Shorter Question Everything
The Romney team can lie and lie and lie, but it doesn’t make the claims any more true.
• The claims by the right wing that Obama has blown up the deficit are just flat out not true. To add a little historical context to this, over the last four decades, only two presidents have reduced the deficit this much, this quickly: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
• Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told US media that she will take the blame for any shortcomings in the handling of an attack last month on the US mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi. “I take responsibility,” she said, according to news networks CNN and Fox, which interviewed her during a visit to the Peruvian capital Lima. “I take responsibility,” Clinton said. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
• US readies drones, covert forces for possible action in Libya, if targets become available in response to Benghazi attack. There is no definite proof, outside of one or two possible names. Question if Libyans would arrest suspects and extradite for trial in the US, or if covert forces would be used. There is doubt of a strong criminal case, and the burden of proof for covert action is lower. The same sort of sovereignty issues that were raised in the case of OBL in Pakistan will likely be an issue.
• Romney’s unraveling claim that six studies validate his tax plan. Not all the studies appear to reach the same conclusion as Romney. He contends they show that it’s possible to lower tax rates across the board by 20 percent and avoid adding to the deficit by unwinding deductions and credits for high incomes. That’s not the case. Of the six studies, two are blog posts by the conservative American Enterprise Institute; one is a report by the Republican-friendly Heritage Foundation; one is a paper by Princeton professor and former George W. Bush adviser Harvey Rosen; the fifth and sixth are a Wall Street Journal op-ed and blog post by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, an adviser to the Romney campaign.
• Mitt Romney doesn’t see dead people. But that’s only because he doesn’t want to see them; if he did, he’d have to acknowledge the ugly reality of what will happen if he and Paul Ryan get their way on health care.
The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group’s Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall.
Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.
“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”
He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”
…Antal, a self-described independent voter, said that he “can’t fault my volunteers” for letting the campaign in but said that the campaign “didn’t go through the proper channels.”
He noted that the soup kitchen relies on funding from private individuals who might reconsider their support if it appears that the charity is favoring one political candidate over another.
“I can’t afford to lose funding from these private individuals,” he said. “If this was the Democrats, I’d have the same exact problem.”
He added that the incident had caused him “all kinds of grief” and that regardless of whether Ryan had intended to serve food to patrons or wash dishes, he would not have allowed the visit to take place.
“Had they asked for permission, it wouldn’t have been granted. … But I certainly wouldn’t have let him wash clean pans, and then take a picture,” Antal said.
• Romney camp involved in yet another racist stereotype, says Obama not macho enough for Latino audiences. The Obama campaign released a statement from Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez responding to the Romney campaign’s claims: “The Romney campaign’s latest assertion that the President is not ‘macho’ enough for Latino voters not only plays into backward and offensive stereotypes of the Hispanic community but shows how little they understand Latino priorities and concerns.”
• Employees of a paper company owned by the outspoken billionaire Koch brothers received a mailing warning that they could “suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills” if they voted for candidates not supported by Koch-owned companies or its political fund-raising arm. The company also provided workers with a list of those candidates it supports. At the top: Mitt Romney, according to media outlet In These Times, which broke the story. “The packet also included an anti-Obama editorial by Charles Koch and a pro-Romney editorial by David Koch,” it said.
In other news
• Cubans will no longer require an exit permit for foreign travel from January 14, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, the latest in a trickle of reforms enacted on the communist-ruled island. The government has also extended the period citizens are allowed to remain abroad from 11 to 24 months, with the new law set to enter into force 90 days from now, the ministry said in a statement.
• PROPAGANDA ALERT?: Fidel Castro recruited former members of the Nazi SS Waffen to train his troops at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, declassified German intelligence files show. The Communist leader also sought to buy weapons from arms dealers connected with Germany’s extreme Right, showing the extent to which he was prepared to collaborate with his ideological enemies to prevent a US invasion of the Caribbean country. Papers released this week by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence agency, disclose the information gathered by German operatives 50 years ago during the tense days of the Cuban missile crisis.
• In the past 10 years, it’s believed that hundreds, if not thousands, of residents of Chichigalpa — mostly male sugarcane workers — have died from chronic kidney disease, or CKD. The mysterious and hidden epidemic has claimed thousands more lives across Central America. In El Salvador and Nicaragua alone, the number of men dying from the excruciatingly painful disease has risen five-fold in the last two decades. High rates of CKD also have been found in rural villages in India and among the rice paddies of Sri Lanka.
• President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party decisively swept regional elections, according to results tabulated Monday, paradoxically confronting his top-down authoritarian system with a serious challenge. The United Russia party won all five governorships at stake and dominated all six regional legislatures up for election, along with a host of municipal councils and mayoralties.
• Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, on trial accused of some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two, said he should be praised for promoting peace rather than charged with war crimes, an assertion hotly denied by some victims.
• Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousufzai, shot in the head by the Taliban in the Swat Valley of Pakistan for demanding the right to an education, is being moved for further treatment to Britain. She breathed without a respirator briefly on Sunday. The United Arab Emirates sent an air ambulance for her.
• Israel’s parliament voted overnight to dissolve itself and hold early elections on January 22, officials said Tuesday.