Somehow the NY Times site sent me to the Oct 3 fact checks instead of today’s. Here are today’s.
The hosts on the cable news channel friendliest to President Obama, MSNBC, groped to find anything friendly to say after the debate on Wednesday night.
Liberal hosts like Ed Schultz were taken aback by what they thought was a weak performance by Mr. Obama. Mr. Schultz, who earlier said he was stunned that Mr. Obama was “off his game,” later threw up his arms and asked, “Where was the president tonight?”
His exasperated colleague Chris Matthews said, “Obama should watch MSNBC.” Mr. Matthews said he felt that Mr. Obama went into the debate “disarmed” and suggested that he would learn something by watching his show, “Hardball,” and MSNBC’s other programs.
“He would learn something about this debate,” Mr. Matthews said. “There’s a hot debate going on in this country. You know where it’s been held? Here on this network is where we’re having the debate. We have our knives out. We go after the people and the facts. What was he doing tonight? He went in there disarmed!”
Was President Obama surprisingly flat?
Even Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for the president, acknowledged that Mr. Romney won the debate on style points, saying so in an interview on CNN.
Mr. Obama has a reputation for being professorial to a fault. During the four years of his presidency, Mr. Obama has often gotten lost in the weeds during town hall meetings or at White House press conferences.
The president who showed up at the debate was similar to the one who Americans have seen day-in and day-out for the last several years.
One thing that jumped out at me — Matthews saying “Commander, give us our orders!” That needs some thought, but it goes with my reaction when someone says Americans are ungovernable: “Damn right we’re ungovernable! We’re Americans!”
I think a lot of people misread the second debate, especially when President Obama and Candy Crowley together pushed the notion that Obama actually called Benghazi a terrorist attack.
Remember what Romney’s exact response was? An incredulous look, and repeated questioning to establish, “on the record”, that Obama was claiming he had indeed called it, and treated it, as terrorism from the first, and not a spontaneous demonstration that got out of hand.
I’m stealing a trope from someone I would credit if I remembered who it was. I don’t think Romney is a debater. I don’t think he’s at heart a politician of the glad-handing double-talking sort that seems to gravitate to the Senate especially.
I think he’s a predator. A predator doesn’t relish a fight with its prey. Oh, a well fed housecat may play with a mouse for a little while, for fun and for practice, or to teach a kitten, but when the time comes it’s not a long fight — the cat dispatches the mouse. A lioness doesn’t want to fight with an impala, and possibly get gored — she finds her time and makes the efficient killing stroke to the spine and brainstem.
So here’s the situation tonight: the Benghazi incident has been in the news now for a solid week, and Obama’s claims have been debunked by pretty much everyone except for a few partisans. It will be on everyone’s mind from the minute the debate starts, and it has got to be one of the questions.
I think, when it is, we’ll see that Romney has all the dates and times in his head, ready to go.
My prediction is that when the question does come up, Romney will be loaded for bear.
Update: Via a comment from SJH, here’s the American Thinker article I was remembering.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The state’s Office of Higher Education has informed the popular provider of massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, that Coursera is unwelcome in the state because it never got permission to operate there. It’s unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web, but Coursera updated its Terms of Service to include the following caution:
Notice for Minnesota Users:
Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.
(Hat tip to the brilliant and beautiful Michelle Fields.)
Update: Minnesota has backed down.
Among those certain to vote, it’s 52/47 in Virginia. North Carolina, 52/46 Romney. The Rasmussen Presidential Preference Poll is tied at 48 percent. Gallup likely voters 52/45 Romney, up a point more since yesterday.
… and Candy Crowley didn’t do much for her reputation for even-handedness.
In the mean time, my favorite graphic from Facebook:
According to Foreign Policy’s diplomatic blog The Cable (which I recommend, by the way):
Despite statements by Vice President Joe Biden, the State Department is about to begin formal negotiations over the extension of U.S. troops past 2014, a top State Department official said Tuesday.
Last week, U.S. and Afghan negotiators met in Kabul to talk about the Bilateral Security Agreement that will govern the extension of U.S. troops past 2014, when President Barack Obama said the combat mission in Afghanistan will end and the U.S. will complete the transition of the entire country to Afghan government control.
I wonder how this happened to be released just before the debate?
So today’s little furor is some ass at a Romney rally who worked his way around, right in front of the press, and showed off a pretty obviously racist shirt. Now, as Stacy McCain has pointed out, there’s good reason to think the was a troll, a false-flag operation. We’ve been seeing them, organized and disorganized, since the first Tea Party demonstrations — remember “Crash the Tea Party“?
But you know what? Forget that. I’m tired of idiots trying to make one asshole in the back row of a Romney rally the issue. You want to talk racism? Well, let’s talk about this:
It was Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Democrat, who founded the Ku Klux Klan.
Woodrow Wilson segregated Federal Buildings and jobs after 50 years of integration under largely Republican administrations.
It was the Democrat Party in the South that instituted Jim Crow Laws.
It was the Democrat Party in the South that instituted “separate but equal”.
It was the Democrat Party in the South that supported the Ku Klux Klan.
It was George Wallace and the Democrat Party in the South that said “Segregation Forever”.
It was Orval Faubus and the Democrat Party that wanted the Arkansas National Guard to enforce segregation, and Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican President, that sent the 101st Airborne to integrate the schools.
It was Bull Connor, a member of the Democrat National Committee, who turned the hoses on the marchers in Birmingham, and it was the Republicans who made up the majority that passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, over the filibuster of such Democrat paragons as William Fulbright and Al Gore Sr. — and Grand Kleagle Byrd.
(And no, the Dixiecrats didn’t join the Republican Party – most of them remained Democrats.)
It was the Democrats who kept Grand Kleagle Byrd in the party.
It was Democrats who called General Colin Powell a “house nigger”.
It was Democrats who called Condi Rice — who grew up with and knew the little girls in Birmingham who were blown up, by Democrats — an “Aunt Jemima” and ran cartoons of her with fat lips doing Hattie McDaniel riffs.
It was Democrats, or at least Obama supporters, who called Stacy Dash a hundred different racist names for daring to leave the Democrat plantaion.
It’s the Democrats who hold annual dinners honoring Andrew Jackson, who owned slaves and who orchestrated the Removal, the Trail of Tears, the near genocide of several of the Indian Nations.
So when the Democrats stop having Andrew Jackson dinners, and take Wilson’s name off the bridge in DC, and start taking Grand Kleagle Byrd’s name off of the hundred things named after him, then we can talk about one asshole in the back row of a Romney rally.
This is actually something that has fascinated me since the old Palin Rumors list. A story will start on a satire site — as this one did — and become common knowledge as the truth.
We can just turn this one over to Jake Tapper:
Asked about the Fast and Furious program at the Univision forum on Thursday, President Obama falsely claimed that the program began under President George W. Bush.
“I think it’s important for us to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration,” the president said. “When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned a inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued, confirming that in fact Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and the people who did initiate this were held accountable.”
In actuality, the Fast and Furious program was started in October 2009, nine months into the Obama presidency.
Previous programs involving ATF agents allowing guns to “walk” across the border so as to trace them were run during the Bush presidency, but not this particular “field-initiated program.”
Jeff Greenfield doesn’t like the signs and portents:
[L]ook at the response of the late-night comedians—one of Obama’s securest bases—skewering his debate performance. From David Letterman to Jon Stewart to Bill Maher to the folks on “Saturday Night Live,” they have subjected Obama to something he experienced in the past only from his most zealous foes: ridicule. It is precisely the last thing the Obama campaign needs right now, as it works to gin up excitement among the president’s supporters, especially among the younger voters, for whom 2008 was a time of passionate engagement.
“Come on,” the reply might be. “These are trivial, insignificant items—nothing of real heft.”
So turn instead to one of the more remarkable pronouncements I have seen in recent years from a prominent American journalist: the remarks of CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.
In a speech last week to Chicago’s Better Government Association, Logan, who was brutalized by a mob in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last year, painted a frightening picture of the terrain in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya—and accused the Obama administration of soft-pedaling the dangers there. On the heels of her “60 Minutes” report a week ago Sunday, her remarks amounted to nothing less than a frontal assault on some basic assumptions of Obama’s foreign policy—an area where he retains a significant advantage over Mitt Romney.
Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip?
Some bloody passion shakes your very frame:
These are portents; but yet I hope, I hope,
They do not point on me. — Othello
This one has been back and forth a lot, not helped by the “fact checkers” who apparently took their accounting classes in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Basically, everyone knows that the ObamaCase plan takes $716 billion from out of Medicare and uses it to fund ObamaCare. But is that “cutting Medicare”?
If you ask the Obama supporters, no — because, as Mother Jones (yes, Mother Jones!) put it:
Mitt Romney says that Obamacare cut $716 billion in Medicare spending. Is that true?
Yes it is. This is the most recent estimate from the CBO for the ten-year period from 2013-2022.
So seniors are getting screwed?
No, probably not.
Then who is?
About a third of the cuts come from reduced reimbursements to hospitals. About a third comes from reducing overpayments to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage plans, which are private competitors to standard Medicare. The remaining third comes from cuts in reimbursements to various other healthcare providers. More details here.
Their argument is that it’s not “really” being cut from Medicare because instead of cutting the benefit to seniors, they’re going to cut the amount paid out of those benefits for services.
Just announced by the election commission.
Oct 7 (Reuters) – Supporters of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez began setting off fireworks and partying in the street on Sunday night in anticipation of victory in the presidential election.
Various aides to Chavez published celebratory messages on Twitter, while some supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles began crying at his campaign center, Reuters witnesses said.
“Perfect victory! The fatherland has won,” Tweeted Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami. There was no confirmation from election authorities who have stressed it is illegal to declare victory before an official announcement.
Reported by ABC en Español. More to come…
In the absence of anyone who actually speaks Spanish, here’s a little bit more of my translation:
The candidate of the “Mesa de la Unidad Democratica” (a coalition of opposition parties) …. the consulting firm Varianza has reported their exit polls show 51.3 percent for Henrique Capriles, the opposition candidate, to Hugo Chavez’ 48.06 percent.
These exit polls were published before the polls closed, because the polls were held open for an extra hour because of “long lines”. This is strictly against Venezuelan election law.
6PM PDT: Polls are mostly closed now. The Consejo Nacional Electoral has gone to the counting rooms.
6:13PDT: Univision is reporting that it looks like a clear victory for the challenger: “Univision confirms the trend to Capriles is irreversible” (from a tweet.)
6:19PDT: There’s another report that “credible exit polls” show Chavez with an 9-10 point lead of Capriles….
7:14PDT: They’re teasing a result soon.
8:00PDT: Or maybe not.
Here’s what Sherrie Weston said:
“We are able to raise our funding through philanthropic, through our licensed product, which goes back into the educational programming, through corporate underwriting and sponsorship,” Sherrie Westin, executive VP and chief marketing officer of the Workshop, told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Thursday. “So quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting. But when they always try to tout out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird – that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here.” [Emphasis mine.]
Look, this is a real policy disagreement and normally wouldn’t count as a “rumor”, except first it’s such a great example of the Washington Monument Gambit, and second, frankly, because it’s getting passed around so much.
I think we may have a chance here to pick up one of these crazy rumors as it is being spawned and pushed. This one is being sent around the Web with this text:
In recent weeks, the GOP attack on contraceptives and women’s rights has been returning to the legislative tables, and causing a stir among women’s rights activists and media outlets nationwide.
Now it seems that many within the Republican party who strive to ban contraceptive use also see it as a necessity to prohibit the use of tampons, and seek to ban the sales of these and similar products as soon as possible.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) recently put together an all male panel for discussion at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule and excluded women from the conversation. It seems that he is set to establish a similar group of men to discuss the use of tampons within a woman’s vagina.
It is unnatural for a woman to insert a foreign object into her body for the sake of stopping the menstrual flow. I, as well as several others seek to eliminate the sales of such objects. Women should let nature take care of itself the way that our Almighty Creator intended. To try to manipulate and control such an occurrence goes against God’s plan for women.
Initial drafts of this new legislation have already been brought before Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and several other GOP Congressmen. It is likely to come to a vote as early as next month. If passed, tampons will no longer be available to sell or purchase, and women will have to find an alternative means to alleviate menstrual excreta.
Several Democratic Congresspeople are already petitioning in dissent of this new piece of legislation, and will not give up without a fight to preserve a woman’s right to take care of her own body as she deems most effective.
This is pretty much a classic urban legend: it cites no sources, but it has a lot of little details intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. But then some of those details are … off. Like “Congresspeople petitioning in dissent.” I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that phrase in print, and it immediately raises questions like “petitioning whom?” Googling for that phrase brings up — this same report, repeated over and over. In fact, this complete text appears to be the only place in which this story appears, and it’s not on news sites — although if previous experience is any guide, it will be, reported as “there is a story that” or “it is reported that”.
All in all, this is a pretty fresh one. Steaming.
Update: Okay, so I was a little too subtle, in that the site I cite is a satire site and the probable source. But google for a sentence from the story and see how many times it’s being referenced as true.
Update 2: At 4:33PM PDT, Google gives me 2600 hits of sites reporting it as true. See, for example, here, where it’s now attributed to the Republican Party Platform.
Facebook has blocked Twitchy for posting a censored photo from “I Like Tits”, a twitter feed to which the @BarackObama official titter account subscribes. Here’s the photo:
Facebook notified Twitchy the photo had violated their terms of service. Those who follow my facebook know I’m not at all averse to cheesecake pictures; this one seems pretty darn tame compared to some.
Twitchy is no longer blocked from posting on Facebook. Twitchy’s posts were accidentally removed during Facebook’s review process.
You can sort of see how the Obama fans would believe this. How could the Smartest Man In The Room — for any room — the Lightbringer, the One, be bested intellectually by someone who merely has two Harvard graduate degrees and made a zillion dollars. So it makes sense that Kos, for example, would conclude that Romney must have had help (just as they concluded Bush was getting radio control during the 2004 debate, when he more or less whupped John Kerry):
There is a scandal brewing that suggests that Mitt Romney used crib notes for the debate. This is of course, C-H-E-A-T-I-N-G!, and would be awful if true.
I believe the candidates are only supposed to have a blank piece of paper (pad) and a pen at the podium, provided by the CPD. No notes, this isn’t “open book.”
In a move that might remind many of Joe Niekro ‘s flying emery board Romney seems to have gotten caught taking notes from his pocket and later unfolding it on the podium.
It’s always tempting to fall for conspiracy theories, because they explain everything in a nice neat package. So, naturally enough, a lot of people — including Jack Welch, who should know better — are suggesting that today’s unemployment numbers have been manipulated down.
In fact, if you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, it’s unlikely that anything has been manipulated — which would be hard to do without being caught anyway — because you can see exactly how the change happened. Here’s the net-net:
- net 114,000 new full-time jobs
- net 456,000 people who left the unemployed list — discouraged or whatever
- net 600,000 people added to part-time workers.
What distinguishes part-time workers from full-time? In general, part-time workers don’t get benefits — like health insurance.
What these numbers seem to be telling us is that it’s too expensive to pay for benefits.
The Washington Examiner asks “Was Obama rattled by developing donor scandal story?”
President Obama [sic] reelection campaign, rattled by his Wednesday night debate performance, could be in for even worse news. According to knowlegable sources, a national magazine and a national web site are preparing a blockbuster donor scandal story. ….
According to the sources, a taxpayer watchdog group conducted a nine-month investigation into presidential and congressional fundraising and has uncovered thousands of cases of credit card solicitations and donations to Obama and Capitol Hill, allegedly from unsecure accounts, and many from overseas. That might be a violation of federal election laws.
(My young friend “Bill Reader” passes this along…)
I have not got much time to write this, so I will keep it brief. This is all to the good in the current political environment anyway. The last couple of projects I have started have become non-topical before I could find sufficient mental space to comment on them.
Right now, I want to talk to you… you personally… about how battles are won and lost. Why? Because your life depends on it, soldier. You… sitting there in your office chair and grimacing at the unspeakable horrors that crawl out of the president’s mouth like under-boiled crawdads… are really sitting on the front lines of a war. And you will fight in it, like it or not, because out here there is just one alternative. Don’t believe me? Take one look at that debt clock, and then go ask those master clock-makers in Greece what happens when that sucker ticks too long. The life on the line in the culture war is your life. It’s time to take it seriously.
Now, we don’t have the luxury of a boot camp out here, and if we did, we wouldn’t have the time to train you. But that’s all right. Out here on civilian street, we’ve got it a lot easier than the brave men and women from our armed services who fight on dusty battlefields, instead of from a comfortable desk. All you really need out here is a philosophy.
Romney’s real sin was resorting to an age-old cheap debating tactic, called “The Coherent Sentence.” Obama, being a very ethical fellow, refrained from such chicanery.
Don’t miss some of the other excuses being offered….
To: Charlie Martin
I hope I made you proud out there explaining the vision we share for this country. Just four short years ago, I defined a new moral course for this country, a course in which the poor would be uplifted, the rich would be made to pay for their centuries of oppression, the rising seas would return to their proper shores; every valley would be exalted, and the crooked would be made straight.
In last night’s dominating performance, I …
oh, who am I kidding? I sucked. It was a cold cold ride back to the hotel, and I’m not talking about the crazy Colorado weather. Sweetie was so mad the Secret Service guy insisted on sitting between us in the limo. I tried to comfort her. “Baby, please. Look, think about Eleanor Roosevelt — she was an icon for her entire life. She helped found the UN, she –”
“Yeah. And Franklin Roosevelt was dead.” She gave me The Look; the Secret Service guy instinctively turned to take it on his own body, but it was too late. ”If you died in office, maybe.” (Mental note: have the Secret Service taste my food until she calms down.)
Look, I don’t really feel like chatting; I’m just writing to remind you that the campaign isn’t over — honest! — and we’re still looking for donations. Send $10, $5, even $1 — anything will help. You can log into the website and make a donation with your credit card. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be your credit card — it’s not like we’re checking. By the time it’s noticed and charged back, I’ll be planning my library and talking to Bill about ghosting my memoirs.
Maybe I can run for Secretary-General. Ban Ki Moon is a puppet of the special interests, the oil companies. Yeah, that’s it.
I’ve got another long piece on polling and sample theory coming out real soon now (it has been a kinda busy week) but in the meantime, I wanted to point something out.
Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.
Is Al Gore coming to town for the debates?
Before I started trying to catalog the various Romney Rumors — to which I’m now adding Obama Myths starting today — I pointed out something odd I’d noticed: that Obama’s term in office had started peculiarly late. At least, it seemed that all 2009 spending had been signed by Bush (although the budget was signed in March 2009 and the Stimulus was signed in February), and Fast and Furious, started in late October 2009 was supposed to have started under Bush.
We learned today that according to Nancy Pelosi, assignment of diplomatic security in Benghazi, which is done by the State Department, was also weak because the Republicans did it.
So I thought we should crowd-source this a little bit: in the comments, please link me examples of the Democrats saying that something actually happened during the Bush Administration or under Republican control of the Executive functions.
I used to travel 200,000 miles a year or more, so I have plenty of airline horror stories, but this isn’t one. Amanda Green recounts how US Air failed, and American Airlines came through:
Frustrated because US Air wasn’t willing work with him, the soldier made his way to American Airlines and, by chance, to my mother who was working in that terminal. He wanted to know if there was anything Mom could do to help him. Since she doesn’t work for the airline, she did the only thing she could. She escorted him to the nearest AA ticket agent.
And this is where I give kudos to American. The agent not only understood what the problem was, but he went above and beyond to help the young soldier. He not only started working his terminal to see what sort of flight arrangements he could make for the soldier, but he got on the phone to US Air to see if he could get them to do the right thing. Handing that phone to Mom to monitor while he was on hold with US Air, he picked up another phone and placed a call that turned out to be to one of the high mucky-mucks for American.
Read it all.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite two explosions and dozens of other security threats, U.S. officials in Washington turned down repeated pleas from American diplomats in Libya to increase security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed, leaders of a House committee asserted Tuesday.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said their information came from “individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya.”
Issa, R-Calif. and Chaffetz, R-Utah said the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months before Sept. 11.
As just reported by my colleague Bob Owens, not only has Romney worked as a garbageman, he even used the same line about how garbagemen are invisible.
Raising the question of whether AFSCME’s ad agency are fools, plagiarists, or actually working for Romney.
That’s the way it looks:
A new film starring Matt Damon presents American oil and natural gas producers as money-grubbing villains purportedly poisoning rural American towns. It is therefore of particular note that it is financed in part by the royal family of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.
The creators of Promised Land have gone to absurd lengths to vilify oil and gas companies, as Scribe’s Michael Sandoval noted Wednesday. Since recent events have demonstrated the relative environmental soundness of hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations – Promised Land’s script has been altered to make doom-saying environmentalists the tools of oil companies attempting to discredit legitimate “fracking” concerns.
While left-leaning Hollywood often targets supposed environmental evildoers, Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits. A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which is running PR for the film, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE.
It is, of course, completely accidental that fracking is one of the technologies bringing energy production back to the US.
MSNBC wants you to think so:
On Wednesday, MSNBC aired a clip of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney leading what looks like a failed “Romney-Ryan” chant at a campaign stop in Ohio on Tuesday, prompting an embarrassed Joe Scarborough to mutter “Oh, sweet Jesus” and a purse-lipped Mika Brzezinski to ask “What’s wrong with those people?” You can see our coverage of Scarborough’s outburst here, but we’ve included the clip as a refresher:
Blaze readers who were there didn’t agree:
“I … [was] near the front of the crowd and Paul Ryan had just finished speaking,” Michele Jewett of Carlisle, Ohio, told TheBlaze in an email.
“He introduced Governor Romney and handed the microphone to him. Gov. Romney said, ‘What about that Paul Ryan’ and the crowd immediately started chanting, ‘Romney, Romney‘ not ’Ryan, Ryan’ like the closed captioning on the MSNBC video stated,” she adds.
Indeed, the MSNBC closed captions claims the was crowd chanting “Ryan!“ when attendees say they were actually chanting ”Romney!” Obviously, this changes a lot about the situation. Instead of awkwardly inserting his name into what sounds like a failed chant, Gov. Romney was actually including his running mate in a crowd chant of his own name.
“Mitt said, ‘Let’s try this, Romney/Ryan, Romney/Ryan, I like that better!‘ Jewett’s email continues. “I thought to myself ‘what a humble guy to include Ryan in our chant.’”
And C-SPAN lets you decide for yourself.
Remember: they think you’re sheep.
When Roger Simon wrote in Politico Wednesday that Paul Ryan’s new nickname for Mitt Romney is “Stench,” a number of news outlets — from MSNBC to Mediaite — took it seriously.
Simon told BuzzFeed: “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”
As Buzzfeed points out, the list of people who fell for it is long and
- Lawrence O’Donnell
- Daily Kos
- Tommy Christopher at Mediaite (who’s already banned me for having caught him making a fool of himself once too often; apparently that doesn’t mean he learned a lesson.)
- Comedy Central
- Paul Krugman
I think I’m going to create an official Sheep Award for people who fall for these things.
Obama’s campaign is now running this video:
Is it true? In a word, no, and several groups have pointed it out. FactCheck.org for example:
According to Romney’s 2010 tax return, he had an adjusted gross income of about $21.7 million in 2010 and paid about $3 million in taxes. That comes to an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent. That’s considerably less than the amount paid by most people with that high of an income, but in Romney’s case most of his income comes from dividends and capital gains — which are taxed at 15 percent rather than the highest marginal rate of 35 percent. Romney dipped below the 15 percent threshold because he donated about 14 percent of his income to charity.
The question, though, is whether Romney paying 14 percent is “probably less than you.”
It’s not if you look strictly at the income tax paid to the IRS. Scott Hodge, president of the business-backed Tax Foundation, released a report based on 2009 IRS tax data that found 97 percent of American tax filers paid a lower rate of income tax than Romney did. The bottom 40 percent of tax filers pay no income tax at all, or receive a refund, Hodge told us in a phone interview, and so “by definition, those people are paying less than Mitt Romney.” On average, Hodge said, people making between $100,000 and $200,000 paid about 12 percent in federal income taxes. That’s less than Romney’s 13.9 percent, and people making less than $200,000 represent more than 97 percent of all tax filers.
In fact, at 14 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center, Romney pays a higher rate than 97 percent of Americans.
Of course, that considers income tax only. What about with payroll taxes? Then it edges up. Again from FactCheck.org:
But there’s another way to look at this, and that is to include payroll taxes, those often unnoticed taxes that are usually withheld from an employee’s paycheck to pay for such things as Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance. The employer also pays payroll taxes for each employee, money that arguably would go to an employee if the company didn’t have to pay it. Together, those payroll taxes actually account for the lion’s share of federal taxes most people pay.
In February, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center released an analysis that found that when you include income tax and payroll taxes paid both by the employee and employer, people in the middle 20 percent paid an effective rate of 15.5 percent. That’s a higher percentage than Romney (who paid no payroll taxes because he declared no wages or salary in 2010).
I’ll just note in passing that if the Obama campaign is making that argument, it would be the first time in living memory that a Democrat has admitted the employer’s share of FICA was a tax on the employee. Romney, being retired as far as the tax law goes — no wages, living entirely on investment income — doesn’t pay employment taxes.
But what about all those people in the Obama video who say they’re paying much more? The problem is that most people confuse their actual tax rate and their marginal rate. Your actual tax rate is easily calculated: take how much tax you paid over your total income. The marginal rate is what you pay on your next dollar of income at your current, basically what the tax tables tell you when you do your taxes. But because we have a progressive tax system, that’s not your total tax rate. Say you make $50,000 — the first $20,000 or so has a tax rate of zero. The next maybe $25,000 is taxed at, say, 12 percent. Then, in this admittedly contrived example, you get to that last $5000, and it’s taxed at your marginal rate, say 20 percent. But you remember your marginal rate and think your actual tax rate is 20 percent.
Oh, my, this was popular yesterday. See, eg, the LA Times:
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”
Making post-fundraiser comments this weekend, presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed a tenuous grip on the science of aviation, despite the fact that he and his wife, Ann, have been flying around the country this summer on the campaign trail.
After his wife’s plane was forced to make an emergency landing this weekend,Romney told the Los Angeles Times, he was worried for her safety. The candidate then continued on a bizarre tangent that showed just how little the Republican nominee understands about flight.
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney told the paper. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly.”
HuffPo added an update to the same article:
UPDATE: He was for rolling down airplane windows before he was against it.
Mitt Romney gave the Internet – and Rachel Maddow – a chuckle Monday after post-fundraiser comments that appeared to show the candidate has a tenuous grasp on the physics of flight.
But after Mitt Romney was quoted as saying that airplane windows “don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that,” a campaign pool reporter says the candidate was joking.
Ashley Parker, a New York Times reporter who filed on the comments, tells New Yorkmagazine that “it was clear from the context that he was not being serious.”
Dan Amira at New York magazine did a little fact checking and found (emphasis mine):
The Los Angeles Times story that relayed Romney’s airplane remark to the world was based off a pool report written by the New York Times‘s Ashley Parker. When we asked Parker this morning whether it seemed as if Romney made the mark in jest, she left no doubt. “Romney was joking,” she e-mailed. Parker told us that while the pool report didn’t explicitly indicate that Romney was joking, it was self-evident that he was. ”The pool report provided the full transcript of his comments on Ann’s plane scare,” she said, “and it was clear from the context that he was not being serious.”