Visual source: Newseum
Carla Hall at The Los Angeles Times:
[A]ll of Romney’s actions make up the whole of his character. And in this case [bullying others as a student], whether he did it or didn’t do it or can’t remember, he should be, today, nothing less than mortified at the idea of anyone doing what his former classmates told the Washington Post he did.
But sensitivity is not Romney’s strong suit. This is the man who, as a Mormon lay leader, according to a New York Times report, showed up at a hospital once to confront and warn a woman against having an abortion -- which her doctors had advised her to undergo -- when she was being treated for a dangerous blood clot. And this is the same guy who tied his dog in a crate on the roof of the car for hourslong family road trips years ago. Even there, he couldn’t muster any regret. Asked by ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if he would transport his dog like that again, he chuckled and said, “Certainly not now with the all the attention it’s received.”
No one ever accused Romney of not being pragmatic.
at The Los Angeles Times
After Romney’s campaign spokesperson initially denied the story, Romney went on Fox radio to say he did not remember the incident, but he was sorry about it anyway. “I’m a very different person than I was in high school, of course, but I’m glad I learned as much as I did during those high school years,” Romney said in the radio interview.
Well, I assume he is different, just as Obama is different from the kid he was. Still, Romney could not seem to suppress a nervous chuckle as he talked about the bullying episode, just as the same chuckle erupts when he talks about firing people. It makes a person wonder if the guy has empathy for people who are different from him, who have not lived the privileged life he has enjoyed.
The rap on Obama has been that he is a little too cool and aloof. The rap on Romney may be that he is just plain callous.
at The New Yorker
And how far has Romney moved? This story is resonant because one can, all too easily, see Romney walking away even now, or simply failing to connect, to grasp hurt. How he talks about this incident will be impossible to divorce from how he talks about same-sex marriage in the wake of President Obama’s announcement, and about questions of basic dignity for gay and lesbian Americans. But unless he deals with it soundly, it will also be present as people wonder about his compassion for anyone not as well situated and cosseted as he has always been. Who else might he walk away from? Until now, the campaign has talked about his fondness for pranks as a way to humanize him; his wife called him wild and crazy. Is this what they think that means?
Can Romney, in the end, see this story from anyone’s perspective but his own? There were two vantage points on the campus of Cranbrook that day: Romney’s, looking at Lauber; and that of Lauber, who was figuring out who he was, with his newly dyed hair “draped over his eye,” or earlier, at a mirror, wondering how it looked. One hopes he decided it was beautiful, and never changed his mind.
Mitt Romney clashed with a state commission tasked with helping LGBT youth at risk for bullying and suicide throughout his term as Massachusetts governor over funding and its participation in a pride parade. He eventually abolished the group altogether.
Speaking of callous...Jonathan Bertsein
at The Washington Post
[T]he spending Republicans are protecting with today’s vote — on the military — is among the very least popular category of federal spending. As John Sides noted last year, only “culture and the arts” spending polled worse than “military and defense.”
Todd S. Purdum
So House Republicans prefer a cut-spending-only approach that is unpopular, and within that they are protecting relatively unpopular defense spending by slashing more-popular spending on social services. And to top it all off, they’re doing it on yet another vote that they don’t need to take, given that it’s going nowhere now that it’s passed the House. Just as they did, of course, by twice passing Paul Ryan’s budgets, cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, and several other votes.
Either House Republicans don’t believe the polling; or they want to excite their base supporters; or they believe their own spin that the public will reward them for trying to do something “serious” about spending; or they want to give Members a vote on steep spending cuts before negotiations with Dems get serious. Whatever it is, all these votes will make for some devastating Dem attack ads in many House races this fall.
pens a must-read in Vanity Fair
In recent decades the Republican Party has become something it really has not been since the Civil War: a radical insurgency bent on upending the prevailing practices of the national government seemingly at any cost. For most of its history the Republican Party was something else entirely: a steward of the status quo. It was the Democrats who were historically on the barricades in the fight for radical change. But the Democrats these days have turned into the stewards—beleaguered defenders of the government and country we have evolved into. The two great national parties have, in some fundamental sense, switched roles during the past 50 years. This inversion—the Big Flip—isn’t neat or exact, but it’s a substantial reality and it’s substantially complete.
We can already see the next six months in American politics: Tit for tat. Blow for blow. You’re Richie Rich. You’re Jimmy Carter. This is what presidential elections have been about since 1800. The only difference is that we have YouTube instead of the Pony Express, so the noise is louder and more constant.
But discerning voters need to understand the deep philosophical distinctions between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama even if they don’t lend themselves to campaign slogans or barbs.
Labels such as “conservative” and “liberal” are worn out. “Right-wing” doesn’t fit Romney, who describes himself as “severely conservative” but isn’t a wing nut. “Left-wing” is an inaccurate description of the president, whose most “leftist” initiative -- Obamacare -- is modeled on plans proposed by those noted Bolsheviks Bob Dole and Howard Baker.
A more useful distinction may be between venture capitalists and human capitalists.
at The New York Times
What does it mean to say that we have a structural unemployment problem? The usual version involves the claim that American workers are stuck in the wrong industries or with the wrong skills. A widely cited recent article by Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago asserts that the problem is the need to move workers out of the “bloated” housing, finance and government sectors.
The New York Times editorial board
Actually, government employment per capita has been more or less flat for decades, but never mind — the main point is that contrary to what such stories suggest, job losses since the crisis began haven’t mainly been in industries that arguably got too big in the bubble years. Instead, the economy has bled jobs across the board, in just about every sector and every occupation, just as it did in the 1930s. Also, if the problem was that many workers have the wrong skills or are in the wrong place, you’d expect workers with the right skills in the right place to be getting big wage increases; in reality, there are very few winners in the work force.
All of this strongly suggests that we’re suffering not from the teething pains of some kind of structural transition that must gradually run its course but rather from an overall lack of sufficient demand — the kind of lack that could and should be cured quickly with government programs designed to boost spending.
For more than a year, House Republicans have energetically worked to demolish vital social programs that have made this country both stronger and fairer over the last half-century. At the same time, they have insisted on preserving bloated military spending and unjustifiably low tax rates for the rich. That effort reached a nadir on Thursday when the House voted to prevent $55 billion in automatic cuts imposed on the Pentagon as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, choosing instead to make all those cuts, and much more, from domestic programs.
In all, the bill would cut $310 billion from domestic programs; a third of that comes out of programs that serve low- and moderate-income people. Other provisions would slash by half the budget of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was set up after the financial meltdown to protect consumers from predatory lending and other abuses, and reduce the pay of federal workers.
Fortunately, it will never be taken up in the Senate, where the majority leader, Harry Reid, has said it would “shred the social safety net in order to protect tax breaks for the rich and inflate defense spending.”