Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lots of campaign news

It's still only August, the conventions haven't taken place yet, everybody's on vacation, and yet we are awash in campaign news.

Mitt Romney is asked about his Afghanistan policy, and makes a statement about withdrawing troops and turning the job over to the Afghans. It's a statement that sounds a lot like what President Obama is already doing, though of course Romney is quick to mention that Obama is doing it all wrong. Then Romney says he'll get more specific after he's elected. Really Mitt? You want to criticize the president but you refuse to explain in any way what you would do differently? Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith issues the following statement: 
That’s simply not enough from someone running to be Commander-in-Chief. The truth is that Romney has refused to put forth a plan for what he would do in Afghanistan. If he does have some secret plan, he owes it to our men and women in uniform to tell them.
Are people really going to put their trust in secret plans? Maybe a lot of voters don't remember 1968, when Nixon got elected based on a secret plan to end the Vietnam War. It took him four whole years to execute on that plan, at a cost of many thousands of American lives, and we ended the war on essentially the same terms we could have gotten in 1968.

Then there's the controversy over historian Niall Ferguson's hatchet job of a cover story in Newsweek, the gross errors in which have been thoroughly exposed elsewhere. What I learned today is that Newsweek has no fact-checking department, but relies entirely on its writers to deliver accurate information. That's kind of shocking in itself. What I'd like to ask Ferguson, and the Republican ticket he supports, is why it is necessary to lie about easily-verifiable facts like the CBO estimates of the budget impacts of the Affordable Care Act.

Look Niall, if you don't think the government should be trying to make health insurance available to all Americans, just say that you have a philosophical disagreement with the administration. If you have to lie about the cost of the ACA, that only means you have no confidence that your philosophical argument will prevail with voters, and that you have to mislead them in order to persuade them of your views. Hopefully people will understand that is what you are doing.

Let's move on to the quagmire of abortion, in which the Romney campaign is starting slowly to sink. They tried to distance themselves from the comments of Todd Akin, who professes to believe that women hardly ever get pregnant from "legitimate" rape. Trouble is, if Romney and Ryan agree with the scientific evidence that women can just as easily get pregnant from non-consensual sex as from the consensual variety, doesn't that almost make the predominant Republican position on this issue--that abortion is only justified to save the life of the mother--even less humane than Akin's view? At least Akin thinks that we should hardly ever force women to carry their pregnancies to term if they have been "legitimately" raped, because he supposedly believes that they hardly ever get pregnant in that situation. But if Romney and Ryan understand that lots of women do in fact get pregnant as a result of rape, how do they justify their support of the doctrinaire Republican position?

Finally, the latest from the war on voting in the State of Ohio. Ohio's new Republican Secretary of State has decided to shorten voting hours this year in every county in the state. He might have been able to claim that he was acting in a fair and uniform way, and not trying to disadvantage any particular group. Maybe he just wanted to inconvenience everyone in the state a little bit to save the state a few bucks. He could have argued that, until Doug Priesse, an official with the Franklin County Board of Elections, let the cat out of the bag by admitting the real purpose of these rule changes:

"I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine . . . Let's be fair and reasonable."
Cheers to Priesse for his honesty. The only reason to shorten voting hours is that it makes it harder for predominantly working class--read African-American--voters to get to the polls. Coupled with a similar admission from a Republican politician in Pennsylvania, isn't that enough evidence that the only purpose of the concerted effort to make it more difficult to vote that has been mounted almost entirely in states controlled by Republican legislatures, is to reduce turnout by voters who are more likely to favor Democrats?

Whew! At this rate, how am I going to keep up when the fall campaign really gets started?


  1. Phew! It is a busy time of year. Imagine if you also covered what the right calls news. You would have to work twice as hard as you only mention 50% of what most people would call news, let alone views.

  2. I flipped past Fox last night and Bill O'Reilly had on Jon Lovitz. I guess that's what the right calls news.

  3. The Afghanistan thing is not unlike what Obama did when he ran in 2008. Obama made a big deal about widthdrawing from Iraq, but the funny thing is that a few months before the election, Bush had already signed a security pact that guaranteed the full widthdrawal of US troops by 2011. Funny how that was hardly mentioned in the big news outlets.

    As for the abortion thing, I think we both know that is entirely unfair. Akin is ridiculous, and Romney and Ryan denounced his comments. Just because one nut used the phrase "legitimate rape," doesn't mean that's what most Republicans believe. Michael Moore believes that 9/11 was a conspiracy perpetrated by the U.S. Government. Should be believe then that all Democrats are 9/11 "Truthers"?

    Or should we believe that all Democrats are prone to making up wild accusations just because Harry Reid made some junk up about Romney's tax returns?

    1. The difference is that Obama was quite clear on his plans for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The issue on abortion is not whether most Republicans believe that women can't get pregnant from "legitimate" rape. That is probably a fringe viewpoint, although there are a lot of members of that fringe. Romney and Ryan want to throw Akin under a bus to let voters think they have a more moderate position on abortion. In fact, however, their position is just as radical, even if they might not accept the crazy idea that women can't get pregnant unless they cooperate.

      How do you know that Harry Reid made up anything about Romney's tax returns? All he said was that a Bain employee informed him Romney had not paid taxes. I have no reason to believe that is untrue. And Romney still hasn't proved that Bain employee wrong, and he certainly can't prove Harry Reid was wrong about what some Bain person said.

      I'll grant you Michael Moore as a good counter-example from the left, however. I admire a lot of Moore's work, but I'm not going to defend every theory Moore puts out.

    2. Okay, I can play one from Harry Reid's book, too. I heard from a credible source that Obama is a secret Muslim. But not just any secret Muslim: he also sacrifices babies to Baal.

      Or here's a better one: I heard that Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

      Now, the burden is on Obama to prove me wrong. It doesn't matter how undignifying it would be to provide proof that my accusations are completely made up, he still has to prove that I'm wrong.

      Isn't that what you all said in response to the birthers? That it would be demeaning for Obama to provide his birth certificate to get them to shut up?

      And what happened AFTER he provided his birth certificate? There were still people who claimed that it was a forgery.

      As for Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush agreed to get the troops out of Iraq by 2011, and he made that agreement only a few months before the election. My point with that was that Obama didn't make that call, he simply followed what was already agreed upon by Bush and the Iraqi government.

      On abortion: I'm pro-choice, so yes I think denying the mother the right to an abortion in case of rape is ridiculous. However, it's not to be confused with the extreme fringe remark of Akin that there's a such thing as fake rape based on whether or not a woman gets pregnant.

      It's a clear ploy from the Obama camp to make Romney and Ryan seem way more wacked out than they actually are.

      This campaign is dismal and ridiculous on both sides.

    3. Obama submitted proof of his birthplace back during the 2008 campaign that would have been accepted in any court in this country. But that wasn't good enough for some people, so he obtained even more definitive proof. It was the second request he should never have had to respond to and that was demeaning and undignified. But he did it anyway. Sure there are people who will never be satisfied even with that, but they are the lunatic fringe, and so who cares about them.

      Romney is being asked to provide more information about his taxes because Romney is the one who touts his superior business experience as his main qualification for the job of president. And what he is being asked to do is similar to what has been asked of nearly all other presidential candidates. (That is not the case with the demands that were made of Obama.)

      The only reason Romney is refusing to supply this information is that he knows the American people will not approve of sheltering money offshore and whatever else he might have done to avoid taxes. Otherwise he would release this information.

      And how is the statement by Akin a ploy by the Obama camp? Akin was the one who made the statement in an interview on TV. All the Obama camp did is point out that Romney and Ryan have supported exactly the same position on abortion that Akin supports. Which is a fact. Romney and Ryan might not be crazy enough to think that women can't get pregnant from non-consensual sex, but that almost makes it worse for them. That means they know that rape causes pregnancy, but they think that women should be forced to bear their rapists' child anyway. Akin could always say that he doesn't believe in victimizing women a second time, because he doesn't think it is possible to become pregnant against your will.

      Try to imagine just for one minute that you could become pregnant, and then imagine that if someone forcibly impregnated you the state could then force you to deliver the rapist's child. That is what Romney and Ryan have advocated. It is enshrined in the Republican platform. Do you wonder why this incident is unleashing absolute rage from women across the nation?

  4. Roe v Wade is here to stay. In the end, abortion will have almost zero affect on electiuon day. The platforms matters little. The Republican platform is not the platform of Mitt Romney. It is irrelevant and will be ignored by Romney. The fact that Progressives want to talk about abortion is telling. Progressives will not talk about issues that will decide the election. Because they will not, the reagan Democrat types are getting behind Romney. Did you see the crowds in Ohio? The coal workers? The blue collar privarte union members?

    I look forward to articles and discussions about the economy and job creation and energy independance. Areas where quality of life will be impacted. Roe v Wade is here to stay.

    1. If Romney is elected Roe v. Wade will most likely be overruled. Unless Justices Ginsburg and Breyer manage to hang on through his term. This is going to motivate a lot of voters on both sides of the issue. And it wasn't the left that brought up these social issues. It was the Republican base that demanded that the new Congress spend much of its time debating issues like Planned Parenthood funding and access to contraception in health plans. The Democrats did not make abortion an issue. They support the status quo. But Democrats are happy to talk about abortion if Republicans give them an opportunity. They are also happy to talk about the economy and job creation and energy independence. Listen to any of President Obama's stump speeches and you would have to agree that those issues are what he spends most of his time talking about.

  5. << If Romney is elected Roe v. Wade will most likely be overruled. >>

    That is absurd.

    1. You think it is absurd to suggest that Romney will do what he has expressly promised he will do, what his base will demand that he do, and what he will most likely have the power to do, if he gets the chance to appoint even one Supreme Court Justice? Roe v. Wade is hanging by a thread because of the Bush appointments of Roberts and Alito, which have almost created a majority for overruling that decision. There is a little question mark about Roberts now because he did vote to uphold the ACA. But there is also a question mark about Kennedy because he is going in the other direction. As for Alito, Scalia and Thomas, however, there is no question whatsoever that they would overrule Roe v. Wade in a second. Obama did not change the dynamic on the court because his two appointments replace more liberal justices.

  6. You are way off the mark. There is no risk of Roe v Wade being over turned. Hysteria is unbecoming.

    1. Kevin, it's my JOB to predict what courts are likely to do with cases. People pay me good money to do that, and I'm pretty good at it. Hysteria does not enter into my picture.

  7. Yeah, I figured you would come back with that. The expert opinion routine holds about as much water with me as me telling you that I have worked thirty years as a licensed physician in the state of California and been chosen by the state and opposing attorneys to settle disputes in the med-legal arena, costs and treatment parameters -- and thenfollowing that up with how screwed up the ACA will leave us; how poor a piece of legislature it is. You are hysterical about Roe v Wade being over turned.