The Romney campaign has escalated their attacks on President Obama following the murder of four Americans, including the ambassador, in Libya. In an interview with the Washington Post, Mitt Romney’s top foreign policy adviser pinned the blame for the attacks squarely on Obama and flatly claimed they would not have happened if Romney had been president:
Advisers to Mitt Romney on Thursday defended his sharp criticism of President Obama and said that the deadly protests sweeping the Middle East would not have happened if the Republican nominee were president.
“There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation,” Richard Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy adviser, said in an interview. “For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an American ambassador assassinated.”
New Hampshire gave its new voter ID law a test run in the state’s primary Tuesday, and the results were less than reassuring.
The law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in June over Gov. John Lynch’s (D) veto, was set to be phased-in in three stages. First, voters in this week’s primary would be asked for, but not required to have, ID before voting. Second, in the November general election, those who don’t have a voter ID will be required to sign an affidavit swearing their identity before voting. Third, beginning next year, voters who don’t bring ID to the polls will not be permitted to vote.
However, in precincts around the state on Primary Day, there was widespread confusion among election officials about what was required from voters to cast a ballot. The Concord Monitor has more:
Ken Ward, a Democrat from Rollinsford running for the House, said election officials told him incorrectly he couldn’t vote without an ID yesterday morning. “I had one in my pocket, but I knew I didn’t have to produce it,” said Ward, 50.
Ward said more than half the officials knew him. Eventually, they told him to sign an affidavit, even though affidavits aren’t required yet, he said. Ward assented and said he doesn’t plan to file formal complaints.
The League of Women Voters and the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action said similar circumstances, in which officials presented misleading information, occurred throughout the state.
Voters without identification were turned away from two wards in Manchester, the groups said.
In addition, Granite State Progress sent over the following pictures, where signs incorrectly told citizens that voter ID would be required to vote:
Photo from Barrington, NH
Photo from Newmarket, NH
If this many problems occurred in a low-turnout primary, it doesn’t portend well for what’s expected to be a high-turnout election in November.
Though presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized President Obama (falsely) for being insufficiently supportive of free speech rights during attacks on American diplomats in Egypt and Libya, Romney himself has ran into trouble on related issues before. In 2005, while governor of Massachusetts, Romney called for the warrantless wiretapping of Massachusetts mosques in order to identify terrorism suspects. Speaking to the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think-tank in Washington, D.C., Romney proposed a wide-ranging surveillance program that encompassed both mosques and foreign students from “terrorist-sponsored states”:
How many [students] are coming to our state and going to those institutions who have come from terrorist-sponsored states? Do we know where they are? Are we tracking them? …How about people who are in settings — mosques, for instance — that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror. Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what’s going on?
Because Romney was selling his idea as a means of identifying places from which extremist doctrines are disseminated rather than keeping track of individuals already under suspicion, it would seem to imply that police should be bugging mosques that aren’t already known to house radicals. Without prior suspicion of a crime leaves open the possibility that the type of monitoring Romney proposed would have been warrantless. Romney attempted to downplay this possibility in a subsequent interview, telling Fox News’s John Gibson that he supported devoting more resources to practices already in use rather than developing new surveillance techniques and that FBI wiretapping of mosques currently required probable cause.
Regardless, Romney walked back his proposal after it caused an uproar among Massachusetts Muslims and civil libertarians at the time, who believed the proposal was discriminatory and violated Muslim-Americans’ right to freely practice their religion.
It’s an article of faith amongst Republicans that government can’t create jobs, and that cutting government spending will lead to job growth. Republicans even pushed the nation to the brink of a debt default in order to secure cuts in federal spending in 2010.
But with the consequences of that debt ceiling deal due to hit in January — at which point the so-called “sequester” will cut into both military and non-defense discretionary spending — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is seemingly having a change of heart. On Thursday he tweeted that the sequester would hurt federal spending in key areas, and thus kill jobs:
Earlier this week, Cantor was unable to name a single deal Republicans would be willing to make to prevent the slew of cuts — cuts that Cantor himself voted for. Plus, as the Bipartisan Policy Center reports, the House Republican budget that Cantor supported cuts “more than double the amount” of the sequester. This budget would sink domestic spending to its lowest level in 50 years. Meanwhile it prevents cuts to military spending already endorsed by military leaders.
This chart shows that the House Republican’s budget cuts non-defense spending dramatically. The “BCA+sequester” line is the path of non-defense discretionary spending under both the debt ceiling deal (the Budget Control Act and its sequester), while the light blue line is the Republican budget:
Bishop Harry Jackson Backs Out Of Same-Sex Marriage Debate |
Bishop Harry Jackson, a staunch opponent of marriage equality in the Maryland and DC area, was scheduled to debate Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D) on same-sex marriage at Howard University last night. Despite having been confirmed since May, he backed out at the last minute on Tuesday, claiming that “other people” might have made the debate unbalanced and he was also “concerned that it was being held at Howard,” because he perceives the historically black university to be a liberal institution. Without explaining the supposed scheduling conflict, Jackson said simply that he “never backs away from a fight,” and he’s still open to the debate “under the right conditions,” whatever those might be.
Chicago Approves Ordinance To Protect Undocumented Immigrants From Deportation |
The Chicago City Council has passed a measure designed to protect undocumented immigrants from being detained if they approach police by preventing authorities from holding undocumented immigrants unless they have been convicted of a serious crime or if there is a warrant for their arrest. Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, who sponsored the “Welcoming City” ordinance, said the policy “sends a strong message” to immigrants that they should not be afraid to come forward and report crimes to police. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel proposed the ordinance in July to make Chicago a more immigrant-friendly city. He said over the summer that the police department should not act as an “adjunct for the immigration service.”
One aspect of the Affordable Care Act still in contention is the law’s expansion of Medicaid — the health care program for the disabled, seniors, and low-income Americans that’s jointly funded by the federal government and the states. The Supreme Court’s ruling on health care reform back in June determined that states could chose to opt out of the expansion without losing the federal Medicaid dollars they already recieve. Several governors — all of them Republicans — have already taken the opportunity to declare their state will not participate in the program’s expansion.
These refusals are often justified on budgetary grounds: Medicaid’s burden “increasingly shifts to Florida taxpayers in future years” and was “growing three and a half times as fast as Florida’s general revenue” as Governor Rick Scott put it. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said of the expansion, “I think that is something our state cannot afford.” And Rick Perry, the ever blunt governor of Texas, declared, “I will not be party to… bankrupting my state.”
Ironically, however, a recent analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities determined that the budget Paul Ryan engineered in the House — which was passed by the governors’ own party, and endorsed by Rick Perry and the other leaders of the Republican Governors Association — would cost states’ budgets well over ten times as much as the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.
The CBPP determined that between now and 2022 the Medicaid expansion would cost states $73 billion. Over that same time period, the House GOP budget would cut $810 billion from the federal government’s contribution to Medicaid, on top of its repeal of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. The budget would also cut another $281 billion from federal support for schools and other state and local services. A grand total of $1.091 trillion in losses to state budgets.
In fairness to the governors, the Urban Institute ran the numbers and found that the cost of expanding Medicaid would not fall evenly on the states. (It should be noted their estimates only run through 2019.) And the majority of the states either refusing, or leaning towards refusing the expansion, have populations with unusually high portions of people that are currently uninsured but would be eligible to join Medicaid.
But even under the Urban Institute’s worst-case predictions, several of the refusing or leaning-towards-refusal states still see net savings from the new federal dollars that come with the expansion. And for those that still see net costs, such as Texas and Florida, the highest predicted budgetary hit was in the vicinity $2.5 billion. Almost certainly, that comes no where close to matching the damage that would be done if the House GOP’s budget became law.
Meanwhile, the number of uninsured Americans fell by 1.3 million in 2011 — the first time it’s gone down in four years. In no small part, the decrease was due to a boost in Medicaid and CHIP funding included in the 2009 stimulus. If all the states carry through with the far greater boost the ACA’s expansion would bring to Medicaid, as many as 17 million currently uninsured Americans could finally gain coverage.
In June, Montana Republicans nominated Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) to challenge incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D). Unlike Tester, a fairly reliable supporter of LGBT equality, Rehberg has opposed the LGBT community at every opportunity.
Over his time as Lt. Governor of Montana, his unsuccessful 1996 Senate campaign, his 12 years in the House of Representatives, and this Senate campaign:
1. Rehberg proudly pranked a fellow Congressman with a gay-mocking “Idaho Travel Package.” In 2008, after Idaho’s Sen. Larry Craig (R) plead guilty to lewd conduct involving a male police officer in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport restroom, Rehberg decided to leave a care-package for Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). On a congressional trip to the Middle East, Rehberg reportedly left “a stuffed sheep with gloves attached to it, a Village People CD, books on cross-dressing and sign language and a T-shirt that reads, ‘My senator may not be gay, but my governor is Butch.’” The governor of Idaho’s name is C.L. “Butch” Otter. A spokesman claimed “no offense was intended,” Rehberg boasted that he was proud of the travel package and “spent a bit of time putting the things together.”
2. Rehberg has consistently fought against marriage equality and even domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples. In his Senate campaign kickoff, he told supporters: “I will never, ever, ever be ashamed to stand for the life of the unborn child and the sanctity of traditional marriage.” He has indeed shown no shame, votingtwice for a federal constitutional amendment requiring “marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” He also voted for a 2011 amendment reaffirming the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 2007 amendment restricting the District of Columbia government from using any federal funding to provide domestic partnership benefits, and a 2004 bill of questionable constitutionality to strip federal courts of the right to review whether DOMA is unconstitutional. In May, he reiterated his support also for his state’s same-sex marriage ban, saying “Montana’s state constitution says ‘Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state,’ and I agree.”
3. Rehberg railed against hate crimes protections for LGBT Americans, calling them “extremist.” In addition to repeatedlyvotingagainst adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate crimes laws, he has also been an outspoken opponent of such “special rights.” In a letter to then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), he decried “extremist hate crime legislation” being attached to a Defense authorization bill. He called the protections “divisive social policy,” dismissed them as a “thinly veiled attack on federalism,” and added that they “violate our nation’s founding principles.”
4. Rehberg thinks it should be legal to fire someone just for being gay. He voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007, which would have banned employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Worse, herefused to even adopt a non-discrimination policy against LGBT discrimination for employees in his own Congressional office.
5. Rehberg opposed letting LGBT servicemembers serve openly. He voted against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal twice in 2010.
6. Rehberg boasts of an award he received from a designated hate group. He was “honored” by the Family Research Council in 2003 with their “True Blue” award. The group’s president Tony Perkins praised him as a “consistent, stalwart ally of American families,” who should be “commended for his adherence to the belief that strong marriages and families are essential aspects of a resilient society.” Rehberg called it an “important recognition of my commitment to the American family.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FRC as a hate group for its record of “false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.”
7. Rehberg pushed abstinence-only education, while opposing AIDS funding. In 1994, he opposed funding for Montana AIDS patients, arguing that “the problem with AIDS is: you got it, you die. So why are we spending money on the issue?” He also, as chairman of the relevant House appropriations subcommittee, voted to slash HIV/AIDS prevention funds while adding funds for anti-gay and ineffective abstinence-only sex education programs.
8. Rehberg has been a zero for LGBT Americans — literally. According to the Human Rights Campaign, he has opposed the interests of the LGBT community 100 percent of the time. He earned zero ratings for the 107th, 108th, 109th, 110th, and 111th Congresses.
Watch Rehberg dodge a question from a gay constituent about the second-class citizenship of LGBT Montanans:
Though Rehberg says he wants to “get government out of our lives,” he has consistently voted against giving the same respect to LGBT Americans. Rehberg’s election to the U.S. Senate would be a huge threat to LGBT people and families.
If you turned on the news anytime this past week, you were probably greeted with at least one of the following images: angry people shouting and burning American flags, an American pastor making snide remarks about Islam, or the charred, graffiti-covered remains of the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
The images, of course, documented the recent killing of Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and other American diplomats by militants, and the uproar in the Middle East over an allegedly American-made film mocking the Prophet Muhammad. In response, right-wing pundits were quick to weigh in with an old narrative: the social and religious differences of the West and the Middle East are insurmountable, and will inevitably lead to violence.
But you might not have seen this: hundreds of Libyan men, women and children assembled in the streets of Benghazi, holding up signs with slogans that read: “Thugs and Killers don’t represent Benghazi or Islam,” “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans,” and “Sorry People of America this not behavior of Islam or profit [sic].”
You also probably didn’t hear about the Coptic Christians who joined Muslims in expressing peaceful disapproval of the film, or an Israeli Rabbi who condemned both the film and the attacks on the American diplomats.
You didn’t see or read about these people because they weren’t considered “newsworthy” – explosions tend to capture national attention more than peaceful protests. But just because these events didn’t attract journalists doesn’t make their message any less important: in the midst of violence and anger, these faithful people represent the majority of Muslims, Christians, and Jews whose beliefs and voices are being held hostage by the hateful bellowing of an angry few.