Mitt Romney & Porn Reveals Much

During Mitt Romney’s campaign for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, he made an interesting comment about pornography. The comment came in Ottumwa, Iowa at the Hotel Ottumwa, where Romney said “I want to make sure every new computer sold in this country after I’m President has installed on it a filter to block all pornography.” This comment is fascinating for a number of reasons, and requires a multi-level analysis to really explore its full absurdity.

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Poverty, Opportunity, and the 2012 Presidential Election

A recent forum in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, provided an in-depth discussion into the level of concern in the United States about poverty and opportunity, particularly concerning children.Spotlight on Poverty also looked at whether or not these issues will be factors in the upcoming presidential election. Overall, people believe strongly that equal opportunity for children of all races is very important; that not all children currently have full access to opportunity; and that presidential candidates’ views on poverty are very important. But, many think that neither the candidates nor the media are discussing poverty enough.

Interestingly, there were substantial numbers of Republicans who agreed with Democrats and Independents in several of the poll’s questions. (The corresponding national poll of likely voters undertaken at the end of last year highlighted several key points; all graphics are from this poll's report.) 

Most importantly, 88 percent of respondents said that “candidates’ positions on equal opportunity for children of all races are important in deciding their vote for President,” and 55 percent said that they were very important.  

Among Democrats, 70 percent agreed that candidates’ views in this area arevery important (and an additional 25 percent said they are somewhat important). Fifty-five percent of Independents said that candidates’ views arevery important (and an additional 28 percent said they are somewhat important).  Among Republicans, 44 percent agreed that candidates’ views in this area are very important (and 42 percent said they were somewhat important). Agreeing that they are very important were 85 percent of African Americans, 62 percent of Hispanics, and 51 percent of Whites.

But, despite the level of belief in equal opportunity for children, many voters do not believe that all children have full access to it as of yet. Over half of the respondents say that “children of different races tend to face unequal barriers to opportunity.” 

In this question, researchers pointed out significant differences in the breakdowns: “By party, 70 percent of Democratic voters said children face unequal barriers, compared to 50 percent of Independents, and only 38 percent of Republicans. By race, 50 percent of white voters said children face unequal barriers, compared to a solid majority (62 percent) of non-white voters who said so as well. Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of African American voters said children of different races face unequal barriers. Somewhat surprisingly, only 48 percent of Hispanic participants agreed.”

There was strong feedback from the public that candidates’ views on poverty matter in deciding on their vote for president. Almost nine in ten respondents said that this was very (45 percent) or somewhat (42 percent) important.

Within specific demographics, 61 percent of Democrats, 42 percent of Independents, and 33 percent of Republicans agreed that candidates’ views on poverty are very important. (Another 35 percent, 40 percent, and 51 percent, respectively, agreed that candidates' views are somewhat important). Agreeing that candidates' views are very important were 76 percent of African Americans, 57 percent of Hispanics and 39 percent of Whites. 

Despite the importance of this topic to voters, almost half of the respondents said that “they have not heard enough from presidential candidates about reducing poverty.” This includes four in ten Republicans, just under half of Independents, and six in ten Democrats. Half of both Whites and African Americans agree with this opinion, along with more than four in ten Hispanics.

When asked if the media has adequately covered poverty reduction during this campaign, half said no, while four in ten thought they had (10 percent didn’t know or didn’t answer). By party, six in ten Democrats said that the media hadn’t covered this issue enough, as did half of Independents and four in ten Republicans. By race, this opinion was expressed by about half of Whites and Hispanics, and by almost six in ten African Americans.

Childhood poverty can have severe, long-lasting results. The Urban Institute found the following

  • Sixty-three percent of children enter adulthood without experiencing poverty, but 10 percent of children are persistently poor, spending at least half their childhoods living in poverty.
  • Black children are roughly 2.5 times more likely than white children to ever experience poverty and 7 times more likely to be persistently poor.
  • Children who experience poverty tend to cycle into and out of poverty, and most persistently poor children spend intermittent years living above the poverty threshold.
  • Being poor at birth is a strong predictor of future poverty status. Thirty-one percent of white children and 69 percent of black children who are poor at birth go on to spend at least half their childhoods living in poverty.
  • Children who are born into poverty and spend multiple years living in poor families have worse adult outcomes than their counterparts in higher-income families.

A recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation revealed that, “over the last decade there has been a significant decline in economic well-being for low income children and families. The official child poverty rate, which is a conservative measure of economic hardship, increased 18 percent between 2000 and 2009, essentially returning to the same level as the early 1990s. This increase means that 2.4 million more children are living below the federal poverty line.” 

These statistics and others illustrate the ongoing need for presidential candidates, other politicians, the media, social service providers, and everyone else, to stay focused on this issue and work to alleviate poverty in the United States.

Autocritiquing Occupy

Via Stoller on Twitter, a blog hoping to elicit a constructive dialog on the Occupy protests and the future of the movement.  In response to George Lakoff's How to Frame Yourself advice to Occupiers at Common Dreams, one post in particular stands out:

1) Lakoff’s insistence that the movement focus on getting candidates with “its moral focus elected in 2012.” I couldn’t agree less. If OWS turns into a get out the vote drive for the Democratic Party, it would be a betrayal of it’s raison d’etre and its resonance with people who are thoroughly disillusioned with the political process, particularly after 2008, when Obama managed to sway a lot of people with his soaring rhetoric and promise of renewal. Election season is already well underway; the Republican candidate will be decided by January and Democrats will try to convince liberals and progressives to fall into line behind Obama. The possibility of OWS running its own candidates in this short period and with existing campaign finance laws in place, or supporting politicians from the existing bipartisan pool who share its ‘moral values,’ are slim to none outside of a few local races.

Agree that any appearance co-option by the party would dissolve what momentum is possible quickly, but I'm also reminded of watching the tea party in 2010 with their litmus tests and the "other" kind of influence they had on the elections (Sharon Angle, O'Donnell come to mind).  Anti-establishment and in the spotlight only gets you so far.  The tea party's influence on 2010 wasn't so much the candidates they ran and it definitely wasn't their independent fundraising as a "movement," but the exponential effect they had on disappointment with the Democratic Party.  They got out the vote.  Much more could be said about the decline of tea party popularity since.  Was it always going to fade, or are they paying the price for a hard line approach that a majority of voters now blame for gridlocked government? 

So you can't run your own candidates in 2012, but you can find issues or even specific legislation to rally behind.  Does a candidate have to be right on every issue to get some support, or can a candidate be right on the most important issues and draw the crowd?  And what about influencing members of congress throughout the campaigns?  You're not getting the ear of a single Republican, no question. 

I'm not sure the right answers for the movement.  Questions of where things could go and the role of Occupy in 2012 seem almost two separate dilemna's, yet in the end they'll be tied together.

Without a tangible influence of some kind in 2012, we won't be hearing much about Occupy after the elections.  Unfortunate reality, sure, but still the case.  Anyway, go speak your mind.


Obama Reclaiming the Frame?

On the policy side of the President's jobs plan and "Buffet Tax" address this morning, reactions are mixed.  At FireDogLake, David Dayden likes the move away from the "grand bargain" territory and what appears to be an early goodbye to the super-committee, while John Walker sees the door to Medicare cuts still open.  Yglesias sees an open door with a line in the sand: not cuts to Medicare without revenue increases.  Aravosis thinks tying increases to even a hint at Medicare cuts is just dumb.  And Ezra Klein thinks the White House has learned it's lesson on chasing the "Compromiser in Chief" title: the public "gives no points for effort," they want results.

But the stand out moment for me was the change in frame in the address.  Bipartisanship/compromise/balance got the obligatory mentions, but overall the speech elludes to a wiser WH.  Via Josh Marshall:

I hope President Obama will keep hitting what I think was his strongest point in his Jobs Act speech. That is, either/or. We can have no new taxes ever for wealthy people or we can save Medicare. But not both.


For the first time in a long while, Obama today at least hinted at an unwillingness to move his goal-posts closer to where Boehner has set his.  He grabbed the popular position, drew his base line a little more to the left, and reinforced it with a veto threat.  Baby steps.  Not shooting for the moon, but after 1 yr plus of reinforcing the GOP talking points on deficit reduction instead of focusing on jobs, this may be the only way out of the woods for the WH and what's left of the middle class.

I'm still skeptical the goal posts won't be moved a thousand times, especially if the possibility of having debt-ceiling circus redux months before the election scares them off the "either/or" theme (Joan McCarter: it shouldn't!), but today's speech was at least refreshing.

Also, Erica Payne and The Agenda Project, way ahead of them:


Obama Screws Environment With Smog

President Obama is halting regulations and overruling the EPA on smog. Is it because of pressure from Republicans and big business? The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.



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