For 50 years now, ever since Dick Nixon taught them how, Republicans have used the same tactics over and over again to try and win elections: attack Democrats as snobby elites and raise questions about issues like affirmative action to try and appeal to working class white voters who tend to be the biggest group of swing voters. With Nixon and Reagan, that at least made political sense even though it was reprehensible, because they both had close personal connections to the working class. But even with the Bush families’ degrees from Yale and long-term family wealth, they still did it. Even with Mitt Romney’s two degrees from Harvard and his great wealth, Republicans are still doing it. And with Scott Brown’s incredible wealth and his campaign team’s close ties to Harvard, they are doing it in their nasty campaign against Elizabeth Warren.
For months, the Massachusetts Republican Party has sent video after video and press release after press release attacking Elizabeth Warren, with great vitriol, for being a Harvard elitist. They have made the accusation in dozens of press releases and videos. Polling shows that the Harvard association doesn’t hurt Warren, but the Republicans keep attacking along these lines because it is the only thing they know how to do. Even though Warren’s biography shows a woman who grew up in a working class family barely hanging on, that she pulled herself up by her bootstraps through her hard work and determination, they are going to continue to try and distract voters from the important economic issues in this race by smearing her with these whispers about affirmative action and accusations of, horror of horrors, getting a job teaching at the school where Mitt Romney got his two degrees.
They so desperately want to do this that they are starting to be downright funny in their tactics: having their campaign chairman Robert Maginn, using his status as a double degree holder from Harvard, demand an investigation of Warren’s history of using affirmative action at Harvard. Given that it has already been attested by her entire interview committee that she didn’t, and given that affirmative action is not a crime even if she had, there is absolutely nothing to investigate. But give them an award for pure silliness: getting their Harvard elitist to pull rank to demand they look into this. The Bushes and Karl Rove must be laughing hard at this one.
Maginn has come under fire before for running a Republican-style campaign of saying anything it takes and does to win — even to the point of encouraging, accepting, and gloating about apparently impermissible corporate donations to the Massachusetts Republican Party. But this is a new low and represents one of the most hypocritical developments yet in a race where Brown’s hypocrisy has already been rampant even for a Republican.
This race is going to have a lot of twists and turns. We can count on only two things. First, we know Elizabeth Warren is going to keep taking on the big Wall Street special interests that are funding Scott Brown’s campaign. Second, we know Scott Brown is going to keep going to the old school, Dick Nixon inspired Republican playbook.
By: Michael Lux, Daily Kos, May 7, 2012
The Associated Press reports:
The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, The Associated Press has learned.The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.
Add to this the fact that nobody from outside America has managed to attack us inside America during the Obama administration, that Osama bin Laden has been brought to justice, that over the weekend a key player in the U.S.S. Cole bombing was taken out, and that al Qaeda in general has been decimated, and suddenly it doesn’t seem like Barack Obama hates America nearly as much as Republicans would like everyone else to believe.
In fact, given that he’s ended the war in Iraq and set a timeline to withdraw from Afghanistan—albeit, too long of a timeline—maybe it’s time we start electing more badasses like him to office. (Come 2016, I’m thinking maybe someone along the lines of a Chicago-born hippie feminist who went to an all-female college … and happens to be our current secretary of state.)
Bottom line is that it turns out you don’t need to look like Mitt Romney in order to be a damn good president. So, whaddya say, haters?
By: Jed Lewison, The Jed Report, Daily Kos, May 7, 2012
Mitt Romney surrogate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is criticizing the “Julia” interactive infographic released by the Obama campaign last week. The infographic shows how policies created and supported by President Obama’s administration help women, cradle to grave. Ryan thinks the whole idea of government services is “creepy” and “demeaning.”
“It suggests that this woman can’t go anywhere in life without Barack Obama’s government-centered society. It’s kind of demeaning to her,” Ryan said. “She must have him and his big government to depend on to go anywhere in life. It doesn’t say much about his faith in Julia.”
Because there’s nothing demeaning about going hungry and being unable to provide health care or education for your kids, Romney’s and Ryan’s preferred path for “Julia.” That “government-centered” society giving Ryan the creeps includes Head Start, public education, Pell Grants, health insurance, fair pay, access to birth control, prenatal care, small business loans and tax cuts, Medicare, and Social Security.
This part is good, too.
“Every one of those slides, I could go after their manipulation of statistics, and disentangle and unpack each of those talking points,” said Ryan. “It’s just the narrative that they’re trying to tell, that for this woman to succeed, she has to have a really big government.”
That coming from the flim-flam budgeter who insists that massive tax cuts for the wealthy will be revenue neutral (we still don’t know what loopholes he would close) and that the Pentagon can be wallowing in funds. This is the Very Serious guy who seems to think tax cuts are the unicorn poop fertilizer for prosperity for the nation.
By: Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, May 7, 2012
In for a dime, in for a dollar. Or, in this case, $260 billion. That’s the amount of spending cuts in a bill Paul Ryan and House Republicans are preparing today for floor action later this week. The bill is meant to avert the deep cuts in defense spending mandated by the failure of the deficit supercommittee. But more broadly, this is the continuation of a fascinating gamble.
Here’s the story. If Congress doesn’t act, across-the-board cuts required by the supercommittee go into effect in January 2013 — cuts to both the Pentagon and domestic programs that both parties find unacceptable. There’s general agreement that the earliest Congress will agree on how to prevent those cuts will be in a lame duck session after the election. And yet what the two parties are doing about this fact couldn’t be more different.
The Democrats, who prefer smaller cuts paired with tax increases on upper-income taxpayers, have been in no hurry at all to advance that agenda in actual legislative terms. Senate Dems, as Republicans will shout until they’re blue in the face, did not pass a budget resolution this year. House Democrats, too, are reported to be leaning against offering an alternative to this new GOP bill.
By contrast, Republicans are holding vote after vote on their agenda — voting on unpopular measures that are the stuff of opposition researchers’ dreams, even though those bills are going nowhere. The measure they’ll be dealing with in later this week, if they stick to plans, slashes (among other things) “food stamps, funding for the 2010 healthcare and financial regulatory laws and the refundable child tax credit.”
Republicans appear to be taking these votes in order to give their Members a chance to go on record in favor of deep spending cuts before the real negotiations between the parties on averting the supercommittee-mandated cuts start in earnest. The only votes Dems are taking are against GOP initiatives. That may seem cowardly, but it’s also quite sensible, since anything they propose isn’t going anywhere, and those future talks will decide what really happens.
The real mystery is why Republicans are constantly voting on bills containing unpopular provisions (attacking the child tax credit???), especially since these votes are merely symbolic. It’s possible that it’s because they believe their own rhetoric and mistakenly believe voters will reward them for “courage.” It’s possible that inexperienced Members simply trust Ryan, and that he doesn’t think his agenda is unpopular. But whatever the motive, it’s hard to see what the House GOP is up to as anything other than a repeated unforced error that Democrats will likely exploit during the fall campaign.
By: Jonathan Bernstein, The Washington Post Plum Line, May 7, 2012
“Path To Salvation Doesn’t Pass Through Barbarity”: Bernie Sanders Brings The Anti-Austerity Fight to America
Bernie Sanders is as focused as any member of Congress could be on the struggles of the state he represents, and more generally on the challenges facing working people across the United States.
But that does not mean that the independent senator from Vermont fails to recognize when things are kicking up around the world—especially when those developments have meaning for the fights he is waging in Washington.
So it should come as little surprise that the news from Europe—of a democratic rejection of failed austerity policies—has caught his imagination.
Sanders knows that austerity is not just a European crisis. It threatens America as well. And he is highlighting what his Senate website recognizes as: “An Austerity Backlash.”
The senator is right to be excited that citizens are pushing back.
Sanders says Europe’s voters are sending a message that America’s voters can and should echo: the time has come to reject austerity measures that have unfairly burdened working families, while redistributing ever more wealth upward to millionaires and billionaires.
France on Sunday elected a new president, Socialist François Hollande, who campaigned on a promise to tax the very wealthy in order to free up funds for investment in job creation, education and social services.
Hollande rejects the attacks on unions and cuts to education and public services that have stalled European economies, promising that he will not casually continue the job-killing austerity policies foisted on Europe by bureaucrats and bankers.
There is, Hollande says, “hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable.”
In Greece, the leader of the Syriza, the radical coalition that as a result of Sunday’s election results has leapt from the sidelines of politics to status as the nation’s second-largest party, is even more blunt in his rejection of austerity.
“We believe the path of salvation doesn’t pass through barbarity of austerity measures,” argues Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras.
Hollande and Tsipras are different players, with different styles and different policies.
Yet, their dramatic shows of strength in Sunday’s voting, along with similarly strong results for critics of austerity running in German state elections and Italian local elections, suggests that voters are fed up with the austerity fantasy that says the best response to tough times is a combination of tax cuts for the rich and pay and benefits for the workers.
What should Americans make of the results?
Sanders knows. The independent senator from Vermont, who has led the fight to preserve education, healthcare and social services funding in the face of proposals by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan and his fellow proponents of an American austerity agenda, says the message sent by European voters can and should be echoed by American voters.
Yes, of course, the accent will be different, as will specific concerns and proposals. America is different from Germany, Greece and France.
But the threat posed by failed and dysfunctional policies is the same.
“In the United States and around the world, the middle class is in steep decline while the wealthy and large corporations are doing phenomenally well,” says Sanders. “The message sent by voters in France and other European countries, which I believe will be echoed here in the United States, is that the wealthy and large corporations are going to have to experience some austerity also and that that burden cannot solely fall on working families.”
Sanders is making the connections, recognizing the importance of a democratic push-back against policies that are as cruel as they are economically unsound.
“In the United States, where corporate profits are soaring and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we must end corporate tax loopholes and start making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes,” the senator explains. “At the same time, we must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Austerity, yes, but for millionaires and billionaires, not the working families of this country.”
Sander is, of course, correct.
Let’s just hope that his message is echoed by other leaders in the United States.
Just as austerity is wrong for Europe, it’s wrong for the United States.
By: John Nichols, The Nation, May 7, 2012