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Rep. Darrell Issa, the indefatigable Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has called a hearing for noon Wednesday even though Congress is in a weeks-long recess. The emergency cause for the hearing? Probing“The Security Failures of Benghazi”— lapses in diplomatic security that led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.

The purpose of the pre-election hearing, presumably, is to embarrass the administration for inadequate diplomatic security. But Issa seems unaware of the irony that diplomatic security is inadequate partly because of budget cuts forced by his fellow Republicans in Congress.

For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for theState Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012.

Congressional Republicans and their presidential nominee blame Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats for policies championed and enacted by the GOP.

What a bunch of fuckers.


“We need a candidate who’s going to be a fighter for freedom. Who’s going to get up and make that the central theme in this race because it is the central theme in this race. I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on.”

- Rick Santorum • Misjudging what the central theme of the race is.

"There is absolutely no religious liberty infringement in requiring insurance companies to cover contraception," said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. "The birth control rule is what we call in First Amendment analysis a ‘generally applicable and neutral law.’ ‘Generally applicable,’ means it applies to everybody. And it’s neutral — it doesn’t target any specific faith. So if a law is generally applicable and neutral, it’s not a First Amendment violation. It’s basic, elementary First Amendment law."

But if Republicans want to wage a First Amendment war over the contraception rule, they might want to consider the long history of American pacifism and its internal moral struggles with taxation. If, as Republicans are now claiming, it is a breach of the First Amendment to require Catholic hospitals to provide their employees with health insurance that covers birth control, then it would also follow that the war in Afghanistan must be a far more severe violation of religious liberty.

(via Catholic Bishops’ Contraception Coverage Argument Ridiculed By Pacifist Activists)


The results from last night’s three Republican nominating contests. [REUTERS]

Read more: Romney still struggles to seal the deal

The President opposed the Citizens United decision. … He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action—by constitutional amendment, if necessary—to place reasonable limits on all such spending. But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina • From a blog post on, titled “We Will Not Play by Two Sets of Rules.” In it, Messina attempts to explain why the Obama campaign, despite stated opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling (and ostensibly Super PACs themselves), will be playing the same Super PAC game as the GOP candidate this year. This strikes us as a hard sell, especially to independents — saying President Obama needs to use a corrupted system in the hopes of ending said system doesn’t seem like an argument that would have much appeal to those not already extremely trusting of his administration. source (viafollow)

1. Romney paid a lower tax rate than many middle-class Americans: Romney’s returns reveal that he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent, lower even than the low rate of 15 percent he estimated he paid last week. While this is far less than what many middle-class Americans pay, it’s also well below what wealthy people pay. The average effective tax rate for someone in Romney’s income bracket is 25 percent.

2. Romney makes more in a day than the average American makes in a year, and becomes a 1 percenter every week: As Bloomberg News notes, “In 2008, according to the IRS, the median adjusted gross income was $33,048, whichRomney made in less than a day. Reaching the top 1 percent of taxpayers required $380,354 in adjusted gross income, about Romney’s earnings in a week.”

3. Romney paid almost nothing in payroll taxes: Romney contributed just .1 percent of his income to Social Security and Medicare in 2010 via the payroll tax because the tax is only assessed on earned wages, but all of Romney’s incomecame from investments. Most working Americans pay 7.65 percent.

4. Romney has accounts in countries notorious for tax dodging: By now, it’s well known by now that Romney invests in funds based in the Cayman Islands, but Romney’s returns were “crammed with information about foreign holdings” and reveal that he held accounts in Switzerland and Luxembourg, countries famous for hiding money thanks their low taxes and strict banking secrecy laws. Aides said he closed his Swiss account in 2010 because it might have been “politically embarrassing.”

5. Romney and Gingrich’s tax plans would slash Romney’s taxes: Romney already pays less than many middle class Americans, but under his proposed tax plan, his rates would be slashed in half. Meanwhile, under challenger Newt Gingrich’s plan, Romney would pay almost nothing, since Gingrich has proposed cutting the capital gains tax rate to zero and Romney earns almost all of his money from investments.

6. Romney needs four lawyers, including the former IRS commissioner to defend his tax plan: Romney’s campaign held a conference call with reporters this morning to defend and explain his tax returns, and apparently felt the need to have former IRS Commissioner Fred Goldberg, along with three other top lawyers and his campaign communications director to explain the returns. At one point, the call had to be interrupted so officials could confer with mega accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Another small revelation from Romney’s returns is that while Romney said his speaking fees amounted to “not very much” in terms of income, he actually made $111,000 in speaking fees in 2011 and $529,000 in 2010, as Politico’s Ken Vogel points out.


“In a sign of just how dramatically public opinion has swung against the Internet anti-piracy legislation up for a vote next week in the Senate, all four GOP candidates said Thursday evening they opposed it, though Rick Santorum seemed, entirely unsurprisingly, the least comfortable with the notion that, as he put it, “anything goes” on the Internet. (Google it.)
“I favor freedom. I think that we have a patent office, we have copyright law,” said Newt Gingrich, rejecting “the idea that we’re going to preemptively have the government start censoring.”
Mitt Romney agreed. “I think he got it just about right,” he said, calling the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) “far too intrusive, far too expansive,” and worrying that it could have “a potentially depressing impact” on the growth and development of the Internet. “If we can find a way to very narrowly go after pirating,” said Romney, “we should do that.”
Ron Paul noted that he was the first Republican to oppose the bill in the House. He said he was pleased to hear establishment Republicans coming around to his position. “Republicans unfortunately have been on the wrong side of this issue,” he said.
Santorum, meanwhile, seemed to be penned in by the unanimous opposition. “I agree with everybody up here that it goes too far,” he said, before launching into a defense of regulating the Internet in order to attack piracy. “I’m for free, but I’m not for people abusing the law and I think something proper should be done,” he said.
— Ryan Grim”

Candidates Resoundingly Against SOPA


“If the court makes a fundamentally wrong decision, the president can in fact ignore it,” said Gingrich to cheers