POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Who is AIPAC and what are they about? What role did AIPAC play in Netanyahu’s blatant and foolish attempt to influence the U.S. Presidential election?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 13, 2012

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  • The AIPAC web site does not seem to list the names of its leaders. or major contributors. Who are these people?
  • AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, describes itself as the most important organization affecting the U.S. relationship with Israel.
  • The primary goal of AIPAC is to work with Congress to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship.
  • With a budget of $65 million, and membership now standing at over 100,000, it is no wonder that congressional staffers consider it one of the most powerful and effective lobbies on Capitol Hill.
  • AIPAC had played a key role in fomenting support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  It is playing an even greater role in supporting a future military strike against the people of Iran.
  • Dana Milbank wrote in March 2012 Israel is moving toward a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear program, and American leaders are coming before AIPAC this week to give their blessings.

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* Israel’s Army Chief of Staff, the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, the heads of the two main intelligence agencies, the Mossad (Israel’s C.I.A.) and Shin Bet (its F.B.I.), President Shimon Peres, and members of Netanyahu’s cabinet have made plain their opposition to a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 12, 2012

Many Israeli leaders believe Netanyahu is wrong about Iran … and he is dangerous for Israel … LMW: his behavior towards President Obama and the United States is despicable

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 David Remnick writes in The New Yorker (9/3/12) …

  • Since early last year, Israelis have witnessed a dissidence of a variety almost unknown since the founding of the state.
  • Even as Netanyahu and his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, routinely speak of an imminent “existential threat” from Teheran, comparable to that of the Nazis in 1939, a growing number of leading intelligence and military officials, active and retired, have made plain their opposition to a unilateral Israeli strike.
    • They include the Army Chief of Staff, the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, the heads of the two main intelligence agencies, the Mossad (Israel’s C.I.A.) and Shin Bet (its F.B.I.), President Shimon Peres, and members of Netanyahu’s cabinet.
  • Recently, the writer met with Meir Dagan, who was the director of the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations—the Mossad—from 2002 until January, 2011.
    • Just days before stepping down as director of the Mossad, Dagan began what amounted to an extended public denunciation of Netanyahu’s Iran policy.
    • In the months that followed, he became increasingly frank in his opposition to an attack. This was astonishing.

“An Israeli bombing,” Dagan said, “would lead to a regional war

and solve the internal problems of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It would galvanize Iranian society behind the leadership and create unity

around the nuclear issue. And it would justify Iran in rebuilding

its nuclear project and saying,

‘Look, see, we were attacked by the Zionist enemy

and we clearly need to have it.’

  • Dagan’s view that a unilateral Israeli strike would intensify, not diminish, the danger posed by Iran is now the general view of the dissident politicians and security chiefs.
  • Dagan believes that the West and Israel should do all they can to foment regime change in Iran by supporting the Iranian opposition

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/03/120903fa_fact_remnick

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* Tomasky: Romney has been dreaming of the presidency since 1968, and as he sees it slipping through his fingers, he’ll be capable of anything. It’s going to be a nasty 7 weeks.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 11, 2012

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Romney and Ryan … two liars!

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Michael Tomasky writes for The Daily Beast (9/11/12) …

  • It’s exactly one month after Ryan’s selection was announced, and his reputation has gone nowhere but down.

Paul Ryan is a liar and his famous “numbers”

actually make no sense at all because they’re intentionally misleading.

  • Romney has been dreaming of the presidency since 1968, and as he sees it slipping through his fingers, he’ll be capable of anything.
    • He’s going to campaign with Pat Robertson.
    • He’s going to work “Obama-Is-Anti-God” motifs into his stump speech, as he did yesterday.
    • He’s going to keep running with the lies about welfare.
  • the ongoing debate about whether Romney is really conservative or really moderate has wasted lots of airtime and killed many innocent trees.

Romney is neither. He’s nothing. 

He’ll say or do whatever the Koch brothers tell him to do.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/11/michael-tomasky-on-what-will-happen-when-romney-gets-desperate.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_morning&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_morning&utm_term=Cheat%20Sheet

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* Amy Davidson writes in New Yorker about Mitt Romney’s confusing statements regarding Obamacare … LEW: Amy has raised and provided evidence for the position that Mitt Romney changes positions so often because he really doesn’t understand what each position means. In other words, it is less a case of being deceptive than being stupid. As Amy asks, “Which is worse?”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 11, 2012

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poor Mitt is confused

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Amy Davidson writes in New Yorker (9/10/12) …

  • “Well, I’m not getting rid of all of health-care reform,” Mitt Romney told David Gregory on “Meet the Press.”
  • “Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I’m going to put in place.
  • One is to make sure that those with preëxisting conditions can get coverage.
  • Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their— their family up to whatever age they might like.”
  • “And you know, even in Massachusetts where I was governor, our plan there deals with preëxisting conditions and with young people,” Romney told Gregory.
  • Without the rest of Obamacare, how would the preëxisting provision be paid for?
  • Romney’s campaign quickly came in to say that he did not mean what he said.
  • Was Romney trying to be deceptive—to tell people not to be worried when they should be—or was he just confused? (And which is worse?)
  • That would assume that Romney really understood what he has promised. He may not.
  • One wonders if he even understands what it means, in someone’s life, to have a preëxisting condition.
  • what the Romneys seem to miss is the interconnection of the financial and the medical, even as, for most Americans, those have become inseparable.

read the entire post at … http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2012/09/does-mitt-have-a-preexisting-problem.html

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* first American BISHOP found GUILTY of failing to report child sexual abuse … 2 years probation is not nearly enough but it’s a start … LMW: Bishop Finn still can’t face personal responsibility. He says he is “sorry for the hurt these events have caused.” WRONG! He should be saying he is sorry for the hurt HE CAUSED.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 7, 2012

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first American bishop criminally charged in the clergy sex abuse scandal was found guilty Thursday of a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse, a conviction that extends the struggle of Roman Catholic leaders to restore trust in the church.

Bishop Robert Finn was acquitted on a second count. He received two years of probation, but that sentence was suspended and will be wiped from his record if he adheres to a set of conditions that include mandatory abuse reporting training, setting aside $10,000 in diocese money for abuse victim counseling, and instructing all diocesan agents to report suspected criminal activity involving minors.

Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were each charged with two misdemeanor counts of failing to report suspected child abuse to the state. Prosecutors said they dropped charges against the diocese, and the judge is expected to sign off on that Friday.

The bishop, dressed in his traditional black garb, sat calmly throughout the hearing, even as he heard the verdict. He apologized before being sentenced, saying, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt these events have caused.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/us/kansas-city-bishop-convicted-of-shielding-pedophile-priest.html

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LMW Comment …

Bishop Finn still can’t face personal responsibility. He says he is “sorry for the hurt these events have caused.” WRONG! He should be saying he is sorry for the hurt HE CAUSED.

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* Irish advocacy group calls for investigation of senior Catholic Church figures … are they guilty of the crime of reckless endangerment of children … LMW: this is exactly what I have been calling for on this blog for over a year … when bishops go to jail, the Church will pay attention to the disaster it has inflicted on children and itself

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 6, 2012

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Patsy McGarry, Mary Minihan And John Fallon write (9-6-12) …

A LEADING advocacy group for victims of child sexual abuse has called for a Garda investigation of senior Catholic Church figures in Ireland following new disclosures concerning child protection practices in four dioceses and three congregations published yesterday.

The findings followed reviews of the dioceses of Clonfert, Cork Ross, Kildare Leighlin and Limerick, and the congregations of the Sacred Heart Missionaries, the Spiritans (formerly Holy Ghost Fathers) and the male congregation of the Dominicans.

The reviews were conducted by the Catholic Church’s own child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC). Its chief executive Ian Elliott, who led the reviews, described the findings as “disappointing”.

Maeve Lewis, executive director of the One in Four group, said after publication of the findings yesterday it was “as if certain senior churchmen continue to believe that child protection procedures are optional, and they are above the law of the land”.

“We know from the past that children were abused because church leaders protected sex offenders. I believe that where possible, the gardaí should now investigate if these senior men are in breach of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and if there is evidence to show that they may be guilty of the crime of reckless endangerment of children.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2012/0906/1224323655487.html

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* today’s 17 new results for Catholic church sexual abuse (from Google alerts) … it just has no end

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 25, 2012

News 17 new results for catholic church sexual abuse
Pa. Priest on Leave, Accused of Child Sexual Abuse
ABC News
A western Pennsylvania priest has been placed on leave amid allegations of sexual abuse involving children several decades ago. The Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown said Friday that the Rev. George Koharchik, pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena 
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Priest at Mount Union Catholic church placed on leave amid allegations of 
Centre Daily Times
Priest at Mount Union Catholic church placed on leave amid allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Published: August 24, 2012 Updated 39 minutes ago. 2012-08-25T05:22:23Z. Anne Danahyadanahy@centredaily.com Centre_Daily_Times. Tweet 
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Archdiocesan embezzler gets 2 to 7 years
Philadelphia Inquirer
Amid the cries and sobs of relatives who packed the courtroom, the former chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was sentenced this morning to 2 to 7 years in prison for her admitted embezzlement of more than $906,000 from the 
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Catholic church abuse: victims make formal complaints about three monks
DutchNews.nl
A foundation representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic church officials has made a police complaint against three monks who worked in the former Bleijerheide residential school in Kerkrade. A spokesman for the Mea Culpa foundation told the 
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Priest ‘Ruined My Life’ Molestation Victim Says at Sentencing
Patch.com
Those words hung in the air as a judge sentenced Lyons, formerly employed by the Roman CatholicDiocese of Orange County to one year in jail, five years of formal probation, 400 hours of community service and lifetime sex offender registration. The 
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Archbishop George Pell urged to clarify handling of Victorian abuse cases
The Australian
THE nation’s most powerful Catholic, Sydney archbishop George Pell, is embroiled in a damaging controversy over the handling of church-related child sex assaults in Victoria, with demands that he appear before a new inquiry to explain what he knew and 
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Bathurst diocese defends sex abuse conciliation in ad
CBC.ca
The Catholic Diocese of Bathurst has taken out a half-page newspaper ad, defending itself against criticism over a conciliation process offered to 80 sexual abuse victims. An Ontario lawyer and some of the victims, abused by clerics between the 1950s 
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CBC.ca
Pol Who Blocked Key Child Sex Abuse Bill Censured For Harassing Women
FailedMessiah.com
 that Lopez had repeatedly sexually harassed two younf female employees in June and July. Lopez blocked passage of the Markey Bill (Child Victims Act) meant to make pedophiles accountable for their crimes, working closely with the Catholic Church 
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Pa. church’s ex-CFO gets 2-7 years in $900k theft
Charlotte Observer
Anita Guzzardi, 42, said she succumbed to gambling and shopping addictions after feeling betrayed by the church over the priest sexabuse scandal. Guzzardi had worked at the Roman Catholicarchdiocese since she was 20, and was making $124,000 a 
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Jack Willke, National Right To Life Committee Founder, Perpetuates False Rape 
Huffington Post
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The discredited notion that a woman’s body can resist conception in a sexual assault has persisted in anti-abortion circles for decades, largely because of the efforts of a Cincinnati obstetrician who is considered a godfather of the 
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Retired priest sentenced for molestation
Orange County Breeze
A retired priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County was sentenced today for molesting a young boy almost two decades ago in the rectory and sacristy at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa. Denis Lyons, 78, Seal Beach 
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Mount Union pastor placed on leave following allegations of sex abuse
The Tribune-Democrat
Bartchak said these actions are pursuant to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, put in place in 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse within the clergy. Bartchak has reportedly informed the office of Cambria County 
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The Vatican Can’t Be Held Responsible For Things It Couldn’t Have Known. The 
Huffington Post
As I argued on HuffPost Live, imagine if the Catholic Church were a secular child care institution that ran a franchise of dormitories and boarding schools. Imagine if that child care company was implicated in …. If that is the case, then should the 
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Former priest sentenced to jail for molestation
Daily Pilot
A former Costa Mesa priest was sentenced Friday to one year in jail and five years formal probation for committing lewd acts on a child younger than 14 while he served at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, according to prosecutors. Denis Lyons, 78 
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2 Kailua priests accused of rape
Hawaii News Now
“Both Father Henry and Bishop Ferrario are deceased but the legacy of horror they left in the lives and souls of many kids is still very raw,” said Jeff Anderson, Pinkosh’s Attorney, who says he has represented 3,000 sexual abuse victims since 1983. In 
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UNEDITED: Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown news release regarding Rev 
WJAC Johnstown
“Children are a precious gift from God, and we must always take the necessary steps to ensure their protection in the Catholic Church,” said Bishop Bartchak. “I pray for the alleged victims in this case and for all children who have suffered sexual 
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Diocesan priest placed on leave following allegations of sexual misconduct in 
WJAC Johnstown
The decision is in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 for addressing allegations ofsexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. “Children 
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* Republican VP candidate Ryan admits he lied about requesting stimulus money for his state … said money would create jobs, which it did

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 17, 2012

Is Ryan still smiling; is Romney still worried?

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By Gregory J. Krieg | ABC OTUS News – 8/17/12

  • After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.
  • As recently as Wednesday in Ohio, Mitt Romney’s running mate told ABC’s Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, he did not.

“I never asked for stimulus,” Ryan said.

  • In 2009, Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking for stimulus money to cover costs on two energy conservation projects in his home state of Wisconsin.
  • In the letter, Ryan said the funds would help create jobs and reduce “energy consumption” in the state.
  • At least one of the companies received the requested cash.

http://news.yahoo.com/presented-letters-ryan-admits-requesting-stimulus-cash-234025910–abc-news-politics.html

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* if the American people truly understand the choice, Obama will be a landslide winner

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 12, 2012

Ryan Lizza writes in The New Yorker (8/6/12) …

LMW: Lizza has produced a long fascinating article about Paul Ryan, written before Ryan was selected as Romney’s VP running mate. Here are selected quotes, but I recommend you read the entire article.

  • Ryan won his seat in 1998, at the age of twenty-eight. Like many young conservatives, he is embarrassed by the Bush years.
  • Ryan’s long-range plan was straightforward: to create a detailed alternative to Obama’s budget and persuade his party to embrace it.
  • Sitting in his office more than three years ago, Ryan could not have foreseen how successful his crusade to reinvent the Republican Party would be. Nearly every important conservative opinion-maker and think tank has rallied around his policies.
  • Nearly every Republican in the House and the Senate has voted in favor of some version of his budget plan.

Mitt Romney: “I think it’d be marvelous if the Senate

were to pick up Paul Ryan’s budget and adopt it

and pass it along to the President.”

  • To envisage what Republicans would do if they win in November, the person to understand is not necessarily Romney, who has been a policy cipher all his public life. The person to understand is Paul Ryan.
  • In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) was required reading for his office staff and interns.
    • “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told the group.
    • “The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”
    • To me he was careful to point out that he rejects Rand’s atheism.
  • Ryan recommended ending Medicare, the government health-insurance program for retirees, and replacing it with a system of direct payments to seniors, who could then buy private insurance. (The change would not affect current beneficiaries or the next decade of new ones.)
  • He proposed ending Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor, and replacing it with a lump sum for states to use as they saw fit.
  • Ryan’s Roadmap also promised to cut other government spending, though it didn’t specify how.
  • Likewise, it promised to lower income-tax rates and simplify the tax code, but it didn’t detail which popular deductions—mortgage interest? retirement contributions?—it would eliminate.
  • Conservative intellectuals at National Review and the Heritage Foundation loved the Roadmap, and Ryan became an icon within the insular world of right-wing pundits.
  • Three days later, the White House started a livelier debate with Ryan. In a press briefing, Peter Orszag, the budget director at the time, dismantled Ryan’s plan, point by point.

House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders

started to feel pressure to take a position on the Ryan budget.

In July, Boehner distanced himself from the plan.

  • After the listening sessions, Ryan had removed some of the most controversial ideas … but Ryan added a new plank: to repeal Obama’s health-care law and to effectively cut Medicaid by a third.
  • Conservative opinion-writers again celebrated his bravery. But there was one note of caution.

The ornery Charles Krauthammer doubted that Ryan’s ideas

could survive a Democratic onslaught in the 2012 campaign.

  • Krauthammer wrote: “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has just released a recklessly bold, 73-page, 10-year budget plan,” he wrote. “At 37 footnotes, it might be the most annotated suicide note in history.”
  • In mid-April of 2011, in a speech at George Washington University, Obama once again decided to make an example of Ryan. Ryan sat in the front row as the President shredded his plan.

Obama said, “There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims

to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars

on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

And I don’t think there’s anything courageous

about asking for sacrifice from those

who can least afford it.”

  • Two days after the speech, despite some desperate appeals by Republican pollsters, Ryan’s plan passed the House of Representatives, 235 to 193. Only four Republicans voted against it.
  • In the summer of 2011, when a group of Democratic and Republican senators, known as the Gang of Six, produced their own agreement, Ryan’s detailed criticism helped sink it.
  • And, also that summer, during high-level talks between the White House and Republican leaders, Cantor and Ryan reportedly pressured Boehner to reject a potential deal with President Obama.
  • Through 2007, Ryan regularly requested government money for special projects back home. Earmarksgrew out of control during the Bush years, but most of what Ryan asked for, and got, was defensible: four hundred thousand dollars for a water-treatment plant; three hundred thousand for a technical college where G.M. workers could be retrained; seven hundred and thirty-five thousand for Janesville’s bus system; and $3.3 million for highway projects throughout Wisconsin.
    • In 2008, however, Ryan vowed not to request earmarks anymore; he later helped push through an outright ban.
    • As Janesville (Ryan’s home district) increasingly becomes a base for the business of distribution logistics, its single most pressing economic concern is good roads. Next year, I-90 around Janesville will begin expansion from four lanes to eight. The project, the top issue for the local business community since the G.M. plant closed, will be financed as part of a billion-dollar federal and state highway project. “Paul has been as helpful as he can be to encourage that development,” Beckord said. “But, as you know, he also has a philosophical disconnect with the idea of earmarks.”
    • We passed a warehouse-like building under construction where several men in hard hats were at work. Beckord explained that it would soon house the Janesville Innovation Center, providing entrepreneurs with commercial space in which to launch their ideas. The money came from a $1.2-million government grant through the Economic Development Administration, one of Obama’s major stimulus programs.
  • The current Presidential campaign centers on the debate about the government’s role in the economy. Ryan, by forcing Republicans to embrace his budget plan, has helped shape this debate.
  • Obama, on July 13th, told a crowd in Virginia, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He added, “When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
  • To Ryan, Obama’s words were anathema.

When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs

were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. 

But independent assessments make clear that Ryan’s budget plan,

in order to achieve its goals, would drastically reduce the parts of the budget

that fund exactly the kinds of projects and research now helping Janesville.

  • Ryan is frequently talked about as a future leader of the House Republicans and even as a long shot to be Romney’s running mate.
  • Ryan seemed unconcerned that pushing his policy agenda on Romney might damage the candidate. “I think life is short,” Ryan said at the end of our final conversation. “You’d better take advantage of it while you have it.”

read the entire article at … http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/06/120806fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all

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* another Mitt Romney Lie … this time he says Obama is trying to restrict the voting privileges of servicemen and servicewomen when that is not even remotely close to the truth

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 9, 2012

Bob Cesca writes on the Huffington Post (8/8/12) …

Over the weekend, Mitt Romney, while clearly benefiting from Republican voter purges and Voter ID laws meant to discourage minority and working class voters, accused the Obama Justice Department of somehow trying to disenfranchise military voters. In other words, the Democrats are the ones who are trying to disenfranchise people — and they hate the troops, too! The troops!

Here’s what the Romney unit on Facebook said …

President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage. The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote. I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.

There’s nothing here that’s even remotely close to the truth.

The Obama administration has absolutely not done what Romney says it’s doing — in any way. The president is actually trying to extend weekend voting to everyone, while preserving it for the troops. Romney has used this twisted Orwellian Karl Rove style backwards logic to trick his supporters into buying this bag of hooey while reinforcing the myth that the president — the commander in chief of the armed forces — hates the military. At the same time, he’s reversed the Voter ID debate by making it seem as if the Democrats are trying to disenfranchise voters.

And it’s in print. It’s not a jittery, Uncanny Valley Romney gaffe or something he blurted out on a cable news show. He (his advisers) carefully crafted this one, and it’s entirely untrue.  The Facebook post has been “Liked” more than 152,000 times and shared by more than 19,000 Romney Facebook friends.

Everything is taken at face value because Romney’s lies are crafted to be exactly what the base wants to hear.  And it’s a lie by every measure.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/the-biggest-mitt-romney-l_b_1757637.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=080912&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

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