Published: Tuesday 14 February 2012
“But to have both unlimited and undisclosed donations, Hoersting noted, activists can form a so-called 501(c)4, named for the section of the Internal Revenue Service code on social-welfare nonprofits.”

The big Republican names were all at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., last week: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Sarah Palin.

The three-day conference, known as CPAC and hosted by the American Conservative Union, drew about 11,000 participants and 1,300 journalists, who crammed into the Marriott's ballroom for the big speeches.

While most attention focused on Republican presidential hopefuls and other party luminaries, we opted to take a spin around panels and events devoted to fundraising. They were a window into how money might be raised this election cycle, through new-fangled super PACs and their even more opaque nonprofit sidekicks, as well as through more old-fashioned tactics.

One conference panel -- "What's Up With Campaign Finance?" -- featured some of the lawyers who helped win the recent court decisions, such as Citizens United, that cleared the way for the new, more free-wheeling campaign-finance landscape.

At one point, moderator and lawyer Dan Backer predicted the eventual overhaul of the Federal Election Campaign Act of the 1970s, which he crowed "has been brutalized and made Swiss cheese by the courts, thanks to the folks on this panel."

At another point, panelist Benjamin Barr, a constitutional lawyer, joked about the hoopla over Citizens United and the worry that it would lead to a campaign-finance "apocalypse."

"If there's an apocalypse upon us, I suppose we have the four ...

Published: Monday 30 January 2012
“Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas-based global casino baron who has long been a major funder of far-right-wing causes, is Newt Gingrich’s very special political pal.”

Already, four of the top GOP presidential contenders have dropped out. Michele Bachmann went first, because she was too wacky, followed by Jon Huntsman, because he was too sane. Herman Cain gave up because he was too exposed, and Rick Perry because he was too dim-witted.

But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, has made his mark in Florida, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.

Never heard of the Adelson campaign? It's the married duo of Sheldon and Miriam, neither of whom is actually on the ballot. Rather, they are running on the cash ticket.


Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas-based global casino baron who has long been a major funder of far-right-wing causes, is Newt Gingrich's very special political pal.

When Newt's presidential bid nearly flat-lined after his electoral collapses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sheldon rushed in with emergency CPR: Cash-Powered Resuscitation. This one rich ...

Published: Tuesday 3 January 2012
“The 2012 Iowa Caucuses by the numbers.”

We bring you the 2012 Iowa Caucuses by the numbers:

20/19/18: The percentages for the top three GOP contenders (Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum) in an Iowa survey released Sunday by Public Policy Polling.

49: The percentage of likely caucus-goers who said last week in a Des Moines Register poll that their mind was still not made up.

1: The percent of the American electorate that lives in Iowa, site of the nation's earliest presidential contest.

5: The percentage of Iowa voters who participated in the 2008 GOP caucuses.

24: The percentage of New Hampshire voters who participated in that state's 2008 GOP primary (New Hampshire is the next contest after Iowa).

0.06: The percentage of American voters who will be caucusing on Tuesday in Iowa if turnout is the same as it was in 2008.

0.015: The percentage of American voters who will be voting Tuesday for the winner of the Iowa Caucuses, if recent opinion polls are accurate.

Published: Friday 9 December 2011
“Last week in South Carolina, Gingrich scoffed at the idea that he needed to work as a lobbyist; after all, he noted, he is paid $60,000 a speech.”

Who would have thought that Republican voters would prove so accepting of sin? At least when it’s committed by a white guy, like the serial philanderer Newt Gingrich, who betrayed not one but two wives while they were enduring serious medical difficulties.

In the latest New York Times/CBS poll of Iowa Republicans, alleged philanderer Herman Cain’s once impressive support shifts to the new front-runner, Gingrich, whose richer history of marital deceit is not a problem even for the self-described evangelical Christian voters who favor him over Mitt Romney by a ratio of 3-1.

It is the first time that I have felt sympathy for a candidate experiencing the prejudice directed at a practicing Mormon. Clearly the ultimate of “squeaky clean” doesn’t cut it for a presidential contender of that faith among Republican Christian “values voters,” even when he is compared with a sexual roué of Gingrich’s considerable magnitude.

Or perhaps it is Newt’s peerless capacity to mask moral hypocrisy with the appearance of religious propriety, first as a Protestant and now as a Roman Catholic, that endears him to other Republicans who wear their religion on their sleeves. Many of those were willing to tear the country apart over the sexual wanderings of a Democrat in the White House, but now they are quite willing to send someone of ...

Published: Monday 5 December 2011
“A party that lived by the tea crowd in 2010 is being severely hobbled by it now.”


The contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination has been described as a reality show and a circus. But what’s happening inside the GOP is quite rational and easily explained.

The obvious Republican nominee was Texas Gov. Rick Perry — obvious because his government-bashing, ideology-mongering, secessionist-flirting persona was a perfect fit for a Republican primary electorate that has shifted far to the right of Ronald Reagan.


The yearning for someone like Perry was inevitable. He combined the right views — actually, very right views — with experience as a chief executive that made him seem like somebody who was ready to be president.

Consider that even before he had gotten into the race, mere word that he might run sent Republican voters scrambling his way. He already had 18 percent to Romney’s 23 percent in a late July Gallup poll. Michele Bachmann was next at 13 percent. At that point, Newt Gingrich was at 6 percent and Herman Cain was at 4 percent.

After Perry announced his candidacy, he soared. The Aug. 17-21 Gallup ...

Published: Sunday 4 December 2011
His farewell was trademark Cain: confident, cheeky and challenging of political convention.

His popularity sinking and his credibility under attack, Herman Cain suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Saturday in a defiant, unapologetic blaze of glory.

For all practical purposes, Cain's suspension means he has dropped out, ending his quest for the White House because of the political damage cause by allegations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity.

"I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family — not because we are not fighters, not because I'm not a fighter," the former Godfather's Pizza CEO told a loyal hometown crowd in Atlanta.

Cain, who has denied all the allegations, was accompanied by his wife, Gloria, in a rare campaign appearance. He said that he and his family were "at peace" over the ordeal.

His decision likely caused the party hierarchy to relax a little as well. Cain's personal drama had become a distraction, drawing attention away from the rest of the GOP field.

Many in the Republican establishment also never thought Cain was a serious candidate to begin with, despite his ability to draw support. He had little in the way of ground organizations in key early states, and his travel scheduled sometimes seemed to ...

Published: Tuesday 29 November 2011
“In an interview Monday night, Ginger White told WAGA, the Fox News outlet in Atlanta: ‘It was pretty simple. It wasn’t complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate relationship.’”

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain faced new allegations Monday concerning his conduct with women, this time from an Atlanta woman who claimed that they had a 13-year affair.

In an interview Monday night, Ginger White told WAGA, the Fox News outlet in Atlanta: "It was pretty simple. It wasn't complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate relationship."

Even before her interview aired, Cain took the offensive. He quickly went on CNN to talk about the impending allegations and to deny them.

"No," the former Godfather's Pizza executive said adamantly, when asked whether he had had an affair with White.

"This individual is going to accuse me of an affair for an extended period of time," Cain said. "It is someone that I know who is an acquaintance that I thought was a friend."

Cain said that he would wait until he heard White's story before reacting further, but he said that he had nothing to hide. Cain also said that he was more concerned about the impact of the allegations on his family than on his campaign.

"I can take the lumps," he told CNN.

Published: Wednesday 23 November 2011
Gingrich said there is a difference between criminals and terrorists, and that they should be treated differently — criminals with all due process of civilian law, but terrorists treated under the rules of war.

Republican presidential candidates grappled Tuesday over how to balance civil liberties and security, as they engaged in a lively and substantive debate over how best to protect Americans from threats around the world.

With the Iowa caucuses, the nation's first political test of 2012, only six weeks away, the eight GOP hopefuls clashed over how to address U.S. trouble spots from Pakistan to the Mexican border.

The debate, co-sponsored by CNN and two conservative policy-research centers, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, was the first in 10 days and the first since former House Speaker Newt Gingrich vaulted to the top in several national polls.

The candidates generally refrained from criticizing one another sharply. Instead, they politely but aggressively clashed over how to restrain Iran, after the United States and its allies Monday increased financial pressure on Iran with new sanctions on that nation's central bank and energy sector.

"We need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with minimum use of force," Gingrich said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry insisted the U. S. needs tougher sanctions against the Iranian central bank. ...

Published: Sunday 20 November 2011
“The United States has long considered waterboarding to be torture.”

At last week’s debate, Republican presidential candidates Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman defended waterboarding. Cain said, “I don't see it as torture. I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique,” which is what the Bush administration used to call its policy of torture and abuse. Bachman declared, “If I were president, I would be willing to use waterboarding. I think it was very effective. It gained information for our country.” And after the debate, Mitt Romney’s aides told CNN that he does not think waterboarding is torture.

President Obama correctly retorted, “Waterboarding is torture.” He added, “Anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that is torture - and that’s not something we do, period.”

The United States has long considered waterboarding to be torture. Several federal court opinions refer to waterboarding as torture. Our government prosecuted, convicted and hung Japanese military leaders following World War II for waterboarding. The U.S. War Crimes Act defines torture as a war crime.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Yoo have all admitted participating in decisions to waterboard detainees, knowing that interrogators would carry out their orders. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, commanders all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief can be prosecuted for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them and the commanders did nothing to stop or prevent it. Therefore, Bush, Cheney, and Yoo have admitted to the commission of war crimes.

But by refusing to investigate them for their admitted torture, the Obama administration has given the Bush officials a free pass.

Moreover, Bachman was wrong when she claimed torture is effective. Former high level FBI interrogators, ...

Published: Wednesday 16 November 2011
“The jokes of the infantile Limbaugh, the attacks on women whose claims were treated seriously by their employers, suggest some slippage in the women’s movement.”

We are deep into the presidential election season — 10 debates on the Republican side, constant campaigning on the Democratic side — and all we can say we have learned for sure is that any woman who levels a charge of sexual harassment at a GOP candidate is going to be pummeled by the conservative media and treated like a cross between a crank and a witch. In the reddest, angriest parts of America, it is best for an aggrieved woman just to shut up.

The furious counterattack against the women who in the past had accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment was led by Rush Limbaugh, who occupies a vast electronic locker room, making jokes that would be considered immature in junior high school. When one of Cain’s accusers, Karen Krau­shaar, said she’d like to coordinate her remarks with other Cain accusers, Limbaugh wondered why: “Do they want to synchronize their menstrual periods? Why appear together?” You can just hear the towel snap.


As is his custom, Limbaugh accused irate women (and men) of not getting the joke — of being too PC. ...

Published: Monday 14 November 2011
“While Gingrich had the Cheney style down, Romney went full Cheney with the groundless suggestion that Obama would do nothing to prevent nuclear proliferation.”

There is not a lot of fresh polling data on Dick Cheney. While it is fair to say that the numbers are probably a bit better than they were when the CBS News/New York Times team found in the final poll of the Bush-Cheney era that the outgoing vice president had a 13 percent favorable rating, there’s no evidence to suggest that Americans have warmed in any substantial way to the country’s chief advocate for war, torture, surveillance and secrecy.

Except, this is, for the Americans who are considered front-runners in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

With the exception of Ron Paul (who is actually right about a lot of issues) and John Huntsman (who is actually rational), the crowd on stage at Satirday night’s “Republican Commander-in-Chief Debate” in South Carolina oozed Cheneyism.

Mitt Romney, the frontrunner Republicans love to hate, and Newt Gingrich, the next alternative to Romneyevitability, sparred over who was more prepared to go nuclear with Iran. Gingrich advocated assassination (“taking out their scientists”) and massive disruption (“breaking up their systems, all of it covertly, all of it deniable”) as first steps. Then war. Romney went with rank partisanship: “If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.”

While Gingrich had the Cheney style down, Romney went full Cheney with the groundless suggestion that Obama would do nothing to prevent nuclear proliferation. Cheney points to Mitt.

 Gingrich upped the ante by fretting that the “Arab Spring” is becoming an ...

Published: Sunday 13 November 2011
Published: Sunday 13 November 2011
“Here’s an outside-the-box observation: There’s room for a draft campaign for someone not running now.”

You knew it would come around to a moment for Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum, and Gingrich is the first guy up. I put it that way because conservative Republicans keep trying to elevate an alternative to Romney, but the alternative keeps crashing. And here’s an outside-the-box observation:  There’s room for a draft campaign for someone not running now.

These conclusions are inspired by a new CBS News Poll. Here is their clear summary of the results:

The field of Republican candidates now has three candidates within striking distance of each other at the top of the list: with 18 percent, Herman Cain is in the top spot, followed by Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich with 15% each. Support for both Cain and Romney has declined since late last month, and Gingrich is the only one of the top three whose support is steadily - if slowly - on the upswing.

Cain has lost support among women since late October. Then, he led among women, garnering 28 percent of their support. Now, his support among women is just 15 percent. He has also lost ground with conservatives, from 30 percent to 23 percent now. And there has ...

Published: Sunday 13 November 2011
“Perhaps, given the weakness of the opposing candidates, Romney can still skate by.”

Mitt Romney, blessed with a series of self-destructing opponents, still needs to come up with a better way to address his history of flip-flops. His current argument boils down to asking voters, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying ears?” This is not going to fly.

Romney made the jaw-dropping claim to a New Hampshire editorial board that his problem wasn’t flip-flopping — it was being insufficiently robotic. “I’ve been as consistent as human beings can be,” the former Massachusetts governor insisted. “I cannot state every single issue in exactly the same words every single time, and so there are some folks who, obviously, for various political and campaign purposes will try and find some change and draw great attention to something which looks like a change which in fact is entirely consistent.”

Pressed during the CNBC debate Wednesday night, Romney repeated his consistency argument — this time topped off with an ode to his long-lasting marriage and an attack on President Obama.

“I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy,” he said. “I don’t think you are going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do. I have been married to the same woman . . .for 42 years. I have ...

Published: Saturday 12 November 2011
“Considering Rick Perry’s debate gaffes and the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain, are there any viable GOP alternatives to Mitt Romney?”

David Corn and Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, joined Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball to discuss the latest poll results for the Republican presidential candidates. Considering Rick Perry’s debate gaffes and the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain, are there any viable GOP alternatives to Mitt Romney?

Published: Saturday 12 November 2011
The latest debate among Republicans was a tame one, but still needed factual corrections.

The latest debate among Republican candidates for president was a tame affair that produced few factual claims needing correction. Candidates stuck mostly to promises and expressions of their conservative faith in free markets, and their disdain for government.

The debate was held Nov. 9 at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and included eight candidates: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

We won’t go into the audience booing when Cain was asked about the sexual-harassment issue that has dogged him for the past week, or Perry experiencing a brain freeze when trying to remember the third federal agency he intended to eliminate upon becoming president. (He later remembered that it was the Department of Energy, which is responsible for the nation’s nuclear arsenal, among other things.) Our job is to look for false or misleading factual claims. And this time we found only minor quibbles. Here’s the sort of thing we mean:

Cain: $430 Billion Compliance Costs

Cain said Americans ...

Published: Saturday 12 November 2011
“Instead of a big debate about the basics (how to truly restore jobs and wages, financial capitalism versus product capitalism, the place and role of America in the world, how to rescue our democracy), we’re likely to have a superficial debate over symbols (the budget deficit, the size of government, whether we need a ‘businessman’ at the helm).”

Polls show Americans angrier and more polarized than at any time since the Vietnam War. That’s not surprising. We have the worst economy since the Great Recession and the worst politics in living memory. The rise of the regressive right over the last three decades has finally spurred a progressive reaction. Occupiers and others have had enough.

Yet paradoxically the presidential race that officially begins a few months from now is likely to be as passionless as they come.

President Obama will be supported by progressives and the Democratic base, but without enthusiasm. His notorious caves to Republicans and Wall Street — failing to put conditions on the Street’s bailout (such as demanding the Street ...

Published: Friday 11 November 2011
As an alleged harasser of women, at least Herman Cain was a classier act then Bill Clinton.

As he prepares to follow Gov. Rick Perry into the oubliette of history, Herman Cain can at least console himself that as an alleged harasser of women, his was certainly a classier act than that of a man who not only got elected president in 1992, but was triumphantly re-elected in 1996 by 47.5 million Americans armed with the knowledge that if you left your wife at the table next to Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas in Macdonald's, by the time you got back from ordering another round of fries, Bill would be ensconced in your seat, his hand already hovering above your wife's thigh.

Sharon Bialek, one of the women accusing Cain of seeking to take advantage of her when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in 1997, says that her apprehensions were aroused when in his car, having offered to drive her home, Cain told her he'd called Washington's Capital Hilton and upgraded her accommodations to a luxury suite. It was only after this material demonstration of his high regard that Cain put his hand up her skirt and then sought to guide her head towards his lower regions. Bialek says the minute she said, "No," Cain abandoned his advances and drove her home.

A luxury suite! One of Clinton's targets, when he was governor of Arkansas, would have been lucky to get a ride home in the troop car, after a brusque encounter in the governor's office, with bruises on her arms when she resisted the guiding hand. Who says this isn't the land of progress? Seventy years ago, a black man making the sort of advances of which Cain is accused tended to end up swinging from the branch of a tree, not running for president with a hefty quotient of Americans saying they don't give a fig about the harassment charges.

Actually, Cain has never had a prayer of getting the Republican nomination. He didn't have the money or the big backers. His star began to rise when the Tea Party crowd figured Gov. Rick Perry of Texas as ...

Published: Thursday 10 November 2011
“Pressed on the looming European debt crisis, the eight candidates sounded a similar refrain against any direct U.S. aid to stem it.”

Republican presidential candidates drew a bright line against government help for the private economy Wednesday night, whether it’s to bail out the U.S. auto industry at home or ease a debt crisis in Italy that could threaten the world economy.

"Europe is able to take care of its own problems," said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. "We don't want to step in and try to bail out their banks and bail out their governments."

“We are not going to pick winners and losers from Washington, D.C.,” added Texas Gov. Rick Perry, summing up a broad consensus among the candidates in a debate here.

The debate focused on the economy in an industrial state that's been in an economic slump for a decade, but it's more likely to be remembered for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's stumbling. Perry, who fell from the top tier of candidates in most polls this fall after weak debate performances, struggled Wednesday after he said there are three government agencies "when I get there that are gone."

Texas Rep. Ron Paul told him he needed five. Perry seemed flustered. He named the Commerce and Education Departments but couldn’t come up with his own third target agency. The Environmental Protection Agency was suggested.

"EPA, there you go," Perry said.

"Seriously, is the EPA the one you were talking about?" asked moderator John Harwood.

"No sir, no sir," Perry said, explaining that the EPA "needs to be rebuilt."

Perry tried again, citing the Education Department. He looked quizzically at the moderators. "Commerce and let's see, I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops," Perry said. Later, he said he’d meant to cite the Energy Department.

The clash among eight GOP candidates at Oakland University, in suburban Detroit, was the first since accusations began to surface that businessman Herman Cain had ...

Published: Tuesday 8 November 2011
A woman from Chicago accused Herman Cain of sexual aggression after asking for his help to get a job.

A Chicago woman accused Herman Cain on Monday of sexual aggression in July 1997 after she asked for his help in getting a job.

Sharon Bialek, who'd worked at a National Restaurant Association affiliate when Cain was its chief executive, offered a graphic account at a New York news conference of her encounter with Cain.

After a week of allegations and innuendo surrounding the Republican White House hopeful, she's the first of four women who've alleged sexual improprieties to attach her name and face to the controversy. Other allegations came via an attorney and in a complaint to the Associated Press by an unidentified woman.

"I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean," Bialek said. "I implore you, make this right."

The Cain campaign quickly issued a denial.

"All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false," it said in a statement. "Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone."

Cain has said for days that the flap is over and it's time to move on, but the latest complaint elevates it at a time when there's evidence that it may be taking a toll. A new poll Sunday showed Cain's support slipping as a result of the allegations.

Published: Monday 7 November 2011
99 things you may not have known about Mitt Romney.

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the media has focused on a succession of colorful Republican contenders and pretenders: Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain.

Meanwhile Mitt Romney, still the odds-on favorite to capture the GOP nomination, has entered the “Mittness Protection Program,” avoiding scrutiny whenever possible. As a result, his actual views and record are still largely unknown. Here are 99 facts about Romney you may not have known.

1. As head of the investment company Bain Capital, Mitt Romney laid off thousands of workers.

[CBS News,  01/28/2008]

2. Mitt Romney's advice on the foreclosure crisis: "Don't try and stop the foreclosure process."

[Mother Jones,  10/18/2011]

3. The former Bain Capital managing director said of Mitt Romney's tenure: "We had a scheme where the rich got richer."

[Los Angeles Times,  12/16/2007]

4. Mitt Romney set up shell companies in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.

[Los Angeles Times,  12/19/2007]

5. Mitt Romney calls Obama's payroll tax cut that would save middle class/lower income families $1,500 a year "temporary little band aids."

[Yahoo! News,  10/18/2011]

6. Mitt Romney's first budget as governor included $240 million in fee increases.

[Meet the Press,  12/16/2007]

7. As governor, Mitt Romney made it more expensive to use an ice skating rink, register a boat, take the bar exam, and transport hazardous waste.

[Associated Press, The Boston Globe,  08/28/2007]

8. Mitt Romney's plan for a "middle class tax cut" would provide zero benefits to 73.9 percent of the middle class.

[ThinkProgress,  10/14/2011]

9. In 2008, Mitt Romney proposed a $233 billion "stimulus package" to boost the economy.

[USA Today,  ...

Published: Sunday 6 November 2011
“It’s reasonable to assume that if the pattern holds, all Romney has to do is carry on — he has plenty of money and determination — and eventually the party will fall in line, if not in love.”

The Republican Party’s inevitable decision to nominate Mitt Romney for president is starting to look evitable after all.

That’s certainly not a consensus view among the Washington cognoscenti, who tend to see the yet-to-come primaries and caucuses as mere formalities. Romney, they say, is the GOP’s obvious choice — a poised and experienced candidate with presidential bearing, world-class hair and the ability to speak in complete sentences, even about the economy. Sooner or later, the party will come to its senses and see that he has the best chance of beating President Obama.

The White House certainly seems to buy into this scenario. For months now, virtually every conversation I’ve had with one of those increasingly chatty “senior administration officials,” on any subject, has included at least a swipe or two at Romney. It’s clear that he’s the opponent the Obama machine is gearing up to face.

But I’m less and less convinced. It’s hard for me to see how any of the other candidates can win the nomination — but it’s hard for me to see how Romney wins it, either.

Polls have told a consistent story: Between 20 percent and 30 percent of Republican voters support Romney, and the rest support somebody else. Actually, not somebody, anybody.

It was bad enough when Romney’s main challenger was Michele Bachmann, whose views are so extreme that she favored allowing the nation to go into default — thus triggering the possible collapse of the global financial system — rather than to raise the debt ceiling. It was bad enough when Rick Perry entered the race and vaulted into the lead, sight unseen. It was bad enough when Republicans, ...

Published: Saturday 5 November 2011
Published: Thursday 3 November 2011
Herman Cain’s campaign is taking more heat after the reveal of his large corporate backing.



Herman Cain’s presidential campaign has taken heat for relying on a private corporation to pay for a plethora of campaign services, potentially in violation of federal campaign finance law. According to documents obtained by Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cain chief of staff Mark Block set up a compnay called Prosperity  USA and used it to pay for “tens of thousands of dollars in [campaign] expenses for such items as iPads, chartered flights and travel to Iowa and Las Vegas.”


Published: Thursday 3 November 2011
“Presidential contender said founder of Planned Parenthood wanted to keep ‘black babies from being born’.”

Herman Cain has offered an alternate version of history in claiming that Planned Parenthood’s founder wanted to prevent “black babies from being born.” We find no support for that old claim. Cain also states that the organization built 75 percent of its clinics in black communities, but there’s no evidence that was true then. And today, only 9 percent of U.S. abortion clinics are in neighborhoods where half or more of residents are black, according to the most recent statistics.

The GOP presidential candidate made these comments back in March , telling an audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation that “[w]hen Margaret Sanger — check my history — started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.” He called it “planned genocide.”

In an interview on “Face the Nation” on Oct. 30 , Cain did not back down from those allegations. Here’s his exchange with host Bob Schieffer:

Schieffer: "… you said that it was not Planned Parenthood, it was really planned genocide because ...

Published: Thursday 3 November 2011
“The scandal surrounding Block, coming parallel to another controversy involving Cain’s alleged harassment of women who worked for him when he headed the National Restaurant Association, could derail the Cain campaign or at least its manager.”

Herman Cain’s smoking campaign manager, Mark Block, was the Koch Brothers’ man in Wisconsin until two days before Governor Scott Walker’s inauguration. That’s when he made the switch from controversy-plagued campaigning at the state level to controversy-plagued campaigning at the national level.

In January, 2005, Block appeared at Walker’s inaugural ball in a tuxedo to celebrate what “we did” to elect Walker, whose assaults on collective bargaining rights and public education and services sparked some of the largest protests in recent American history and who now faces the prospect of a citizen-sponsored recall.

Block’s presence at Walker’s inaugura was something of a triumphal return to the fold for a veteran political player after he had been unwillingly sidelined politically for a number of years. In 2001, Block paid a $15,000 fine and agreed to refrain from participating in campaigns in an agreement that ended an investigation of illegal coordination between a 1997 Wisconsin Supreme Court campaign he ran and the smearing of the opposition ...

Published: Thursday 3 November 2011
“We cannot allow the Koch brothers’ so-called ‘American dream’ to continue to be our national nightmare.”

The very name of a Washington conservative conference this weekend is the height of subterfuge. It's called the "Defending the American Dream" conference, which is not about defending the actual American dreams of most Americans (the focus of our own "Take Back the American Dream" conference), sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, which is not an organization that promotes what is needed for broad American prosperity.

This actually is the latest effort by the billionaire Koch brothers, founders and key funders of Americans for Prosperity, and their corporate and political allies to hijack our democracy and pillage our economy. It's their attempt to perpetuate an American nightmare of continued income inequality and a government held hostage to the whims of elites. It is thus a perfect target for the latest Occupy-style protest.

The Other 98% and Health Care for America Now are sponsoring a "Koch Brothers Guerrilla Drive-In" Friday evening at the Washington Convention Center, where the conference is being held. ...

Published: Tuesday 1 November 2011
“I remember the days when even raising the subject of inequality made you a ‘class warrior.’ Now, it seems, most Americans have become class warriors.”

A combination of police crackdowns and bad weather are testing the young Occupy movement. But rumors of its demise are premature, to say the least. Although numbers are hard to come by, anecdotal evidence suggests the movement is growing.

As importantly, the movement has already changed the public debate in America.

Consider, for example, last week’s Congressional Budget Office report on widening disparities of income in America. It was hardly news – it’s already well known that the top 1 percent now gets 20 percent of the nation’s income, up from 9 percent in the late 1970s.

But it’s the first time such news made the front page of the nation’s major newspapers.

Why? Because for the first time in more than half a century, a broad cross-section of the American public is talking about the concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.

Score a big one for the Occupiers.

Even more startling is the change in public opinion. Not since the 1930s has a majority of Americans called for redistribution of income or wealth. But according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, an astounding 66 percent of Americans said the nation’s wealth should be more evenly distributed.

A similar majority believes the rich should pay more in taxes. According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, even a majority of people who describe themselves as Republicans believe taxes should be increased on the rich.

I remember the days when even raising the subject of inequality made you a “class warrior.” Now, it seems, most Americans have become class warriors.

And they blame Republicans for stacking the deck in favor of the rich. On that New York Times/CBS News poll, 69 percent of respondents said Republican policies favor the rich (28 percent said the same of Obama’s policies).

The old view was anyone could make it in America ...

Published: Tuesday 1 November 2011
Rick Perry’s proposed tax plan would give wealthier Americans a big break according to a study.

Rick Perry's proposed optional flat tax would be a windfall for wealthier Americans, giving millionaires an average tax cut of $637,418, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Research Center released Monday.

While the tax cuts would be greatest at the top of the income scale, Perry's proposal would give all taxpayers at least some tax cut, according to the analysis. Those making less than $10,000, for example, would get an average tax cut of $28.

The largesse comes with a cost, however. The center estimates the Perry plan would mean $995 billion less for the federal government in 2015 — a shortfall that could well be added to the annual deficit and the federal debt.

"The Perry plan would reduce federal tax revenues dramatically," said the Tax Policy Research Center.

The analysis is the first independent look at the plan from the Texas governor, one of several flat tax and tax overhaul proposals being offered by candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Notably, Perry's plan would offer greater tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans than the "9-9-9" plan of rival Herman Cain. But Perry's blueprint also would give everyone a cut, while Cain's initial plan would raise taxes on everyone making less than $200,000.


Published: Thursday 27 October 2011
“The Republican Party is catching flat-tax fever — and setting up an epic election-year fight with Democrats over whether wealthier Americans should pay higher taxes or get tax cuts.”

The Republican Party is catching flat-tax fever — and setting up an epic election-year fight with Democrats over whether wealthier Americans should pay higher taxes or get tax cuts.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney became the latest to punch the tax button Wednesday, telling a Virginia audience that he'll soon update his economic proposal to spell out ways to flatten the tax code.

His vow came just a day after rival Rick Perry grabbed headlines and talk-show chatter with a proposal for an optional flat 20 percent tax on income. Both followed Herman Cain's pitch for a flat 9 percent income tax as part of his 9-9-9 plan, which helped him jump to the top tier of candidates for their party's 2012 nomination. Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann endorse a flat tax, too.

The flat tax — so called because it offers one flat rate for taxpayers in all income groups while taking away many or all deductions — would simplify taxes. It also would almost certainly give big tax cuts to wealthy Americans. Republicans believe that cutting taxes, especially on the wealthy, helps to spur investment, economic growth and hiring.

At the same time, most of the Republican candidates are proposing other changes that also would mean big tax cuts for high-income Americans, such as eliminating taxes on dividend income or capital gains, and eliminating the estate tax, called the death tax by Republicans.

Their push comes at the same time that Democratic President Barack Obama is pushing to raise taxes on higher-income Americans. He's proposed raising taxes on those making more than $200,000 and has endorsed a push by Senate Democrats to raise taxes on incomes above $1 million.

The debate comes as new data show that the very wealthiest Americans have greatly increased their share of U.S. income in recent decades. The richest 1 percent claimed 17 percent of American income in 2007, more than double their 8 ...

Published: Wednesday 26 October 2011
He also proposed reducing corporate income taxes from 35 percent to 20 percent to enhance American competitiveness and promised to eliminate corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, hoping to reinvigorate his flagging bid for the Republican presidential nomination, unveiled a new economic plan Tuesday in South Carolina that would give Americans the option of paying a 20 percent flat tax or continuing to pay income taxes under the current 3 million-word tax code.

The optional flat tax is the centerpiece of a broad economic initiative that includes Social Security and Medicare changes, spending cuts, freezing pending federal regulations and other steps aimed at bolstering the economy and balancing the federal budget by 2020. Perry described it as a “bold reform needed to jolt this economy out its doldrums.”

The flat tax would offer a major break for America’s wealthiest taxpayers by enabling them to move from the current top bracket of 35 percent into the 20 percent bracket. On the other hand, some 46 percent of Americans pay no income tax under the current system, so by saying citizens could choose to remain under that code, Perry would invite the rich to take a tax cut and the less well-off to continue avoiding taxes.

Thus, the optional flat-tax feature could shrink federal revenue and undercut Perry’s goal of balancing the federal budget in ...

Published: Saturday 22 October 2011
“There was little else said of substance at last night’s Presidential debate. Like most of these events nowadays, it seemed more like a beauty pageant.”

To say there's a lot that's wrong about Newt Gingrich's campaign is putting it mildly. (For one thing, its candidate is Newt Gingrich.) But he was right on the money last night when it came to the so-called "Super Committee."

There was little else said of substance at last night's Presidential debate. Like most of these events nowadays, it seemed more like a beauty pageant. Or like the red carpet at a Hollywood premiere, where self-indulgent celebrities try to act likable before an audience they both resent and loathe - all the more so because they need it.

Under these conditions we have two choices: We can either use this space to praise Newt for his burst of eloquence, or we can channel our inner Joan Rivers by making snarky comments about the candidates' fashion choices.

We'll go with praising Gingrich, even though Joan says his suit was several sizes too big. And those lapels! What were you thinking, Newt?


Here's what Gingrich said last night:

I mean, if you want to understand how totally broken Washington is, look at this entire model of the super ...

Published: Saturday 22 October 2011
“Simple fairness requires three things: More tax brackets at the top, higher rates in each bracket, and the treatment of all sources of income (capital gains included) exactly the same.”

Herman Cain’s bizarre 9-9-9 plan would replace much of the current tax code with a 9 percent individual income tax and a 9 percent sales tax. He calls it a “flat tax.”

Next week Rick Perry is set to announce his own version of a flat tax. Former House majority leader Dick Armey – now chairman of Freedom Works, a major backer of the Tea Party funded by the Koch Brothers and other portly felines (I didn’t say “fat cats”) — predicts this will give Perry “a big boost.” Steve Forbes, one of America’s richest billionaires, who’s on the board of the Freedom Works foundation, is delighted. He’s been pushing the flat tax for years.

The flat tax is a fraud. It raises taxes on the poor and lowers them on the rich.

We don’t know exactly what Perry will propose, but the non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that Cain’s plan (the only one out there so far) would lower the after-tax incomes of poor households (incomes below $30,000) by 16 to 20 percent, while increasing the incomes of wealthier households (incomes above $200,000) by 5 to 22 percent, on average.

Under Cain’s plan, fully 95 percent of households with more than $1 million in income would get an average tax cut of $487,300. And capital gains (a major source of income for the very rich) would be tax free.

The details of flat-tax proposals vary, of course. But all of them end up benefitting the rich more than the poor for one simple reason: Today’s tax code is still at least moderately progressive. The rich usually pay a higher percent of their incomes in income taxes than do the poor. A flat tax would eliminate that slight progressivity.

Nowadays most low-income households pay no federal income tax at all – a fact that sends many regressives into spasms of indignation. They conveniently ignore the fact that poor households pay a much larger share of their incomes in ...

Published: Thursday 20 October 2011
It’s not that Republican Presidential candidates’ beliefs are different than yours or mine. It's that, as now seems clear, they don’t actually believe in anything - anything, that is, except greater power for themselves and greater wealth for their financial backers.

Some people's only exposure to nihilism comes from the German gang in The Big Lebowski who said things like "We are nihilists, we believe in nothing" and "Tell us where the girl is or we cut off your johnson, Lebowski." Or the nihilist humor of comedian Brother Theodore, who liked to say things like "I looked at the void, the void looked back - and neither of us liked what we saw."

That's exactly how I feel when I watch the Republican Presidential debates.

The void that looks out through their eyes is the absence of any underlying principle, ideology, or ideas, especially on economic issues. It's not that their beliefs are different than yours or mine. It's that, as now seems clear, they don't actually believe in anything - anything, that is, except greater power for themselves and greater wealth for their financial backers.

Nothing in nihilism's long intellectual history has prepared the world for its latest incarnation as the 21st century Republican party, or in its ultimate flowering in the likes of Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.


Published: Wednesday 19 October 2011
“Does Herman Cain understand his 9-9-9 tax plan? Evidence suggests the answer is no-no-no.”

Does Herman Cain understand his 9-9-9 tax plan? Evidence suggests the answer is no-no-no.

At the Bloomberg-Washington Post debate, Cain argued that economic growth spurred by the reduced rates would more than make up for any lost revenue. “We have had an outside firm, independent firm, dynamically score it,” he said. “And so our numbers will make it revenue-neutral.”

Beware when you hear the phrase “dynamic scoring.” It translates to: “This tax cut might bust the budget, but let’s cross our fingers and hope for growth.”

And it turns out — at least according to his chief economic adviser — that Cain didn’t mean to be relying on dynamic scoring at all.

Cain adviser Richard Lowrie said the candidate mistakenly invoked dynamic scoring. But even under a more traditional analysis, Lowrie said, the plan would be revenue-neutral, meaning it would not lose money.

“On occasion he might transpose the terms,” Lowrie told me. “When asked if it is revenue-neutral, he might say it’s dynamically scored. He might misspeak.”

This is not reassuring. Sure, anyone can jumble up terminology, especially in the unaccustomed glare of a presidential debate. But a few days earlier, Cain said the same thing.

“The people who are saying it will not be revenue-neutral? They are absolutely wrong because they did a static analysis,” Cain told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “We had this done with the dynamic analysis with an outside independent firm, so they are making an erroneous assumption.”

The 9-9-9 plan is the ...

Published: Wednesday 19 October 2011
“Reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more under [Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax] plan," said former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. “You're talking about major increases in taxes on people.”

Republican presidential candidates brawled Tuesday over Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan and Mitt Romney's record on illegal immigration and health care, as rivals hammered the two top-tier contenders in the liveliest GOP clash of the 2012 campaign.

The sometimes angry clash at the Venetian Hotel Resort Casino featured Texas Gov. Rick Perry accusing Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, of “the height of hypocrisy” on immigration. Romney scolded Perry for interrupting him and said Perry was “testy.” And candidates were sometimes difficult to understand as they talked over one another.

Cain, the Georgia businessman who surged to the top tier of national polls in recent weeks, was under fire for his plan to scrap the federal tax code and replace it with 9 percent taxes on individuals, businesses and sales.

“Middle-income people see higher taxes under your plan,” said Romney, one of several candidates to pile on Cain from the opening minutes of the two-hour debate.

“Reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more under his plan,” said former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. “You're talking about major increases in taxes on people.”

Perry, whose poll numbers have tumbled after being perceived as having poor debate performances and who needed a strong showing Tuesday, joined the fray.

“You don't need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out,” Perry said. The Cain tax would add a 9 percent sales tax in states such as Nevada, which already has a sales tax rather than an income tax, and in politically important New Hampshire, where voters are accustomed to paying no sales tax.

“I don't think so Herman,” Perry added. “It's not going to fly.”

Cain brushed aside the torrent of criticism.

“It does not raise taxes on those making the least,” he said. “That ...

Published: Monday 17 October 2011
A consistent theme of the Herman Cain campaign is the need to put big business even more in charge of government.

A scandal surrounding Atlantic Bridge, a conservative “think tank” exposed earlier this month by U.K. regulators as a front group for Tory party interests and corporate lobbyists, has jolted Prime Minister David Cameron’s government. Over the weekend, allegations stemming from the Atlantic Bridge pay-to-play scheme resulted in the resignation of Liam Fox, Cameron’s Defense secretary. But the controversy may also hit a high profile American politician: GOP presidential contender Herman Cain.

Atlantic Bridge is a right-wing nonprofit that is officially partnered with the Washington, DC-based American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate lobbying front that funnels business lobbyist tailored legislation to state representatives and state senators across is the country. Earlier this month, the U.K. Charity Commission axed the Atlantic Bridge after an investigation found the group to have violated charity laws by acting primarily as a ...

Published: Sunday 16 October 2011
“Cain now tops the GOP field with support from 27 percent of Republican primary voters, compared with 23 percent for Mitt Romney and just 16 percent for Rick Perry.”

Just be patient and you, too, can lead the polls for the Republican presidential nomination. Witness the ascent of Herman Cain.

Don’t laugh. “There’s a difference between the flavor of the week and Haagen-Dazs Black Walnut, because it tastes good all the time,” Cain told reporters this week. “Call me Haagen-Dazs Black Walnut.”

All right, go ahead and laugh. Cain will surely respond with what has become his all-purpose retort: “As my grandfather would say, I does not care.”

At the moment, though, we don’t have the option of not caring. According to a stunning new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, Cain now tops the GOP field with support from 27 percent of Republican primary voters, compared with 23 percent for Mitt Romney and just 16 percent for Rick Perry.

This is Herman Cain we’re talking about. The former pizza executive who has never held public office — and who considers that fact one of his prime qualifications for the highest office in the land. The African American Republican who proudly says he “left the Democrat plantation a long time ago.” The major-party presidential candidate who developed his revolutionary — and nonsensical — tax reform plan by ignoring all those smarty-pants economists and ...

Published: Saturday 8 October 2011
“Fighting on the fighting lines” would seem to qualify as classic fighting words. And that was hardly the only instance where Cantor, now the No. 2 Republican in House, employed divisive, us-versus-them language in talking up the Tea Party movement.

If share values could be devised for hypocrisy, Eric Cantor's would be soaring.

When Tea Party activists swarmed Washington, D.C., in 2009, the Virginia congressman hailed them with "fighting" words.

Now, however, the No. 2 Republican in the House is attacking the "Occupy Wall Street" movement for pitting "Americans against Americans."

Cantor's not the only protest hypocrite. Republican presidential contender Herman Cain, a Tea Party favorite known for his anti-Muslim rants, is attacking "Occupy Wall Street" protests as "Un-American." Rush Limbaugh is condemning the demonstrators as "parasites."

But it is Cantor who is cornering the hypocrisy market.

From the stage at the September 12, 2009, "Taxpayer March on Washington" rally that was organized by Tea Party groups rally near the nation's Capitol, the House Republican Whip told the Tea Partisans that they were  “fighting on the fighting lines of what we know is a battle for our democracy."

"Fighting on the fighting lines" would seem to qualify as classic fighting words. And that was hardly the only instance where Cantor, now the No. 2 Republican in House, employed divisive, us-versus-them language in talking up the Tea Party movement. He regularly referred to the Tea Party as "the tip of the spear" in the fight against the Obama administration, Democrats in the Congress and liberal ideas in general.

The Tea Partisans ...

Published: Wednesday 28 September 2011
“At this point, you have to wonder if the GOP will fall in love with anybody”

Here’s my question for the Republican Party: How’s that Rick Perry stuff work­in’ out for ya?

You’ll recall that Sarah Palin asked a similar question last year about President Obama’s “hopey-changey stuff.” Indeed, hopey-changey has been through a bad patch. But now the GOP is still desperately seeking a presidential candidate it can love. Or even like.


That Perry was crushed by Herman Cain — yes, I said Herman Cain — in theFlorida straw poll Saturday confirms that the tough-talking Texas governor’s campaign is in serious trouble. He’s the one who put it there with a performance in last week’s debate that was at times disjointed, at times disastrous.

Perry was supposed to be the “Shane”-like Western hero who brought peace to the troubled valley that is the Republican presidential field. A month after he rode into town, however, increasingly ...

Published: Tuesday 27 September 2011
The real name of the game is the primaries, where GOP voters will turn out en masse and determine who will be their standard bearer.

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain’s wipeout of the GOP presidential field in the Florida straw poll got much attention partly because he was so far behind presumptive GOP presidential front runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. 

But it also got attention because it seemed to refute the relentless charge that the GOP is racist. Cain is black, grew up poor, and did not shy away from talking about black issues during his stint as a radio broadcaster. Despite his unabashed spout of ultra conservative views, he doesn’t shirk away from his blackness. His win in Florida -- not a Northern state -- among a virtually lilywhite slate of voters does seem to make a case that the knock of racism against the GOP is overblown.

It doesn’t. True, at times, straw polls provide some gauge of the support a presidential contender has among the general party electorate. Reagan in 1979, George H.W. Bush in 1987 and Bob Dole in 1995 won the Florida straw poll and went on to win the GOP presidential nomination. But they were seasoned, name-recognizable GOP stalwarts, and the clear frontrunners for the nomination. Cain could hardly be considered any of those things. And the slightly more than 2,500 voters that bothered to cast a ballot in the straw poll could hardly be considered a representative sample of the GOP electorate.

In any case, straw poll votes are pure symbolism. More times than not the front running, that is, electable ...

Published: Tuesday 6 September 2011
Romney believes Obama health care reform “has got to be stopped.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who as Massachusetts governor ushered in a state health care system that required residents to have insurance coverage, said his first task if elected would be to let states opt out of President Barack Obama's health care reform plan.

"That'll be one of my best assets if I get to debate President Obama," Romney said of his stance on health care during a GOP presidential forum Monday in Columbia. He said his plan impacted only 8 percent of people in his home state who lacked coverage, not all Americans as Obama's plan eventually would do.

"(Obama health care reform) has got to be stopped," he added, "and I know it better than most."

Vying to be the Tea Party favorite in a state increasingly known for its limited government/less taxes fervor, five leading GOP presidential contenders took to the stage, fielding questions from popular conservative U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and the American Principles Project, a nonprofit encouraging a political return to constitutional principles.

Of the five candidates at the forum — Romney, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Godfather's Pizza chief executive Herman Cain — Romney received the highest approval ratings in the most recent poll of likely GOP primary voters in South Carolina.

But the top vote-getter in that same poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who is leading in South Carolina by 20 percentage points — withdrew plans to attend Monday's forum to return to Texas to deal with wildfires there, after attending an event earlier in the day in Myrtle Beach.

Still, the state's First-in-the-South primary is months away, in February, with big names like DeMint yet to endorse.

U.S. Rep. Tim Scott of Charleston said Monday he was pleased to see Romney engaging with the state's voters. With few ...

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