“There are multiple errors and misrepresentations in Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek — I guess they don’t do fact-checking — but this is the one that jumped out at me. Ferguson says:
The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.
Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.
Now, people on the right like to argue that the CBO was wrong. But that’s not the argument Ferguson is making — he is deliberately misleading readers, conveying the impression that the CBO had actually rejected Obama’s claim that health reform is deficit-neutral, when in fact the opposite is true.
More than that: by its very nature, health reform that expands coverage requires that lower-income families receive subsidies to make coverage affordable. So of course reform comes with a positive number for subsidies — finding that this number is indeed positive says nothing at all about the impact on the deficit unless you ask whether and how the subsidies are paid for. Ferguson has to know this (unless he’s completely ignorant about the whole subject, which I guess has to be considered as a possibility). But he goes for the cheap shot anyway.
We’re not talking about ideology or even economic analysis here — just a plain misrepresentation of the facts, with an august publication letting itself be used to misinform readers. The Times would require an abject correction if something like that slipped through. Will Newsweek?”
UPDATE: Newsweek Rebuttal
Newsweek and The Daily Beast: When asked by NEWSWEEK (in 2007) if he has done baptisms for the dead—in which Mormons find the names of dead people of all faiths and baptize them, as an LDS spokesperson says, to “open the door” to the highest heaven—he looked slightly startled and answered, “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.” The awareness of how odd this will sound to many Americans is what makes Romney hesitant to elaborate on the Mormon question. (via azspot)
Something else I think is interesting about Mormonism and baptism:
Do Mormons believe the baptism of little children is an evil abomination?
I was baptized as an infant, and so was my brother. The “evil abomination” language comes from the lds.org website, where the following verses from the Book of Mormon were found:
14 Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither afaith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.
15 For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.
16 Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having aauthority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for bperfect clove dcasteth out all fear.
I welcome any comments from Mormons, because I am curious and that’s pretty strong language. Who’s supposed to be an evil abomination — the priest / pastor performing the baptism or the child being baptized? Or just the act itself? Oy.
Is this relevant to today? Yes, because Romney’s going to Poland.
“Poland, of course, is one of the most Roman Catholic nations on earth, and, despite noble efforts at reconciliation, there have been historic tensions between Mormons and Roman Catholics. Most recently, there had been the bizarre and — to some — hideous practice of posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims — from Poland — and other countries into the Mormon faith, which the LDS leadership has stopped.
“In the practice of posthumous baptism, a living person is baptized on behalf of a dead person so that the dead person can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. These “proxy” baptisms are established practice in the Mormon faith, and they have been performed for a variety of famous and infamous people, including the founding fathers, Barack Obama’s mother, Adolf Hitler and possibly Anne Frank.
“When Catholic and Jewish organizations, among others, complained about proxy baptisms being performed when there was no Mormon genealogical tie with the deceased “beneficiary,” church leadership put a stop to this category of baptisms. But names are still being submitted by some church members.”
You don’t get to know how much Mitt Romney is worth — or where he keeps his money. Via Political Wire: “Mitt Romney’s investment portfolio “has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose,” the AP reports.”
“Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning — suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign.”
“The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney’s ethics filings… But Romney’s limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed.”
original image via: christopherstreet
This is how the wealthiest become even wealthier: earn money in America, offshore it to other countries to avoid taxes. THAT’S HOW AMERICA WORKS!
Investigation: Mitt Romney’s Offshore Accounts, Tax Loopholes, and Mysterious I.R.A. | Vanity Fair – “For all Mitt Romney’s touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney’s fortune (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate.”
A couple of days ago I posted that on Monday, the Romney campaign was in agreement with the President that the health care mandate was a penalty and not a tax. I also said:“Of course this opinion can (and probably will) change at any minute, so prepare to shake the Etch-A-Sketch.”
It took an entire 48 hours, as Raw Story reports: “Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday reversed his campaign’s position that mandates to buy health care are a “penalty” and not a “tax,” telling CBS News that “the majority of the [Supreme Court] has said it is a tax, and therefore it is a tax.” “They have spoken,” he said. “There’s no way around that.” Romney’s new position is the exact opposite of what the campaign was saying on Monday.”
Raw Story also helpfully points out one important difference between Romneycare and Obamacare:
Kevin Drum discusses the stupidity being thrown around by the Republican Party since the Supreme Court’s ruling on Affordable Care last week:
“Democrats have long insisted that Obamacare’s penalty for not buying health insurance isn’t a tax, but on Thursday the Supreme Court upheld it on the grounds that it was a tax. J’accuse! Or, as America’s Bard of the Frozen North tweeted,“Obama lies, freedom dies.”
“This is so stupid it hurts. But Josh Marshall says that what comes next is even more brain dead:
“Republicans are now saying it’s the ‘biggest tax increase in history’ — either of America or the universe of whatever. But this is demonstrably false. The Congressional Budget Office says the mandate penalty will raise $27 billion between 2012 and 2021. $27 billion over a decade. Anybody who cares to can do the math. But if you want to call it a ‘tax increase’ — which is debatable — it’s clearly one of tiniest ones in history.”
“Let’s be fair: When Republicans talk about ACA’s tax increases, most of them are talking about all the taxes in the bill, not just the penalty. But they’re still off base. There have been 15 tax increases of significant size since 1950, and Jerry Tempalski, a tax analyst in the Treasury Department, has estimated the size of all of them as a percentage of GDP. Tempalski hasn’t estimated the eventual size of ACA, but PolitiFact took a crack at it using the same methodology, and they figure that ACA amounts to a tax increase of 0.49% of GDP seven years from now. That places it tenth on the list.”
REAGAN’S TAX INCREASE IN 1982 WAS BIGGER! The GOP is fully aware that their base will never read these facts on Drudge or Breitbart or see them on Fox Entertainment — so the lies will continue as planned.
Mother Jones reports this morning that while investigating government documents, such as SEC filings, they’ve discovered that not only did Romney have a direct hand with the company Stericycle, but that he did not leave Bain Capital in 1999 as both the campaign and Bain constantly assert:
“Earlier this year, Mitt Romney nearly landed in a politically perilous controversy when theHuffington Post reported that in 1999 the GOP presidential candidate had been part of an investment group that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics. Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.
“But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney’s exit from Bain.”
This is a BFD for values voters (you’d think, they claim!) — but they shouldn’t be surprised when pure, vulture capitalism is what they choose to support: if you can make a profit on something — outsourcing American jobs to China, offshoring your American money into foreign bank accounts to avoid taxes, or disposal of aborted fetuses, that’s the way America works. Capitalism! Profit! Romney is a savvy businessman! Job creators!
If it turns out that this isn’t going to be a problem for the Christian fundamentalists, let’s not hear another word about a woman’s LEGAL freedom of choice. Read the rest…
(Photo above: found image of ‘Stericycle’ in a Google image search.)
TPM: “The Washington Post’s top editors just wrapped up a meeting with Romney officials to discuss the campaign’s request for a retraction of the paper’s story on Bain Capital’s outsourcing. “We are very confident in our reporting,” Washington Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti told TPM after the meeting, adding that appointments with people concerned about coverage are common.”
And the Washington Post is actually entertaining this ridiculous request?
TPM reports: “Washington Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti confirmed that editors are meeting with Romney officials to discuss the campaign’s request for a retraction of the paper’s story on Bain Capital’s outsourcing. ”The editors really do take complaints seriously,” she told TPM. ‘They’re always willing to listen to people’s concerns. That’s what they’re doing.’”
I have a concern: who owns the Washington Post — and was the owner in Park City, Utah last weekend?
“When challenged about an untruthful statement, Romney’s tactic is to deny he said it – lie trumping lie.”
Michael Cohen summarizes the lies which Romney has been repeatedly called out for, yet he continues to use:
The stimulus / private-sector / public-sector jobs:
Obamacare / Affordable Care Act:
Why does Romney lie? Cohen explains: “The lying from the Romney campaign is so out-of-control that Steve Benen, a blogger and producer for the Rachel Maddow showcompiles a weekly list of “Mitt’s Mendacity” that is chockfull of new untruths. […] Romney has figured out a loophole – one can lie over and over, and those lies quickly become part of the political narrative, practically immune to “fact-checking”. Ironically, the more Romney lies, the harder it then becomes to correct the record. Even if an enterprising reporter can knock down two or three falsehoods, there are still so many more that slip past. […] As… Steve Benen told me: ‘Romney gets away with it because he and his team realize contemporary political journalism isn’t equipped to deal with a candidate who lies this much, about so many topics, so often.’“
“Quite simply, the United States has never been witness to a presidential candidate, in modern American history, who lies as frequently, as flagrantly and as brazenly as Mitt Romney.”
JOSH ISRAEL responds to the recent rightwing reports about President Obama’s fundraising endeavors — especially as compared with Ronald Reagan’s:
“Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined,” The (UK) Daily Mail reported Sunday, based on Brendan J. Doherty’s new book The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign. The paper also observed that Ronald Reagan did not have a single fundraising event for his 1984 re-election.
Yeah, well. As Israel points out, there are exactly three reasons for that:
1) the nation’s public financing system for presidential candidates, which went into effect in 1976 and was used by Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush for their re-elections, has fallen apart. […] The five previous presidents needed to raise money for only their primary campaign, as public financing would kick in for the general.Reagan, meanwhile, was able to avoid raising any money entirely because he faced no primary and thus automatically received the Republican nomination and the the public financing that came with it.
2) President Obama is the first president to run for re-election in the post-Citizens United world. While Other Presidents ran against opponents whose fundraising was limited by individual contribution limits, Obama has to keep pace with not just the Romney campaign, but also with outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money raised from wealthy donors and big corporations, which on balance support Republicans.
3) Also, Unlike most of his predecessors and Mitt Romney, Obama has vowed to not accept PAC money, accept donations from lobbyists, or allow any registered lobbyists to “bundle” contributions for his campaign. That leaves fundraising from generous donors as the only way to afford a modern presidential campaign.
“I think the conservative media model involves this one really important step that liberals don’t use, which is, ‘listen to me, I am the light and the truth and the way, you have to believe what I say and everybody else is out to get you and you can’t listen to anybody else, don’t change the channel, they’re trying to kill you.’ Liberals don’t say that. Conservatives tell their audience that.” — Rachel Maddow on the conservative media model.
I imagine the “conservative media model” works hand in hand with its “ignorance Is bliss” audience base as well:
WASHINGTON—The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®.
To be fair, becoming well-informed requires some brain work (ouch!) while remaining unaware does not. The less you know, the less you want to know. “Fair and balanced” though.
Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote an op-ed that FINALLY says something constructive called: Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. Here’s a snip:
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
[…] What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South. They included the mobilization of social conservatives after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-tax movement launched in 1978 by California’s Proposition 13, the rise of conservative talk radio after a congressional pay raise in 1989, and the emergence of Fox News and right-wing blogs. But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.
[…] This attitude filters down far deeper than the party leadership. Rank-and-file GOP voters endorse the strategy that the party’s elites have adopted, eschewing compromise to solve problems and insisting on principle, even if it leads to gridlock. Democratic voters, by contrast, along with self-identified independents, are more likely to favor deal-making over deadlock.
Paul Waldman remarks,
Mann and Ornstein end with a plea to the media to start reporting more honestly on what’s going on in Washington in general and in Congress in particular—to dispense with the false equivalence that treats both parties as equally guilty of whatever bad behavior anyone is demonstrating, to stop treating the abuse of filibusters an anonymous holds in the Senate as if that’s just how the system works, and so on.Good advice, without question. And I’m quite sure that many if not most journalists in Washington have understood all the points Mann and Ornstein make for some time. Maybe they’ll start to feel like they have permission to say it, and let their reporting better reflect reality.
I don’t know. I’m afraid it’s overly optimistic to think that most journalists were just waiting for permission to report “reality” as it stands, or that they were caught in some net of false equivalency from which they were unable to extract themselves individually. There is no liberal media, as the rightwing suggests. There is only corporate-owned media with profit as the bottom line: annual profits for shareholders, large bonuses for the CEOs, and reporting that doesn’t potentially enrage the loudest and least-informed (or the wealthiest) members of its audience — or cause any Malkin-type boycotts of its advertisers.
The ‘both sides do it’ meme of journalism is a marketing tool and is probably a requirement, a feature not a bug. It’s the only way to soften one side’s insanity (GOP) against the other side. Without the daily exercise of creating false equivalency in the news between those who are mental and those who aren’t, straight reporting would automatically enrage and alienate about 20-25% of any given audience. Because the fact of the matter is: some people can’t handle the truth.
It seems there’s no way a media corp would give up that much potential profit for something as unmarketable as straight reality. Look what they did with the build up to the Iraq War.
As the Republican Teaparty has taught us since Barack Obama won the presidency, the background of a candidate is completely fair game — particularly if that background doesnot involve the candidate’s ancestors being passengers aboard the Mayflower (and specifically if one’s ancestors are any race other than white). Fact: these are the people Romney panders to.
Therefore in the interest of public awareness and fair play, Dave Weigel asks: So was there a Polygamy Commune, or wasn’t there?
The write-up wraps with this: “Romney’s father, George, was born in Mexico and moved to the United States as a child. He went on to become the governor of Michigan.” Which… doesn’t tell us what’s being discussed. Let’s go back to what Schweitzer told Jacobs.
While discussing swing states, Schweitzer said Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him,” and I replied that was mildly ironic since Mitt’s father was born in Mexico, giving the clan a nominal claim to being Hispanic. Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.” Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”
Schweitzer did not say that Romney’s “dad’s dad was a polygamist.” He said that Romney’s dad was born into a “polygamy commune in Mexico.” This is true. In the 1880s, Miles Romney — the great-grandfather of the current GOP candidate — established a commune in Mexico with the express purpose of allowing the church to continue that practice after the United States cracked down on it. Miles took another wife in 1897, while living in the colony. Gaskell Romney, his son, didn’t engage in plural marriage. So both Romney and Schweitzer, talking past each other, are right.