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“His Position Is Our Position”: Why Is Mitt Romney Outraged At Todd Akin And Not At Paul Ryan?

Mitt Romney is outraged! He’s insulted! He’s offended!

Why? A Republican Senate candidate dared to state a position on choice that is exactly the same as that of Romney’s own running mate.

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin is attracting plenty of attention for his bizarre and idiotic justification for refusing to allow rape victims to have abortions. But the extreme policy position behind those comments — a policy that is the GOP standard — should be getting just as much attention.

Akin explained this weekend how rape victims shouldn’t be allowed reproductive choice because they already have access to some mysterious anti-pregnancy control system: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Romney responded today in an interview with the National Review:

“Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney said. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”

“I have an entirely different view,” Romney said. “What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it.”

What is Romney’s “entirely different view”? That Rep. Akin doesn’t have a basic understanding of the female anatomy that he’s so interested in legislating? That Akin feels the need to draw a distinction between “legitimate rape” and “illegitimate rape”? That Akin thinks rape victims shouldn’t be able to choose whether to carry their rapists’ children?

Romney should start by directing his outrage at his own running mate. Rep. Paul Ryan not only opposes abortion rights for rape victims, he was a cosponsor of a so-called “personhood” amendment that would have classified abortion as first degree murder and outlawed common types of birth control. Ryan has also bought into the “legitimate rape” nonsense, cosponsoring legislation with Akin that would have limited federal services to victims of “forcible rape” — a deliberate attempt to write out some victims of date rape and statutory rape.

Romney himself has flirted with the “personhood” idea, telling Mike Huckabee during the primary that he’d “absolutely” support such a measure. When he was later confronted about the comment at a town hall meeting, it became clear that Romney had no idea how the process he wanted to legislate actually worked.

And Romney hasn’t always been keen to stand up for the victims of rape. In a Republican debate in February, he actually got in an argument with Newt Gingrich over who was least in favor of requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims they were treating.

Now the Romney campaign is trying to distance itself from Akin by saying that “a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.” But Romney has also vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning to states the power to outlaw or allow abortion as they choose. If Romney and anti-choice activists get their wish from the Supreme Court, a Romney-Ryan administration would have no power to stop states from imposing whichever abortion bans they decide to impose. The promise to carve out an exception for rape victims is not a promise they would be able to keep.

The real scandal of Rep. Akin’s comments isn’t the faulty sex-ed he’s teaching. Instead, his comments expose the anti-choice movement’s skewed and condescending view of women. Akin can’t accept that a woman who fits his definition of virtue — the victim of a “legitimate rape” — would also need to seek an abortion, and he has made up false science to support that assumption. But with or without the weird right-wing science, that same false distinction underlies all anti-choice policies — including those embraced by Romney and Ryan.

Romney can feign all the outrage he wants at Rep. Akin’s misogynistic pseudo-science. But until he can draw a clear distinction between Akin’s policies and his own, his protests will ring hollow.

 

By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post Blog, October 20, 2012

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Abortion, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Global Gag Rule”: A Romney-Ryan Administration Would Be A World Of Harm For Women

If Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States.

In this country, they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly. And the wreckage would begin on Day 1 of a Romney administration.

Mr. Romney has pledged that, on his first day in the White House, he would reinstate the “global gag rule,” the odious restriction that has been used to deny federal money for family-planning work abroad to any organization that provided information, advice, referrals or services for legal abortion or supported the legalization of abortion, even using its own money.

Merely talking about abortion could cost groups not only federal money, but also useful technical support and American-donated supplies of contraceptives, including condoms for distribution in the communities they serve.

The gag rule, also known as the “Mexico City policy,” was imposed by the last three Republican presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1984. It was rescinded by President Bill Clinton in 1993, then reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001. President Obama, fulfilling a campaign pledge, signed an executive order lifting the global gag rule shortly after taking office in 2009.

The gag rule did nothing to prevent use of government financing for abortions because that was already illegal under federal law. But it badly hampered the work of family-planning groups overseas, forcing clinic closures, reduced services and fee increases. It also violated principles of informed consent by requiring health care providers to withhold medical information from female patients. And, by stifling political debate on abortion-related issues and violating free speech principles, the gag rule badly undermined America’s credibility as it tries to promote democracy abroad.

Republican opponents of family planning and women’s reproductive autonomy in Congress have been trying to reinstate the gag rule by legislation. If elected, Mr. Romney has said he would do so with a stroke of the pen.

Mr. Romney also vows to renew another of George W. Bush’s shameful policies (which was ended by President Obama), which blocked the United States from contributing to the United Nations Population Fund. That fund supports programs in some 150 countries to improve poor women’s reproductive health, reduce infant mortality, end the sexual trafficking of women and prevent the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Like Mr. Bush, Mr. Romney has embraced the bogus charge that the Population Fund supports coerced abortions in China, ignoring a State Department investigation that found no evidence for that claim. In fact, the fund has helped promote a voluntary approach to family planning.

The annual federal contribution to the fund is now down to $35 million, compared with $55 million in fiscal years 2010 and 2011; overall support for international family planning and reproductive health programs stands at $610 million — far short of the need. Even so, this amount of money pays for contraceptive services and supplies that reach more than 31 million women and couples, averting 9.4 million unintended pregnancies, 4 million abortions (three-quarters of them unsafe) and 22,000 maternal deaths annually, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

House Republicans want to cut the nation’s investment in international family planning severely. Mr. Romney’s record of bending to suit the most extreme elements of the Republican Party suggests that he may well go along on this critical issue as well.

By: Editorial Board, The New York Times, October 19, 2012

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Deep Irony”: The Tea Party Has Done Serious Damage To Republicans’ Hopes Of Being The Majority

There are those who say that the tea party is fading in influence, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the movement is on the cusp of achieving what once seemed nearly impossible: keeping the Senate Democratic.

A year ago, famed political handicapper Charlie Cook gave Republicans a 60 percent to 70 percent likelihood of capturing control of the Senate; now, he tells me the likelihood of it remaining Democratic is 60 percent.

The switch in fortunes can be attributed to many causes — a slate of lackluster Republican candidates high among them — but one thing is beyond serious dispute: If not for a series of tea party upsets in Republican primaries, the Republicans would be taking over the Senate majority in January.

In the 2010 cycle, tea party candidates caused the Republicans to lose three Senate seats easily within their grasp: Sharron Angle allowed Democratic leader Harry Reid to keep his seat in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell handed Joe Biden’s former seat right back to the Democrats in Delaware, and a tea party favorite in Colorado, Ken Buck, lost a seat that was his to lose.

Now, tea party picks are in jeopardy of losing two more races that heavily favored Republicans: Richard Mourdock, who beat longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary, is struggling against Democrat Joe Donnelly; and Todd Akin, who bested the Republican establishment’s favorite in the Missouri Senate primary, is expected to lose to the onetime underdog, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, because of Akin’s infamous comments on “legitimate rape.”

Democrats and affiliated independents now have 53 seats to the Republicans’ 47. The way things look now, they seem likely to end up with 51 or 52 after the election; if President Obama is reelected, they would keep control of the chamber with 50 seats because Vice President Biden would have the tiebreaker vote. This would mean that the seats the tea party cost the Republicans — between three and five, depending on the outcomes in Indiana and Missouri — will have kept the Democrats in charge.

For the tea party cause, the consequences should be fairly obvious. If Obama wins reelection, this would deny Republicans unified control of Congress (GOP control of the House is virtually certain) and diminish their leverage in negotiations with the White House. If Romney wins, it would give Democrats the ability to thwart his agenda and to launch probes of the administration.

But there’s a case to be made that the outcome is bad for everybody because it could continue the paralysis for another two years. Divided government can be quite effective when one party controls the White House and the other controls Congress, as was the case in the mid-1990s when Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress balanced the budget. This outcome, however, would perpetuate a split between a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, which has produced mostly finger-pointing over the past two years.

There is a deep irony here: The tea party faithful, who claimed they wanted to shake up Washington, have wound up perpetuating the old system. In fighting for ideological purity in primaries regardless of the consequences, they have set back their own cause of limited government and expanded freedom.

High among those putting Republican Senate control in jeopardy is Mourdock, who eviscerated Lugar, the longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, by running to his right in the primary. Now realizing they are in danger of losing a seat that Lugar kept Republican for 36 years, Indiana Republicans used a super PAC to send out a direct-mail piece quoting favorable remarks Lugar made about Mourdock. But Lugar’s Senate office let it be known that it did not authorize the mailing and that Lugar would not campaign for Mourdock.

While Mourdock still has a shot at the Senate, Missouri’s Akin appears to be squandering an easy win for Republicans because of his remarks about rape. Akin beat the preferred candidate of the GOP establishment, businessman John Brunner, in the primary, but his candidacy floundered after he voiced his bizarre thoughts about a woman’s body being able to reject the sperm of a rapist.

In a situation even worse than Mourdock’s, the party establishment abandoned Akin. “I’m convinced now they don’t want Akin to win,” Akin adviser Rick Tyler complained this week to the Daily Caller, a conservative Web site.

Of course they want him to win. But they know that in Missouri, as in Indiana, Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, the tea party has done serious damage to Republicans’ hopes of being the majority.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, October 19, 2012

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Senate | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Invisible And Untaxed”: How Mitt Romney Made A Fortune Off The Auto Bailout

Faced with the hard facts that “bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” as Vice President Biden always says, Mitt Romney has resorted to claiming that Obama followed his lead on the auto industry bailout. “I know [Obama] keeps saying, you wanted to take Detroit bankrupt,” he said during this week’s debate at Hofstra University. “Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt.” Romney’s right, in a way — both his plan and Obama’s plan envisioned the auto companies going through a period of bankruptcy restructuring. But there’s a key difference: Obama’s approach was to use government dollars to prop up the auto companies until they could stand on their own again — something that Romney, like other Republicans in the Tea Party’s anti-spending thrall, adamantly opposed as dangerous government intervention in private industry.

But it turns out that Romney should know firsthand that this kind of intervention can be successful, as a new report shows that he and his wife made at least $15.3 million courtesy of Obama’s auto bailout. According to a Greg Palast, who followed the paper trail for the Nation, Romney and his wife made the money via an investment in a hedge fund that saw astronomical returns on its investments in an auto parts maker that would have gone under absent the president’s rescue operation.

Delphi, the auto parts company, was once part of General Motors but was spun off in 1999. It foundered on its own and declared bankruptcy in 2005, at which point hedge funds came in and bought up the company’s old debt. Among them was Elliott Management, a giant in the industry run by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer. Romney was an investor. Elliott and the other hedge funds were able to buy Delphi’s toxic debt for a fraction of their face value, around 20 cents on the dollar. In 2009, as bailout negotiations were underway, Elliott used their bonds to buy large shares in the company, again for pennies (this time for about 67 cents per share). Not only would Delphi have gone out of business along with its largest customer, GM, but the parts maker got at least $2.8 billion directly from the taxpayer-funded Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). In 2011, Elliott and the other hedge funds took Delphi public at $22 a share, making a whopping 3,000 percent return on their investment of less than 70 cents a share.

So how much did Romney make? His personal financial disclosure forms say he and Ann Romney had at least $1 million invested, but the disclosure rules are so vague that it could be far more. Palast sketches out the possible windfall:

It is reasonable to assume that Singer treated the Romneys the same as his other investors, with a third of their portfolio invested in Delphi by the time of the 2011 initial public offering. This means that with an investment of at least $1 million, their smallest possible gain when Delphi went public would have been $10.2 million, plus another $10.2 million for each million handed to Singer — all gains made possible by the auto bailout.

But that’s just the beginning. Since the November 2011 IPO, Delphi’s stock has roared upward, boosting the Romneys’ Delphi windfall from $10.2 million to $15.3 million for each million they invested with Singer… The Romneys’ exact gain, however, remains nearly 
invisible—and untaxed—because Singer cashed out only a fragment of the windfall in 2011.

 

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, October 19, 2012

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“More Problems For Romney”: After Sabotaging The Economy, Republicans Now Desperate For An “America Under Siege”

One reason the Benghazi controversy has always seemed so bogus to me is that I’ve never bought the core premise, which is that the administration had any clear political reason or advantage to gain by claiming the attack was tied to the video as opposed to a pre-planned assault. (Here’s our look at how Benghazi evolved into a GOP talking point.) In addition to a great number of hacks peddling this idea, some people I respect a great deal seem to credit the idea too. But again, it doesn’t add up to me.

However that may be, the factual premise itself now seems to be coming apart. In this morning’s Washington Post, David Ignatius comes forward with new evidence suggesting that Susan Rice’s now notorious claims about the centrality of the video were pretty much verbatim from CIA talking points prepared that day for administration officials.

From Ignatius

The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.“Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

Meanwhile, an article published yesterday afternoon in the LA Times suggests that these initial reports remain what US intelligence still believes happened: an attack with relatively little advanced planning, a high degree of disorganization and at least some level of triggering by the riots in Cairo earlier that day.

From the LAT

The attack was “carried out following a minimum amount of planning,” said a U.S. intelligence official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter still under investigation. “The attackers exhibited a high degree of disorganization. Some joined the attack in progress, some did not have weapons and others just seemed interested in looting.”A second U.S. official added, “There isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance.” Most of the evidence so far suggests that “the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” earlier that day, the official said.

It would be wrong to think we now know what happened in any definitive sense. Maybe it was triggered by the video. Maybe it was planned months in advance. For me, the main issue is that a US diplomatic team was killed — and whether it was a relatively unplanned haphazard attack or one with a lot of advanced planning is operationally significant but sort of beside the point in political or policy terms. It underscores that Libya is an incredibly dangerous place right now and the Ambassador lacked the protection he should have had.

As I mentioned after the debate last week, Romney totally got hoisted on his own petard by the ridiculous hyperfocus on the word “terror”. But really the whole focus on this word only makes sense in a hyper-ideological mindset in which using the ‘terror’ buzzword signifies you fully understand some global war on Islamofascism which Romney’s advisors are trying to bring back from the middle years of the Bush era.

My global take remains the same: only in the final weeks or a presidential campaign, with one candidate desperate for a America under siege Carteresque tableau to play against, would this ever remotely have been treated like a scandal. A bunch of reporters basically got played and punk’d.

 

By: Josh Marshall, Editors Blog, Talking Points Memo, October 20, 2012

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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