Shorter Question Everything
There may have been a time when Mitt could have gotten away with the sheer torrent of lying he’s doing, but that time has passed. Now, anyone with a few seconds to spare can look up the record. They don’t have to wait to see if the news station they happen to be watching or the dead tree version of the paper they may be reading can be bothered to tell them the truth. It’s out there, everywhere. And yet you still get people like Mitt who think that what they said just a short while ago has disappeared. There is no etch-a-sketch. There is just lying.
Reproductive Rights: Romney flip flop
• The Real Mitt Romney
• Mitt Romney assured Wednesday he would be a “pro-life president” if he defeats President Barack Obama, reaffirming his opposition to abortion a day after suggesting he could moderate his platform. But when asked directly if he would restrict legislation limiting abortion rights if such a bill came to him from Congress, the Republican challenger’s response was less clear cut. “I think I’ve said time and again that I’m a pro-life candidate and I’ll be a pro-life president,” Romney told reporters while campaigning in Ohio.
I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench.
I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services.
I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy to ensure that nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from America refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a method of family planning, in other countries. This includes ending American funding for any United Nations or other foreign assistance program that promotes or performs abortions on women around the world.
I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.
And perhaps most importantly, I will only appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution and the laws as they are written, not as they want them to be written.
[Mitt Romney/18 June 2011]
• “Of course I support the Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people from getting contraception so I was simply — misunderstood the question and of course I support the Blunt amendment,” Romney later told Howie Carr’s radio program in Boston, noting that Blunt is his campaign’s point man in the Senate. [29 Feb 2012]
• Blunt Amendment: The measure, an amendment proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to a highway funding bill, would have allowed not only religious groups but any employer with moral objections to opt out of the coverage requirement. And it would have allowed such employers to do so in the case of not only contraception but any health service required by the 2010 health-care law. [1 Mar 2012]
• Anti-abortion activists call Romney’s new comments a gaffe, not a change of heart. “No alarm bells here,” Tony Perkins, president of the anti-abortion Family Research Council, told TPM on Wednesday. Perkins said the Romney campaign called him soon after Romney’s remarks were published by the Des Moines Register and assured him it didn’t represent a shift by Romney from his support for pro-life issues. David O’Sheen, executive director of the National Right To Life Committee, also told TPM the phrasing of the Des Moines Register question was responsible for Romney’s quote, not a change in Romney’s policy.
Reproductive Rights: assorted right wing asshats
• A Wisconsin lawmaker faces fresh criticism from his election challenger over comments he made last year about women who “rape easy.” State Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake) spoke to the Chetek Alert newspaper in December about a 17-year-old who was charged with assault after having sex with his underage girlfriend on their high school campus. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rivard said his father had warned him that “some girls rape easy.” He explained that meant they’d verbally consent to sex, then later accuse the man of rape. Rivard was endorsed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in August.
• Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) told his mistress to get an abortion for the sake of his marriage, despite his pro-life views, in a conversation obtained by the Huffington Post. Rep. DesJarlais, who supported the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” — a bill that included “forcible rape” language in one of its early drafts — demanded that his lover end her pregnancy, saying, “You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one.” The lawmaker has faced accusations of hypocrisy before; although he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he later celebrated the construction of a health clinic in his district funded wholly by Obamacare.
• Scott DesJarlais’s past continues to haunt him. A couple of years ago, Scott DesJarlais, then a Republican congressional candidate in a competitive Tennessee district, was confronted with troubling allegations from his past. During a messy break-up with his ex-wife, DesJarlais allegedly held a gun in his mouth for three hours, “dry fired” a gun outside his wife’s locked bedroom door, and was accused of other forms of spousal abuse. To put it mildly, it’s quite a sordid tale. DesJarlais committed adultery by sleeping with a patient, then pressured his mistress to have an abortion in the hopes of hiding his misdeeds from the wife he allegedly abused. Why he deliberately recorded the conversation is unclear.
• In Ohio, possibly the decisive swing state in this year’s presidential race, 10 billboard ads around Cleveland warn in big block letters and exclamation points that voter fraud is a felony punishable by up to three and a half years in jail and a $10,000 fine. That might seem like an odd way to spend election-year advertising money, given that in-person voter fraud is less common than UFO sightings. Yet evidence suggests that the creators of the billboards, who identify themselves only as a “private family foundation,” care less about voter fraud per se than scaring away certain voters from the polls.
• A federal court ruled on Wednesday that South Carolina may not implement a photo ID law for voters until 2013, in the latest setback for a mainly Republican effort to establish identification rules in several states before the November 6 elections.
Stupid things from the right
• Again with the ‘apartments’, in some sort of new code: Mitt Romney doubled down on his suggestion that uninsured Americans can find the care they need in emergency rooms, telling The Dispatch that people will always receive the treatment they need, and do not die or suffer because they can not pay for care. He pointed to federal law that requires hospitals to admit emergency patients, repeating his advice that patients rely on the most expensive form of care reserved strictly for emergencies. Romney told the Columbus Dispatch: “No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”
• Remember Mr. Murray, the coal mine owner who made his workers lose pay to stand with Mitt Romney at a rally in Ohio? CREW has filed a complaint with the FEC and Ohio Democrats separately filed a letter with allegations of “extortion, money laundering, racketeering” against Murray Energy Corporation, the Murray Energy Corporation PAC, and the company’s Chairman, President, and CEO Robert E. Murray. When a distraught Mr. Murray contacted the Romney campaign, he says he was told not to worry about it because ‘We get a lot of charges, this will go away.” These are not words the Romney campaign would want publicized.
• As ThinkProgress detailed Tuesday, right-wing and mainstream news sources have extensively misrepresented a new report by the conservative Government Accountability Institute (GAI), suggesting incorrectly that the report details widespread foreign money flowing to President Obama’s re-election campaign. A further review of the report finds that the sole example included of a foreign-national donor giving to the Obama campaign was, in fact, based on a translation error. Despite a wide array of irresponsible headlines, it is now clear that the authors did not find a single example of a foreigner donating to the Obama re-election campaign.
• The controversial Florida preacher who sparked outraged in the Islamic world when he burned Qurans brought a gun to a high school in Michigan on Wednesday as a part of protest against so-called “Muslim gangs.” When Pastor Terry Jones Edsel arrived Ford High School on Wednesday afternoon, he was met by “scores” of law enforcement officers, including Dearborn police, Wayne County sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State Police Troopers.
• WTF?: Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) deployed a strange attack on his Democratic opponent, Iraq War veteran and former Veterans Affairs official Tammy Duckworth, at a debate Tuesday night — brandishing a photo of her picking out a dress for the Democratic National Convention. The point that Walsh intended to illustrate was that Duckworth was a political insider and a handpicked candidate of the national Democrats. “I was marching in a parade in Schaumburg (Ill.), Sunday, two days before the Democratic convention,” Walsh said, holding up the photo, “when Tammy Duckworth was on a stage down in Charlotte (N.C.) — if you can look at the picture — picking out a dress for her speech Tuesday night.” …The audience booed again, very loudly, as Walsh was finishing his statement. For her part, Duckworth accused Walsh of trying to distract from the issues — and she got in a kicker of her own. “And yes, I do sometimes look at the clothes that I wear,” she [Duckworth] said. “But for most of my adult life, I’ve worn one color — it’s called camouflage.”
• Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, equated President Obama’s campaign to a petulant child during an interview Tuesday after being asked about charges from the president’s campaign that her husband had “lied” during last week’s debate. “I mean, lied about what? This is something he’s been saying all along. This is what he believes. This is his policy, these are his statements,” Ann Romney said in an interview set to air Wednesday on Fox News. “I mean, lie — it’s sort of like someone that’s, you know, in the sandbox that like lost the game and they’re just going to kick sand in someone’s face and say, ‘you liar.’ I mean, it’s like they lost, and so now they just are going to say, OK, the game, we didn’t like the game. So to me, it’s poor sportsmanship.”
The tale of Asimco Technologies, an auto parts manufacturer whose plants dot eastern China, would seem to underscore Mitt Romney’s campaign-trail complaint that China’s manufacturing juggernaut is costing America jobs.
Nine years ago, the company bought two camshaft factories that employed about 500 people in Michigan. By 2007 both were shut down. Now Asimco manufactures the same components in China on government-donated land in a coastal region that China has designated an export base, where companies are eligible for the sort of subsidies Mr. Romney says create an unfair trade imbalance.
But there is a twist to the Asimco story that would not fit neatly into a Romney stump speech: Since 2010, it has been owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mr. Romney, who has as much as $2.25 million invested in three Bain funds with large stakes in Asimco and at least seven other Chinese businesses, according to his 2012 candidate financial disclosure and other documents.
That and other China-related holdings by Bain funds in which Mr. Romney has invested are a reminder of how he inhabits two worlds that at times have come into conflict during his campaign for the White House.
… Among the companies in which the Bain funds have invested is a global auto parts maker that is in the process of closing a factory in Illinois and moving most of the equipment and jobs to Jiangsu Province, where the Chinese government has built it a new plant; a Chinese electronics retailer accused by Microsoft of selling computers with pirated software; and a Hong Kong-based Chinese appliance maker that was sued for copying another company’s design for a deep-fat fryer.
Asked if Mr. Romney sees any conflict between his Bain investments in China and his policy positions, the campaign said: “Only the president has the power to level the playing field with China. No private citizen can do that alone.”
… Bain’s interest in China dates to when Mr. Romney ran the firm. During a panel discussion at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston in February 1998, he told of touring an appliance factory in China where 5,000 employees “were working, working, working, as hard as they could, at rates of roughly 50 cents an hour.”
Not long afterward, a Bain affiliate, Brookside Capital Partners, acquired about 6 percent of Global-Tech Appliances, whose factory in many ways matched Mr. Romney’s description. The next year, Brookside and another Bain-related entity increased their stake to 9 percent, before selling their shares in 2000.
Just before Bain bought shares, a French firm accused Global-Tech of stealing its deep-fat fryer design. In a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2011, the company was found to have willfully violated the French firm’s United States patent, selling the knockoffs even after it was sued.
Mr. Romney also has millions invested in a series of Bain funds that have a controlling stake in Sensata Technologies, a manufacturer of sensors and controls for vehicles, aircraft and electric motors that employs 4,000 workers in China. Since Bain took over the operation in 2006, its investment has quadrupled in value. Bain continues to own $2.6 billion worth of Sensata’s shares.
Two years ago, Sensata bought an operation that made automobile sensors in Freeport, Ill. At the first meeting with the plant’s 170 workers, Sensata managers announced that by the end of 2012 all the equipment and jobs would be relocated, mostly to Jiangsu Province. Workers have staged demonstrations, pleading for Mr. Romney to intervene on their behalf.
Chinese engineers, flown to Freeport for training on the equipment, described their salaries as a pittance compared with Freeport wages. Tom Gaulrapp, who has operated machines at the factory for 33 years, said he fears he will go bankrupt after he loses his job on Nov. 5.
[Sharon Lafraniere and Mike Mcintire]
• Turkish officials have accused a Syrian passenger plane of carrying “illegal cargo” between Moscow and Damascus. Turkey intercepted the Syrian Air plane and searched it because of suspicions it was carrying military equipment. But officials in Russia and Syria strongly denied the allegations and accused the Turkish authorities of endangering passengers and crew.
• In a country where militant attacks occur almost daily, the Taliban’s attempted assassination of a 14-year-old education rights activist in northwestern Pakistan united Pakistanis from across social divides Wednesday in a remarkable and rare display of collective outrage against extremism. The shooting Tuesday of Malala Yousafzai, who remains in critical condition in a Peshawar military hospital, brought condemnation from conservative clerics, secular politicians, the military and media figures at a time when Pakistanis had seemed almost numb to rising extremism.
• The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict.
• The Yemeni chief of security at the US embassy in Sanaa has been assassinated, security officials have said. Qassem Aqlani, who was reportedly in his fifties, was shot dead while on his way to work early on Thursday. A gunman on a motorcycle reportedly opened fire at him and fled the scene.
• A Canadian naval officer accused of espionage pleaded guilty to all three charges Wednesday and avoided a trial, his lawyer said in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, 41, entered the guilty plea and skipped trial and will be sentenced at a date to be determined, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Prosecutors allege Delisle was paid $3,000 a month to share classified information with Russian intelligence agents, CTV said. That information was under a publication ban to avoid bias in his trial, which he waived. The nature of information he sold wasn’t divulged.