Nel's New Day

February 9, 2013

Desperate McConnell Lies about Background Checks

American Crossroads has fired the opening salvo in Kentucky over a possibility of Ashley Judd running for the Senate in 2014 when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s term is up. Judd hasn’t declared, but Karl Rove’s conservative super PAC has dropped $10,000 into a Web-only ad pointing out she lives in Tennessee, works as an actress, and—horrors—campaigned for President Obama.

McConnell is trying to look as if his campaign is separate from the attack ads. His campaign manager Jesse Benton said, “We’re just focused on building an elite campaign and talking to Kentucky voters about Senator McConnell’s tremendous leadership.” Yet the two are connected through the Crossroads’ president, Steven Law, who has also served as McConnell’s chief of staff. Law also managed McConnell’s first re-election campaign in 1990 and later served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose purpose is to get GOP senators elected and re-elected.

McConnell’s desperation shows up in his campaign’s fundraising email:

“There are almost too many schemes to list. But President Obama’s worst center around:… a thinly-veiled national gun registration scheme hidden under the guise of ‘background checks’ to ensure federal government minders gain every bureaucratic tool they need for full-scale confiscation…. It is almost hard to believe the sheer breadth and brazenness of this attempt to gut our Constitution.”

One can expect the NRA to make a statement like this. But coming from McConnell, it brought out the fact checkers who make the senator look pretty bad. Washington Post wrote that nothing in the president’s plan creates a national gun registration scheme; it simply extends the current Brady law rule on background checks to all firearm sales. In fact, current law specifically prohibits using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to create a federal firearms registry and requires that all records be destroyed within 24 hours.

McConnell knows this because he first served on the committee that wrote the law and then was one of only 17 GOP senators to vote for the law. More than that, he signed a letter about the firearms database prohibition, saying it should be made permanent rather than lasting for just one year as most language in appropriations bills does.  Thus The Washington Post gives McConnell four Pinocchios, the award for biggest lie regarding gun background checks.

pinocchio_4

Republicans are fond of using Ronald Reagan as an example for good government in the 21st century. They should heed his op-ed piece from March 29, 1991, explaining the importance of the Brady Bill:

“While there has been a Federal law on the books for more than 20 years that prohibits the sale of firearms to felons, fugitives, drug addicts and the mentally ill, it has no enforcement mechanism and basically works on the honor system, with the purchaser filling out a statement that the gun dealer sticks in a drawer.

“The Brady bill would require the handgun dealer to provide a copy of the prospective purchaser’s sworn statement to local law enforcement authorities so that background checks could be made. Based upon the evidence in states that already have handgun purchase waiting periods, this bill–on a nationwide scale–can’t help but stop thousands of illegal handgun purchases.

“And, since many handguns are acquired in the heat of passion (to settle a quarrel, for example) or at times of depression brought on by potential suicide, the Brady bill would provide a cooling-off period that would certainly have the effect of reducing the number of handgun deaths.

“Critics claim that “waiting period” legislation in the states that have it doesn’t work, that criminals just go to nearby states that lack such laws to buy their weapons. True enough, and all the more reason to have a Federal law that fills the gaps. While the Brady bill would not apply to states that already have waiting periods of at least seven days or that already require background checks, it would automatically cover the states that don’t. The effect would be a uniform standard across the country.

“Even with the current gaps among states, those that have waiting periods report some success. California, which has a 15-day waiting period that I supported and signed into law while Governor, stopped nearly 1,800 prohibited handgun sales in 1989. New Jersey has had a permit-to-purchase system for more than two decades. During that time, according to the state police, more than 10,000 convicted felons have been caught trying to buy handguns.”

The NRA leaders and the “no gun laws” proponents repeat, ad nauseum, that all the government needs to do is enforce current laws. Yet our laws allow websites, the largest being Armslist, to advertise guns for sale with no checks. Investigators discovered that 54 percent of these sellers were openly willing to sell firearms to people who admitted that they couldn’t pass a background check.

New York City’s 2011 investigation found more than 25,000 weapons for sale on just 10 websites.  Jon Lowy, director of the legal action project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said, “The last figure we have is 40 percent of gun sales take place without a background check. That figure is probably low, because it dates from before the advent of the thriving internet market.”

According to John Feinblatt, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chief policy adviser, the number of guns offered on these ten websites sites grew 68 percent from 2011 to 2012. “Just as gun shows have been a problem because criminals know they can buy guns without detection, the internet is a place where criminals, felons, and other prohibited purchasers can find a weapon,” he noted.

Feinblatt said that states without the private sale loophole and with background checks for private gun sales have 38 percent fewer women killed with guns by intimate partners than states without these safeguards. Without universal background checks even for internet sales, “we’re basically giving a free pass to criminals,” he said.

Even people at gun shows think that mandatory background checks are a good idea. An NRA volunteer from Colorado Springs summed it up: “It tends to keep the bad guys away

If Mitch McConnell wants to get re-elected, he might want to take note of the following statistics. At the end of January, 92 percent of people in the United States—and 97 percent of all women—supported universal background checks for gun purchases, according to a CBS News poll. Quinnipiac found that 92 to 95 percent of voters in Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania backed expanded background checks, including those on people purchasing their weapons at gun shows. A poll from Women’s Donor Network shows that 90 percent of women are very concerned about gun violence.

In early December, Public Policy Polling, the group that most accurately predicted the presidential election last November, found that only 37 percent of Kentucky voters approved of McConnell, the lowest approval rating among all the U.S. Senators. He was so upset about the PPP survey showing him just a few points above Ashley Judd that he paid for his own survey—and found the same percentage.

Although the GOP doesn’t provide government tracking of gun deaths in the United States, informal reports show over 1686 deaths by guns since the Newtown (CT) massacre.

October 9, 2012

Romney, A Very Dangerous Man

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:06 PM
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Be afraid. Be very afraid. That is my response every time that I listen to Mitt Romney’s ideas for the direction of the United States. He has created fear in his ideas for the economy when he intends to slash revenue, drastically raise the military budget, and then provide no way to solve the deficit except for draconian reductions–even eliminations–of our safety nets. Some of these programs, including Medicare and Social Security, have received money from the beneficiaries, but the wealthy people running Congress declare these programs “entitlements.”

Yesterday, however, Romney gave even greater cause for fear. In an attempt to show his cred in the foreign affairs arena, he gave a speech at the Virginia Military Institute, trying to demonstrate that he has the capability of being a strong commander-in-chief. The topic was an attack against what Romney perceives as the president’s failure “to shape history” in the Middle East. In doing so, he once again served up a mélange of lies and recommendations for policies that President Obama has already set in place.

The actions that Romney said he would take that President Obama is already doing:

Romney said he would grant aid to Egypt only if the country continues support for its peace treaty with neighboring Israel. Current law requires this, and it’s already happening.

Romney complained about the timeline for withdrawing from Afghanistan, yet he said he would follow the same timeline.

Romney stated that he would restore the presence of aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and the gulf. The U.S. has had two carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf during the past year.

The lies that Romney told:

Romney said that foreign threats have “grown worse,” but he gave no evidence. No one else has any evidence of this either.

Romney accused President Obama of wanting “deep and arbitrary cuts” to the military. Those cuts are the same ones that Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, and many other Congressional Republicans proposed and voted for, when they mandated a deal to end last summer’s conservative-created crisis regarding the debt ceiling.

Romney said that we should provide weapons to Syria. Yet his campaign followed up the speech by stating that Romney didn’t say that we should provide weapons to Syrian rebels.

Romney wants tougher sanctions on Iran but didn’t say what they should be. If he is calling for the U.S. to declare war on Iran, the end result would be catastrophe for the entire world. [Yesterday President Obama signed an executive order tightening sanctions on Iran over its nuclear-enrichment program.]

Romney also accused Obama of staying “silent” in the face of street protests in Iran over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. But Obama wasn’t “silent.” He did speak out, with his comments becoming increasingly harsh as more images of violence emerged.

Romney depicted President Obama’s U.S. foreign policy as weak and feckless while failing to give him any credit for accomplishments such as the killings of Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. In truth, Obama helped organize an international military force to wage war in Libya, enabling rebels to overthrow longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Romney said, “The president has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years.” In fact, the president signed three free trade agreements, reviving a deal with Colombia and also achieving success with South Korean and Panamanian free-trade pacts.

Romney stated that he wants a Palestinian state. Yet in the same May 17 speech when he accused 47 percent of the people in this country of being freeloaders, he said, “The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace”; “the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”; Palestinians are ”committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel”; and it would be ”the worst idea in the world” to put pressure on the Israelis to give up something in hopes Palestinians would respond accordingly. In yesterday’s speech, he gave no ideas on how to create a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.

Romney also complained that President Obama hasn’t sent more aid to the emerging democracies—money that would worsen the deficit and probably bring on other Romney criticisms.

An editorial in The New York Times stated that Romney’s “analysis of the roots of various international crises is either naïve or deliberately misleading.” It also explained that the current militancy is the Middle-East was fueled by George W. Bush’s preemptive Iraqi war that “gave Iran more room to maneuver.” The revolutions that brought more freedoms to the Middle-East also resulted in much more turmoil. But the conflicts are nuanced, calling for a variety of political agendas, requiring flexibility in strategies as the president is provided new intelligence.

In an NYT op-ed piece, Danielle Pietka wrote: “Mr. Romney needs to persuade people that he’s not simply a George W. Bush retread, eager to go to war in Syria and Iran and answer all the mail with an F-16.”

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said of the speech, “Full of platitude and free of substance.” She was evidently too polite to point out that he lied.

Mitt Romney wants to be president so much that he would start World War III and destroy the American people in order to achieve his goal.

October 3, 2012

Debate One – Postmortem

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:54 PM
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Which Mitt Romney did the public see tonight? The Nation has an apt description.

  • Mitt Romney was for government, but not for “trickle-down government.”
  • Mitt Romney was for cracking down on Wall Street, except when he was against the Dodd-Frank banking reforms.
  • Mitt Romney was for Romneycare, and against Obamacare.
  • Mitt Romney was for the 47 percent, and against them.

Matthew Yglesias saw Romney this way:  “Romney swore to defend single-payer health care for everyone born in 1957 or earlier, touted the universal health care initiative he signed in Massachusetts, promised not to cut federal education spending, defended the role of regulation in building an effective market economy, defended the current structure of Social Security, and charged Obama with failure to crack down adequately on big banks.”

Jim Lehrer tried to guide the two men through the muddle of domestic issues such as the economy, health care, the role of government, and partisan gridlock in Washington, but more often than not Romney took over, talking whenever he wanted, frequently interrupting Lehrer and sometimes President Obama. He even compared the president to one of his sons who lied to him.

Reaction from the right wing was delight in Romney’s aggressiveness; liberals expressed disappointment in President Obama’s reserve. Many of the public seemed to want the president to attack Romney rather than debate him. The question is whether this was the correct approach, particularly when Romney dropped in some of his fact-challenged sound bites.

Romney said that a survey shows three quarters of businesses believe that Obamacare makes them less likely to hire. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce admitted that “this online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.”

Romney said his typical promise that he would create 12 million jobs over the next four years if elected president. Economic forecasters say that’s the number of jobs that the economy is already expected to create. That makes him right unless he really screws up—which he might.

Romney said he would not cut federal financial aid to college students, but his campaign has called the system fiscally unsustainable. His position paper on education says he would “refocus Pell Grants dollars on the students who need them most,” suggesting that fewer people would qualify. Paul Ryan’s budget plan calls for steep cuts in this program. The Romney position that he would allow banks into the federal student loan system indicates he would have to cut Pell Grants because this tactic would cost more money.

Romney said President Obama was wrong in saying that companies are rewarded for moving their operations off shore. It’s Romney who is wrong: the tax code allows deductions for doing this. As a businessman, Romney should know this from all the companies he has moved off shore.

Romney repeated the theoretical $716 billion Medicare cut, constantly accusing President Obama of taking money away from senior to pay for Obamacare. These “cuts” are actually savings, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office, from making health care more efficient during the next ten years.

Romney warned that 50 percent of doctors will stop taking Medicare patients because Obamacare reduces payments. Yet this claim comes from a very small, informal poll according to a Forbes article. A team of volunteers in North Carolina posing as Medicare beneficiaries wanting a new doctor called 200 family physicians—hardly a credible survey.

Romney’s constant claim that lower taxes produce more jobs doesn’t hold up. Paul Egerman, founder of the digital medical transcription company eScription, said that George W. Bush’s tax cuts saved him about $10 million over the last decade that benefited only himself.  “It’s not like I took the tax cuts and went out and hired people,” he said.

Romney accused the president of developing health boards that would “tell people what kind of treatment they’re going to get.” In reality, the board that President Obama described is a “best practices” board to reduce the cost of Medicare—only Medicare—which is already a government plan. The board does not decide on individual cases, is subject to congressional oversight, and is legally prohibited from rationing care.

When Romney tries to protect the top 3 percent of “small businesses” from receiving higher taxes so that they will hire people, he’s actually talking about large privately-held large corporations that classify themselves as S-corps for tax purposes. For example, one “small business” registered this way is Koch Industries, the country’s second-largest privately held corporation and one that donates millions and millions of dollars to conservative causes and candidates.

Romney kept telling President Obama that Romney’s proposed tax cuts would not cost the country $5 trillion tax cuts but didn’t give any proof. Even Romney’s defense was fact-challenged: he said that there were five studies that showed the Tax Policy Center Study was wrong about the $5 trillion cost to the country. The “studies” included an op-ed piece from the Wall Street Journal, and others are by Romney advisers.

“Obamacare’s on my list. … I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. … I’ll make government more efficient,” Romney said when he made a short list of how he would cut government costs.  Although Romney promised to balance the budget in eight years to 10 years, he hasn’t offered a complete plan. The parts that he has released, such as increasing Pentagon spending and restoring more than $700 billion in Medicare cuts during the next decade, work against his goal especially when he refuses to consider tax increases. One of the ways he suggested to decrease the budget is dropping Public Broadcasting, funding that comprises only 0.00014 percent of the federal budget.

According to an early polling, 46 percent said that Mitt Romney won the debate, 22 percent said that President Obama won it, and the remaining 32 percent called it a draw. I’d go with the last group. The polls that count, however, are the ones that indicate which one of the men will receive the votes.

It’s not over: here’s the schedule for the next three debates.

Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan: 10/11/12 Foreign and Domestic Policy; Center College, Danville (KY); Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent); Nine segments of 10 minutes each

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney: 10/16/12 Foreign and domestic policy; Hofstra University, Hempstead (NY); Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent); Undecided voters will ask questions; candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion.

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney: 10/22/12 Foreign policy; Lynn University, Boca Raton (FL);  Moderator: Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS); Six time segments of approximately 15 minutes, opened with a question giving each candidate having two minutes to respond and following with a discussion.

May 18, 2012

Romney Lies

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
Tags: , , ,

Free speech has become the bane (no pun intended) of political advertising. If it isn’t bad enough that the wealthy can spend as much money as they want on advertising—and the wealthy usually tend toward the far-right, sometimes wingnut, side—it may be worse that free speech also means political candidates may lie as much as they want.

Mitt Romney is a prime example of the liar. Earlier this spring, he took credit for the auto industry turnaround after calling on the government to “let Detroit go bankrupt.” But he’s getting more and more elaborate in his lies since he became the anointed nominee.

Romney: “[Obama] bailed out the public sector, gave billions of your dollars to the companies of his friends, and added almost as much debt as all the prior presidents combined.”

Truth: The public sector has lost almost 700,000 jobs since President Obama took office—not quite bailing them out. Although the current president’s debt is 50 percent more than when he took office, it is only half the amount of the other presidents. As for other presidents, Ronald Reagan tripled—yes, tripled—the debt during his eight years.

Romney: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”

Truth: Romney’s proposal to cut taxes and raise the Pentagon budget seriously increases the debt. His plan to cut the top tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent and broaden other rates by 20 percent each would again increase the debt. To accomplish what he says he will, he would have to cut all domestic spending by 20 percent, much more than the 5 percent he has proposed. Domestic spending includes not only such safety net items as housing and heating aid for the poor and food aid for pregnant women but also food inspection, air traffic control, the Border Patrol, FBI, and national parks.

Romney: “When you add up his policies, the president has increased the national debt by $5 trillion.”

Truth: The debt has largely increased because depressed corporate and individual incomes with high joblessness in the recent recession provide lower tax revenue. More of the current debt comes from George W. Bush’s policies–his financial bailouts, stimulus programs, and auto rescue spending not to mention his drastic tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 plus the two wars that Bush started.

Even Republicans are nervous about Romney’s lies. Romney is running on a campaign of President Obama’s high unemployment rates, blocking Republican governors who are touting records of better economy.

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell hails the state’s business growth with a drop of the unemployment rate to 5.6 percent last month from 7.3 percent 18 months ago. Ohio governor John Kasich says that 100,000 jobs have been created or retained on his watch. Michigan governor Rick Snyder promotes a state budget on solid ground for the first time in a decade. Iowa governor Terry Branstad takes pride in the 5.1 percent unemployment rate, down from 5.9 percent a year ago. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley talks up the jobless rate that slid from 12 percent in December 200 to 8.8 percent last month.

Republican-ruled states aren’t the only ones to see drops in unemployment rates; these have gone down in forty-eight states over the last year. Only New York’s rate increased from 8 percent to 8.5 percent while Rhode Island’s remains unchanged at 11.2 percent.

Mitt Romney has falsely claimed that government will “constitute … almost 50 percent” of the U.S. economy when the new federal health care law takes full effect. But he’s wrong because he counts both private and public health care spending as “effectively under government control once Obamacare is fully implemented.” The nation’s health care system will be no more under federal control than Massachusetts controlled state health care after Romney signed a similar health care law as governor. Both Obama and Romney expanded the private insurance market by mandating that individuals purchase health care coverage.

Romney also lied about President Obama’s plans to increase taxes on small businesses. If the Bush tax cuts expire, the two tax brackets will go to 36 percent and 39.6 percent from 33 percent and 35 percent. But only 3 percent of taxpayers with any net business income fall into the two top tax brackets, and these businesses aren’t really “small.” Nearly 20,000 partnerships and so-called “S” corporations–taxed as personal income–had receipts of more than $50 million in 2005.

Romney lied when he said that President Obama refused to let Boeing build in a right-to-work state. Boeing and the union came to an agreement, and Boeing dropped their complaint. Last month the first completed jetliner came off the line of the non-union factory in North Carleston (SC).

Romney lied when he said that unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures figures are “soaring.” He lied when he said that Obama stood over “the greatest job loss in modern American history” because Bush had already lost more jobs. And Romney lied when he said that Obama increased the budget by more than 20 percent because, again, Romney used figures from Bush’s reign.

Romney’s biggest lies, however, may surround his successes with Bain as a “vulture capitalist.” But that requires a whole new blog!

That said, I’m not sure that anything that Romney has said is the truth. It would be an interesting search!

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