Day: November 2, 2011

OBAMA’S REELECTION: SAFER BY THE DAY

This is good news, but I’m cautiously optimistic…

P M Carpenter’s Commentary

“President Barack Obama has received a [6-point] boost in the polls over the last month,” according to Quinnipiac. And, as he has consistently, Obama leads “Republican challengers by five to 16 percentage points in head-to-head matchups.”

A political rule of thumb: any national lead of 8 points or more translates into a virtually unbeatable electoral college total (i.e., a presidential candidate simply cannot rack up those percentages without leading in the correspondingly necessary states).

That said, in politics November of 2011 is to November of 2012 what Jerry Lewis was to comedy. It was the NY Times’ John Harwood, I believe, who earlier today said on MSNBC that Obama is unquestionably doing better in the polls, but he’s not yet “safe for reelection.” That’s why I listen to professional, political color commentary on cable news. One cannot find that incisive level of in-depth analysis just anywhere.

To repeat the bloody obvious, Harwood-style, it’s a long and unpredictable road to Election Day. Yet given Obama’s rather undeviating leads over Mitt Romney in the neighborhood of 5 points (and probably counting) — during the worst economy in three-quarters of a century — his reelection is morphing safer by the day.

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Herman Cain Warns China Is Seeking ‘Nuclear Capability’

Someone needs to advise Mr. Cain that China has had ‘nuclear capabilities” for almost 50 years!

TPM2012

Herman Cain may have some surprises at his first national security briefings should he win the presidency.

In an interview with PBS, Cain appears to suggest that Americans should consider China dangerous in part because they’re pursuing “nuclear capability.” In fact, China tested its first nuclear device in 1964 and has had a stockpile of warheads for decades.

The relevant passage:

HERMAN CAIN: I do view China as a potential military threat to the United States.JUDY WOODRUFF: And what could you do as president to head that off?

HERMAN CAIN: My China strategy is quite simply outgrow China. It gets back to economics. China has a $6 trillion economy and they’re growing at approximately 10 percent. We have a $14 trillion economy — much bigger — but we’re growing at an anemic 1.5, 1.6 percent. When we get our economy growing back at the rate of 5 or 6 percent that it has the ability to do, we will outgrow China.

And secondly, we already have superiority in terms of our military capability, and I plan to get away from making cutting our defense a priority and make investing in our military capability a priority, going back to my statement: peace through strength and clarity. So yes they’re a military threat. They’ve indicated that they’re trying to develop nuclear capability and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat.

Hotair, one of the blogs to catch Cain’s comment, suggests there is some slight ambiguity there — that he may be referring to nuclear-powered aircraft carriers — but the context makes it a close call at best.

Cain’s foreign policy knowledge has been a liability in recent months and he’s downplayed its importance overall.

“I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions, and they’re already starting to come,” Cain said in a CBNinterview last month. “And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say you know, I don’t know. Do you know?”

h/t Hotair

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Glenn Beck-Approved Goldline Charged With 19 Criminal Counts Of Fraud And Theft

Uh-oh…

Think Progress

Goldline International, the precious metal retailer that has capitalized on conservatives’ anxiety about the economy by forging synergistic relationships with right wing TV and radio hosts, is facing a new series of legal challenges after authorities filed criminal charges against the company and its executives yesterday. Several major conservative talkers — including two former GOP presidential candidates — have endorsed and recommendedGoldine, which critics have long contended is little more than a scam.

After more than a year of investigating, the city attorney in Santa Monica, California, where the company is based, has filed 19 criminal charges of fraud and theft against the company, in addition to charges against top executives and salesmen, ABC News reports:

The complaint alleges that Goldline “runs a bait and switch operation in which customers, seeking to invest in gold bullion, are switched to highly overpriced coins by using false and misleading claims,” according to a statement released by the consumer affairs division of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.

The company has been charged in the court filing with misdemeanors thatinclude theft by false pretenses, false advertising, and conspiracy, the City Attorney’s office said. In addition to the charges against the company, the complaint accuses former CEO Mark Albarian, executives Robert Fazio and Luis Beeli, and salespeople Charles Boratgis and Stephanie Howard of defrauding customers. Current CEO Scott Carter is accused of making false or misleading statements.

Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and maximum fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 per offense.

While former Fox News conspiracy-theorist Glenn Beck is most closely associated with Goldline, Rush LimbaughSean HannityLaura Ingraham, and Mark Levin, former GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, and several Fox News hosts, among others, have all endorsed the company.

Indeed, conservative talk radio is central to the company’s success, as Goldline employs a business model based not on mere advertising, but full integration with the content of conservative talk show hosts’ messages. The company’s website prominently features these endorsers, suggesting the talkers’ backing gives Goldline “credibility.” The company has said it will vigorously contest the charges.

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The Median Net Worth Of A Member Of Congress Is Five Times Higher Than The Median American Household

This news is going to surprise a few people.  The majority of our Representatives in Congress and the Senate are millionaires.  That will explain their interest in keeping taxes low for “the rich”…

Think Progress

Part of the reason the richest 1 percent of Americans have captured our politics is because they are able to finance political races, issue campaigns, and lobbyists. But the other reason some of the richest Americans have been able to control our politics is because they themselves have gotten elected to positions of power at a much higher rate than the rest of us.

As Roll Call points out today, the estimated median net worth for a member of Congress in 2010 was $513,000 (this is strictly an estimate as assets are reported in ranges). Meanwhile, the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s David Rosnick points out that the net worth of the median household in the United States that same year was closer to $100,000:

For Congress, the median net worth in 2010 was about $513,000. For regular households, the Federal Reserve Board pegged that number at about $120,000 in 2008, and that number this year is probably around $100,000, [said economist David Rosnick]. While it is hard to make an exact comparison between Congress and the rest of the nation, what is clear is lawmakers “are all a lot richer than anything you would call a typical American,” Rosnick said.

The Center for Responsive Politics looked at the average wealth of members of Congress in between 2004 and 2009 (relying on estimates derived from ranges). In 2009, the average net worth of a senator $13.4 million. On the House side, it was $4.9 million:

Meanwhile, the average wealth of an American household is around a half a million dollars(dragged upwards from the median by high-wealth families). This isn’t to say that just because members of Congress tend to be much wealthier than most Americans that they necessarily will not legislate on behalf of the 99 Percent. But it is important to note that the wealth gap between Americans and their federal legislators is as wide as it is, even in a democratic system that is supposed to represent all Americans, not just the most wealthy.

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CHART OF THE DAY: Rick Perry Proposes A Tax Plan Aimed At The One Percent

TPMDC

Recall that Rick Perry’s so-called “flat tax” plan isn’t flat at all, but rather an alternative tax system that would constitute a massive tax cut for the rich. For people above a certain income, his plan would be worth opting into, and for the rest of earners, it would make sense to stay in the current tax system.

The Tax Policy Center has posted data neatly illustrating this bug (or feature, depending on your point of view). Here it is in handy graph form.

(H/T: Kevin Drum)

Above about $200,000 a year in income, Perry’s plan would be hard to refuse. Once you exceeded that threshold, your effective tax rate would actually drop modestly, falling below people who make less money than you, and more still the richer you get. It would be like codifying the opposite of the Buffett Rule.

That’s true whether you assume the current Bush tax rates and other tax policies remain in effect permanently for the non-rich, or whether they expire, as scheduled by law.

Continue reading here…

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Herman Cain’s Wife ‘Does’ Exist After All

I have one complaint here.  Herman Cain recently described his wife’s height, in comparison to the woman who claimed sexual harrassment against Cain, he claimed his wife was shorter than him but he said she came up to his chin.  The woman in the photo on the right comes up to his shoulder.

Am I nitpicking?

Gawker

Herman Cain’s wife, Gloria, has not appeared on the trail or given an interview since her husband launched his campaign in May. But now she’s “in talks” with Greta van Susteren for a sitdown this Friday! Everyone be nice.

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Rachel Maddow: Herman Cains (other) scandal

Once the brouhaha over the alleged sex scandal subsides, THIS info will be harder to cover up…Cain is history.

Herman Cain waived confidentiality: accuser’s lawyer

If this report is true, Cain did the best thing for all concerned.

Cain maintains that he did nothing wrong but the woman in question will most likely refute his claim, if the terms of the settlement agreement are waived and she’s allowed to tell her side of the story.

However, I fear that the GOP Teapublican media will try and drag her credibility through the mud similar to their Anita Hill assault at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

CBS News Investigates

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain went on the offensive today against allegations that he sexually harassed two women more than a decade ago.

CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford reports his supporters rallied to his defense, even arguing the revelations were calculated attacks motivated by race. Americans for Herman Cain the super PAC backing his campaign, said in an email to supporters “this is what the Left always does. Just like they did to Clarence Thomas, they are engaging in a ‘high tech lynching’ by smearing Herman Cain’s reputation and character.”

Herman Cain political committee invokes “high tech lynching”

But Joel Bennett, the lawyer for one of the accusers, who is a married federal employee who lives in Maryland, told CBS News today that his client is telling the truth.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as an ax to grind,” Bennett said. “I’m sure she feels as though she wasn’t treated properly by Herman Cain.”

But Bennett said said he does not remember the specific allegations, or what kind of settlement they eventually reached.

Is Cain taking scandal from bad to worse?

Cain has said he remembers one woman accusing him of harassment and described the episode on PBS’ Newshour last night.

“I reference this lady’s height,” Cain said. “And I was standing near her and I did this, saying ‘you’re the same height as my wife.'”

Bennett said Cain was talking about the case of another woman, not his client. But Bennett said now that Cain is talking about specifics, the confidentiality agreements may no longer be binding.

“I think the National Restaurant Association ought to waive the confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions and let the two women, if they choose to do so, come forward and tell their stories so that it can get a complete public airing,” Bennett said.

FBI: Four Georgia militia members plotted to attacks

The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau o...

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As a resident of a suburb about twenty miles outside of Atlanta, this news is disturbing on so many levels…

MSNBC

‘I’d say the first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings’

Four Georgia men in their 60s and 70s were arrested Tuesday, accused of being members of a right-wing militia group that plotted to attack federal office buildings and to disperse a deadly biological poison in Atlanta.

Their alleged plot was revealed to the FBI by a confidential informant last spring, and members of the group have been meeting since May with someone they thought was a black-market weapons dealer but who turned out to be an undercover federal agent, according to court documents.

No attacks were ever attempted. Federal officials say the men were disrupted before they could act on the plot.

The documents say the men, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga.; Dan Roberts, 67, Ray Adams, 65, and Samuel Crump, 68, all of Toccoa, called themselves “the covert group” and began in March to talk about staging attacks against federal targets including the IRS.

A confidential informant secretly recorded some of the meetings for the FBI.

“I’d say the first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings,” Adams was overheard saying in an April 16 meeting, according to the FBI.

“When it comes down to it, I can kill somebody,” he allegedly said.

Read court documents on ricin allegations (.PDF)

They allegedly obtained a silencer from the undercover agent and plotted to buy explosives. Crump claimed he could produce ricin, a deadly biological agent, and talked about dispersing it from a car driving on an interstate highway, according to court documents.

Continue reading here…