Morning Bunker Report: Saturday 6.2.2012

WHAT ROMNEY / REPUBLICANS STAND FOR———————————————

Is Mormonism Different Than Other Religions? – I also don’t think Romney’s religion should be ruled entirely out of bounds for discussion. He is running in a party that explicitly states there is no solid separation of religion and politics. And the current president was pummeled mercilessly for the more radical teachings of his church in Chicago. And Obama was just a member of the congregation – not a former official in the church, like Romney, whose entire identity is bound up with a very particular religion. Mormonism, in other words, should not be tackled differently than any other faith; but neither can it be completely exempted from examination in this election. When a future president puts on white robes and enters a secret Temple on a Sunday, it will be as big a cultural shift as having a black man in the Oval Office. I think Romney should pre-empt bigoted attacks with his own account of how his faith affects his life and politics. Just as candidate Obama did. – Andrew Sullivan

Romney’s ENTIRE platform: If you vote out Obama, you’ll feel better – “This may be the most explicit version we’ve seen of the Romney camp’s intended message: if you’re angry or frustrated by your current circumstances, or about how things are going, vote the guy in charge out, and it will make you feel better. The game plan: to get swing voters to cast their vote almost entirely as an expression of frustration and disillusionment with the economic status quo, and by extension with Obama himself, without thinking too hard about the true nature of the alternative Romney is offering.” — Greg Sargent

The dog that caught the car: What if the Supreme Court actually overturns Obamacare? — In other words, Republicans are offering voters an implausibly rosy proposition: Enjoy the popular pieces of the Affordable Care Act but don’t worry about the unpopular components. […]As a short-term political posture, it has served them well. But now that the Supreme Court might give them what they want, they’re forced to deal with the reality of what it would mean. And that’s a huge wake-up call for the party, especially one without a clear leader to herd the cats as they figure out their next move. — TPM

Romney’s refusal to take on Trump a sign of his “strength” — Anonymous Romney advisers tell Buzzfeed how strategically clever and how tough they’ve been in taking the fight to Obama in an effort to appeal to red meat conservatives, with one example being the refusal to disavow Donald Trump.  As I noted here the other day, the story Team Romney is now telling is that standing up to Trump’s birtherism would represent surrender (a la John McCain) to the liberal media, and not doing so is actually a sign of his strength. —  Greg Sargent

More proof that Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is a complete and certifiable wackadoodle.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————

Obama Wants to Break Republican “Fever” — “I believe that if we’re successful in this election — when we’re successful in this election — that the fever may break,” Obama said at a fundraiser in Minnesota. “Because there’s a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that.” Republicans may be more helpful on issues such as jobs, debt reduction and clean energy because they won’t be so concerned about defeating him at the polls, the president said. “My hope, my expectation, is that after the election — now that it turns out that the goal of beating Obama doesn’t make much sense because I’m not running again — that we can start getting some cooperation again,” Obama said. [...] “2008 was a significant election, obviously. But John McCain believed in climate change. John believed in campaign-finance reform. He believed in immigration reform. There were some areas where you saw some overlap,” Obama said. “In this election, the Republican Party has moved in a fundamentally different direction.” – USA Today 

CHART: Bush Vs. Obama On Private And Public Sector Job Creation — Even with today’s disappointing and troubling jobs report, private sector job creation under President Obama has far exceeded private sector job creation under President Bush. 40 months into his presidential term, there are currently more private sector jobs in the economy than when Obama came into office. At the same point in President Bush’s term, the total number of private sector jobs was still down 1.7 percent from where it began. […] But there is one area of job creation where President Bush clearly outshines President Obama: the public sector. Public sector employment is now down 608,000 workers since January 2009, a 2.7 percent decline. At the same point in President Bush’s term, public sector employment was up 3.7 percent. – Think Progress

Because ONLY the rightwing media heard an endorsement an the adjective Bill Clinton used – President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign released a statement noting that Bill Clinton’s praise for Romney’s “sterling business record” did not constitute an endorsement of the Republican nominee. – Team Romney (Buzzfeed)

Clinton says his remarks on Romney were ‘twisted’ — Clinton used an appearance at a rally in Paterson, New Jersery to perform a bit of damage control. “I said, you know, Governor Romney had a good career in business and he was a governor, so he crosses the qualification threshold for him being president,” Clinton told the crowd. “But he shouldn’t be elected, because he is wrong on the economy and all these other issues.” “So today,” Clinton continued, “because I didn’t attack him personally and bash him, I wake up to read all these stories taking it out of context as if I had virtually endorsed him, which means the tea party has already won their first great victory: ‘We are supposed to hate each to disagree.’ That is wrong.” — Raw Story

Bill Clinton Slams Walker For ‘Divide And Conquer’ and ‘constant conflict’ In Wisconsin — “And now they look at Wisconsin, and they see America’s battleground between people who want to work together to solve problems, and people who want to divide and conquer — people who know that creative cooperation is working in America, and people who want constant conflict. And here’s what I want to tell you…I think I know a little bit about what would bring America back, what would bring economic recovery, what would enable us to have broadly shared prosperity. And I’ll tell you, if you go anywhere in America today, believe it or not, there are a lot of places that are already back. And they all have one thing in common. They’re dramatically different, but they all have one thing in common: They are involved in creative cooperation, not constant conflict.” — TPM

Romney Economics: Mitt Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts promising more jobs, decreased debt, and smaller government. By the time Romney left office, state debt had increased, the size of government had grown, and Massachusetts had fallen behind almost every other state in job creation.  Other Republicans agree: Romney economics didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.

Morning Bunker Report: Saturday 5.12.2012

WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY—————————–—

An email campaign endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) launched this week (pictured, below) depicts a rifle pointing at President Barack Obama’s head, and a message about an imaginary “million rifle ban” the president is allegedly seeking to implement. “Death threats against this president are up 400 percent as compared to President Bush,” Ladd Everitt, director of communications for The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told Raw Story on Thursday. “We are living today in a supercharged, partisan political climate where threats of violence and violent rhetoric are everywhere, and you would think that anyone — anyone, no matter what their political views or disagreements with this president — would have the common sense and decency to not create a banner image for a conspiracy theory-fueled email that shows a gun pointing directly at [the president's] head, while simultaneously preaching to folks about some ridiculous Obama gun ban that exists only in a fantasy world.” — Raw Story

  • UPDATE — 5/11: The image housed at the website for the campaign has been changed. The rifle now points toward the head of Sen. Paul. — HuffPo

~~~

HOW ARE WE DOING AS A SOCIETY? Trayvon Martin gun range targets were sold online “to make money off the controversy,” report says — The targets reportedly do not show Martin’s face, but feature a hoodie with crosshairs aimed at the chest. A bag of Skittles is tucked in the pocket and a hand is holding a can resembling iced tea. Martin reportedly was carrying both items the night of his death.  [...] According to WKMG, the seller of the targets told them in an email exchange that the “main motivation was to make money off the controversy.” — CBS News

Harry Reid finally gets fed up with ‘mindless’ Republican obstructionism over the refusal of Senate Republicans to pass a completely non-controversial reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank on the grounds that they wanted time to offer amendments. “It’s so unusual here,” Reid continued. “I have been here in Congress thirty years, but this is a new one. Even bills that they agree on, they want to mess around with. In years past, this would have gone through here just like this [snapping his fingers]. … The House passed something 330 to 93, and we’re here playing around with it? It should be done. We should have passed it yesterday. This thing is going to expire.” “It’s hard to comprehend what the new mantra of the Republicans in the Senate, what it is,” he added. “I don’t get it.” — Raw Story

  • Reid expressed regret that he had not supported a proposed change to the filibuster rule in January 2011, but had instead entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to keep it intact.
  • NOTE: If the Democrats hold their Senate majority, Democratic voters will need to remind Harry Reid and others that there can be no ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ with Republicans anymore. Ever. There is no more trust.

The 111th Congress was practically defined by Republicans who turned an extraordinary measure–the filibuster–into a routine tool of obstruction. GOP senators invoked holds and filibusters on virtually everything that came from Senate Democrats, resulting in a session that saw more filibusters than any previous session in history. This nifty graph is illustrative. [...] At this point, I’m honestly unsure of what will convince reporters to cease the constant equivalence between the two parties. Democrats aren’t angels, of course, but the Republican Party has embarked on a crusade against the norms that govern conduct in the Senate. It’s totalistic approach to politics is responsible for congressional dysfunction, and placing blame on both sides only makes the problem harder to solve. — Prospect.org

Maddow Blog: It’s a good thing we didn’t let Detroit go bankrupt: “U.S. auto sales are on pace for the best showing since 2007 and a third straight year of at least 10 percent gains, only the fourth such streak since the Great Depression, as more-confident buyers return to showrooms.”

Mediaite: Geraldo Rivera appeared on Fox & Friends on Friday where he described an intrusive inspection he had received from a Transportation Security Administration officer on a recent trip to Afghanistan. “I got manually raped by a guy,” said Rivera. “This guy, it seemed to me, was getting off on it.” (NOTE: it was a TSA pat-down, something thousands of people go through every day.)

TPM: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), on Obama: “Call me cynical, but I didn’t think his views on marriage could get any gayer.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS————————————————————



President Barack Obama gave Congress a “to-do list” for fixing the economy in his weekly address broadcast Saturday. Obama’s suggestions:
1) ending tax breaks for companies that outsource work overseas,
2) help homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates,
3) increasing tax benefits for small businesses that hire,
4) increasing tax benefits for small businesses that hire and extending tax credits for clean-energy companies,
5) and creating a Veterans Job Corps for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are re-entering the private sector.

“… America’s real problems have nothing to do with what we do in our bedrooms and everything to do with what top executives do in their boardrooms and executive suites. We’re not in trouble because gays want to marry or women want to have some control over when they have babies. We’re in trouble because CEOs are collecting exorbitant pay while slicing the pay of average workers, because the titans of Wall Street demand short-term results over long-term jobs, and because of a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading, and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.” Our crisis has nothing to do with private morality. It’s a crisis of public morality – of abuses of public trust that undermine the integrity of our economy and democracy … .” — Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich in Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms [via: reagan-was-a-horrible-president]

Daily Kos: Tom Barrett gets an Obama campaign assist in Wisconsin recall against Scott Walker — The next election here in Wisconsin is coming up on June 5th — and it’s important to make sure your voice is heard. For the last year and a half, Governor Walker has divided Wisconsin — siding with big corporations and the super-rich at the expense of working, middle-class families. He’s broken our trust in state government: Too many Wisconsin families are out of work, students face crowded classrooms, and working men and women will be hurt by cuts to health care funding.

  • Charles P. Pierce: The microphone is always open, the camera is always on, and Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their midwestern subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, is always saying the wrong thing to the wrong people. In the video in that link there, which you should really watch all the way through, the billionaire Diane Hendricks tells Walker she wants to discuss “controversial” subjects away from reporters…
  • In the video, Diane Hendricks, who owns a roofing wholesale and siding distribution company, asks Walker: “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions—” Walker: “Oh, yeah.” Hendricks: “—and become a right-to-work? What can we do to help you?” Walker: “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.” — Daily Kos
  • Walker has said publicly before that he wouldn’t pursue right-to-work. Asked about right-to-work earlier this year by The Atlantic’s Molly Ball Walker had said, “When I was in the legislature, I supported it. It’s not something I’m pursuing right now, nor have any plan of pursuing. Again, private-sector unions have been our partner in the economic revival we’ve had in this state.” — Buzzfeed

Asked whether he would be at a disadvantage politically if gays galvanize behind Obama’s reelection campaign, Romney said, “Hopefully, people are focusing on the major issues of the day, which relate to our economy, getting people back to work, dealing with Syria…. But I know for many people, the issue of marriage is going to be a defining issue, and they will make their decision on that basis. That is their right. But you don’t change your position to try to win states or certain subgroups of Americans. You have the positions you have, and you know, for a long time, I think since the beginning of my career, I have made it very clear that I thought that marriage should be a relationship between a man and a women.” — NationalJournal.com

Think Progress: Insurers Will Pay $1.3 Billion In Rebates To 16 Million Consumers Because Of Obamacare – Thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act, 16 million consumers and businesses are expected to receive about $1.3 billion in rebates from health insurance companies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The medical loss ratio rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of premiums on patient care; if not, then the companies owe rebates to their customers. As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explains, “We want to know that most of what we are paying for is for health care, not advertising, executive bonuses or overhead. It’s pretty simple: we want to get a good value for our premium dollars.”

Wednesday morning’s 4 marginally interesting things

1) ROMNEY THE RICH RUSSIAN ADVERSARY

Mitt Romney’s 4-car fantasy home — At Mitt Romney’s proposed California beach house, the cars will have their own separate elevator. There’s also a planned outdoor shower and a 3,600-square foot basement — a room with more floor space than the existing home’s entire living quarters. A project this ambitious comes with another feature you don’t always find with the typical fixer-upper: its own lobbyist, hired by Romney to push the plan through the approval process. […] But it may not help Romney — whose wealth has caused him trouble connecting with average folks — to be seen building a split-level, four-vehicle garage that comes with a “car lift” to transport automobiles between floors, according to 2008 schematic plans for the renovation obtained by POLITICO that are on file with the city of San Diego.

  • Car Elevators In Action — Mitt Romney is getting one, and they’re kind of awesome.
  • Mitt Romney: Silly voters, elevators are for cars, not people!His appreciation of elevators in his capacity as a private citizen didn’t show up, however, when he was Governor of Massachusetts. In particular, Romney — like many Republicans — was hostile to requirements for elevators imposed by the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA). [...] On June 26, 2006 Romney vetoed an improvement project with the price tag of $40,000 with his line item veto. The project would have allocated the money to Woburn Development Authority for improvements to an elevator to meet the standards set in the ADA. The whole state of Massachusetts couldn’t come up with $40,000 to refurbish an elevator so that people with disabilities could use it. By contrast, when Mitt Romney wanted to convince the city of La Jolla, California that his beachfront mansion needed its own private car elevator, he spent $21,000 just on the lobbyist he hired to help make that happen.
  • Mitt Romney’s Many Homes – Republican Presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney drew more attention today for ill-timed plans to triple the size of his La Jolla, Calif. home and add a car elevator. It’s not his only property, however, and here’s a look at his other lodging.

Not Ready to Lead — Mitt Romney thinks the president doesn’t need to be an expert on foreign policy; he’ll just call his lawyers to figure out what to do.


LOL ROMNEY: Making Friends All Over the Place — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tweaked Mitt Romney for his characterization of Russia as the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the United States, saying the comments did not reflect the current relationship between the two countries. “It is very reminiscent of Hollywood and also of a certain phase in Russian-U.S. relations,” Medvedev said at the end of the nuclear security summit in South Korea Tuesday. […] Medvedev urged Romney to take the current climate into account if he hopes to win the presidential election. “My first advice is to listen to reason when they formulate their positions. Reason never harmed a presidential candidate,” Medvedev said. “My other advice is to check their watches from time to time: it is 2012, not the mid-1970s.”

2) ‘COLOSSAL DICK’ SANTORUM  

Santorum loses lead at home to Romney — Santorum, who represented the state in Congress for 16 years until he was defeated in a Senate election in 2006, saw his lead over Romney evaporate from 29 points to 2 points in the past month, according to the Franklin and Marshall College poll conducted from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s primary election takes place on April 24, along with liberal northeastern states like New York and Connecticut which Romney is favored to win. If Santorum loses or scrapes by with a narrow win in Pennsylvania, he will come under pressure from senior Republicans to pull out of the race.

Santorum, Gingrich open to VP slot — Rick Santorum sat down with radical TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, which asked the former senator if he would consider an invitation to join Mitt Romney’s Republican ticket. “Of course,” Santorum said… Also yesterday, Newt Gingrich was asked on Fox News about a possible V.P. nomination. Though the former Speaker said an invitation is unlikely, he added, “I wouldn’t say no.” At least on the surface, Santorum and Gingrich scoff at the very idea of ending their presidential bids, and in public, continue to tell voters that they remain viable candidates. But when they both sit down for televised interviews, and both signal a willingness to accept roles on the ticket, Santorum and Gingrich are signaling a level of resignation and defeat neither has made up until now. As one GOP strategist told TPM, “Rick Santorum saying he would be open to being Romney’s vice president undermines the logic of his delegate campaign. To win his delegate race, he has to demonize Romney. He has now cut that path off.”

3) THE OTHER TWO

Gingrich, Strapped for Cash, Lays Off Third of Staff — Gingrich, insists that he is still a viable candidate despite a third-place rank in the delegate count. He has hinged his entire strategy on hoping Mitt Romney is incapable of securing the 1,144 delegates needed to become the nominee, resulting in a contested GOP convention this summer. Earlier Tuesday in Annapolis, Md., Gingrich told reporters “the money is very tight obviously” and suggested his communications staff would soon announce a series of layoffs. Gingrich significantly cut back the number of scheduled campaign events he holds. Currently on his schedule, he only has one event a day for the next three days.

We call this one “Ron Paul with Sad Meat.”More where that came from.Where is Ron Paul? — Two things Ron Paul isn’t doing: He’s not winning — he has yet to place first in a primary or a caucus, either this cycle or last. And he isn’t making a lot of appearances on the campaign trail — over the past week, he has held only three campaign events, while his rivals’ events have numbered in the dozens. Four things Paul is doing: He’s appearing on late-night TV; he’s having a town hall at the University of Maryland in College Park on Wednesday; he’s holding what his campaign describes as a “giant” rally on Thursday at the University of Wisconsin in Madison; and he’s airing TV ads criticizing his rivals over last week’s Etch a Sketch incident. [image: ccindecision]

4) TEABAGISTAN

Arizona lawmakers push to take over federal land – Another “sagebrush rebellion” is spreading through legislatures in Arizona and other Western states with a series of formal demands that the federal government hand over title to tens of millions of acres of forests, ranges and other public lands. […] Legal experts say the movement is based on a misreading of federal law and the U.S. Constitution and will almost certainly fail to survive court challenges…”In an era of apparent fiscal responsibility, why would the state seek billions of dollars of liability and management responsibility to assume ownership over the (25 million) acres or so of parks, forests and public lands in Arizona?” said Matt Skroch, executive director of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. “It is ill-conceived, it is irresponsible and it makes absolutely no sense.”

‘Obamacare’ and the Right’s Own Private Universe — It is a small miracle of mass communication that complete and total bullshit is so quickly and easily converted into incontrovertible fact out of which can be created a world of public events completely real, but completely divorced from what the rest of us recognize as reality. Take poor Sandra Fluke. It is now an article of faith on the Right that she asked all of us to pay for “her” birth control. “Real women pay for their own birth control,” the crowd on the steps chanted today, and there were more than a couple of signs warning her not to expect “our” money to pay for her obviously overindulgent sexytime. Of course, Fluke did nothing of the sort. … Also, today, folks told me that Obamacare “finances abortions.” (It doesn’t.) I heard that it will mandate “euthanasia.” (It won’t.) Even the death panels got a workout again. We have half the country living in its own universe of belief, with its own history, its own politics, and its own physical laws. It’s like running elections against the anti-gravity party. It is not healthy for any of us. [image: phroyd]

Worst Persons in the WorldThe Daily Caller released a series of Trayvon Martin’s tweets yesterday, and once again the far-right is attacking and attempting to discredit an innocent child — and this time, the child happens to be dead. So classy, these people. Limbaugh and Beck attacked Malia Obama, Malkin stalked Graeme Frost and others — there are literally dozens of examples of the Fox News / AM radio crowd attacking children and noncombatants like Sandra Fluke. Why? Because they’re bullies and scavengers who can only prey upon easy targets.

Divide and Conquer For Jesus — Stay classy, homophobes: The leading opponents of same-sex marriage [National Organization for Marriage - NOM] planned to defeat campaigns for gay marriage by “fanning the hostility” between black voters from gay voters and by casting President Obama as a radical foe of marriage, according to confidential documents made public in a Maine court today.

A great explanation of the conservative argument that federal workers are “overpaid”

Matthew Yglesias provides a great explanation of how conservatives try to argue that federal workers are overpaid:

…this AEI working paper (PDF) [that's] dedicated to the proposition that federal employees are “overpaid” seems to me to actually offer evidence that the federal pay scale is too stingy.

The authors describe the federal government’s official methodology:

The process is complex, but the Pay Agent essentially seeks to assign a general schedule (GS) level to a variety of private sector jobs within a broad set of occupational categories. Salaries for these jobs are then compared to salaries for federal positions at the same GS level. Private sector jobs assigned to a given GS level are typically seen to be more highly paid than their federal counterparts.

They characterize the Pay Agent’s method as concluding that federal workers are “underpaid.” But they criticize this method:

[T]he Pay Agent’s approach fails to account for different skill levels that private and public workers may possess in seemingly similar jobs. More specifically, there is evidence that the federal government hires workers at higher positions than they could hold in the private sector and then promotes them more quickly as well. This means, for example, that a senior accountant in government might qualify only as a junior accountant in the private sector.

What’s AEI saying?

  1. The federal government needs to fill some jobs. But it offers salaries that are less than the salaries that a person doing a similar job could get in the private sector.
  2. Naturally, this means that the federal government ends up attracting less-experienced applicants.
  3. Hiring is then done from this less-experienced pool.
  4. And since the people who are hired are doing jobs they’d be [initially] underqualified for in the private sector, they are making more money than they would be in the private sector.
  5. CONCLUSION: federal workers are overpaid!

Would higher federal salaries attract more experience — and then would public / private pay be more equal in the eyes of conservative groups like AEI? Probably not — this argument about public sector employees isn’t about pay equity anyway. This is just more of what Robert Reich calls “The Republican Strategy,” which is – in part:

The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans hope to deflect attention from the big story. That’s the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Divide and conquer for fun and profit.

Here’s exactly what Robert Reich is talking about.