Coverage of the Edwards Scandal Spreading

The recent story in The National Enquirer on John Edwards allegedly being caught in a hotel with Rielle Hunter, who they claim is his mistress, is just beginning to receive coverage from the mainstream media. Not surprisingly the most significant report comes from Fox News. Their willingness to be the first media source to report on this has its obvious political motivations, but this does not reduce the significance of their report. Fox reports that a security guard in the hotel has confirmed John Edwards’ presence in the hotel.

Slate links to additional members of the mainstream media who are starting to pick up this story, including the Philadelphia Daily News and The Dallas Morning News. The bloggers at The Los Angeles Times will not be discussing this story following this gag order:

From: “Pierce, Tony”

Date: July 24, 2008 10:54:41 AM PDT

To: [XXX]

Subject: john edwards

Hey bloggers,

There has been a little buzz surrounding John Edwards and his alleged affair. Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.

If you have any questions or are ever in need of story ideas that would best fit your blog, please don’t hesitate to ask

Keep rockin,


Of course taking this action inevitably led to this becoming a story in itself, leading to increased coverage of the entire story elsewhere.

While it has been primarily conservative bloggers writing on this, the story is extending beyond the conservative blogosphere.  Justin Gardner writes:

Frankly, I wasn’t inclined to trust The Enquirer when they reported about this last year or earlier in the week, but since this guard has confirmed that Edwards was indeed at the hotel this has gone beyond mere trashy tabloid journalism.

Yesterday journalist and blogger Robert Stein commented on the reluctance of the mainstream media to pick up this story. The Salon War Room looked at this aspect further, after discussing some of the same examples of The Enquirer being accurate in previous stories of this type which I mentioned in my previous post. Alex Koppelman writes:

There have been complaints from some quarters about the silence from the mainstream media that greeted the publication of the Enquirer story, as well as allegations of bias. Personally, I think it comes down to a few factors, none of them bias.

First, Edwards didn’t get that much coverage in the first place, and he’s not thought of as a really serious contender to be Barack Obama’s running mate, so it’s unlikely that major outlets will devote to this story the substantial assets required to do reporting on it. Without doing that, it’s unlikely many outlets will report on the story based entirely on the Enquirer’s allegations. Even if editors and reporters believe that the story is true and the reporting is solid, it would look odd for a paper like, say, the New York Times to print a story that came solely from the Enquirer. There’s also the jealousy factor — taking the Times as an example again, the paper of record really doesn’t want to admit that it got scooped by a tabloid. And, last, there’s the Elizabeth Edwards factor. Reporters are especially careful in a case like this, because of Elizabeth Edwards’ illness.

I think he gets this right, but unless Edwards can come up with a good explanation, this story will continue to spread. Regardless, it is safe to assume he is no longer under consideration to be Barack Obama’s running mate.

Republican Tax Scares

Republicans try to win elections by using fear. Fear of terrorism has been their major act for the past several years, and before that they used fear of Communism. If that’s not enough, they’ll scare voters by saying Democrats will take way their guns or bibles. Then there’s their old routine of saying Democrats will take away all your money, which basically circles back to using fear of Communism. This year we’ve already seen a number of erroneous comments from John McCain and other Republicans about Barack Obama’s tax plans. Fortunately they are being debunked from a variety of sources.

Yesterday The Entrepreneurial Agenda, a blog at, looked at accusations that Obama would harm small business by raising taxes. McCain’s argument is that, “Small businesses are the job engine of America, and I will make it easier for them to grow and create more jobs….If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator Obama is going to raise your tax rates.” The Agenda responds:

Well, McCain is certainly, unequivocally wrong that Obama will raise taxes on 23 million small businesses. Let’s begin by establishing the figures. According to Census Department (as reported by SBA), in 2005 there were some 26 million firms with 500 or fewer employees. (McCain’s figures apparently come from 2002.) Of these, 20 million have no employees at all. Many of these are glorified hobbies, others are lucrative consulting gigs, but as the nonpartisan points out in a thorough debunking, “McCain is arguing that Obama’s tax increase would ‘destroy jobs,’ but he’s counting mostly firms that don’t produce any.”

Obama has promised to repeal the Bush tax cuts on couples making more than $250,000 and individuals earning over $200,000 — basically, all of the top tax bracket and reaching halfway down the second-highest tax bracket. And how many small businesses would that affect? The Tax Policy Center calculates the number of tax filers (“units,” it calls them) in each bracket who reported some small business income or loss, and in 2007 that amounted to just 481,000 units — just 1.4 percent of all those who reported small business income. (The Tax Policy Calculates that 32 million tax units had small business income, which includes straight business or farm income, or income passed from partnerships or S-Corps.) And that number is undoubtedly high, because many filers in the second highest (33 percent) tax bracket earned less than Obama’s proposed threshold. Others are professionals — lawyers or accountants, say — who’ve organized their practices into partnerships. In any case, the vast majority — around 99 percent — of small businesses, however you define them, would not see their taxes increased under Barack Obama’s scheme.

A more interesting question is whether small businesses would actually see a bigger tax cut under Obama or McCain. Again, if the number-crunchers at the Tax Policy Center is to be trusted, then the laurels go to Obama, who’s proposing a variety of additional tax cuts targeted toward low-income and working families. (Here is the analysis, which includes very detailed descriptions of the candidates’ proposals. More detailed, in fact, than the candidates’ own position papers. Because the candidates haven’t fully fleshed out their tax proposals publicly, the Center has talked informally with campaign advisers and made its own assumptions to fill in the blanks.) Anyone earning under $112,000 in 2009 — or 80 percent of the population — is more likely to see a higher after-tax income under Obama than under McCain.

The post refers to this post at which debunks McCain’s charges on taxes on small business. This isn’t the only time that has debunked false claims on Obama’s tax plans recently. They debunked a claim that Obama “voted to raise income taxes on individuals who earn as little as $32,000 per year.” They concluded that McCain’s $32,000 figure is “phony.” That is only one of many false claims on Obama’s record made by Republicans. also debunked a claim from the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee that Obama voted for higher taxes 94 times.

The report of the Tax Policy Center provides other important information which I previously discussed here. While us affluent wine drinking elitists who back Obama might wind up paying more in taxes under Obama than McCain, it is worthwhile to look at how much more this will be to determine if it is really worth compromising principles and voting Republican to save a few bucks. In my previous post, which provides more details and links for those who want to review the numbers, I quoted from Hilzoy who noted:

people below the top five percent (which starts at $237,040) do not lose after-tax income under Obama’s plan, and people making $237,040-$619,561 lose all of $12 a year, on average. It’s only in the top one percent that people take a sizable hit. But since so much of the Bush tax cuts went to them, that seems fair to me.

Rather than paying higher taxes under Obama the difference is that most affluent Obama supporters will see  a smaller tax cut than they would receive from McCain while the more affluent will see a small tax increase which we can easily afford. It isn’t until the top one tenth of one percent where there is a major difference. The top 0.1% receives an average tax cut of $269,364 from McCain while they would see an average tax increase of $701,885 under Obama. Again, this is largely a consequence of them receiving the largest benefits under Bush’s plan.  On the other end of the spectrum, McCain would give the lowest quintile an average tax cut of $19 while Obama would give them an average tax cut of $567.

Obama described his own tax policies in a video I posted here. In the video Obama makes it clear that those earning under $250,000 will not receive an increase in taxes–not in their income tax, not in Social Security payroll taxes, and not in capital gains taxes. The vast majority will receive a tax cut.


Libertarian Support for Barack Obama

(This post for The Carpetbagger Report reviews recent posts here on libertarian support for Obama and on left-libertarianism).

When I was guest blogging at The Carpetbagger Report in January I wrote a post on Ron Paul which demonstrated (especially from the comments many wrote in response to the post) that there is a lot of irrationality in the libertarian movement. Fortunately the Paul supporters represent only one segment of libertarianism. I also noted that many libertarians were outraged by the racism expressed in Paul’s writings, while others also disagreed with some of his other conservative views. In other words, not all libertarians are irrational, regardless of whether you disagree with them, despite the impression given by those backing Ron Paul.

There is also a wide amount of variation in views among libertarians, with some libertarians even supporting Barack Obama. I’ve recently pointed out that a Rasmussen poll showed that libertarians preferred Obama over McCain by a margin of 53% to 38%. Of course many libertarians, even regardless of whether they prefer Obama or McCain, will wind up voting for Bob Barr, who has acted to repudiate the racists who backed Ron Paul.

I’ve been tracking posts from both libertarians and conservatives which show support for Obama at Liberal Values. Earlier this month the San Francisco Chronicle looked at libertarian support for Obama which I noted here. Bruce Bartlett has also written on this topic in an article at The New Republic:

The largest group of Obamacons hail from the libertarian wing of the movement. And it’s not just Andrew Sullivan. Milton and Rose Friedman’s son, David, is signed up with the cause on the grounds that he sees Obama as the better vessel for his father’s cause. Friedman is convinced of Obama’s sympathy for school vouchers–a tendency that the Democratic primaries temporarily suppressed. Scott Flanders, the CEO of Freedom Communications–the company that owns The Orange County Register–told a company meeting that he believes Obama will accomplish the paramount libertarian goals of withdrawing from Iraq and scaling back the Patriot Act.

Libertarians (and other varieties of Obamacons, for that matter) frequently find themselves attracted to Obama on stylistic grounds. That is, they believe that he has surrounded himself with pragmatists, some of whom (significantly) come from the University of Chicago. As the blogger Megan McArdle has written, “His goal is not more government so that we can all be caught up in some giant, expressive exercise of collectively enforcing our collective will on all the other people standing around us in the collective; his goal is improving transparency and minimizing government intrusion while rectifying specific outcomes.”

I’ve previously quoted more from both Megan McArdle and David Friedman on their preference for Obama over McCain. In The Los Angeles Times, Megan wrote:

Obama is the right man for his party, and McCain is the wrong one. Obama is not only personally inspiring, but he also seems to have a deep understanding of the value of markets and transparency; he aims to fix outcomes, not tinker with the process. McCain, on the other hand, shows little respect for spontaneous free order or suspicion of expanded state power; he seems to think that the main problem with the government is that the wrong people are pulling the strings.

David Friedman answered questions about why he prefers Obama to McCain:


A Citizen of the World

Steve M. has beaten me to commenting on one item I was thinking about blogging about over at The Carpetbagger Report so I will keep this brief. John McCain was critical of Barack Obama’s statement in his speech in Germany where he referred to himself as a citizen of the world. As Steve M. points out, George Bush has used the phrase “citizen of the world” in a favorable context, and he is not alone in doing so. Even Ronald Reagan has done so.

While Steve has handled this issue well, there are two points I’d like to add. The implication in many of the attacks on Obama from the right over this is that being a citizen of the world means he is somehow not a loyal American. They tend to ignore the fact that Obama said, “I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.” I bet not many right wingers will repeat Obama’s statement of being “a proud citizen of the United states.” That won’t fit in well with the meme that he is really a Muslim terrorist and a Manchurian candidate.

While many liberal bloggers have defended Obama, I most enjoyed a defense of Obama on this point from a libertarian blogger. (Unfortunately he weakened his post by making a derogatory comment on John Kerry’s reference to a “global test” which was twisted to mean something quite different from what was intended.) David Weigle of Reason wrote:

He declared himself a citizen of the U.S. and the world, smart guys. Is John McCain not a citizen of the world? When his map reaches the Atlantic Ocean, does it turn white and read “Here There Be Dragons”?

Perhaps. My fear is that McCain’s map of the world is made up of lots of places marked “places to bomb.” That includes a huge arrow pointed at Iran.

(Cross posted at The Carpetbagger Report)

Housekeeping Note

I’ll be guest blogging over at The Carpetbagger Report again today as Steve Benen takes one of his rare days off. Joining me over there will be Steve M. from No More Mister Nice Blog and Adam Serwer, a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

As a consequence of blogging over there, SciFi Friday will be pushed back to later in the weekend (not that this hasn’t happened several other times recently.)

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