In the USA...
October 11, 2012Tribes Add Potent Voice Against Plan for Northwest Coal Terminals
By KIRK JOHNSON
FERNDALE, Wash. — At age 94, Mary Helen Cagey, an elder of the Lummi Indian tribe, has seen a lot of yesterdays. Some are ripe for fond reminiscence, like the herring that used to run rich in the waters here in the nation’s upper-left margin, near the border with Canada. Others are best left in the past, she said, like coal.
“I used to travel into Bellingham and buy my sack of coal,” she said, standing in sensible shoes on a pebbled beach at a recent tribal news conference, talking about her girlhood of rural subsistence and occasional trips to the nearby market town. The idea that coal producers would make a comeback bid, with a huge export shipping terminal proposed at a site where she once fished, called Cherry Point, is simply wrong, she said. “It’s something that should not come about,” Ms. Cagey said.
Many environmental groups and green-minded politicians in the Pacific Northwest are already on record as opposing a wave of export terminals proposed from here to the south-central coast of Oregon, aiming to ship coal to Asia. But in recent weeks, Indian tribes have been linking arms as well, citing possible injury to fishing rights and religious and sacred sites if the coal should spill or the dust from its trains and barges should waft too thick.
And as history has demonstrated over and over, especially in this part of the nation, from protecting fish habitats to removing dams, a tribal-environmental alliance goes far beyond good public relations. The cultural claims and treaty rights that tribes can wield — older and materially different, Indian law experts say, than any argument that the Sierra Club or its allies might muster about federal air quality rules or environmental review — add a complicated plank of discussion that courts and regulators have found hard to ignore.
Lummi tribal leaders recently burned a mock million-dollar check in a ceremonial statement that money could never buy their cooperation. Last month, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, a regional congress of more than 50 tribes in seven states, passed a resolution demanding a collective environmental impact statement for the proposed ports, rather than project-by-project statements, which federal regulators have suggested.
Leaders of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which focuses on fishing rights, said in a statement in support of the resolution that moving millions of tons of coal through the region could affect a range of issues, like road traffic and economic life on the reservations, not to mention the environment.
“It brings another set of issues to the table,” said Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon, a Democrat who earlier this year asked for a broad federal environmental review that would examine implications of the coal plan from transit through the region by train or barge to the burning of the coal in China. The tribes, Mr. Kitzhaber said, have now added a voice that even a governor cannot match. “It definitely increases the pressure,” he said.
Coal producers across the nation have been wounded by a sharp drop in demand in the United States — down 16.3 percent in the period from April through June, compared with the same period in 2011, to the lowest quarterly level since 2005, according to the most recent federal figures. With prices falling and abundant supplies of natural gas flowing because of new fields and drilling technologies, especially hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, many electricity producers that can switch are doing so.
That has made coal exports, which have increased this year in every region of the country except the West, according to federal figures, even more crucial to the industry than they were when the six terminals on the Pacific Coast were first proposed. Jason Hayes, a spokesman for the American Coal Council, said that with coal-producing nations like Australia and Indonesia competing for Asian markets, a roadblock on the West Coast is an issue for the entire American economy.
The first public hearings for the terminal projects, conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers, are set to begin this month in Bellingham, near the Lummi reservation.
“The people that can produce efficiently and can ship quickly and reliably — those are the big things — they are going to be the ones that are chosen for being reliable business partners,” Mr. Hayes said. “If we can build the ports on the West Coast, then it just becomes that much more reliable.”
But by coincidence of history, geography, culture and law, the West Coast, especially Washington and Oregon, is also a center for Indian tribe muscle, legal scholars said.
Although many tribes around the nation received rights to hunt and fish in the treaty language of the 1800s that consigned them to reservations, few places had a focus on a single resource — fish, especially from the Columbia River and its tributaries — that tribes here did. They also, crucially, persisted in using the resources that the treaties had granted them; fishing did not become a hobby or a cultural artifact.
Then, in the 1970s, when the Indian rights and environmental movements were both surging, tribal timing was fortuitous in pushing court cases that reinforced their claims.
“They made really good use of those rights, and have become major players,” said Sarah Krakoff, a law professor at the University of Colorado who teaches Indian law and natural resources law. Tribal rights have been a cornerstone in the long battle over restoring salmon stocks in the Columbia River. This year, one of the biggest dam removal projects in the nation’s history reached a milestone when a section of the Elwha River near Olympic National Park in Washington was restored to wild flow, with fishing rights an important driver in the process.
Coal has also become an element in the presidential race, as energy executives have poured tens of millions of dollars into campaigns backing Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, and accusing the Obama administration of harboring hostility to coal through tightened air pollution rules.
An executive order dating from the administration of Bill Clinton could give further ammunition to Northwest tribes in their coal fight, Professor Krakoff and other experts said. The order directs federal agencies to allow tribal access to sacred sites and to take into account religious practices in federal decision making.
Lummi leaders, in the protest this week where Ms. Cagey spoke, said the Cherry Point site in particular — though partly developed years ago by industry, with a major oil refinery nearby — is full of sacred sites and burial grounds. The tribe’s hereditary chairman, Bill James, said in an interview, however, that the tribe would not reveal the locations of the graves for fear of looting.
***************U.S. warns meningitis cases could rise
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, October 12, 2012 7:28 EDT
AFP - US authorities have managed to contact most of the thousands of people exposed to the tainted drug blamed for a meningitis outbreak that has killed 14, but warned the number of infections could rise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had contacted 12,000 of the nearly 14,000 patients who may have been exposed to the contaminated steroid injection believed to have caused the fungal meningitis outbreak.
“CDC and public health officials are referring any patients who have symptoms (of) possible meningitis or possible joint infection to their physician,” the CDC’s Dr. J. Todd Weber said in a conference call Thursday.
“However, we know we are not out of the woods yet.”
Weber said the onset of symptoms typically comes one to four weeks after the injection, which is usually made in the spine or joints.
“However, we want to emphasize that we know fungal infections can be slow to develop, and that there are indeed reports of longer periods of time between the injection and the onset of symptoms,” he said.
“Patients and their doctors will need to be vigilant for at least several months following the injection.”
Health officials on Thursday said the total number of cases had risen to 172 in 11 states.
The rare fungal infection — which inflames the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord — often goes undetected until it is too late because its flu-like symptoms can be mild at first.
Treatment requires a hospital stay and intravenous anti-fungal medications, but meningitis is not contagious in this form.
US health officials launched an investigation after the first case was discovered in September and found fungal contaminants in steroids produced by the New England Compounding Center.
The Massachusetts-based company subsequently issued a voluntary recall of all of its products and shut down all operations.
The outbreak has led to calls for tighter regulation of the loosely controlled pharmaceutical compounding industry.
Critics said drug manufacturers have found a way to sidestep costly and strict oversight by classifying themselves as pharmacies, which are given freer rein to mix drug compounds for patients.
**************U.S. names new Libyan ambassador after death in September 11 attack
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, October 11, 2012 13:48 EDT
The United States on Thursday named a new charge d’affaires to Libya following the murder of ambassador Chris Stevens in last month’s militant attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Veteran diplomat and Arabic speaker Laurence Pope has arrived in Tripoli already, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
His appointment “emphasizes the commitment of the United States to the relationship between our two countries and to the people of Libya as they move forward in their transition to a democratic government,” Nuland said.
“We will continue to assist as Libya builds democratic institutions and broad respect for the rule of law — the goals that Ambassador Stevens worked hard to achieve.”
Pope has come out of retirement to take up the post at a time when the State Department is still investigating the September 11 attack in which Stevens and three other American diplomatic staff were killed.
Stevens was the first ambassador to be killed on duty since 1979 and the horrific attack on the Benghazi consulate when dozens of armed men stormed the building, bombarding it and torching it, has shocked the US diplomatic community to the core.
But the US administration of President Barack Obama has vowed to stand by the people of Libya as it struggles to build a democracy following the toppling of long-time autocratic leader Moamer Kadhafi last year.
“Pope looks forward to working with the Libyan government and the Libyan people during this historic and challenging time, as we build strong economic, social, political, and educational bridges between our two people,” Nuland added.
Pope retired from the Foreign Service in 2000 after 31 years, during which he notably served as ambassador to Kuwait, as well as ambassador to Chad from 1993-1996.
He was also director for Northern Gulf Affairs from 1987-1990, associate director for counterterrorism 1991-1993, and political advisor to the commander in chief of the US Central Command from 1997 to 2000.
*************Joe Biden Dominates Paul Ryan and Gives Democrats Back Their Mojo in VP Debate
By: Jason EasleyOctober 11th, 2012
It was a night when Democrats needed a morale boost, and Vice President Joe Biden delivered with a dominating performance over Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate.
The first question of the debate went to Joe Biden on Libya, and the vice president both touted Obama’s record on terrorism and promised that those who carried out the attack will be brought to justice. Ryan responded by painting Libya as a failed leadership moment. Ryan threw in all the red meat buzzwords about the Obama foreign policy unraveling. Biden called out Ryan for giving a lecture that wasn’t accurate. Biden then hammered Ryan for voting to cut embassy security by $300 billion. Biden called Ryan’s right wing red meat a bunch of malarkey. Biden called out Romney and Ryan for, “betting against America all of the time.”
Ryan was asked about Romney’s no apologies line and whether that applies to burning Qurans and urinating on dead Taliban, and he said yes we should apologize. Paul Ryan has just stated that the Romney/Ryan platform is to apologize for America, except when it involves our “values.” Ryan then claimed that under Obama, Iran is racing towards a nuclear weapon. The topic turned to Iran, and Ryan claimed that the administration has been weak on sanctions, but Biden was there to knock Ryan’s talking points down, and ask him, “What are they talking about?” Ryan avoided the question, and when asked if he could avoid the two month red line before attacking Iran, Ryan fumbled and bumbled. Biden jumped in and talked about how the Iranian economy is going into free fall. Biden also said that Obama has met with Netanyahu 29 times. Biden said this is simply a bunch of stuff. Ryan responded by repeating his malarkey. Biden came back at Ryan by saying facts matter and explained how close Iran really is to a nuclear weapon.
The topic then turned to the economy. Biden was asked can unemployment be lowered to below 6% and how long will it take? He answered I don’t know how long it will take and detailed Obama’s economic achievements, and threw out let Detroit die, and let foreclosure take it’s course. Biden scored big points by laying into Romney and Ryan for the 47% remarks. Biden said it was about time to that the wealthy took some personal responsibility. Ryan warped the statistics and used the unemployment in Scranton, PA to claim that the jobs numbers are going in the wrong direction. Ryan then launched into Romney’s 5 point plan that won’t create jobs. Biden literally laughed out loud as Ryan was spinning his bull.
Ryan tried to explain away the 47% remarks by pointing to Romney’s personal generosity. Biden responded by saying if you believe what Ryan was pushing I have a bridge to sell you. Biden then hit Romney/Ryan again on wanting to let Detroit die. Biden talked about how Republicans need to just get out of the way and stop talking about how much they care about people, and do something. Biden also pointed out that Republicans ran up the debt. Ryan claimed that Obama came in with one party control. Ryan was asked again when he could get unemployment down to 6%, and he wouldn’t answer. Biden then hit Ryan on asking for stimulus money.
Ryan floundered on Social Security and Medicare, while Biden continued to hammer away at him. Ryan once again refused to name what specific deductions he would eliminate. One of Biden’s strongest lines of the night was telling the American people to use their common sense when they hear Romney and Ryan talking about Medicare and Social Security. Biden flat out dominated this debate. He wasn’t afraid to hit Romney, the Republicans in Congress, and Paul Ryan’s votes in the House.
Towards the end of the debate Ryan got totally desperate and repeated the right wing slur that Obama supports China’s one child policy. Biden talked with sincerity on abortion, a woman’s right to choose, and debunked the religious freedom anti-contraception talking point. Biden even put Ryan on the defensive on abortion. Ryan also lied and claimed the Romney policy supports the exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.
In closing statements, Biden made a plea to the middle class, while Paul Ryan repeated his stump talking points and tried to sell Mitt Romney as an economic savior.
Ryan looked way, way, way in over his head in foreign policy, and he wasn’t helped by the fact that foreign policy is a Biden specialty. In fact, every time the topic turned to foreign policy, Paul Ryan completely vanished for minutes on end. The difference between the two men was the Joe Biden looked like a Senate veteran and a sitting vice president, while Paul Ryan looked like a middling member of the House.
If this was the debut of the new Obama strategy for handling the Romney/Ryan pathological lying express, it was a resounding success. Biden called out every single Ryan lie, and gave him no wiggle room. Vice President Biden wasn’t abrasive or angry. He was solid, steady, and confident. Much like when he debated Sarah Palin in 2008, Biden owned the room.
On the last question of the night about a member of our military who is dejected about the tone of the campaign, Paul Ryan couldn’t resist whining about the Obama campaign and then launched into a talking point anti-Obama barrage that verified exactly who and why this campaign is so negative.
Biden hit all the points that Obama didn’t touch in the first debate, and he hit them hard.
Democrats needed a morale boost and their momentum back. Vice President Joe Biden gave them both tonight.
****************Paul Ryan’s 5 Biggest Lies of the First Half of the Vice Presidential Debate
By: Jason Easley October 11th, 2012
Paul Ryan has been throwing the lies around in rapid order, and here are his five biggest fibs during the first half of the vice presidential debate.
1). Ryan claimed the Obama administration has blocked sanctions on Iran and tried to stop them.
The truth: In July, the Obama administration ordered new sanctions on Iran. According to The Hill, “Obama signed an executive order that imposes new sanctions on the Iranian energy and petrochemical sectors to block the country from circumventing existing sanctions. The order also expands sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry by making the purchase or acquisition of Iranian petrochemical products sanctionable. Separately, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against two international financial institutions — Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq — for facilitating transactions on behalf of Iranian banks that are subject to international sanctions.”
2). Ryan claimed that Obama slashed security funding for embassies.
The truth: Paul Ryan and the House Republicans slashed funding for diplomatic security. According to The Washington Post, “For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration.”
3). Ryan said a Medicare board appointed by Obama will be making healthcare decisions for seniors.
The Truth: According to PolitFact Ohio, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act creates the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board to suggest ways to limit Medicare’s spending growth. It can be overruled by Congress. Its appointments will be done in public. It will not make decisions on individual cases. The board can reduce how much the government pays health care providers for services, reduce payments to hospitals with very high rates of readmissions or recommend innovations that cut wasteful spending. It may not raise premiums for Medicare beneficiaries or increase deductibles, co-insurance or co-payments. The IPAB also cannot change who is eligible for Medicare, restrict benefits or make recommendations that would raise revenue.”
4). Ryan said Obamacare takes $716 billion out of Medicare for seniors, and turns Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare.
The Truth: According to FactCheck.org, “Republicans claim the president’s $716 billion “cuts” to Medicare hurt the program’s finances. But the opposite is true. These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise…It’s true that experts, including Medicare’s chief actuary, doubt that some of those spending cuts will actually be implemented. But if they are, Medicare would spend less each year than it had been expected to otherwise, allowing Medicare to stretch further the income it receives from payroll taxes and premiums.”
5). Ryan claimed 6 studies guarantee that the Romney tax cut math adds up.
The Truth: FactCheck.org found that there aren’t 6 studies. There aren’t five studies. In fact, there are no studies, “But the five “studies” aren’t all studies and none of them was nonpartisan. Of the three that could be considered studies, two were written by Romney campaign advisers and a third was written by a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush.”
***************What Last Night’s Debate Tells us About How Team Romney Sees Women
By: Hrafnkell HaraldssonOctober 12th, 2012
It’s safe to say, “I feel ya, Joe”
What I take away from the Biden-Ryan debate last night is this: Team Obama is willing to stand up for women and to make their position unequivocally clear. Moreover, tested time and again, they stand by it.
What you get from Team Romney is all over the place. Romney is busy clarifying clarifications, Tuesday saying he knows of no abortion legislation that is part of his agenda, and on Wednesday announcing that he will defund Planned Parenthood.
Ryan, for his part, when asked by moderator Martha Raddatz, “I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?”
“We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people, through their elected representatives and reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process, should make this determination.”
Unelected judge? We are not talking about unelected judges making decisions. We are talking about women making decisions. About their own bodies. About their own health.
Compare and contrast that again with what Biden said:
“I do not believe that — that we have a right to tell other people that women, they — they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view.”
Team Obama wants to leave women in control of their bodies. Team Romney wants to leave elected representatives in control of women’s bodies.
Romney can dance all over the spectrum trying to act like a sane, moderate candidate, but he has sold his soul to America’s religious extremists on the issue of abortion and contraception.
What Americans need to remember is that in Team Romney we have a conservative Mormon and a conservative Catholic allied to conservative Protestants, none of whom are much interested in what the U.S. Constitution says about anything.
Once upon a time, America was a safe haven for those who did not want to be told how to live their lives according to the dictates of one religion or another. That time is rapidly passing. The forces of theocracy have massed for one last push.
Through some twists and turns in the electoral process (and a whole whompin’ lot of money) they have ended up with a Mormon of all things as their flag waver and they have more or less enthusiastically lined up behind him.
Any woman expecting a fair shake out of this unholy alliance isn’t paying attention.
At the debate, Ryan did an excellent job of avoiding direct answers to questions, but on the abortion issue, he slipped up:
I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life.
He claims, “Now, I understand this is a difficult issue. And I respect people who don’t agree with me on this.”
Now Ryan’s claim about giving people a chance in life is pure bullshit. Even the Jesuits recognize this and they’re Catholic Dammit.
And as for respect, no, he really doesn’t. He expects people who disagree with him to live their lives according to his religious doctrines, no matter what religion they may belong to; no matter what the dictates of their own system of belief tells them is right where abortion and contraception are concerned.
Biden also says his religion is important to him. But he recognizes that it is his religion; not yours and not mine:
With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call de fide (doctrine ?). Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.
But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.
And this is the point Ryan fails to understand. This is the point the Religious Right as a whole fails to understand. We don’t all hold the same religious beliefs. And it is the GOP that has made this fight about religion, calming it has nothing to do with women’s health (remember why Sandra Fluke was excluded from the discussion about her own vagina).
If this is, as the Republicans insist, a religious issue, and Ryan is a Catholic, why don’t we just invite the Pope in to make a ruling on these matters? Well, because the Constitution forbids it. We don’t have state sponsored religion here in this country. It’s forbidden.
And that goes for any religion. The Right wants to defeat Sharia Law but they want to put in its place an almost identical law code, Mosaic Law. Neither law code is women-friendly. Let’s face it. Bronze Age Palestine was not a time for feminism and neither was Arabia in the early Middle Ages.
But Romney and Ryan are insisting that our laws should be based on their religious beliefs, despite the First Amendment’s prohibition on state-sponsored religion.
Ryan sings the persecution song the hypocritical aberrochristians love so well . He claimed last night, “They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion.”
But nobody is telling Ryan that he can’t let his religion inform his choices. All we are telling him is that his religion cannot inform our choices.
The people threatening our freedom of religion are named Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Joe Biden gets it. Barack Obama gets it, as we saw from the evolution of his position on marriage equality. But Romney and Ryan don’t get it. Conservatives can’t unbend their minds. They can’t haul them out of the past and from thoughts of how things “have always been.”
It’s time to shed the Bronze age status quo. As President Obama said, we’ve got to go forward. We can’t go back.
But that is exactly what Team Romney wants and it is exactly what Paul Ryan supported at the debate last night. Not only will all forward momentum cease immediately, but we will all take three steps back for every step we took forward, until women are silent and obedient and pregnant when their men want them to be. As Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said: “Women simply can’t trust (Romney).”
Know your role, ladies. The Sky Father’s holy men are pissed, and you know by now that no good ever comes of that.
**************Romney Politicizes Libya Attacks While House GOP Outs CIA Base
By: Sarah JonesOctober 11th, 2012
Mitt Romney couldn’t leave the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya alone today. Ignoring the fact that consulates have been attacked under other Presidents, including a rise of attacks under Reagan, Romney said, “No President Obama. It’s an issue because this is the first time in 33 years a U.S. ambassador has been assassinated. It’s an issue because … we were attacked by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. This is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you … to admit this was a terrorist attack.”
Rumor has it that the President was waiting for all of the intel, but waiting for information is not a speciality of Mitt Romney’s. That is why the headlines the next day were so brutal:
Associated Press Headline: “Fact Check: Romney Misstates Facts On Attacks.” [Associated Press, 9/13/12]
Washington Post Headline: “Fact-Checkers Say No To Romney ‘Apology’ Claims.” [Erik Wemple, Washington Post, 9/13/12]
Washington Post Headline: “Mitt Romney Has Mess To Clean Up After Falsely Accusing Obama On Libya.” [Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 9/12/12]
Reuters Headline: “Romney’s Account Of Egypt Embassy Attack Flawed.” [Reuters, 9/12/12]
Washington Post Headline: “Romney Owes An Apology.” [Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, 9/13/12]
CNN Headline: “Romney Camp Tries To Manage Fallout From Libya Response.” [CNN, 9/12/12]
If Romney wants answers all he has to do is turn to a) himself b) Paul Ryan and c) the House Republicans. Congressman Ryan and House Republicans have pushed for deep cuts affecting diplomatic security for years. Romney’s track record on Libya is so frantic that it involves him fleeing down a hallway to avoid a reporter’s question about Libya:
In March, Romney said he’d have done it sooner and accused the President of following the French into Libya.
In April, he refused to answer journalists questions about his Libya stance, described as “fleeing” down a hallway to avoid reporters, Romney gave them this version of leading, “I’ve got a lot of positions on a lot of topics, but walking down the hall probably isn’t the best place to describe all those.”
Later in April, Romney said Obama was being “too aggressive”, saying, “(i)t is apparent that our military is engaged in much more than enforcing a no-fly zone. What we are watching in real time is another example of mission creep and mission muddle.”
In August, Romney said praised the mission as Muammar el-Qaddafi fell.
Remember when the House that Ryan built defunded security for consulates, even after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected”:
For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration.
House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.)
Ryan’s 2014 budget cuts non-defense discretionary spending, “which includes State Department funding, would be slashed nearly 20 percent in 2014, which would translate to more than $400 million in additional cuts to embassy security.”
Maybe you don’t remember any of that because you were busy screaming “Valerie Plame!” today when you found out that in their (yet another) Darrell Issa led witch hunt with taxpayer money, Republicans accidentally outed the location of a secret CIA base.
Dana Milbank wrote Wednesday:
Through their outbursts, cryptic language and boneheaded questioning of State Department officials, the committee members left little doubt that one of the two compounds at which the Americans were killed, described by the administration as a “consulate” and a nearby “annex,” was a CIA base. They did this, helpfully, in a televised public hearing.
So Issa accomplished outing the location of a CIA base in their big show, but no doubt this will magically be blamed on Obama by Republicans. Dana Milbank wrote, “When House Republicans called a hearing in the middle of their long recess, you knew it would be something big, and indeed it was: They accidentally blew the CIA’s cover.”
So the committee investigating whether or not secrets were leaked is now leaking secrets. Will this clown show ever end? Oh, no. They even managed to out that their investigation might be looking into the wrong agency. It looks like it might be the CIA, not the State Department.
Obama for America spokeswoman Lis Smith released the following statement in response to Mitt Romney’s political attacks regarding Libya tonight at an event in North Carolina, “While President Obama has been focused on getting the facts, finding the terrorists responsible, and bringing them to justice, Mitt Romney has attempted to use the tragedy to his political advantage.”
The truth is that Americans do deserve to know what happened on September 11, but the truth is not likely to come from anything Darrell Issa touches, nor does the truth come from the Republicans’ hope of projecting the result of their own budget cuts onto the President, and it certainly won’t come from Republicans’ obvious desperation to smear Obama with the truth about George Bush ignoring intel.
Republicans were warned about denying funding to Libya by their own side, but they played with fire anyway. They were warned by their own conservative policy makers that their actions on Libya were undermining America and emboldening our “enemies”. In June of 2011, Republicans voted for the first time since 1999 to deny a president’s authority to carry out a military operation.
Now they want to obscure these truths and this history by shouting fire at the top of their lungs. We will never get the truth from Republicans who are on record as having sworn that their only agenda was to make Obama a one term president. It’s hard to take them seriously when they only considered denying the funding for Libya in order to obstruct Obama, and now that it’s blown up in their faces, they’re trying to blame him even more. Maybe he does share blame for something, but we’ll never know that so long as Darrell Issa is in charge.
Democrats might have thought that Newt Gingrich’s obsession with destroying Bill Clinton was a one-off, but now they know that whenever Republicans are in power, they will spend all of their time and the people’s money investigating the Democratic president on witch hunts, and ignoring the real work of the people. Republicans will no doubt be very sorry when Democrats have the gavel again.
****************Obama Pounces and Challenges Romney’s Lies and Political Shape Shifting
By: Jason EasleyOctober 11th, 2012
While campaigning in Florida today, President Obama used his strongest language yet to take on Mitt Romney’s strategy of lies and political amnesia.
Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Nr4rOfDGJbs
Now, Governor Romney has been pitching this plan for almost a year now. He stood up on the stage in one of his primary debates proudly promised that his new tax cuts on top of the Bush tax cuts would include the top 1%. Now, you wouldn’t know this from listening to the new latest version of Mitt Romney. He’s trying to go through an extreme makeover. After running for more than a year in which he called himself severely conservative, Mitt Romney’s trying to convince you that he was severely kidding. Look – what he was selling was not working because people understood his ideas wouldn’t help the middle-class so these days Mitt Romney’s for whatever you’re for. Suddenly he loves the middle-class. Can’t stop talking enough about them. He loves Medicare. Loves teachers. He even loves the most important parts of Obamacare. What happened?
Now, what does he have to say this new version of Mitt Romney about all the things he’s actually promised to do as president? Tax breaks for outsourcers? Never heard such a thing. Saying we should cut back on teachers? Doesn’t ring a bell. Don’t boo. Vote. Kicking 200,000 young Floridians off their insurance plans. Who me? And when he’s asked about the cost of his tax plan, he just pretends it doesn’t exist. What $5 trillion tax cut? I don’t know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut. Pay no attention to the $5 trillion tax cut on my website. Look, Governor Romney thinks we have not been paying attention for the last year and a half. He is going to say whatever it takes to try to close the deal and he’s counting on the fact that you don’t remember that what he’s selling is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. So Florida, you got to let him know we remember. We know full well that if he gets a chance, Governor Romney will rubber stamp the top down agenda of this Republican Congress the second he takes office and we cannot afford that future.
In the days since the first presidential debate, the Obama campaign seems to have found their message. Their strategy for dealing with Romney the moving target appears to be to attack his credibility. It doesn’t matter what Romney says at the debates or on the campaign trail, because that is just shape shifting Mitt adopting another position to get elected.
For those who are wondering if President Obama is going to be ready for the second debate, you are getting your answer in his recent stump speeches. The president isn’t going to talk around Mitt Romney in their second meeting. His recent behavior on the campaign trail suggests that he is going to take him on directly.
Mitt Romney has a strategic problem. He played all of his cards in an attempt to catch Obama in the first debate. It didn’t work. Obama is still leading, and now the question is, what can Romney possibly do in the second debate that he didn’t already do in the first?
It took the Obama campaign time to adjust to what they saw from Romney at the first debate, but if this is the way that the Republican nominee is going to run the remaining weeks of his campaign, look for Obama to use his trust and likability advantages to knock Romney down at every turn.
***************Beneath the Romney/Ryan Lies Is an Austerity Plan that Spells Economic Doom
By: RmuseOctober 11th, 2012
The organization, identification and interpretation of information in order to represent and understand conditions is perception, and it can be influenced by controlling information dispensed to large numbers of people. In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, understood that the public would accept fallacies if “you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth,” and it is a favorite tactic of America’s version of Goebbels, Willard Romney and his Republican cohort. Romney has spent the past eight months telling the American people the economy is in such dire shape that unless he is elected and gives trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the rich while instituting harsh austerity measures on 98% of the population, the nation is doomed. It is true the economy is still recovering after 8 years of Republican malfeasance that Romney intends to repeat, but it is moving forward and whether Romney and Republicans admit it or not, under President Obama, America’s economy is the “sole bright spot in a sluggish world economy.”
There is little doubt unemployment is still elevated and the middle class is being squeezed by lower wages as the wealthy get richer, but according to the Financial Times and Brookings Institution, America is faring much better than other developed nations against the threat of a renewed recession and is still “the brightest spot in the world economy.” The news contradicts Romney’s contention that President Obama’s economic policies are not working, and eviscerates their contention that greater tax cuts for so-called “job creators,” coupled with the harshest austerity measures, are necessary to save America from financial ruin. The truth Romney is mortified of the people learning is that in the developed world, America’s economy is performing much better than every other developed country on Earth, and it is because of President Obama’s economic policies.
The group known as TIGER (Tracking Indices for the Global Economic Recovery) employed statistical methodology illustrating simultaneous movements of indicators that are measured very differently in various countries, but the results, according to the Financial Times front page headline, are that the “US defies threat of global recession.” The statistics demonstrate that momentum in the global economy is dissolving, but in the United States the economic momentum remains reasonably robust. Romney favors austerity similar to that of Germany, which is not experiencing growth or robust employment, but the comparisons end at harsh cutbacks. Germany, which is faring slightly better than countries like Greece, promotes regulating the financial sector and a financial transaction tax to boost revenue and prevent another catastrophic recession. Romney promises to “get government out of the way” of Wall Street and investment banks and promises to repeal Wall Street reforms like Dodd-Frank. The Great Recession of 2008 was caused by unregulated risks in the financial sector that caused countries like Germany, France, and Great Britain to pay for America’s folly, and yet Romney pants to return the same conditions that tanked the global economy.
The only reason America is experiencing job growth, positive GDP, and financial sector strength is because President Obama and Democrats stimulated the economy and did not make drastic cuts like European austerity ideologues. If Republicans in Congress were the least bit interested in strengthening America’s economy further, unemployment would be under 5% and revenue would increase, but their single goal for the last four years was retarding economic growth and keeping Americans unemployed. America’s economic recovery is even better when one figures that President Obama and Democrats faced an obstructive House of Representatives for the past two years, and still managed to stimulate the economy during the President’s first two years in office.
Romney and Ryan’s economic austerity plans are slated to slash government spending on social safety nets like food stamps, Veteran’s benefits, and aid to seniors and the poor, but their Draconian cuts will not reduce the deficit or create jobs. Romney’s mystery tax plan includes a 20% cut in tax rates that will reduce revenue and give wealthy Americans like Romney a negative tax liability with elimination of capital gains and investment taxes. The cuts to government programs like education, construction, police, and fire fighters will increase unemployment and decrease tax revenue, and slashing social programs may save money for a fraction of Romney’s tax cuts for the rich, but creates more lost jobs and millions of sick and hungry children and seniors.
America’s economy is not ideal and no-one in their right mind would disagree, but to real economic experts at home and around the world who see the stock market back to pre-recession levels, retail sales near peak 2007 numbers, and rising employment agree President Obama’s economic policies are working. Romney’s greatest offense is going around the country lying that the President’s agenda has made the economy worse to convince ignoramus voters that harsh austerity measures and more tax cuts for the richest Americans will create a booming economy, when the reality is playing out across Europe and the developed world with economies stagnating and teetering on the verge of another recession.
If there were no evidence that austerity measures were destructive in a fragile economy, one might be inclined to give Romney and Ryan a pass for proposing something novel, but there are real-world examples of nations that fell into the austerity trap that are struggling to prevent their economies from coming to a crashing halt in the global recession. And yet, there is a shining city on a hill that is the “brightest spot in the world economy,” and as real economic experts survey the rest of the developed world, they have come to a universal conclusion that under President Barack Obama, the “US defies threat of global recession as the sole bright spot in a sluggish world economy.” All the while, Willard Romney lies often to earn the right to repeat Europe’s austerity mistakes and give massive tax cuts to the rich that will deny America’s exceptional economic recovery and doom this country to wallow in global recession with the rest of the developed world that makes Romney either incredibly stupid, or exceedingly evil.
************10 Things Paul Ryan Doesn't Want You to Know
By Jon Perr
There's a saying that the only second chance you get in life is the chance to make the same mistake twice. As he prepares to debate Joe Biden, Paul Ryan will almost certainly confirm that adage. After all, following his first big moment in the national spotlight, the GOP vice presidential nominee was pilloried for his Republican National Convention speech chock full of omissions, misrepresentations and outright lies. Thursday night in Kentucky, the self-proclaimed "numbers guy" will doubtless deny them.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney can't handle the truth. And the only way they can win is if you don't know it.
1. Economists Warn Romney-Ryan Plan Means Huge Job Losses
Like Mitt Romney, Rep. Ryan will claim that the GOP ticket will produce 12 million new jobs over the next four years. What Ryan won't mention is how they'll do that, or that forecasts this year from Moody's Analytics, Macroeconomic Advisers and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office already projected that based on recent trends the U.S. economy will generate roughly 12 million jobs by 2016 anyway. But a Romney-Ryan ticket isn't planning to do nothing in office, but instead intends to implement draconian spending cuts that studies suggest could cost up to 600,000 jobs in 2013 and another 1.3 million in 2014.
It's no wonder a survey of hundreds of economists by The Economist found that "by a large margin they rate [Obama's] overall economic plan more highly than Mr. Romney's, credit him with a better grasp of economics, and think him more likely to appoint a good economic team."
2. Romney and Ryan Both Supported Social Security Privatization
Paul Ryan didn't merely call Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." In 2005, he authored legislation to privatize Social Security that was so extreme even the Bush administration labeled it "irresponsible." (Part of his original "Road Map for America's Future," Ryan quietly dropped privatization of the retirement program for 46 million seniors from his 2010 GOP budget.) Romney, too, repeatedly offered his support for diverting trillions from the Social Security Trust Fund into private accounts managed by Wall Street firms during the 2008 campaign ("that works") and in 2010 book, No Apology. But given the staggering unpopularity of Social Security privatization, Romney is quick to deny that it is his current position.
3. 98 Percent of Congressional Republicans Voted for Ryan's Plan to Ration Medicare
In the spring of 2011, 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators voted for the Ryan budget's proposal to transform Medicare into an under-funded voucher program dramatically shifting the cost of health care onto America's seniors. Confronted with the inescapable conclusion that his proposal would inevitably lead to de fact rationing, Ryan protested:
"Rationing happens today!" The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?"
Ryan, of course, omitted the real culprits: private insurers. Which is why the 2012 version of the Ryan budget (similar to the Romney plan) maintaining the traditional "public option" as one choice for future Medicare beneficiaries now 55 and younger will nevertheless still lead to cherry-picking of healthier seniors and higher costs for everyone.
4. Ryan Budget Takes $716 Billion from Medicare to Give Tax Cuts to the Rich
Nevertheless, as he did at the RNC, Congressman Ryan will doubtless charge that $716 billion has been "funneled out of Medicare by President Obama." Ryan's baseless claim, deemed "flat-out wrong" by BusinessWeek and "repeatedly debunked" by the New York Times, tries to ignore that the Affordable Care Act extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 8 years and expanded seniors' prescription drug benefits and preventative care by slowing the growth of payments to private insurers and providers. (It is precisely these overpayments Mitt Romney wants to restore.)
But Ryan's fraud does not end there. His 2011 and 2012 budgets enjoying the near-total support of Capitol Hill Republicans take the same $716 billion and use it to pay for over $4 trillion in tax cuts. As with Mitt Romney's proposed tax cut scheme, the lion's share of the payday from the U.S. Treasury goes into the accounts of the wealthiest America.
5. Romney and Ryan Will Cut Benefits for Today's Seniors
Both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney take great pains to proclaim that "I don't want any change to Medicare for current seniors or for those that are nearing retirement." They are pained because the statement isn't true. Their call to repeal Obamacare would take away free preventative care now part of Medicare and reopen the "donut hole" in its prescription drug program. (That change alone saved N million seniors over Y billion last year.)
But the Republicans' attack on today's elderly doesn't end there. The Romney-Ryan ticket has proposed slashing Medicaid by a third over the next decade and turning over the reduced funds to the states in the form of block grants. Those steep reduction threaten the 6 million elderly recipients of Medicaid, a program will which pays for 33 percent of all nursing home care.
6. Romney-Ryan Plans Leaves 44 Million More Without Health Insurance
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan don't merely want to repeal the Affordable Care Act current estimated to enable insurance for 30 million more Americans by 2020. All told, ending the ACA and s giving states control of shriveled Medicaid funding would leave up to 44 million people without insurance. Earlier this month, the Commonwealth Fund estimated President Romney would preside over a staggering 72 million Americans without coverage.
7. GOP Ticket Adds Trillions More Than Obama in New Debt
Thursday night, Rep. Ryan will echo Mitt Romney's charge that President Obama has added $5 trillion to the national debt during his tenure. But Romney's running mate won't just omit mention that Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt and George W. Bush roughly doubled it again. Ryan will also fail to explain that the drivers of most of the debt under Obama--two wars, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the Medicare prescription drug plan--are all bills he voted for. All told, the same Republicans leaders who held the debt ceiling hostage last summer voted to raise it seven times under President Bush.
Nevertheless, as the non-partisan Tax Policy Center and other analysts have detailed, Mitt Romney's tax plan would slash federal tax revenues by roughly $5 trillion over the next decade. With Romney's demand that core defense spending be at least 4 percent of GDP, new Pentagon spending will add another $2 trillion to the red ink. Even with the steep cuts to Medicaid and non-defense discretionary spending, Romney and Ryan can't come close to offsetting the new debt unless they close all or most of the $1 trillion plus in tax credits, loopholes and deductions central to their pledge to lower rates and "broaden the base." The result is not only more "immoral" debt for the next generation of Americans, but more than projected under President Obama's plan.
8. Romney and Ryan Won't Name a Single Loophole They'd Close
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could cauterize that hemorrhage of red ink if they could explain which of that trillion-plus dollars in tax expenditures they would stop. But Paul Ryan, who promised "We won't duck the tough issues," is just that.
Will the Romney-Ryan administration end the $63 billion Earned Income Tax Credit for working families that Ronald Reagan called "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress?" How about the $89 billion a year home mortgage tax deduction? Many of those breaks help explain the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, otherwise known as Mitt Romney's "victims" and Paul Ryan's "takers."
Neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan will say. Not, that is, until after the election. And not because, as Paul Ryan recently claimed, "It would take me too long to go through all the math." The two men who call each other "bold" and "courageous" are simply too chicken.
9. Ryan Supports GOP Platform's Ban on All Abortions
Despite his past support for it, Mitt Romney has declared his opposition to the Republican platform's so-called Human Life Amendment. But while Romney would allow for abortions in the cases of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother, Paul Ryan would permit no exceptions--period.
Ryan co-sponsored a so-called "personhood" amendment defining a fertilized egg as a human being and sought to prohibit access to abortion for rape victims. And in a performance on the House floor reminiscent of John McCain's famous 2008 debate "air quotes" surrounding "the health of the mother," Paul Ryan protested:
"The health exception is a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it."
10. Ryan Voted for the Defense Sequestration He Attacks Obama for
In August 2011, Paul Ryan was among the House Republicans who voted for the debt ceiling compromise which would sequester $1.2 trillion in spending (half of it from the defense budget) if Congress did not otherwise trim the debt by that amount over the next decade. Of course, you'd never know that listening to him. In this exchange, Ryan's rewriting of recent history left Norah O'Donnell stunned:
O'DONNELL: Now you're criticizing the President for those same defense cuts you're voting for and called a victory...you voted for it!
RYAN: No, Norah. I voted for the Budget Control Act.
O'DONNELL: That included defense spending!
RYAN: Norah, you're mistaken.
No, Paul Ryan is mistaken. But if Americans vote for him and his running mate, the mistake will be all ours.