July 10th, 2012
chasewhiteside

Will Citizens United Doom Obama’s Reelection?

Robert Draper writes for NY Times Magazine about the post-Citizens United Super PAC race for cash, one which Democrats are losing badly:

Two years later, President Obama repeatedly denounced the conservative super PACs that had cropped up in the wake of the Citizens United decision. In so doing, Obama ended up unilaterally disarming Democrats while animating Republicans. “When Obama attacked us by name in the fall of 2010, accusing us of taking money from the Chinese, it was basically the best fund-raising pitch we could’ve made,” says Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC conceived by Karl Rove and the Republican consultant Ed Gillespie. “We raised $13 million the week after they attacked us.” Burton and Sweeney watched from the White House — more with rueful admiration than moral outrage — as the Republicans turned the tables, outspending Democratic groups by $100 million and taking back the House….

During the first 10 months of its existence, Priorities USA Action managed to raise only $7 million. (Of this, $2 million was seed money from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the C.E.O. of DreamWorks Animation; another $1 million came from the comedian Bill Maher.) Their travails to some degree reflect the Democratic Party’s greater struggle with its prim self-perception. From the perspective of many Democrats, this year’s foray into post-Citizens United campaigning calls to mind an “Apocalypse Now”-like journey into the maw of something darker than death itself — namely, a morality-free zone in which Republicans alone can thrive. “I think that many Democrats feel that participating in the system would be validating Citizens United, which was a bad and destructive decision,” Geoff Garin says.

A sentiment commonly held by Democrats — so much so that it’s part of the standard Priorities pitch to donors — is that their only motivation to contribute is a moral one, while Republicans like the Koch brothers donate because they stand to make gobs of money if their pro-business candidate is elected. One of Priorities’ big donors told me another reason that conservatives are more suited to a post-Citizens United climate than progressives. “To me, a lot of the super-PAC money on the Republican side comes from hatred,” he said. “We Democrats just don’t hate like that.” 

Read the full article here.

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May 17th, 2012
chasewhiteside

Is Mitt Romney a Bully?

Jason Horowitz delicately examines Mitt Romney’s years at the Cranbrook Academy, talking with dozens of former classmates to draw a picture of Romney has a young, sometimes overly aggressive, prankster:

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

Read the full article here.

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March 28th, 2012
chasewhiteside

Mitt Romney and the Individual Mandate

As the Supreme Court debates whether or not the individual insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and Republicans root for a ruling that would dismantle the bill, it’s worth remembering that the mandate, like many aspects of “Obamacare,” were originally conservative proposals. Though observers point to the court’s decision as a potential issue in this year’s presidential election, it was Romney who long fought for an individual mandate, while Obama was initially opposed:

Romney had accomplished a longstanding Democratic goal—universal health insurance—by combining three conservative policies. Massachusetts would help the uninsured buy private insurance; it would create a deregulated online marketplace; and it would require that everyone carry insurance. Uninsured citizens no longer would use the emergency room as a primary-care facility and then fail to pay their bills. “It’s a Republican way of reforming the market,” Romney said later that day. “Because, let me tell you, having thirty million people in this country without health insurance and having those people show up when they get sick, and expect someone else to pay, that’s a Democratic approach. That’s the wrong way. The Republican approach is to say, ‘You know what? Everybody should have insurance. They should pay what they can afford to pay. If they need help, we will be there to help them, but no more free ride.’ ” …

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama did not support a mandate as part of his health-care plan… Obama ran a television ad in which he criticized Clinton’s proposal for a mandate on the ground that “it forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it.” …

If it were not for Mitt Romney, with assistance from the Heritage Foundation and George W. Bush, it is extremely unlikely that Obama would have passed his universal health-care law last year. Bob Kocher worked on health care in the Obama White House… “We asked the question ‘What plan can you invent that would cover a lot of people and not change anything?’ ” he told me. “We want them to buy private insurance, and so you end up wanting an exchange. You know you have to provide subsidies because some people can’t afford to buy private insurance. And you don’t really want to go from an uninsurance rate of sixteen per cent down to ten per cent, because it just doesn’t seem like you’ve accomplished that much, so then you say, ‘I need to add on a mandate.’ And then you add in the mandate and then suddenly you end up with a mandate, an exchange, subsidies. And that’s Massachusetts.”

Read the full article here.

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February 16th, 2012
chasewhiteside

Who’s Creating the Negative Super PAC Ads?

Jane Mayer, writing for the New Yorker, profiles Larry McCarthy, famous for making the racially-tinged Willie Horton ad used against Michael Dukakis in 1988, now making ads for Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Futre PAC.

In 2004, McCarthy believed that he had nearly achieved his ambition—the “perfect spot”—with an ad for George W. Bush, called “Ashley’s Story.” Created for another independent group, the Progress for America Voter Fund, it showed Bush embracing a teen-age girl whose mother had been killed on September 11, 2001, in Al Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center. The girl, Ashley, looked into the camera and said of Bush, “He’s the most powerful man in the world, and all he wants to do is make sure I’m safe.” The group bought more than fourteen million dollars’ worth of airtime for the ad, much of it in the key swing state of Ohio, where Ashley lived; it was the biggest single ad buy of the 2004 Presidential campaign. Two backers, both California business executives, contributed five million dollars apiece. Bob Shrum, a Democratic operative, was the principal strategist for Bush’s opponent, Senator John Kerry, and he blames the ad for the Democrats’ defeat. “The ad was pretty close to decisive in Ohio,” Shrum said. “And Ohio was the whole thing.

Read the full article here.

January 24th, 2012
chasewhiteside

The Making of a Post-Post-Partisan Presidency
Today’s guest submission is from Javier Ogaz.

As President Obama prepares to give his State of the Union address, which pundits will parse for evidence of how he plans to take on Republicans this fall, it’s easy to forget how different his strategy toward the opposing party was at the outset of his presidency. Three years in, it appears Obama’s efforts at post-partisanship have been futile. Ryan Lizza writes for the New Yorker on whether it is possible to reach across the aisle when an energized opposition has little interest in compromise:

Obama didn’t remake Washington. But his first two years stand as one of the most successful legislative periods in modern history. Among other achievements, he has saved the economy from depression, passed universal health care, and reformed Wall Street. Along the way, Obama may have changed his mind about his 2008 critique of Hillary Clinton. “Working the system, not changing it” and being “consumed with beating” Republicans “rather than unifying the country and building consensus to get things done” do not seem like such bad strategies for success after all.

Read the full article here.

January 19th, 2012
chasewhiteside

Newt Gingrich Attacks the So-Called “Liberal” Media—But What Liberal Media?

Writing for The Nation, Erik Alterman explores the frequent conservative critique that the mainstream media is “liberal,” which immunizes Republican candidates from all sincere journalistic efforts to point out fallacy, inaccuracy, or hypocrisy in their positions.

Conservatives are extremely well represented in every facet of the media. The correlative point is that even the genuine liberal media are not so liberal. And they are no match—either in size, ferocity or commitment—for the massive conservative media structure that, more than ever, determines the shape and scope of our political agenda.

In a careful 1999 study published in the academic journal Communications Research, four scholars examined the use of the “liberal media” argument and discovered a fourfold increase in the number of Americans telling pollsters that they discerned a liberal bias in their news. But a review of the media’s actual ideological content, collected and coded over a twelve-year period, offered no corroboration whatever for this view. The obvious conclusion: News consumers were responding to “increasing news coverage of liberal bias media claims, which have been increasingly emanating from Republican Party candidates and officials.”

Read the full article here.

December 20th, 2011
chasewhiteside

Read This, Not That: When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?

Republican David Frum, longtime GOP strategist and speechwriter for George W. Bush, writes about how his party has lost their way:

It’s a duty to scrutinize the actions and decisions of the incumbent administration, but an abuse to use the filibuster as a routine tool of legislation or to prevent dozens of presidential appointments from even coming to a vote. It’s fine to be unconcerned that the rich are getting richer, but blind to deny that ­middle-class wages have stagnated or worse over the past dozen years. In the aftershock of 2008, large numbers of Americans feel exploited and abused. Rather than workable solutions, my party is offering low taxes for the currently rich and high spending for the currently old, to be followed by who-knows-what and who-the-hell-cares. This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.

Read the full article here.

December 6th, 2011
chasewhiteside
Read This, Not That: Would a Republican President Destroy Women’s Health?
Conservative activists have moved steadily rightward on issues of reproductive rights, leading to the dismantling of any program that is even tangentially related to abortion. Jordan Smith, writing for The Nation, examines the destructive policies of one republican presidential candidate.:

Perry has presided over a wave of anti-choice legislation that has shredded healthcare services for the state’s most vulnerable. It reached its apex during the 2011 biennial legislative session, which saw a dismantling of Texas’s budget to provide women—especially the poor and uninsured—with access to basic healthcare, including reproductive health and family planning.
…
Advocates and lawmakers say that in addition to an increase in abortions and unplanned, Medicaid-paid pregnancies—
56 percent of all Texas births are paid for by Medicaid, which in 2009 alone cost the state $2.9 billion—the failure to fund preventive healthcare will lead to an increase in STDs, including HIV, which the state can ill afford. Since 2006, the first year for cuts to the family-planning budget, STD rates have skyrocketed in a number of Texas counties, according to calculations by data analyst Steve Wexler. This includes a nearly 68 percent increase in El Paso, 49 percent in Hidalgo and 44 percent in Harris County, home to the state’s largest city, Houston.

Read the full article here.

Read This, Not That: Would a Republican President Destroy Women’s Health?

Conservative activists have moved steadily rightward on issues of reproductive rights, leading to the dismantling of any program that is even tangentially related to abortion. Jordan Smith, writing for The Nation, examines the destructive policies of one republican presidential candidate.:

Perry has presided over a wave of anti-choice legislation that has shredded healthcare services for the state’s most vulnerable. It reached its apex during the 2011 biennial legislative session, which saw a dismantling of Texas’s budget to provide women—especially the poor and uninsured—with access to basic healthcare, including reproductive health and family planning.

Advocates and lawmakers say that in addition to an increase in abortions and unplanned, Medicaid-paid pregnancies—
56 percent of all Texas births are paid for by Medicaid, which in 2009 alone cost the state $2.9 billion—the failure to fund preventive healthcare will lead to an increase in STDs, including HIV, which the state can ill afford. Since 2006, the first year for cuts to the family-planning budget, STD rates have skyrocketed in a number of Texas counties, according to calculations by data analyst Steve Wexler. This includes a nearly 68 percent increase in El Paso, 49 percent in Hidalgo and 44 percent in Harris County, home to the state’s largest city, Houston.

Read the full article here.

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