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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WATCH: Jon Stewart Blasts Republicans For Hypocrisy On ‘Divisiveness’

On Monday night’s edition of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart called Republicans out on their hypocrisy after they pounced on Joe Biden’s “chains” gaffe and accused Obama of running a hateful and divisive campaign. Stewart admits that yes, the chains comment was bad, but he reminds the audience of Biden’s history of cringeworthy slip-ups, including telling “a man in a wheelchair to stand up for what he believes in.”

He then shifts to a montage of the predictable Republican outrage, ending with Romney telling Obama to take his “campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.”

“As a general rule,” Stewart begins, “I find it helpful to not frame a plea for national unity by insulting a major city within that nation.”

He also points out that the right wing is no stranger to divisive rhetoric — not that anyone told Sarah Palin. He shows the former vice presidential candidate arguing that not a single prominent Republican spews rhetoric such as the “Harry Reids” and the “Nancy Pelosis.” Cue the Sarah Palin montage which includes her calling Nancy Pelosi a “dingbat.”

Aren’t we supposed to be talking about “big ideas” by now?

 

Pennsylvania Judge Refuses To Block Voter ID Law

A Pennsylvania judge refused to grant an injunction to block the state’s controversial voter ID law this morning. The Republican-backed law, which passed without a single Democratic vote, requires voters to present photo identification before they are allowed to cast a ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that view the law as discriminatory sued to stop its implementation, arguing that it unfairly blocks minorities, college students, and other Democratic-leaning groups from the ballot box.

The decision — which was made by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson — paves the way for the potential disenfranchisement of an estimated 758,000 voters. African-American and Latino communities will likely be disproportionately affected.

Supporters of the law have claimed that it is essential in order to prevent election fraud — even though government lawyers admitted that the state is “not aware of any incidents of in person voter fraud.” According to an analysis by News21, there have only been 10 cases of voter impersonation fraud in the entire country since 2000. In fact, there were more fraud incidents with absentee ballots and voter registration — something the Pennsylvania voter ID law does nothing to combat.

Although Judge Simpson expresses his “sympathy” for the witnesses in his written decision, he believes that there is no constitutional reason to block the law.

“At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issue based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for the counsel. Rather, I must analyze the law, and apply it to the evidence of facial unconstitutionality brought forth in the courtroom, tested by our adversarial system,” Simpson wrote.

Furthermore, the AP reports that Simpson said the law “is neutral, nondiscriminatory, and applies uniformly to all voters.” He also wrote: “Speculation about the potential problems in issuing valid photo IDs or confusion on Election Day did not warrant ‘invalidation of all lawful applications’ of it.”

Democrats have repeatedly claimed that laws such as Pennsylvania’s are purely political measures, designed to help Mitt Romney win the presidential election. This theory was seemingly confirmed in June, when Pennsylvania’s Republican House Leader Mike Turzai told a Republican crowd that the new photo ID law “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state.”

Judge Simpson’s decision comes in midst of several other high profile voter suppression battles. Florida Governor Rick Scott has vowed to complete a second voter purge before the November election, and several counties in Ohio have used early voting rules to further the GOP strategy.

The ACLU is expected to appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court, where there are three Democratic and three Republican justices. The seventh judge, Republican Joan Orie Melvin, is currently under investigation for corruption.

WATCH: Biden Tells Virginia Crowd That Romney Will Put Them ‘Back In Chains’

Vice President Joe Biden caused an uproar when he warned a crowd at  a campaign rally in Danville, VA, that Mitt Romney and big banks would “put y’all back in chains.”

“They’ve said it. Every Republican’s voted for it. Look at what they value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing,” said Biden of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, whose author he will almost certainly be debating in the fall.

“[Romney] said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules – unchain Wall Street,” Biden continued, blasting Romney’s proposed Wall Street reform. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

Romney has said that he would repeal the Dodd-Frank Act — the financial reform legislation signed by President Obama, which is designed to prevent many of the risky practices that led to the 2008 meltdown.

The Romney campaign immediately and forcefully denounced Biden’s use of the word “chains” in a town with a 48 percent black population. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul stated: “The comments made by the Vice President of the United States are not acceptable in our political discourse and demonstrate yet again that the Obama campaign will say and do anything to win this election.” Saul said Biden’s speech showed that the Obama campaign “has reached a new low.”

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter responded in a statement of her own, saying:

For months, Speaker Boehner, Congressman Ryan, and other Republicans have called for the ‘unshackling’ of the private sector from regulations that protect Americans from risky financial deals and other reckless behavior that crashed our economy. Since then, the Vice President has often used a similar metaphor to describe the need to ‘unshackle’ the middle class. Today’s comments were a derivative of those remarks, describing the devastating impact that letting Wall Street write its own rules again would have on middle class families. We find the Romney campaign’s outrage over the Vice President’s comments today hypocritical, particularly in light of their own candidate’s stump speech questioning the President’s patriotism. Now let’s return to that ‘substantive’ debate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan promised 72 hours ago, but quickly abandoned.

So much for a campaign about “big ideas.

Republicans may be outraged today, but Biden is not the first politician to speak of chains as a metaphor. As Sam Stein of The Huffington Post notes, Rick Santorum criticized the Obama administration last August by warning, “They will put you in chains called ‘Obamacare,’ and you will never break away.” Similarly, Tea Party favorite Allen West is known for frequently invoking slavery in his speeches, even saying that President Obama would “rather you be his slave.”

Although Republicans are now calling on Obama to condemn Biden’s comments, RNC Chair Reince Preibus refused to condemn West’s inflammatory remarks. He brushed the issue aside, merely saying that he’s not the “police officer” of the Republican party.

WATCH: Obama Ad Hits Romney-Ryan Medicare Reform

The Obama campaign has moved quickly on Romney’s decision to add Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket. In a video released Monday morning, the campaign blasts Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system. The web ad features interviews with the elderly in Florida as they express their concerns over how the reform would affect them.  As one Floridian argues, “Medicare is a boon for senior citizens, who without that would choose between food and going to a doctor.”

The video comes just as Romney prepares visit to Florida (conveniently without Ryan), and he’s already announced that he will skip his scheduled visit to Orlando, citing “exhaustion.” Democrats have pounced by suggesting the cancellation is a result of wanting to avoid having to explain the Medicare cuts to the citizens of Florida.

In addition to the video, these tough headlines in Florida have to be concerning to the Romney-Ryan campaign. Just how bad has the Paul Ryan pick hurt Romney’s chances in this critical swing state?

Poll: Paul Ryan An Unpopular Pick For VP

Will Mitt Romney’s “bold choice” to pick Paul Ryan as his running mate be a true game-changer for the Republican campaign? According to a new USAT/Gallup poll, the answer appears to be no. While Ryan may have conservatives — especially Tea Partiers — over the moon, the general public does not share this enthusiasm.

42 percent of the 1,006 adults surveyed said they viewed Ryan as a “fair” or “poor” choice, compared to just 39 percent who said he was an “excellent” or “pretty good” choice. This makes Romney’s decision to tap Ryan the least popular vice presidential pick since George H.W. Bush selected Dan Quayle in 1988.

Just 17 percent say that adding Ryan to the ticket makes them more likely to vote for Romney — about the same bump that Sarah Palin provided for McCain. Furthermore, only 48 percent believe that Ryan would be qualified to serve as president should Romney be unable to, while 29 percent do not and 23 percent are undecided. Only Quayle and Sarah Palin received a lower rate of confidence.

In defense of these numbers, Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse blamed the low marks on Ryan not being a nationwide household name. He told USA Today that “All these numbers indicate is the simple fact that Congressman Paul Ryan was not a nationally known figure prior to being named as Gov. Romney’s vice-presidential pick.”

In fairness, Newhouse’s assertion is not just spin; as The Washington Post points out, Ryan is virtually unknown in the critical swing state of Florida. With that in mind, the onslaught of negative headlines that greeted Romney and Ryan in Florida newspapers this morning should be especially troubling to the campaign. The Romney campaign must race to define Ryan’s legislative record — otherwise, the Obama campaign will do it for them.

Table via The Huffington Post

WATCH: Obama Slams Romney’s Tax Plan In Ohio

President Obama slammed Mitt Romney’s economic plan this morning, telling a crowd in Mansfield, Ohio, that they had to decide “between two fundamentally different visions for America.”

“The centerpiece of my opponent’s entire economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut on top of the Bush tax cuts,” Obama said. “Now, the bulk of this tax cut would go to the very top…Folks making more than $3 million a year – the top one-tenth of one percent – would get a tax cut worth almost a quarter of a million dollars.”

“But it gets worse,” the president warned. “Under my opponent’s plan, guess who gets the bill for these $250,000 tax cuts? You do.”

Obama used a newly released study by Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan think tank, as evidence that Romney’s proposal would place on the middle class. The study concludes that “any revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower income taxpayers.” In other words, it proves Romney’s promise that “the people at the high end will still pay the same share of the tax burden they’re paying now” to be mathematically impossible.

“They found that if Governor Romney wants to keep his word and pay for this plan, then he’d have to cut tax breaks that middle class families depend on,” Obama said. “To pay for your home: the home mortgage deduction. To pay for your health care: the health care deduction. To send your kids to college. That means the average middle class family with children, according to this study, would be hit with a tax increase of more than $2,000.”

“And here’s the thing,” the president added. “He’s not asking you to contribute more to pay down the deficit…He’s asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a big tax cut. In order to afford just one $250,000 tax cut for somebody like Mr. Romney, another 125 families like yours would have to pay another $2,000 in taxes each and every year.”

This chart from The Atlantic illustrates the study’s conclusion:

Romney’s tax plan would result in 95 percent of Americans seeing their taxes rise by an average of $500 annually, while millionaires would enjoy an $87,000 tax cut. It should also be noted that the report assumed the most favorable conditions for Romney: The study was done under the assumption that Romney would close every single loophole and eliminate every single deduction for the wealthy that he hadn’t already promised to preserve. These assumptions appear implausible for a man who has utilized a number of tax loopholes to his own benefit, therefore making it more than likely that the study actually understates the burden that the middle class would bear under Romney’s tax plan.

Romney Starts Foreign Policy Trip, Instantly Offends Britain

It took less than a day for Mitt Romney to bungle the first step of his overseas trip, which is designed to prove his foreign policy credentials. As Alex Spillius of The Telegraph puts it: “Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.”

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams last night, Romney indicated that he doubted London’s readiness for the Olympics, and called Britain’s preparations to be “disconcerting.” Referring to the G4s security firm troubles and a threat from immigration officials to strike, Romney said, “It is hard to know just how well it will turn out.”

He then switched to antagonizing the British people by questioning their enthusiasm for the Games: “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.” It seems that Romney’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage” isn’t helping him understand diplomacy with Britain as well as his advisers had hoped.

Romney’s remarks promoted a sharp rebuke from British Prime Minister David Cameron, who told reporters “You’re going to see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver.”

“In terms of people coming together, the torch relay demonstrated that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games but this is a United Kingdom Games,” he continued. “We’ll show the world we’ve not only come together as a United Kingdom but are extremely good at welcoming people from across the world.”

Cameron also took a dig at Salt Lake City, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics which were organized by Romney, saying “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

Having caused a stir among the media and British leaders, Romney attempted to amend his comments today. After pointing out the “beautiful weather,” Romney walked back his comments on the Olympics.

“My experience with regards to the Olympics is it is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur,” he said. “Of course there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes.”

Later, after meeting with Prime Minister Cameron, Romney expressed his sudden newly found confidence in the 2012 Olympic Games: “I am very delighted with the prospects of a highly successful Olympic Games. What I have seen shows imagination and forethought and a lot of organization.”

If this is the best Romney can do in friendly London, then the Middle East portion of his trip should be must-see TV.

Caleb Medley Family Update

 

With Caleb Medley just one floor away in the intensive care unit, his son, Hugo Jackson Medley, was born on Tuesday, 7:11 a.m. local time, at the University of Colorado Hospital. At 7 lbs 4 oz and 18 and a half inches, Hugo is something of a tiny miracle amid horrifying circumstances. But the world has shown that the uninsured young family is not alone.

Well-wishers from across the country have voiced their encouragement and prayers, and the tragic story has even reached those in other countries as far away as Singapore and Australia. Caleb, an aspiring comedian, has also garnered immense support from the comic community, with fellow comedians such as Dane Cook and Michael Ian Black spreading awareness about his situation through Twitter. The couple’s close friend, Michael West, has set up a website and donation fund to help pay for the looming medical bills, a potential $2 million burden for the family. While that number is daunting, the fund has already received over $240,000 and donations continue to pour in. Furthermore, comics across the country have pledged to donate proceeds from their shows, and actor David Krumholtz has given $5,600 while calling on others to match it.

Caleb, who lost his right eye and suffered brain damage, remains in a medically induced coma, but is showing promising signs. An update from the “Support Caleb” Facebook page reads: “Caleb is still in critical condition, but is stable and is showing multiple signs of improvement. Caleb has been to three surgeries so far, and is looking better every day.” A long uphill battle remains, but Caleb has the support of thousands along with his newborn son, who West calls “a light at the end of the tunnel” in a post on the website. The heart-tugging story continues: “Everyone is convinced that Caleb knew that Baby Hugo was in his room. Once Baby Hugo got there Caleb’s blood pressure and pulse rose, and he was even squeezing Katie’s hand harder than any other time since he got to the hospital.”

Republican Legislation Raises Taxes On Low Income And Middle Class Families

With all of the Republicans’ talk and pledges to never vote for a tax increase, one wouldn’t think that they would propose legislation that will raise taxes on millions of poor and middle class working Americans. But that’s exactly what their new tax plan would do. The proposal, which was written by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and put forward by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — the man who said “We ought not raise anybody’s taxes at the end of the year” —  would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, but it will also let the tax cuts implemented under Obama to expire.

The Obama administration and the Democrats have pushed to extend the tax cuts that were passed under the 2009 economic stimulus law. The stimulus expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit to reduce the “marriage penalty” and to provide additional benefits for families with three or more children, while also enabling more families to become eligible for the Child Tax Credit. Currently, a family with one full-time minimum wage earner and two children receives a total child tax credit of $1,812. If Obama’s tax cuts are allowed to expire, the same family’s credit would drop to $267, a loss of $1,545.

Obama’s 2009 plan also included the American Opportunity Tax Credit — a tax credit that 9.1 million American families claimed in 2011 — which increased the tax break for middle class families paying higher-education expenses from about $1,800 to $2,500 . If the Republicans’ legislation is adopted, low income and middle class families would lose those important benefits. Jonathan Weisman sums it up in The New York Times: “In all, the Republican plan would extend tax cuts for 2.7 million affluent families while allowing tax breaks to expire for 13 million on the bottom of the income spectrum, tax analysts say.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out the hypocrisy here. “Senator Hatch’s amendment would extend tax breaks for the top 2 percent of Americans,” Reid said. “But it fails to extend a number of tax cuts that help middle-class families get by in a tough economy.” Seth Hanlon, Director of Fiscal Reform at American Progress, charts the damaging effects:

The tax battle between the Democrats and Republicans is expected to begin in earnest with  a Wednesday Senate vote to start debate on the Democrats’ legislation to extend current income tax rates only to those making under $250,000 a year. Republicans will have a chance to vote on their alternative tax plan if the Democratic bill receives the necessary 60 votes. Meanwhile, a House vote on a Republican proposal that also lets the 2009 tax cuts expire is expected next week.

Although many are convinced that the looming fiscal crisis won’t be dealt with until after the November elections, the Republican party has shown their clear apathy for those in the lower income spectrum. Hatch’s legislation that allows all tax cuts for the wealthy to be extended, but doesn’t provide the same generosity for others, only reinforces the immense class divide in America today.

Five Crazy And Highly Dubious Online Markets For Guns

Alarming reports about the amount of ammo and protective gear Aurora gunman James Holmes bought online has surfaced as debate over gun control surges in the wake of yet another mass murder. With no regulation, buying guns and ammunition online is easy as buying a new pair of shoes. Here are a few of the websites where people can purchase their weapons online. While some may just be crazy, others are dangerously illegal.

GunsAmerica

This online gun market advertises its patriotism with its theme of red, white, and blue and its slogan: “Where America Buys and Sells Guns.” Not only does this website offer a variety of guns, ammo, and accessories, but it also serves up news, commentary, and reviews on guns and related products. One positive review happened to be for Bleeding Zombie Targets from Zombie Industries; these are 3D shooting targets that “bleed” and are even designed to “mutilate.” Target models include “Terrorist,” “Nazi,”North Korean Soldier” — and “The Ex.”

Craigslist

In December 2011, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the results of the first ever national investigation into illegal online gun sales. The city’s report showed that  62 percent of private sellers were willing to sell firearms to people who likely could not pass a background check. The list of guilty private sellers included Craigslist, which, according to the site’s policies, doesn’t allow the sale of weapons and related items.

Crazy Gun Dealer

While its marketing strategy remains unclear, the site’s name says it all.

The Armory

The gun used above by a Czech special operations soldier in Afghanistan is a Bushmaster M4A3. It’s a weapons that anyone can own — along with bazookas, SWAT body armor, and even grenades. No questions asked and no background check needed if you’re dealing with The Armory, a secret underground black market that is only accessible with an anonymizing software. As Gizmodo reports, “The Armory is an anonymous marketplace where you can buy and sell without revealing who you are. We protect your identity through every step of the process, from connecting to this site, to purchasing your items, to finally receiving them.” How thoughtful!

Gun Sweepstakes

If you can’t afford a gun, you can always try your chances at winning one. Guns Magazine holds a monthly gun giveaway that literally anyone may enter. The upcoming contest deadline is August 1st, when you can try to win a Rangemaster 1911 that comes with a case and a knife. Or you can wait until September for the “All Things Glock Prize Package.”

Republicans Block Funding For Life-Saving Coal Mining Regulation

Even in a matter of life or death, Republicans continue to refuse to rise above partisanship to work with the Obama administration. Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have included language in the proposed 2013 budget to block the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from using any funds to move forward with a plan that improves protection for miners from deadly black lung disease by implementing stricter regulations. Caused by exposure to excessive coal dust, the disease is untreatable and potentially crippling.

Congress has passed legislation aimed at eliminating black lung in the past; in 1969, a law requiring mine operators to take steps to limit exposure was implemented. While that effort accomplished its goal back then, it seems to be failing now, as scientists have found that black lung is on the rise once again:

Source: Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP), NIOSH
Credit: Alyson Hurt / NPR

Incidence of black lung has doubled in the last decade, and the disease is no longer confined to underground coal miners: Increasingly, it has spread to surface miners as well. But why has black lung once again become such an urgent issue? According to an  investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity, “the system that is supposed to control miners’ exposure to coal dust and silica is plagued by loopholes in the law, weak enforcement, and cheating by some mining companies.” In 1998, a report by The Courier-Journal “found widespread fraud among coal operators who submitted false air samples to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.”

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts asserted that the Republicans’ budget measure “amounts to nothing more than a potential death sentence for thousands of American miners.”

How do the Republicans defend their stalling? “It is the chairman’s position and the position of the subcommittee that that particular regulation is harmful and costly to the industry and to the economy in general,” says Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee.

Even more frightening, the Charleston Gazette reported that “Industry supporters in Congress have claimed that black lung rates have not increased and have blamed miners for not protecting themselves from excess dust.”

Yet interestingly enough, the regions that are most affected by black lung are generally very conservative and support the Republican Party. NPR found that “cases of the worst stage of the disease have quadrupled since the 1980s in a triangular region of Appalachia stretching from eastern Kentucky through southern West Virginia and into southwestern Virginia.” To indicate  just how conservative this area is, in West Virginia, a federal prisoner received more than 40 percent of the vote in this year’s Democratic presidential primary as a rebuke to President Obama.

As Tony Oppegard — a former Kentucky and federal mine safety regulator points out — “Appalachian coal miners whose pickup trucks sport ‘Friends of Coal’ stickers might ought to re-assess who their true friends are.” He adds, “It’s certainly not Republicans, who stand silent in the midst of a health crisis. Our nation needs fewer ‘Friends of Coal’ and more ‘Friends of Coal Miners’.”

 

WATCH: Romney Said He Wanted To ‘Abolish PACs’ In 1994

In 1994,  Mitt Romney — running against Ted Kennedy for Senator in Massachusetts — chastised his Democratic opponent for raising $10 million. “To get that kind of money, you’ve got to cozy up, as an incumbent, to all of the special interest groups,” Romney insisted, “and that kind of relationship has an influence on the way you’re going to vote.”

The younger Romney strongly disliked political action committees. He thought all PACs should be abolished. “The kinds of demands that are being placed on the economics of running a campaign suggest an increasing power on the part of moneyed interests, and I think it’s wrong and we’ve got to change it,” he said.

Flash forward to 2012: So far, Romney has raised about $250 million, much of it bundled by lobbyists (and others whose names he won’t reveal) — not counting tens of millions donated to the SuperPACs that support him.  While he thought that $10 million was a big deal in 1994, last month Romney received $10 million in a single donation from embattled casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. That contribution went to his Super PAC, which has spent a total of $53 million to this point.

If Romney was right in 1994 to worry that a candidate’s relationship with “moneyed interests” will affects the way he governs, then present day Romney can be expected to cater to Adelson, the Koch brothers, the lobbyists who filled his warchest, and all those unnamed bundlers.

Who Else Could Benefit From Romney’s ‘Retroactive’ Alibi?

Republican strategist Ed Gillepsie, one of Romney’s senior advisers, claimed last Sunday (video above) that Mitt Romney had “retroactively retired” from Bain Capital.  But of course! Even though SEC filings show that Romney was still receiving a six-figure salary as the CEO, president, chairman, and sole stockholder of Bain through 2002, he had suddenly escaped the blame through a loophole in time. (Presumably Bain should be accepting applications for the CEO position between 1999 and 2002. Anyone interested may apply here.)

Other politicians might have wished they could take advantage, like Romney, of such magical retroactivity:

Richard Nixon “retroactively retired” in 1971

 

Overseeing the coverup of the Watergate break-in was a mistake that Richard Nixon would never have made if only he could have “retroactively” retired himself from the presidency a year before the 1972 election — right?  He wouldn’t have needed Gerald Ford’s pardon, either.

Dick Cheney “retroactively remembered” Gun Safety Class

 

Rule Number One: Do Not Shoot Person (especially when you’re supposed to be shooting ducks). 

Monica Lewinsky “retroactively dry cleaned”
her blue dress

 

Thereby erasing the only physical evidence of her affair with Bill Clinton. Take that, Newt Gingrich. 

Anthony Weiner “retroactively privatized” his lewd Twitter picture

If Weiner can erase that incriminating tweet just as Romney erased three years of his career, there’s no need for the former Congressman to settle for Public Advocate or Mayor. Weiner 2016!

Romney “retroactively vetoes” RomneyCare In Massachusetts

 Here’s another way Romney might use that “retroactive” scheme: He can distance himself still further from the Affordable Care Act, even though he blazed the way with the individual health insurance mandate in Massachusetts. He would never ever pass a mandate-penalty-tax!

 

WATCH: Joe Biden Gives Fiery Speech To NAACP, Slams Romney’s Policies

When Mitt Romney addressed the NAACP on Wednesday, he was booed for promising to eliminate the “non-essential” Affordable Care Act that will provide 30 million Americans, including 8 million African Americans, with health care. Today, when Vice President Joe Biden took the stage, he was booed as well — for having to end his powerful speech. “Let me close, my friends,” Biden said, which was followed by the crowd’s shouts of “No!” —  a clear contrast to Wednesday’s Romney debacle.

Biden, a man known for his gaffes, was near flawless in an address that was interrupted again and again with loud cheers from the audience. While conservatives criticize Obama for not speaking at the annual convention himself, Biden proved to be a highly impressive spokesman. A lifelong NAACP member, the Vice President greeted his audience with nostalgia, saying “It’s good to be home,” and then had a couple of friendly shout-outs to his old friends, including “Mouse” who Biden says, “got my back a bunch of times.” Biden’s warm and easygoing personality shone through.

After enthusiastic greetings, he quickly transitioned to the subject of Obama, who “has the character of his convictions.” Biden recalled Obama’s major achievements: the Affordable Care Act, the auto industry bailout, the economic stimulus plan that rescued the financial system, and the decision to kill Osama bin Laden. But, Biden reminds the audience, these actions were unpopular or perilous — and yet Obama did them all because “he has put country first.”

Biden blasted the Republican party as obstructionists who did not “reach across the aisle to help” on any of Obama’s goals and policies. The Republicans’ plan, Biden condemned, was “not to get us out of this recession, not to promote jobs, not to do the things that needed to be done, but to make Barack Obama a one–term president.”

The majority of Biden’s speech was spent on outlining the differences of what an American future with Obama as President would be to an American future with Romney. Biden’s rebuttal to Romney’s remark to NAACP that “If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him,”  began with the issue of education. He emphasized the “massive cuts” that Romney’s budget plan called for while mocking Romney for believing that lowering class size may actually hurt students more than help: “Tell that to all those private schools. Tell that to all those parents.”

Biden also addresses the issues of energy, women rights, health care, and taxes, always explaining the danger of Romney’s policies while touting Obama’s policies.

He ended with civil rights in response to the Republican voter suppression laws. Biden prompted the audience to remember what NAACP’s original goal was when it first formed in 1909: “Remember what this at its core was all about, why this organization at its core was all about. It was about the franchise. It was about the right to vote,” his voice rising, “Because when you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things.”

“We see a future where those rights are expanded, not diminished; where racial profiling is a thing of the past; where access to the ballot is expanded, and unencumbered; where there are no distinctions made on the basis of race or gender in access to housing and lending…Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again?” Biden quietly responds to his own question: “I didn’t think we would be back,” as he reminisces about the time he worked with Republicans on The Motor Voter Act that sought to expand franchising through early voting and voting by mail, pointing out that some of these were Republican ideas. But now, Biden warns, Romney and the Republicans “see a different future, where voting is made harder, not easier.”

Biden exited to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and to a real standing ovation from a crowd that wholeheartedly appreciated his impassioned speech. And that, Mitt Romney, is how you address the NAACP.

Watch the full speech below:

Poll: Attack Ads Against Bain Are Working

An internal poll from Priorities USA Action, a Super PAC supporting President Barack Obama, shows that an increasing number of likely voters in swing states are viewing Mitt Romney’s business experience as a liability. The polling shows that 37 percent of voters are now less likely to vote for him because of his business experience, while only 27 percent say that they are more likely.

Romney has based his presidential campaign around the theory that his success as CEO of Bain Capital proves that — unlike President Obama — he knows how to help the economy and create jobs. It appears, however, that Priorities USA Action’s barrage of ads attacking Romney’s time at Bain has significantly undermined that theory. “Priorities USA’s recent ad campaign on Romney’s record as CEO of Bain Capital had a clear negative impact on perceptions of Romney across a variety of metrics,” the Priorities USA Action memo reads. The poll shows that Obama has a larger lead over Romney in the markets in which the super PAC has targeted than in similar markets in which their ads had not aired.

The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group and Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, surveyed 3,800 people in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. An average of 43 percent of voters across all five states view Romney unfavorably, compared to just 36 percent who view him favorably. The numbers are worse among independent voters; 42 percent of that key group view Romney unfavorably, while 30 percent view him favorably. Another damaging finding shows that 58 percent believe that “Romney’s priority was making millions for himself and his investors, regardless of the impact on jobs and the employees.”

A recent USA Today/Gallup poll backs up the groups’ findings; it found that “At this point, Obama is the clear winner in the ad wars. Among swing-state voters who say the ads have changed their minds about a candidate, rather than just confirmed what they already thought, 76% now support the president, vs. 16% favoring Romney.”

 

Financial Executives Believe Unethical Behavior Is Necessary For Success

The banking industry’s complete lack of ethics and self-restraint plummeted the world into a financial crisis in 2008, the repercussions of which we are still battling today. Despite that history, it still doesn’t seem like bankers have learned that their nonchalant cheating can have serious consequences.

A new survey of 500 senior executives from the financial sector has been released by the law firm Labaton Sucharow, and some of the heartwarming results include:

-24 percent believed that it’s necessary to engage in unethical or illegal activity in order to be successful

-30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law

-26 percent indicated that they had observed or had firsthand knowledge that their workplace engaged in wrongdoing, and only 41 percent said that their organization “definitely” did not engage in unethical or illegal activity

-16 percent would likely participate in the crime of insider trading if they could get away with it

And one of the most revealing findings is that only one in four respondents believed that watchdogs such as the SEC/SFO, FINRA, and FSA are effective in deterring, investigating, and prosecuting securities violations. The 2008 financial meltdown has led to new reforms such as Obama’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to strengthen regulations. But as the survey has demonstrated, banks are still willing to engage in fraudulent activity — in part, due to our country’s comforting history of how we’ve dealt with banking corruption. After the Barclays scandal, a New York Times article explained why Bob Diamond, now the former CEO, was surprised to have been forced out of his job at the U.K. based investment bank:

MR. DIAMOND seemed shocked to be pushed out. An American by birth, he probably thought he’d be subject to American rules of engagement when confronted with evidence of wrongdoing at his bank. You know how it works on this side of the Atlantic: faced with a scandal, most chief executives jettison low-level employees, maybe give up a bonus or two — and then ride out the storm. Regulators, if they act, just extract fines from the shareholders.

Not a single high-profile U.S. participant of the 2008 banking crisis has been prosecuted. Is it a coincidence that American citizens’ faith in financial institutions is the lowest it’s even been?

Meanwhile, headlines in Iceland read: “Bankers jailed, sued as Iceland seeks culprits for crisis.” Is it a coincidence that its economy is set to, on average, outgrow the euro area and developed world this year?

If elected, Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in order to loosen regulations for his friends (and donors) on Wall Street. If he is successful, Nobel Prize winner and former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz warns, “bankers — without threat of prosecution or jail time — would continue to use their elevated status to exploit weak regulations, consolidate power, and avoid accountability.”

WATCH: Joe Conason Discusses Tax Cuts On ‘PoliticsNation’

National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason appeared on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation” last night alongside host Al Sharpton and The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson to discuss President Obama’s announcement that he will push to extend Bush tax cuts for those earning less than $250,000 a year, while letting the wealthiest Americans’ tax cuts expire. While Sharpton recalled the Clinton era, when the former president raised taxes on the wealthy to nearly 40 percent — which created 20.8 million private sector jobs — Conason noted that Sharpton left something out: “When President Clinton came into office, we had what was then considered a huge deficit,” and after Clinton proposed a tax increase, “The Republicans screamed, as you recall. Not one Republican vote…they all said… this will cause a recession, depression, worse. And we know what actually happened.” What happened wasn’t a recession or a depression, but instead, a historic economic surplus.

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On the contrary, the Bush era brought about a tax cut to 35 percent, a loss of 663,000 jobs, and a national debt of $4.9 trillion. Romney and the Republicans are proposing even more extensive tax cuts for the wealthy — haven’t they learned from history?