Monday, April 23, 2012

Catnip 4/23/12


My Dad, paraphrasing: "You can't go to California, you'll never come back. You'll discover it's Narnia." Or something like that. Well, if there is a Narnia in San Francisco, it's Buena Vista Park. The city's oldest public park, it's a mountain with shady paths and monstrous trees and spectacular views of the city. Takes your breath away in more ways than one. I will grant you that I was there on a beautiful, sunny, hot day - and rumor has it the fog is an issue a lot of the time - but, wow. Just wow. I didn't want to leave.

Above is one view that features the Bay and the mountains beyond, and this one doesn't even contain any famous landmarks like the Golden Gate. Stunning. Check out 1000 px.

Here now the news:

That liberal media: "Obama did not have a single week of coverage that was more positive than negative. The negative coverage was driven by several factors, including the sustained attacks against him by the Republican field, a rise in gas prices, the uncertain pace of economic recovery and the Supreme Court challenge to his health care law," says a study of election coverage from the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism. The report also finds that the news treated Romney as the de facto nominee after the Michigan primary: "After Michigan, the report said, "news coverage of (Romney's) candidacy became measurably more favorable and the portrayal of his rivals -- particularly Rick Santorum -- began to be more negative and to shrink in volume."

FOX fabricates an Obama quote? And the media repeats it over and over again? Get out! "The “silver spoon” comment in the context of the speech seemed to be a swipe against Romney, whose father George Romney was the top executive of a major car company and a former governor of Michigan. But the President was able to maintain plausible deniability until Steve Doocy of Fox News came along. While interviewing Romney on live TV Thursday, Doocy quoted Obama as saying, “Unlike some people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.” But Obama never prefaced his statement with the words “unlike some people,” as evident in the video of the speech (9:22 minute mark). The words do not appear in the official transcript either. Regardless, the unspoken words were imputed to Obama in a Washington Post article, a New York Post editorial and conservative blogs after Doocy’s segment."

E.J. Dionne Jr.: "We are about to have the worst presidential campaign money can buy. The Supreme Court’s dreadful Citizens United decision and a somnolent Federal Election Commission will allow hundreds of millions of dollars from a small number of very wealthy people and interests to inundate our airwaves with often vicious advertisements for which no candidate will be accountable." New York state's innovative attempt at campaign finance reform may hold the answer. Go read.

Who is buying the Republican Party? We may never know. Three stories today point to the dark money, and Romney's failure to disclose. From Bloomberg, some fundraising numbers from the SuperPacs: "As they did in 2010, Republican super-political action committees and groups organized as tax-exempt public policy organizations are out-raising the Democrats with the help of multi-million dollar donations from wealthy individuals and corporations." And a hat tip to Greg Sargent for the next two - Taegan Goddard, from USA Today: “More than $8 out of every $10 collected during the first three months of this year by two conservative groups associated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, for instance, went to a non-profit branch that does not have to reveal its donors.” And this, from Jae C. Hong at the WaPo: "MITT ROMNEY’S contemptuous attitude toward the importance of public disclosure is increasingly troubling. Whether it involves the details of his personal finances or the identity of his big fundraisers, the presumptive Republican is setting a new, low bar for transparency — one that does not augur well for how the Romney White House would conduct itself if he were elected."

Romney's amnesia campaign, and how Republican obstruction works. Krugman: "Which brings me to another aspect of the amnesia campaign: Mr. Romney wants you to attribute all of the shortfalls in economic policy since 2009 (and some that happened in 2008) to the man in the White House, and forget both the role of Republican-controlled state governments and the fact that Mr. Obama has faced scorched-earth political opposition since his first day in office. Basically, the G.O.P. has blocked the administration’s efforts to the maximum extent possible, then turned around and blamed the administration for not doing enough." I have seen that movie before. It doesn't end well for the Democrats, but the recovering economy may save them from the same fate as 2010.

Robert Draper has written a book about the obstructionist freshman class of Republicans in the 112th House, and comes to this conclusion: "The book, which will be released Tuesday, shows just how much energy had to be expended on the 87 freshmen who took their oath in January 2011, many of them holding office for the first time. Accounting for nearly 40 percent of Boehner’s conference, the freshmen exercised their clout early and often, imposing their will on the rest of the House Republicans...Many freshmen viewed GOP leaders warily from the outset and compelled Boehner’s team to make the rookies the constant focus of its attention. 'I didn’t come to Washington to be part of a team,” Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho) told the book’s author.'" Obviously.

All the obstruction has led to this - Obama and the executive order: "But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts “We Can’t Wait,” a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more. Each time, Mr. Obama has emphasized the fact that he is bypassing lawmakers." Good for him. And us.

Time to take a look at the Romney-Ryan radical "You're On Your Own" health care plan for America. From the LA Times: "The centerpiece of Romney's plan would overhaul the way most Americans get their health coverage: at work. He would do so by giving Americans a tax break to buy their own health plans. That would give consumers more choices, but also more risk. Critics and independent analysts say the impact would probably leave a larger number of Americans without insurance...Romney would make a parallel change in Medicare — giving seniors the ability to shop for their own health plans with vouchers rather than use the existing government-run program. That proposal, which resembles a budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), would represent the biggest change to the federal entitlement program since its creation in 1965....the shift could force seniors to pay thousands of dollars more for their care, according to analyses of similar proposals by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The third leg of Romney's plan would convert the Medicaid program for poor and disabled Americans into a series of block grants to states." Can't afford to buy insurance and then wait for a "tax credit"? Too bad for you.

That's it for now... but that's enough, isn't it?