,000 jobs. September’s private payrolls were revised up to an increase of 116,000 from the previously reported 91,000.
The report, which is jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, gives some hope ahead of the release of the key U.S. jobs report from the government, which is due Friday morning and forecast to show the economy created 95,000 jobs last month.
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.
President Barack Obama talks with staff in Senior Advisor David Plouffe’s West Wing office at the White House, Oct. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Jonathan Cohn (The New Republic): Remember when President Obama wouldn’t even utter the word “Republican”? Those days are long gone. And maybe, just maybe, the change in rhetoric is starting to pay off.
We’re now into week four of the administration’s campaign to promote its jobs proposal. And instead of dialing down the pressure, Obama has been dialing it up….
…. A new ABC-Washington Post poll suggests that, so far, Obama’s campaign is working …. public support for the elements of his jobs bill is high. And, more important, Obama has opened up a substantial gap with the Republicans over which party voters trust more to handle “job creation.”
… whether or not the Democrats have every single member in line is less important than whether they have 50 votes to pass it – because if they have the 50 votes, then the obstacle to enactment won’t be Democrats. It will be Republicans….
And that ought to matter to the voters. Everybody assumes Obama is campaigning hard for his jobs plan primarily to make a point to the voters about who stands for what, in advance of the 2012 elections. That’s probably true. But he’s adopted this posture because Republicans refuse to compromise. And if Republicans start to pay a political price for holding up popular legislation, there’s still a chance they will relent – and pass legislation before the year is done….
Based on Symmetry’s brilliant twitpic here (Thanks Meta)
Business Week: Railroads shipments are the highest in almost three years, helping to defy concerns about a double-dip recession.
Total rail volumes averaged 381,831 carloads in August, the most since October 2008 … these shipments represent the bulk of materials for industrial production, so rising volumes show the economy is still growing…
… since reporting quarterly earnings in July, the three largest U.S. railroads haven’t given any indication of a sharp decline in demand similar to 2008 and 2009, when volumes fell as much as 24 percent on an annual basis.
…. Earlier this month, CSX’s Chief Financial Officer Oscar Munoz said he isn’t concerned about “any kind of overarching sort of dire circumstances around the corner,” as there is still a “general level of optimism” among customers and suppliers.
“Sure, things have moderated, but there is no one in that near state of panic that we saw certainly in late ‘08 and ‘09,” Munoz said….
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): John Boehner has a new line he’s trying out to justify the Republican House’s rejection of Barack Obama’s jobs bill: “We’re legislating. He’s campaigning. It’s very disappointing.”
… legislating? The House of Representatives? The 112th Congress? Hard to believe that Boehner could say that one without bursting out laughing. The current House has done hardly any legislating at all. They could barely pass a bill to keep the government’s lights on back in the spring, and they almost send the nation into default in the summer…..
And outside of that there’s … well, almost nothing. As Obama pointed out today, there is no Republican initiative that can meaningfully be called a jobs bill…
…. The key here is that real legislating requires compromise, especially during times of divided government. And House Republicans have no intention of compromising with either the Senate or with Barack Obama … Even now, if Boehner really offered to deal on jobs, I don’t think anyone doubts that Obama would hop off the campaign trail and try to work something out. But there will be no legislating, because the House isn’t going to do it.
No matter what talking points John Boehner might trot out.
About one thousand people gather and form a large ‘99%’ in the middle of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, October 6
Perry and Bachmann finally talk some, err, sense:
GOPolitico’s race-baiter supreme, Julie Mason – get over it Julie, your President is black 😉 – had yet another pitiful dig at the President today for not mentioning, when he hosted the Texas A&M University women’s championship basketball team at the White House, that her beloved Rick Perry attended the college. Maybe Julie missed her buddy Knoller’s tweet…..
The President invited Perry to the White House?! See, that’s what you call class, Julie – you should try and acquire some one day 😉
Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, after receiving the Legion of Merit from Vice President Joe Biden during a retirement ceremony in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
The photo I love more than any:
Forty years after their silent protest at the 1968 Olympics, Gold Medalist Tommie Smith hugs Bronze Medalist John Carlos, and their wives Delois Smith and Charlene Carlos after Barack Obama is officially sworn in as the President of the United States. (Boston Globe/Stan Grossfeld)
NYT: On the Senate floor and the television airwaves, Senator Mitch McConnell has lambasted the Obama administration over what he has described as its failed efforts to stimulate new jobs through clean-energy projects backed with billions of dollars in federal loans or other assistance.
But Mr. McConnell, of Kentucky, is one of several prominent Republicans who have worked to steer federal money to clean-energy projects in their home states, Energy Department documents show.
Mr. McConnell made two personal appeals in 2009, asking Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve as much as $235 million in federal loans for a plant to build electric vehicles in Franklin, Ky. “I hope you will realize the importance of such job creation to Kentucky,” Mr. McConnell said in a July 2009 memo supporting an application from Zap Motor Manufacturing.
Federal lobbying disclosure records show that Mr. McConnell’s support for the project came after Zap Motor hired a Kentucky-based lobbyist, Robert Babbage, who has been a frequent contributor to Mr. McConnell’s campaigns and boasts on his own Internet site about his close ties to Mr. McConnell.
…. Another Republican, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, recently asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint an outside investigator to determine how the Department of Energy distributes clean-energy money. But in 2009, Mr. Smith wrote to Mr. Chu asking him to approve loan guarantees from stimulus money for a Texas project proposed by Tessera Solar, documents show.
Ben Smith (GOPolitico): The fall of Tripoli is a foreign policy triumph for which President Barack Obama won’t hold a ticker-tape parade: no flight suit, no chest-thumping, no “Mission Accomplished” banner.
But the low-profile, inexpensive ouster of Col. Muammar Qadhafi marks an important milestone for the administration, foreign policy analysts say – perhaps the most concrete evidence that the more modest American foreign policy approach that has become Obama’s hallmark and perhaps his biggest area of contrast with his more interventionist predecessor might actually work.
….. the scenes of celebration in Tripoli make it difficult to argue with Obama’s methods. And at a moment of fiscal obsession, Qadhafi was deposed on the cheap … the equivalent of a few days of involvement in Afghanistan…
… it is vindication for an important set of ideas that Obama espoused as a candidate: that the United States can still lead while talking and walking more softly and letting allies, particularly the Europeans, take the starring role.
“We need to give the Obama administration credit for finding a way, taking the long view, resisting the pressure to do too much to soon, resisting the old approaches which would have had the U.S. far more involved than it could have or should have been and really blazing a trail for the future of U.S. foreign policy,” said David Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration national security official.
… The White House was loath to claim victory however – both because the rolling Arab Spring has repeatedly demonstrated that a revolution is only the beginning and because the nature of Obama’s strategy is to avoid American claims of credit.
…. “I don’t think this is the time to say to the president, ‘You’re a genius,’ but it is a time for those Obama haters to admit the guy made the right call under a tough set of circumstances,” said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official…