Shorter Question Everything
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief
It’s admirable to want to help and I’m sure that when calls came in for relief drives, the hearts of those that gave were pure. But giving canned goods (and especially doing so when it’s nothing more than a seedy campaign effort by Romney) is NOT HELPFUL, and in fact, further complicate efforts on the ground. To continue to do the very opposite of what trained emergency professionals know to be truly helpful not only gets in the way, but it does call into question the motives and basic competence of those doing the so called relief drives. As Obama has said in his statement at the Red Cross yesterday, the Red Cross knows what it is doing. It is the Red Cross that should be aided in this, and one of the most effective ways to give aid is to DONATE BLOOD, DONATE MONEY, and DON’T GET IN THE WAY.
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That unhelpful rally
…Today, we got a look at Romney’s charity in action, when he held an event that he swears was not a campaign rally in Ohio aimed at “storm relief” (the choice of a song with the lyrics “Knee deep in the water somewhere” was perhaps ill advised). The Romney campaign encouraged attendees to bring canned goods, clothes and other items to be sent to hurricane victims. “We have a lot of goods here … that these people will need,” Romney said in his brief remarks. “We’re going to box them up, then send them into New Jersey.”
This undoubtedly comes from a good place and with good intentions, but is hardly a substitute for the relief efforts — in fact, it may actually hinder them. The Red Cross, for which Romney is soliciting donations, doesn’t even accept goods. “Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations or collections of items. Items such as collected food, used clothing and shoes must be sorted, cleaned, repackaged and transported which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel,” the NGO’s website explains. With financial donations, they can buy exactly what is needed closer to the site, and it helps stimulate the local economy in the process.
…FEMA agrees. “Remember, unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require helping agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors,” the agency explains in its Tips for Donating and Volunteering Responsibly.
Mitt Romney’s home state of Massachusetts takes an even tougher stance. “Donated goods and volunteers that are not specifically needed in a disaster area can hurt more than help. Well-intentioned but ill-conceived shipments of goods and volunteers to an area impacted by a disaster can actually cause a ‘secondary’ disaster, in spite of the fact that donors really only want to help,” the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, which he oversaw as governor, states.
• Romney’s “relief” event outside of Dayton, Ohio, was surreal enough to be a campaign parody, with the candidate comparing the federal government’s hurricane relief efforts to the time he and some friends had to clean up a football field strewn with “rubbish and paper products.” It was supposed to be a parable of how Republicans handle disaster – with private charity, not government intervention – as Romney told his audience, “It’s part of the American spirit, the American way, to give to people in need.” The Republican went on to talk about the time some Hurricane Katrina survivors were rerouted from Houston to Cape Cod and the good people of Cape Cod responded by donating food and, yes, television sets. Of course, as Alex Seitz-Wald writes, the Red Cross and other private charities are discouraging the donation of goods, preferring that kind Americans donate funds that can be used where they’re needed, not goods that must be sorted and distributed and may not even be necessary (television sets?).Also – Romney refuses to answer what he’d do with FEMA, ignoring the question 14 times. To top it all off, George W. Bush’s laughable FEMA director, “Heck of a job, Brownie” Michael Brown, is criticizing Obama for reacting too quickly to Sandy. Are Democrats paying Brown to remind voters of the contrast between Obama’s quiet competence and Bush’s disastrous handling of Katrina?
• Reporters blast Romney’s “Hurricane relief” stunt. Reporters on the scene of the “charity” event are horrified by the politickig they’re seeing. They’re even apparently giving out anti-Obama t-shirts at the “non-partisan” charity relief rally.
• Romney Campaign Plays Convention Video At ‘Non-Political’ Storm Relief Event in Ohio: First, the relief event was scheduled for the same time and location as a recently canceled political rally. Then, photos emerged, showing that donors were asked to wait to drop off their goods until Romney arrived to accept them himself, suggesting a photo op not unlike the one his running mate Paul Ryan staged earlier this month in a soup kitchen. And Salon noticed that the targeted recipient of all of the donations — the Red Cross — doesn’t even accept most of what the Romney campaign collected in Ohio. But just in case there were any lingering questions over the political nature of the relief rally, Romney’s staff left no room for doubt when they aired a biographical video that was part of the Republican National Convention in August (and used by the campaign at political events since).
• Parsing the meaning of ‘campaign event’: The badge for today’s “storm relief event” says “victory rally”; the sign on the door described the event as a “campaign rally”; they’re playing the campaign warm-up songs for the audience; and before the “storm relief event” could begin, campaign officials showed the official campaign video on Romney’s awesomeness. But don’t worry, it’s “not a campaign event per se.”
• Romney Campaign Staged Donations In Storm Relief Event: Just to be safe, campaign aides reportedly spent $5,000 at a local Wal-Mart on supplies that could be put on display. When supporters arrived at the rally-turned-relief event, they were treated to the 10-minute video about Romney’s life, which was first unveiled at the RNC. The event ended with supporters lined up to hand over supplies and meet Romney. But according to BuzzFeed, this donation process was also staged: Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?” The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said. Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”
• The last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it “did donate supplies to the relief effort,” but would not specify how much it spent.)… When reporters s arrived on site ahead of the candidate, they were given press badges describing the event as a “victory rally” — a result, one aide told BuzzFeed, of the event’s last-minute repurposing. He said the badges were printed Monday morning, before the change had been announced. And shortly thereafter, the two large projector screens near the ceiling lit up with a glossy, 10-minute biographical video about the candidate, one that debuted at the Republican National Convention. A state campaign official blamed “someone from the audiovisual team” for playing the video without the campaign’s permission.
• Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke on behalf of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a “storm relief and volunteer appreciation” event in Ohio on Tuesday, serving up a generous portion of hyper-partisan rhetoric on President Barack Obama’s handling of the September attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. “This president is either engaged in a massive cover-up deceiving the American people, or he is so grossly incompetent that he is not qualified to be the commander in chief of our armed forces. It’s either one of them,” McCain told Romney volunteers, according to NBC News.
More on Sandy
• Sandy’s mammoth wake: 46 dead, millions without power, transit. Storm’s impact to widen as it disperses north to Canada, south to Tennessee. Forty-six people had been killed in the U.S., 23 of them in New York — including 18 in New York City, NBC News reported. Six people had been killed in New Jersey, as well as five in Pennsylvania; four in Connecticut; two apiece in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia; and one each in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. Before it made its way north, Sandy was blamed for 68 other deaths in the Caribbean.
• Trump hits a new low after Sandy: The day after one of the most disastrous events in New York City history, Trump has been busy bragging that “people are having a great time in the Trump Tower atrium” and that ”I am the best builder but if that were my building with the crane mishap, I would have been lambasted from coast to coast.” More significantly, though, for Trump, Sandy is problematic because clearly it’s just one big sympathy ploy from Obama. “Hurricane is good luck for Obama again – he will buy the election by handing out billions of dollars. Not only giving out money, but Obama will be seen today standing in water and rain like he is a real president —don’t fall for it.” …But hey, Trump is willing to hand out money, too. On Tuesday morning, he generously announced, “Because of the hurricane, I am extending my $5 million offer for President Obama’s favorite charity until noon on Thursday.”
• Why Democrats Are Right to Politicize Sandy: What you are going to see over the next week is an overt effort by Democrats to politicize the issue of disaster response. They’re right to do it. Conservatives are already complaining about this, but the attempt to wall disaster response off from politics in the aftermath of a disaster is an attempt to insulate Republicans from the consequences of their policies. The GOP is the party arguing for splurging on a long vacation at the beach rather than repairing the roof. Naturally, they want to have this argument only when it’s sunny and never when it’s raining. There’s no reason to accommodate them.
• First storm-related anti-Obama attack ad appears: Our friend says the flier says it was produced by Americans for Tax Reform. That’s the anti-tax group run by Grover Norquist, a leading conservative movement leader and prominent Obama critic.
• Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on Tuesday that federal aid for people impacted by Hurricane Sandy should be approved only with a specific spending plan in place so funds are not used for “Gucci bags and massage parlors,” like after Hurricane Katrina.
• Gov Chris Christie, when asked by FOX news if he would do a photo op with Romney in New Jersey: “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me.”
• The New Jersey National Guard arrived Tuesday evening in Hoboken to help residents of the heavily flooded city. Officials announced the Guard’s arrival in messages on the city’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. It says Guard members will use high-wheeled vehicles to help evacuate residents and deliver supplies to flooded areas in the mile-square city.
• With six days to go before the November 6 elections, President Barack Obama will visit flood-ravaged areas of the New Jersey shore, where the storm of historic proportions made landfall on Monday. As his guide, he will have Republican Governor Chris Christie, a vocal backer of presidential challenger Mitt Romney who has nevertheless praised Obama and the federal response to the storm. “Tomorrow recovery begins. Today was a day of sorrow,” Christie told a news conference late Tuesday. “There’s nothing wrong with that. So long as sorrow doesn’t replace resilience, we’ll be just fine.”
• Clinton Calls Out Mitt’s Mockery Of Climate Change In Sandy’s Wake: I was actually listening closely to what the candidates said in these debates. In the first debate, the triumph of the moderate Mitt Romney. You remember what he did? He ridiculed the president. Ridiculed the president for his efforts to fight global warming in economically beneficial ways. He said, ‘Oh, you’re going to turn back the seas.’ In my part of America, we would like it if someone could’ve done that yesterday. All up and down the East Coast, there are mayors, many of them Republicans, who are being told, ‘You’ve got to move these houses back away from the ocean. You’ve got to lift them up. Climate change is going to raise the water levels on a permanent basis. If you want your town insured, you have to do this.’ In the real world, Barack Obama’s policies work better.
• Bush’s FEMA Director During Katrina Criticizes Obama For Responding To Sandy Too Quickly: Former FEMA Director Michael Brown offered criticism of President Obama’s early responses to Hurricane Sandy yesterday, including a dig at the administration’s response to last month’s attack in Libya. “One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”
• The Man Behind @ComfortablySmug, Hurricane Sandy’s Worst Twitter Villain. He’s a hedge fund analyst, Republican political consultant, and deliberate spreader of false information. During the storm last night, user @comfortablysmug was the source of a load of frightening but false information about conditions in New York City that spread wildly on Twitter and onto news broadcasts before Con Ed, the MTA, and Wall Street sources had to take time out of the crisis situation to refute them. What @comfortablysmug didn’t count on, apparently, was losing that anonymity. Based on photos he censored and posted to the account but I found unedited elsewhere, @comfortablysmug is Shashank Tripathi, a hedge fund analyst and the campaign manager of Christopher R. Wight, this year’s Republican candidate for the U.S. House from New York’s 12th Congressional District. FEC documents show Wight has paid Tripathi thousands of dollars this election cycle as a “consultant.” @comfortablysmug has been a vocal supporter of Mitt Romney and posted tweets suggesting he attended this year’s Republican convention.
The lies and craziness reach fever pitch
• Despite everything Romney, and Ryan, have claimed, we’re to believe this?: In the frenetic push to win all-important Ohio, Mitt Romney’s campaign is saying a lot of things to a lot of people. And on Monday, a top Romney surrogate told a group of Jewish voters in the Buckeye State that the landmark Supreme Court decision granting women the right to an abortion is in no danger of being overturned should Romney become president. “President Bush was president eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed,” former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Beechwood, Ohio. “It’s not going to be reversed.”
Mitt Romney lied last week and told Ohioans that Chrysler was poised to move Jeep production to China. After being told the truth, Romney turned the lie into a television ad. After being told the truth again, he’s now expanding the ad buy and launching a radio spot.
Maybe he’s running for president of Chutzpah Town.
In any case, it appears Chrysler, which was rescued as part of President Obama’s policy, is getting annoyed with Romney’s false claims.
Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne rejected an assertion from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that Chrysler is planning on moving Jeep production to China.
“I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” Marchionne said in an email to employees Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News.
In fact, he said the company will continue to expand Jeep manufacturing in this country.
“Jeep is one of our truly global brands with uniquely American roots. This will never change. So much so that we committed that the iconic Wrangler nameplate, currently produced in our Toledo, Ohio, plant, will never see full production outside the United States,” Marchionne said. “Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand. It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.”
• Anonymous Hate Texts Target Obama: A sting of vitriol-laden text messages hit voters’ phones Tuesday night, blasting President Barack Obama with anti-gay attacks and false claims. In what appeared to be a coordinated campaign of cell phone text mail or text messages, one Virginia voter received one from the address email@example.com that made the inflammatory claim: “Obama supports homosexuality and its radical social agenda. Say No to Obama on Nov 6!” The Federal Communications Commission bans unsolicited text messages, but political operatives use a loophole of sending emails to people’s phones. But phone companies interpret them as text messages, and send them along. They also charge the recipient for the unwanted messages if the receiver does not have a text messaging plan. The senders were all anonymous. A quick search for one — votegopett — found it was registered in February, with the owner information blocked.
• With a week to go until Election Day, the nasty campaign tactics are coming out. People in Florida, Virginia and Indiana have gotten calls falsely telling them they can vote early by phone and don’t need to go to a polling place. Indiana’s secretary of state launched an investigation. Virginia officials issued a warning to voters and asked them to report any such calls they receive.
• Romney ad repeats false claim that Obama gutted welfare reform: In a new video advertisement unveiled on Tuesday, the Romney campaign repeated a claim that has already been debunked numerous times. The 30-second ad says that Obama has “gutted the work requirement for welfare” and then lists a number of other economic woes. It is the third time the Romney campaign has released an ad accusing the President of eliminating the work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare program.
• GM spokesman: Romney campaign in a ‘parallel universe’: A spokesman for General Motors on Tuesday mocked the claim that the auto maker had shifted jobs from the United States to China. “We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days,” GM spokesman Greg Martin told the Detroit Free Press. “No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”
• Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported on how the Romney campaign is training poll watchers to mislead voters in Wisconsin. Now, an election official in the Badger State has weighed in to criticize the Romney campaign’s practice of hiding their poll watchers’ affiliations and confirm that the materials they used in trainings are misleading. Reid Magney, a spokesman for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, spoke with the Washington Post about the story Tuesday and corrected the Romney campaign’s claims.
• The ignominious return of the welfare lie: This unannounced attack ad, running in several key states, makes a series of claims, most of them false, but in making its indictment against the president, the ad argues at the outset that Obama “gutted the work requirement for welfare.” This isn’t just another lie; it’s presidential politics at its most disgusting. What’s more, Romney isn’t relying on misleading technicalities, or hiding in some ambiguous gray area between fact and fiction. This is just a demonstrable, racially-inflammatory lie — and the candidate knows it. In case anyone’s forgotten, Obama didn’t gut the work requirements. As Romney knows, several governors, some of them Republican, asked the Obama administration for some flexibility on the existing welfare law, and the White House said that’d be fine, so long as the work requirement isn’t weakened. It’s consistent with the policy endorsed by many Republican governors, including Romney himself, just six years ago.
• As he desperately tries to close the gap in Ohio, Mitt Romney has released an ad so dishonest that even the U.S. auto industry—usually wary of taking sides in a political spat—are wading in to the campaign to call him out.
In other news
• Protesters stormed Libya’s national assembly on Tuesday derailing a vote on a cabinet line-up in a new blow to efforts to form a government after a landmark July election.
• A Mexican pleaded guilty over the killing of a US border agent that threw a spotlight on the United States’ controversial “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation, prosecutors said. In a plea deal, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes admitted to first degree murder in court in Tucson, Arizona in connection with the death of agent Brian Terry, shot dead in December 2010 on the US-Mexico border.