Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quick Hits - August 9, 2012

The outrage around the Priorities USA pro-Barack Obama advertisement that implies the actions of Mitt Romney, at Bain Capital, and as a 'vulture' capitalist, directly contributed to the death of a former worker's wife has all the makings of being a seminal event in the 2012 Presidential race.

How bad is this advertisement attacking Mitt Romney?  Even MSNBC continues to have it's programs blasting not only the Priorities USA Super-PAC, but also the excuses from key members of the Obama campaign that they didn't know the details of Joe Soptic or what Priorities USA was doing....

Drudge today has the headline - 'Cancer ad turning malignant' - and as we highlighted in yesterday's QH post, the Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, the creator of the 'felon' pejorative, was completely uncredible in her attempts to deny any of Soptic's details when she was featured on a campaign call with Soptic back in May of this year...and the Obama campaign released this advertisement featuring Soptic...

Notice the similarities between this advertisement featuring Soptic hammering Mitt Romney - and the one from Priorities USA?  Both look like they were filmed in the same interior location - with Soptic wearing what appears to be the same clothes while on the interior location.

Lost in all of this, is what we now know about GST Steel and Joe Soptic. Ace of Spades detailed some of these timeline aspects, while I add some more context from additional research...

1993 - Bain Capital acquires GST Steel

1997 - GST Steel suffers a 10 week long, high contentious strike led by the steelworker's union pushing for wage and pension improvements while claiming that management was trying to break the union.  This was the first strike at the plant since 1959 and resulted in a 5 year deal.  During the duration of the strike, the company lost $22 million, but settled for almost of the union demands.  The union highlighted that 'A new incentive program and a competitiveness committee will help streamline the plant's production and efficiency'.  [This leads me to believe that the company is already in trouble...]

Feb 1999 - Mitt Romney leaves Bain Capital to head up the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic effort.

2001 - GST Steel in Kansas City closes it's doors.  Top Obama bundler, Jonathan Levine, was running Bain Capital when the decision is made to shut the company down.  Joe Soptic, and other GST Steel workers are offered a buy-out when the plant closes.  When the plant closes, Soptic's wife has her own health insurance from her own employer - and held this insurance through 2003 when she left.

Between 2001 and 2006 - Joe Soptic takes a job as a school janitor, and declines to purchase the health insurance that they offered to their employees.

2006 - Soptic's wife is diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and dies 22 days after the diagnosis.

Most of these facts are not contained within the dishonest Priorities USA advertisement, and it are these items that has the founder of Priorities USA, former White House adviser Bill Burton, trying unsuccessfully to defend when questioned by Wolf Blitzer of CNN last night....

"The point of this ad is that — you know, it’s to tell the story of one guy, Joe Soptic, and the impact on his life that happened for years, and to this day, as a result of decisions that Mitt Romney made," Priorities USA founder Bill Burton said Wednesday night in an interview with CNN.
This is as dishonest as it gets.

Under federal election law, Super-PACS cannot coordinate their actions with those of a specific campaign.  That is why, for example, Stephanie Cutter, Robert Gibbs, and others that are part of the Obama reelection campaign were actively lying about their connections with Bill Burton and Priorities USA - to the point that they refused to denounce the dishonest advertisement.  But as covered yesterday in the QH, and in more detail here on's Big Journalism site, when it comes time to connect the dots between the Obama campaign brain trust of Messina, Axelrod, Gibbs, Cutter, and Plouffe with those of Priorities USA, Paul Begala, David Brock, and Bill Burton, we need to consider Occam's Razor.

Given the connection of these two advertisements, one by the campaign, one by Priorities USA, given Soptic telling the same story in a May campaign call hosted by Cutter, given Burton worked directly for Robert Gibbs in the Obama White House - it defies common sense to accept no connection and partnership between the official campaign and Priorities USA.  Election laws don't matter to this team - they ignored and broke election laws throughout 2008 without repercussion.

Seminal moment I called it - here's why....The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking poll for today shows that Mitt Romney has jumped back out to a 4 point lead over Barack Obama (47% to 43%) after President Obama closed a previous 4 point gap to a 45 to 45 tie on the strength of a better than expected jobs report for July released last Friday.  However, in addition to the kerfuffle over the Priorities USA advertisement, the kerfuffle over Obama's changes to weaken welfare reform, and consumer confidence falling to a 2012 low - the effects of that short lived bounce seem to be gone.

For conservatives, however, what is grating almost as much as the fundamentally dishonest advertisement, is once again an unscripted and irresponsible statement made by a long-time Mitt Romney adviser - this time spokeswoman, Andrea Saul.  In a clueless statement that reminds me of the 'etch-a-sketch' gaffe from the GOP Presidential Primary, Saul makes the following statement....
“I think that President Obama’s attacks have been so low and so despicable on a personal level that they’re backfiring on him,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told Fox News on Wednesday.

“If people had been in Massachusetts under Gov. Romney’s healthcare plan, they would have had healthcare,” she added.
What? When Mitt Romney is fighting to get additional conservative support for his campaign, the last thing needed is for a campaign spokeswoman to do is to step up and tout ROMNEYCARE.

Ann Coulter wasted little time in demanding for Saul's dismissal...

“And then we have Romney Campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul and her response was that, not that it was despicable, not that Romney had left Bain five years earlier, or that the woman died five years after the plant closed and did not even get insurance from her husband. Her response was, “Well if she had lived in Massachusetts with Mitt Romney’s health care plan she would have had health insurance.”

“Anyone who donates to Mitt Romney and I mean the big donors should call and say if Andrea Saul is not fired and off the campaign tomorrow they’re not giving another dime. Because it is not worth fighting for this man if this is the kind of spokesman he has. By responding to an ad like this by citing health care in Massachusetts?… No, I’m serious about this. There’s no point you doing your show, there’s no point in us going to a convention and pushing for this man if he is employing people like this. This ad is the turning point and he has nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.”
While all three major evening newscasts continued to ignore the fundamentally dishonest Super-PAC advert accusing Mitt Romney of the death of Joe Soptic's wife from cancer, CBS and NBC carried water for the Administration's 'war on women' meme by highlighting attacks by Sandra Fluke on the conservative viewpoint to oppose the Obamacare anti-religious contraception mandate as well as parroting the Administration's defense to Romney accusations that it 'gutted' the landmark 1996 Welfare Reform legislation...
CBS's Jan Crawford promoted, "The President sought to bolster his eight point lead among Colorado women today by campaigning with Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who was disparaged by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh earlier this year after she testified in favor of contraceptive coverage."

While skipping Obama's misleading ad, which falsely accuses the GOP presumptive nominee of contributing to a woman's death after closing down a steel plant and putting her husband out of work, CBS Evening News and ABC's World News both touted the Democrat's defense against Romney's charges that the President is weakening welfare reform.

Guest Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer skeptically insisted that Romney has"tried to make an issue over a recent and little-noticed change that the administration made in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act."

The Obama administration, without consulting Congress, eliminated work-related requirements to receive welfare. In a new commercial, Romney insisted that this will, ultimately, expand the number of people on welfare, a charge Crawford deemed "explosive."
The increasingly shrill, partisan, and tedious Andrea Mitchell was rabid in her push of the Sandra Fluke meme for 'contraceptive rights' - which included tromping forwards a conveniently positioned 'independent voter' for added emphasis that Fluke and the President are right on this issue....
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, as correspondent Andrea Mitchell filed a report recounting that President Obama is running ahead of Mitt Romney with female voters, Mitchell referred to liberal birth control activist Sandra Fluke's political activities as a push for "contraception rights" rather than more accurately relaying her desire to force health insurance to pay for birth control pills for women as if they could not choose to purchase such products on their own.

As she concluded the story, Mitchell included a dig at Rick Santorum as she asserted to viewers that members of the Romney campaign "blame Rick Santorum's positions on women's health in the primaries for the gender gap against Republicans," as if abortion deserves to be called a "women's health" issue.

The NBC correspondent also managed to find a female voter who supported Republican John McCain in 2008 who is now "leaning toward Obama," without including the opposite example of a woman planning to switch from Democrat to Republican, even though Obama's weak poll numbers should have made it just as possible to find such a voter to provide balance...
Ah balance... along with journalistic ethics, a concept completely void in Mitchell's efforts towards being a professional...

The Romney campaign is trying to hit back hard on this 'war on women' meme being promoted by Barack Obama, Ms. Can't Afford $9 Birth Control Pills, and the ever professional Andrea Mitchell...

Did you know that over 100 million are now receiving some form of federal government welfare?

Food stamps and Medicaid make up a large--and growing--chunk of the more than 100 million recipients. "Among the major means tested welfare programs, since 2000 Medicaid has increased from 34 million people to 54 million in 2011 and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) from 17 million to 45 million in 2011," says the Senate Budget Committee. "Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $800 billion over the next decade."
Jared Bernstein, the former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden [that says it all] makes the argument in today's Financial Times that 'Americans need to face the harsh truth and pay more tax' - making the vapid argument that since tax rates were higher during Clinton's term in office, and the economy soared, increasing tax rates today will cause the economy to soar...while calling President Obama 'an aggressive tax cutter'.

Huh?  A 2% temporary reduction in the Social Security Payroll tax is 'aggressive tax cutting'?  In the face of dozens of new tax increases built into Obamacare?  Or the massive tax increases the President is pushing for on capital gains, dividends, and the estate tax?

Then there is the entire premise that is based on one huge fallacy - that the 1993 Clinton tax increases sparked the economic growth of 1995-2001, the balancing of the federal budget [accomplished with the use of the social security payroll tax proceeds being added into the general fund], and all that was apparently right with progressivism until November 2008.

  • Why didn't the economy start to boom until after the GOP took control in Congress - if the tax increases were enacted in 1993?

  • What specific part of the Clinton 1993 tax increase incentivized the internet boom that actually fueled economic growth?  And why didn't that start until after the GOP Congress led the effort to reduce capital gain taxes?

  • What role did the GOP control of Congress have with fiscal policy - specifically the budget and economic growth for the balance of the decade?  Didn't Bill Clinton decide for political purposes to 'triangulate' with the GOP to usurp their initiatives and take them as his own for his 1996 election effort [Welfare reform, anyone]?

Writing in the American Spectator, Peter Ferrera, takes and advocates the other approach - calling for tax reform and tax cuts as promoted by Mitt Romney and comparing this to the effects of similar plans enacted in the past, by Democrats and Republicans, which did boost economic growth - and created the framework for an unprecedented quarter century of economic growth - 1982-2007.
These tax policies enjoy a history of bipartisan success. JFK proposed legislation to reduce income tax rates across the board by 30 percent, explaining:

It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today, and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the tax rates….[A]n economy constrained by high tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance the budget, just as it will never create enough jobs or enough profits.

Kennedy's proposed tax cuts were adopted in 1964, and pulled the top rate from 91 percent down to 70 percent, while reducing the lower rates. The next year, economic growth soared by 50 percent, and income tax revenues increased by 41 percent! By 1966, unemployment had fallen to its lowest peacetime level in almost 40 years. U.S. News and World Report exclaimed: "The unusual budget spectacle of sharply rising revenues following the biggest tax cut in history is beginning to astonish even those who pushed hardest for tax cuts in the first place." Arthur Okun, the administration's chief economic advisor, estimated that the tax cuts expanded the economy in just two years by 10 percent above where it would have been.
To wrap up today's post, here's a great post highlighted by Powerline that is a must read - touching on the observations of Hillsdale College Professor Paul Rahe who is seeing something major happening between the lines regarding this November's Presidential election....
Hillsdale College Professor Paul Rahe — author of Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, hard-headed historian and observer of the Age of Obama — foresees a “Landslide on the horizon.” As Professor Rahe surveys the scene, he senses tremors missed by pollsters and analysts (“psephologists”) taking the pulse of the public:
In my opinion, none of the psephologists…has reflected on the degree to which the administrative entitlements state – envisaged by Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives, instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and expanded by their successors – has entered a crisis, and none of them is sensitive to the manner in which Barack Obama, in his audacity, has unmasked that state’s tyrannical propensities and its bankruptcy. In consequence, none of these psephologists has reflected adequately on the significance of the emergence of the Tea-Party Movement, on the meaning of Scott Brown’s election and the particular context within which he was elected, on the election of Chris Christie as Governor of New Jersey and of Bob McDonnell as Governor of Virginia, and on the political earthquake that took place in November, 2010. That earthquake, which gave the Republicans a strength at the state and local level that they have not enjoyed since 1928, is a harbinger of what we will see this November.
Read it all - I think he has a good sense towards the undercurrents that are in place. But we also have to remember - as evidenced by Andrea Saul - we cannot let up or give our opponents a break or let them back into the game.

Today in History

1945 - A B-29 Superfortress named 'Bock's Car' drops the second atomic bomb on Japan by the United States - targeting and devastating the city of Nagasaki.  The bomb, a slightly different design than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier, detonated at 11:02am local time with the force of 22 kilotons - equal to 22,000 tons of TNT - killing between 60,000 and 80,000 in the city.  The second bombing opened new discussions and debate in Japan's War Council over continuing to fight the war - while the US prepared for a possible third atomic bombing on either August 17 or 18th.

1969 - Members of Charles Manson's cult invade director Roman Polanski's Beverly Hills home and murder 5 - including Polanski's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate.

1974 - Just after noon, Vice President Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States in the East Room of the White House.  The 37th President of the United States, Richard Nixon, resigned from office effective noon eastern time, becoming the first president to do so.

1985 - Arthur Walker, a retired U.S. Navy officer is found guilty of 7 counts of espionage for passing top-secret documents to his brother, John Walker, who then passed them onto the Soviet Union.  The Walker spy ring, consisted of the two brothers, John Walker's son Michael, and a fourth conspirator, Jerry Whitworth, was termed by US authorities as one of the most destructive spy rings run against the United States during the Cold War.  Both Walker brothers and Whitworth would be sentenced to life in prison.  Michael Walker would be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

2001 - President George W. Bush announced he would support federal funding for limited medical research on embryonic stem cells.

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