Maybe Mitt Romney Should Be Their One Issuing An Apology

At last night’s Republican Presidential Debate hosted by CNBC, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made the claim that he will “not apologize for the United States of America,” inferring that the President has done so. His comment was fact checked by The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, who said,

“No matter how many times Romney says this, it simply is not true. We have documented extensively — back in February — how Obama did not apologize for America in his trips overseas. It’s a four Pinocchio error.”

Last night, the former Massachusetts governor pushed back against the impression that he has changed his stands in order to attract support from the Republican base:

I think it is outrageous the Obama campaign continues to push this idea” that I am a flip-flopper

While the Democratic National Committee has certain been pushing this message in their Which Mitt?  website and as has Priorities USA Action in the video above, he “conveniently ignores the fact that Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry, two of his rivals, have been running ads making exactly that case. The Huntsman ads actually are pretty funny.”

Huntsman video after the jump.

Message to GOP: Stop Rooting for the Economy’s Failure

— by Ariela Fleisig
Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) wrote in Politico this week that while President Barack Obama continues to present bipartisan suggestions to improve the nation’s economy, the “dysfunctional and hyperpartisan” Republican Party offers only obstructionist rhetoric and failed policies.

Wasserman Schultz praised the administration’s “bold steps” to combat the ailing economy, including plans to make mortgage refinancing easier for homeowners and new measures to help students pay their tuition, and wrote:

The President has been clear: These actions are not a replacement for the American Jobs Act. Congress must take action to alleviate the constant pressure middle-class families are feeling and work together to create jobs and grow the economy. The stakes are too high and the consequences too dire if Congress continues to do nothing.

If we break down the numbers and look at the four early states, we can see the impact the American Jobs Act will have on small-business owners and the middle class. The American Jobs Act is a mix of tax breaks for middle-class families and small businesses and targeted aid to help keep teachers in the classroom and police and firefighters on the beat and to get construction workers on the job rebuilding our bridges and roads.

She specifically criticized Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his complete disregard for the average American’s financial stability:

Indeed, while the president is focused on saving homeowners thousands of dollars each year by helping them refinance their mortgages, Mitt Romney went to Nevada and told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that we should not ‘try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.’ He went on to say that it would be better to have families lose their homes so investors could swoop in, buy foreclosed homes and turn a profit, literally leaving the average American homeowner out in the cold….

What is Romney’s prescription for curing this ailment? He wants to kick those same people who have been suffering out of their homes, allow bankers and investors to make a quick buck and then rewrite the laws to allow bankers to write their own rules. Romney doesn’t just want to return to the same policies that brought our economy to its knees; he wants to double down on them.

But he doesn’t just stack the deck against hard-working American homeowners; he also undermines America’s middle class through tax policy. His tax plan slashes taxes for the wealthiest and corporations but does nothing to help middle-class families. In a telling moment at a Republican debate just a couple of weeks ago, he called payroll tax cuts in the American Jobs Act ‘little Band-Aids.’

She concluded:

While the Republicans may be getting more attention in the early states right now, there’s no denying that voters will face a very stark choice next year. Obama continues working to find sensible solutions to get more Americans back to work and to rebuild the economy through a strong middle class. Meanwhile, Republicans continue advocating tax breaks for the wealthiest and corporations while shifting more burdens onto seniors and the middle class.

Americans can’t wait. They need action now to get the economy moving again. The president continues to work hard to turn the economy around. Republicans need to get off the sidelines and join him and stop rooting for the economy’s failure in order to win an election.

Click here to read Wasserman Schultz’s full piece.

Republicans Attempt Return to 1611

— by Aliela Fleisig

Republicans are set out to repeal the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation and Washington Post columnist, observed this week:

The 18th century was defined, in many ways, by the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement based on the idea that reason, rational discourse and the advancement of knowledge, were the critical pillars of modern life. The leaders of the movement inspired the thinking of Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin; its tenets can be found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. But more than 200 years later, those basic tenets – the very notion that facts and evidence matter – are being rejected, wholesale, by the 21st-century Republican Party.

The contempt with which the party views reason is staggering. Republicans have become proudly and unquestionably anti-science. (It is their litmus test, though they would probably reject the science behind litmus paper.) With the exception of Jon Huntsman, who polls about as well as Darwin would in a Republican primary, the Republican presidential candidates have either denied the existence of climate change, denied that it has been caused – and can be reversed – by man, or apologized for once holding a different view. They have come to this conclusion not because the science is inconclusive, but because they believe, as a matter of principle, that scientific evidence is no evidence at all.

More after the jump.
She quoted candidates Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) and Texas Governor Rick Perry rejecting the proven theory of evolution, and criticized one of Representative Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) many disproven claims:

[Bachmann] has embraced the idea that the HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation, although not a single piece of medical evidence backs up her claim. How, then, did she come to that conclusion? That’s simple: A woman came up to her at a debate and told her so. Scientific evidence is anathema; superstitious and anecdotal asides, on the other hand, deserve to be repeated and amplified on a national stage, the consequences, in this case to countless women and girls, be damned.

Republicans even promote economic policies that have repeatedly been shown false by economists on all points of the political spectrum, writes vanden Heuvel:

There’s Herman Cain’s much-discussed 9-9-9 plan, for example, which has been eviscerated by independents, conservative and progressive economists alike, but which Cain continues to champion. Why? Because, he argues, the skeptics haven’t read his analysis yet – as if he is entitled not just to his own facts but to his own math…

Perry now fancies himself a flat-taxer, a position that might as well make him a flat-earther. A flat tax is, in his mind, a job creation proposal. In a reality based on reason and logic, it is a ticket straight back to recession. He might be giving – or getting – lessons from his fellow Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, who after boldly lying about Planned Parenthood on the floor of the Senate had his press flack explain that his remarks were not intended to be a factual statement. What then, one wonders, were they intended to be?

Vanden Heuvel concluded:

It seems worth reminding the candidates that these debates have been settled, many for decades, some for centuries and that the year is 2011, not 1611. In the coming decades, science – and a respect for science – will prove crucial to confronting our greatest global challenges, whether that means reducing our carbon footprint to combat climate change, finding new treatments and new cures to the diseases that ail us, or developing new innovations that can lift hundreds of millions out of poverty. We cannot afford to ignore the power of science or the problems we will need it to solve. Nor can we afford to make decisions about our economy, and our future, without reason or sound evidence. It’s time to take back the Enlightenment.

Obama Supplied Israel with Bunker-Busting Bombs

— by Ariela Fleisig

It was reported last night that President Barack Obama covertly authorized an unprecedented amount of aid to the Israeli military, including bunker-busting bombs.

Politico’s Mackenzie Weinger reported that Obama authorized the sale of deep-penetrating bombs to Israel, a deal that President George W. Bush consistently rejected:

Just a few months after taking office, Obama authorized the delivery of 55 deep-penetrating bombs to Israel, Newsweek will detail in an article appearing on Monday. Israeli and U.S. officials told Newsweek that Israel first requested the ‘GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators’ in 2005, but the Bush administration did not okay the deal. Then, in 2007, President George W. Bush told Israel he would order the bombs for the country and release them in 2009 or 2010.

Obama delivered the weapons in 2009, the report says. While Israel had developed the capability to make its own deep-penetrating bombs, officials said, the U.S. sale was less expensive.

Weinger also noted:

The article will include additional information on the U.S.’s covert efforts to assist the Israeli military. U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) told the magazine that Obama issued ‘orders to the military to ratchet up the cooperation at every level with Israel.’

Weinger reported why the deal was made in secret:

Gen. James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Newsweek although U.S. military officials were fine with the sale, they had concerns about ‘how the Iranians would perceive it.’

‘If we say yes, have we somehow given someone a green light without intending to? Whether that green light was an Israeli green light to go do something or whether it was a message to the Iranians, OK these guys aren’t serious about talking, they are starting to arm themselves,’ Cartwright told the magazine.

Click here to read Weinger’s full article.

State Department Labels Flotilla “Irresponsible and Provocative”

The State Department released a statement last Friday calling the potential Gaza flotilla “irresponsible and provocative.”

The statement said:

We are concerned that a number of groups are organizing a one year ‘anniversary’ flotilla to commemorate the incident by sailing from various European ports to Gaza in the near future. Groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers. Established and efficient mechanisms exist to transfer humanitarian assistance to Gaza. For example, humanitarian assistance can be delivered at the Israeli port of Ashdod, where cargo can be offloaded, inspected, and transported to Gaza. We urge all those seeking to provide such assistance to the people of Gaza to use these mechanisms, and not to participate in actions like the planned flotilla.

The statement explained that there is necessity for the Israeli blockade on Gaza:

Recent seizures by Israel and Egypt of advanced military systems, weapons, and ammunition bound for terrorist groups in Gaza, as well as periodic rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians, highlight the continuing problem of illicit arms smuggling to Gaza. These seizures underscore the vital importance to Israel’s security of ensuring that all cargo bound for Gaza is appropriately screened for illegal arms and dual-use materials.

They expressed a positive outlook on the humanitarian situation in Gaza:

The United States remains concerned by conditions in Gaza, but notes that the humanitarian situation has significantly improved over the last year, including a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials moving into Gaza, an increase in international project activity, and the gradual expansion of exports. The United States will continue to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, donors, and the international community to do more and ensure that the needs of the people of Gaza are being met.

The statement concluded:

We also continue to call on Hamas to play a constructive role by renouncing violence, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and accepting past agreements. We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration.

Full statement from the State Department follows the jump.
Gaza “Anniversary” Flotilla
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 24, 2011

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the confrontation between Israeli forces and activists when a flotilla attempted to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza on May 31, 2010. The United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in that incident aboard the Gaza bound ships.

We are concerned that a number of groups are organizing a one year “anniversary” flotilla to commemorate the incident by sailing from various European ports to Gaza in the near future. Groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers. Established and efficient mechanisms exist to transfer humanitarian assistance to Gaza. For example, humanitarian assistance can be delivered at the Israeli port of Ashdod, where cargo can be offloaded, inspected, and transported to Gaza. We urge all those seeking to provide such assistance to the people of Gaza to use these mechanisms, and not to participate in actions like the planned flotilla.

Recent seizures by Israel and Egypt of advanced military systems, weapons, and ammunition bound for terrorist groups in Gaza, as well as periodic rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians, highlight the continuing problem of illicit arms smuggling to Gaza. These seizures underscore the vital importance to Israel’s security of ensuring that all cargo bound for Gaza is appropriately screened for illegal arms and dual-use materials.

The United States remains concerned by conditions in Gaza, but notes that the humanitarian situation has significantly improved over the last year, including a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials moving into Gaza, an increase in international project activity, and the gradual expansion of exports. The United States will continue to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, donors, and the international community to do more and ensure that the needs of the people of Gaza are being met.

We also continue to call on Hamas to play a constructive role by renouncing violence, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and accepting past agreements. We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration.