TAPPED

Terror Has a New Name...Romney

Don LaFontaine was unfortunately unavailable (being dead), so Rick Perry goes all Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay on Mitt Romney without a narrator. In a word...just when you thought it was safe to go into the voting booth...comes a vision more terrifying than Nancy Pelosi regaining the speakership... All that ad needs to take it over the top is some explosions and a fighting robot or two. As a general matter, I'm all for this. Political ads are usually terribly boring, so if Perry's going to be cinematic, that's great. But there is one thing I couldn't help noticing. Don't know if you caught that at the end, but the caption reads, "Even the richest man can't buy back his past." Hold on there, pardner -- do I detect the rancid stench of class warfare? For a guy who already alienated the anti-immigrant wing of his party by calling them heartless, and alienated the Puritan wing by trying to prevent HPV infection, that's some shaky ground to step out on.

Let's Hope So!

Steve Benen informs us about the Republican reaction to the procedural shenanigans last night in the Senate: McConnell, described as “visibly angry and shaken,” fumed to his colleagues, “We are fundamentally turning the Senate into the House. The minority’s out of business.” A GOP staffer added, “Just wait until they get into the minority!” Benen quotes Brian Beutler , who sees a danger that "an opportunistic future GOP majority will seize upon what happened Thursday as an excuse to make much bigger, broader changes to parliamentary procedure, perhaps even nixing the filibuster." He's right about what's likely to happen but wrong in implying that it's a bad thing. It will probably have to be a GOP majority that ends the filibuster. While this would lead to worse outcomes in the short term, it would be a wonderful development in the long term, since the filibuster is an indefensible blight on American democracy. The Senate functioning like the House of Representatives would be a major...

Why Biography Is Supposed to Matter

You may have heard about the little back-and-forth between Senator Scott Brown and his likely general election opponent, Elizabeth Warren . Briefly, at a debate a questioner noted that Brown paid for college in part by posing nude in Cosmopolitan , then asked the Democratic candidates how they paid for college. Warren joked that she kept her clothes on, and later on a radio show, Brown responded to that by saying, "Thank God." People are understandably mad at him. But as Jon Cohn points out , what Brown said next is troubling in a different way: Bottom line is, you know, I didn't go to Harvard. You know, I went to the school of hard knocks. And I did whatever I had to do to pay for school. And for people who know me, and know what I've been through, mom and dad married and divorced four times each. You know, some real challenges growing up. You know, whatever. You know, let them throw stones. I did what I had to do. But not for having that opportunity, I never would have been able to...

The Risks of Lockstep Voting

Ron Brownstein of the National Journal points out something interesting: Republican members of Congress who got elected in Democratic districts aren't voting like people whose jobs are tenuous; they've voting like, well, like any other Republican, at least on environmental issues: In February, the House voted to block pending EPA regulations limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global climate change; even the GOP members from districts that backed Obama in 2008 voted 59-2 for the bill. (Those were the only dissenting Republican votes.) In April, every voting House Republican (including all 61 from Obama districts) opted to overturn EPA's scientific finding that climate change posed a public-health threat. Two weeks ago, the Obama-district Republicans voted 56-4 to shelve EPA rules reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants; the 174 other GOP members who voted all backed the measure. Republicans are expected to produce similar numbers for this week's...

Do Not Fear the Return of Palin

Now that Sarah Palin has finally admitted what some of us understood a long time ago -- that she is not going to run for president in 2012 -- some liberals are less than entirely relieved. After all, she's only 47, so she could torment us with a potential presidential candidacy for a couple of decades to come. But I'm not worried. Maybe I'm seeing this particular glass as a bit too full, but it does seem that even in today's Republican Party, at least some measure of seriousness is required to get all the way to the finish line. Candidates who are absurdly unprepared or insanely radical (or both) can make a splash, but they have a lot of trouble putting together a campaign that can go the distance (see Bachmann, Michele ). We all laughed at Palin's contention that she could be a greater force for good as an outside figure than as president of the United States, but the truth is that there's still an enormous difference in the way we think about media figures and the way we think about...

The Peasants Will Surely Reject Your Class Warfare

You can expect lots and lots of this in months to come. Here's National Journal 's Josh Kraushaar, telling Obama not to get all populist . The only evidence he offers is that Obama's approval is really low right now, in contrast to when he was running for president and had the support of lots of independents. I assume I don't have to bother refuting that. But here's my favorite part: Listen to Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who maxed out to Obama's 2008 campaign and is a reliable contributor to Democratic candidates and causes. "Someone needs to talk our president down off of this rhetoric about good vs. evil; about two classes and math," Leonsis wrote on his blog. Indeed, what more evidence do you need than the opinion of a billionaire who owns three sports teams and recently bought a 20,000-square-foot house for $20 million? He's the guy to ask if you want to know how populism will play with the regular folk! Egad -- did Kraushaar not realize how stupid that...

In the Palm of Your Hand

It’s no exaggeration to say that before Steve Jobs and Apple, computers were esoteric machines for researchers and academics. Few people had a chance to interact with them, and their relevance to everyday life was marginal. This changed with the Apple II. Introduced in 1977, it was the first successful mainstream computer, and its follow-up, the Macintosh, was the first mass market-computer to feature a graphical user interface -- a radical change in how we used and interacted with computers. This focus on how we approach with computers -- and the relentless drive to normalize computing in everyday life -- would define Jobs’ career, even as he left Apple in the mid-1980s to found NeXT (a software company) and Pixar, the animation studio. As he explained at the 1997 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference, shortly after returning to Apple after a ten-year absence, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology...

Are Tea Partiers Right to Distrust Mitt Romney?

Kevin Drum thinks they may be misjudging : With a guy like Rick Perry, you never know. The right person whispers in his ear and suddenly he decides that he hates cancer so much that he doesn't care about conservative principles. Cancer is more important. Do you think Mitt Romney would ever do that? No siree. He'd run that baby dispassionately through the Computron 9000 that passes for a brain and then he'd do exactly what you want him to do . Because he wants you to vote for him. So as long as you keep the pressure on, Romney will never disappoint you. Romney's big problem, of course, is that tea partiers won't necessarily figure this out on their own — they just think he's an unreliable flip-flopper — and it's hard to figure out how to get the message across to them. It's not like he can give a speech saying he doesn't care about principle and will just abjectly do whatever the tea party wants him to do, so help him God. Still, good politicians always figure out how to get messages...

Occupied

I don’t think I’m alone in initially dismissing the Wall Street protesters as the same ill-informed, ideologues who protested the WTO and the imprisonment of Mumia in one pointless breath throughout the late '90s and early aughts. It was hard for me to take seriously the political sentiments of the mostly privileged college kids who wanted to smash in Starbucks' windows. That was especially true given that I had maxed out my Federal Work Study hours and had taken a part-time job at a local Starbucks. It was the highest paying job I’d ever had and the first one at which I was offered health insurance, despite my being only part-time, and I had a pretty good idea of who was going to have to clean up the messes those protesters made. For a movement committed to global economic justice, they seemed clueless about how their actions affected real people. But as the Occupy Wall Street protests moved into their third week, marked by the arrest of 700 protesters who blocked the roadway on the...

The Death Penalty and Inadequate Counsel

As Dahlia Lithwick and Adam Liptak note, yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that caused even John Roberts and Samuel Alito to question a state's behavior in a death-penalty case. Cory Maples, who was convicted of murder in Alabama, had the appeal of his death sentence denied because of a missed deadline. This failure was not, however, his fault. The state had sent a letter to the national law firm representing him telling him his first appeal had been denied (which meant that the clock on the next deadline was started), but since his lawyers had left the firm the notice was returned to the state of Alabama unopened. The state made no effort to resend the document. Despite the fact that neither he nor his lawyers were aware of the initial denial (in large part because of the state's actions), the state denied his subsequent appeal because he missed the deadline. As Lithwick explains, even the court's conservatives found the unwillingness of Alabama to waive the...

Americans Hate, Hate, Hate Everyone

Americans have never liked Congress, but today’s rankings -- by way of The Washington Post and ABC News -- show a titanic amount of anger and discontent with the legislative body. Just 14 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing -- a rating lower than what it was before the 1994, 2006, and 2010 congressional elections, and the absolute lowest approval of Congress in the poll’s 20-year history. What’s more, 62 percent of Americans say they strongly disapprove of Congress, and congressional approval is extremely low among all self-identified partisans: Just 18 percent of Democrats, 13 percent of Republicans, and 13 percent of independents approve of Congress. It’s worth noting that this lines up with the last month of Gallup surveys on congressional approval. According to the most recent poll -- conducted in mid-September -- congressional approval is down to 15 percent, the lowest in Gallup’s 36 years of polling on the topic. President Obama fares a little better in...

On Loving Your Candidate

Now that we've gone through one politician after another Republicans thought would be just totally awesome and should run for president -- Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie , and one ( Rick Perry ) who got in, then promptly showed he wasn't so terrifically skilled after all -- the question of the day has become, "What is Mitt Romney to do? He's plodding toward the nomination, but Republicans don't love him!" To which I say, what's the big deal? It isn't like this hasn't happened before. Republicans have nominated plenty of people they weren't particularly psyched about. Some of them lost ( John McCain , Bob Dole ), but some of them won ( George H.W. Bush , Richard Nixon ). Nominating a candidate you aren't passionate about does complicate things a bit -- it can mean fewer volunteers and probably less money raised -- but it's hardly fatal. And Democrats can certainly sympathize. Before 2008, they had a long string of candidates they thought were uncharismatic ( John Kerry , Al...

No, Herman Cain Probably Won't Be the GOP Nominee

With the far right wing no longer satisfied by the spotlessness of Rick Perry's conservative record, Herman Cain has begun to rise as an alternative for movement conservatives. He won a decisive first place at the Florida GOP's straw poll two weeks ago, which was followed by a bump in his polls. One survey of national Republicans conducted last week put Cain in third, while, as Jamelle noted earlier, a new poll from this morning has Cain tied with Perry for second. Floridians keep loving him too, with Cain now polling a strong second to Mitt Romney in the Sunshine State. The fact that Republican voters like Cain is no surprise. He's hosted a popular right-wing radio show for several years and was active on the conservative speaking circuit long before he launched a presidential bid. He's a fantastic speaker when you watch him in person, and with his 9-9-9 tax plan, Cain is one of the only Republican candidates willing to offer a policy proposal to distinguish himself for the field...

Rick Perry Doubles Down on Immigration

One of the things I found while in New Hampshire last week was the extent to which Texas Governor Rick Perry’s comments on immigration at the last debate alienated Republicans nationwide, including those in the Granite State, where Perry is trailing Romney by double-digits. “What he said at the debate, that we ought to pay for their college, I think it shocked people,” says New Hampshire State Representative Ken Hawkins. Of course, Perry never said that Texans should subsidize the children of undocumented immigrants, only that they should be allowed to pay for college at in-state rates. Regardless, the position isn’t popular with Republican voters, which is why it’s a bit of a shock to see Perry double-down on his support the Texas law, as he did at a town hall on Saturday: Perry offers the crowd a choice: “Are we going to have [undocumented children] on the government dole because they’re not educated, or are we going to have them in our institutions of higher learning, pursuing...

Photo of the Day

Those three young women are, from left, Naomi Shah, Shree Bose, and Lauren Hodge, who despite excelling not at football or basketball but at science, got to meet President Obama yesterday. They're the winners of the Google Science Fair, and yeah, their trophies are made of Lego blocks, which makes them the Awesomest Trophies Ever. Their projects ( see here ) were pretty complicated, but Lauren's involved the word "phenylmethylimidazopyridine." And that was in the age 13-14 category. That is some serious badass winning the future right there. USA! USA!

Pages