Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mitt Romney's new low? And does he need a new strategy? [AM Briefing] - Washington Post (blog)

Romney’s ‘47 percent’ comments are a new low: “I thought we’d reached new heights of chutzpah in 2010 when Paul Ryan claimed to be a “fiscal conservative” â€" even though his original “Roadmap for America’s Future” added $62 trillion to the national debt before balancing the budget a half century from now,” writes CAP’s Matt Miller. (Washington Post)

Politico’s Arena asks: A video showing presidential candidate Mitt Romney disparaging Americans who don’t pay income tax, topped with trailing numbers in key battleground states has GOP operatives and other party members just short of a panic. What strategic changes - if any - does the Romney campaign need to make in the coming weeks?

“The federal budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, extols the benefits of “promoting true choice” for Medicare beneficiaries. In truth, though, the Ryan plan would substantially reduce choice for many people on Medicare -- by cutting them off from their current doctors,” writes CFR’s Peter Orszag. (Bloomberg)

Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon: Obama, Romney playing same defense. (USA Today)

“The Obama administration’s omnibus answer to why the Middle East (and now much of the Muslim world) is in near-open rebellion against the United States: The video did it,” writes AEI’s Jonah Goldberg. (National Review)

Room for Debate asks: The nonstop news cycle can amplify any controversy in the presidential campaign, and on the world stage. But can the waves of coverage also diminish the power of a controversy, when the media move on to the next story? How does a story whose power is sustained differ from one that is of passing interest? (New York Times)

Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth: Food stamps expand by leaps. (Washington Examiner)

Heritage’s Robert Rector: Obama’s end run on welfare. (National Review)

Hoover’s Chester Finn: Young, gifted and neglected. (New York Times)

Brookings’ Russell Wheeler: The case for confirming district court judges. (Politico)

Instincts, maturity have Stefon Diggs making big plays for Terps - Washington Post (blog)


Stefon Diggs dived for a first down late in Saturday’s game against Connecticut. (Jonathan Newton - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Two plays told Maryland’s veterans all they needed to know about Stefon Diggs. Both came Saturday against Connecticut, and neither included the hocus-pocus act the true freshman pulled on punt returns.

The first seems an aberration upon initial review. Quarterback Perry Hills, flushed out of the pocket by a Huskies blitz, heaved up a prayer towards the end zone. Blanketed by man-to-man coverage, receiver Marcus Leak tipped the pass and it fell into Diggs’s hands for a 29-yard touchdown.

It appeared a lucky matter of circumstance. Right place, right time, until you hear Diggs say that he’s noticed Hills’s passes stay airborne longer than the average quarterback, so he intentionally darted across the field once he saw Hills take aim at Leak.

“I’ve adjusted to Perry’s throws after being with him with for about a month now,” Diggs said. “It was all instinct, really. His floated a little while, so if it got tipped, maybe something good would happen.”

He was right.

“How many guys are going to realize, it’s one-on-one coverage, the ball’s thrown not to me but next to me, so all I’m going to do is play the whistle and run to the ball because it might be tipped,” Coach Randy Edsall said. “There’s a lot guys who wouldn’t have that instinct who have been playing for a long time. That’s something you might not even see in the NFL.”

The second play was, according to defensive lineman A.J. Francis, an example of instinctual knowledge not often found in teenagers. Late in the fourth quarter, Connecticut clinging to a 24-21 lead with the Terps driving, Hills found Diggs on a short route on third and nine. Weaving his way through would-be tacklers, Diggs got caught from his black cleats by linebacker Yawin Smallwood, but performed a Superman stretch past the first-down marker. The image became Diggs’s Twitter avatar.

“He’s a smart, young player along with his athleticism,” Francis said. “That play last week where he realized he wasn’t at the first down and dove past the marker, a lot of young guys aren’t smart enough to, in the game on the field, realize that you need to get this first down rather than make more guys miss. And he’s able to do both.”

Of course, Diggs’s work on special teams has proved his biggest contribution thus far. He ranks third in the ACC in punt return average (13.8) and is second-place ranking in all-purpose yards per game (147). Maybe he should have taken the safe route â€" “Eventually, I’m going to call a fair catch,” Diggs quipped Saturday â€" but he has frustrated opponents with his unpredictability and shiftiness in the return game, drawing comparisons to West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, with whom he’ll share Mountaineer Field this weekend.

Balancing football and school took time to figure out. Things began clicking his freshman and sophomore year in high school, when maturity began appearing. “I had perfect role models,” Diggs said, “I just had to see the light myself.”

“The athleticism, the dynamic plays, I kind of expected he could do those things,” Edsall said. “But I didn’t expect the experience, the knowledge of some of the things that you see that he’s doing, because again I think it’s rare to have a guy do some of the things we’ve seen him do out there.

“He’s still got a lot to work on in terms of fundamentals, route-running, technique. The thing I didn’t realize is how far along he is in terms of understanding and knowledge of the game.”

Obama on seeing David Letterman naked - Washington Post

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Southern Ave. blocked in SE DC; major MARC delays - Washington Post (blog)

8:45 A.M | Red Line, MARC problems continue

Headaches continue on the Red Line. Trains are still single tracking between NoMa and Rhode Island Avenue, creating delays of at least 20 minutes for riders.

MARC Penn Line train 407 is south of Bowie and coupling with train 413 to head into Washington. Expect additional delays there.

Penn Line train 523 is canceled between Perryville and Baltimore, so Amtrak train 181 is handling southbound passengers north of Baltimore.

8:30 A.M. Update | Red Line delays mounting

Red Line trains are experiencing delays of about 20 minutes in both directions due to the single-tracking between NoMa and Rhode Island Avenue.

8:27 A.M. Update | Amtrak signal issues resolved, delays linger

Amtrak reports that the earlier signal problems between Washington and Baltimore have been resolved. Expect some residual delays.

MARC train 523 is going to run at least 60 to 70 minutes late, so Amtrak train 181 will take care of MARC passengers north of Baltimore.

8:25 A.M. Update | Red Line single-tracking continues

Red Line riders continue to experience problems traveling in both directions. Trains are still single-tracking between NoMa and Rhode Island Avenue due to a track problem outside of Rhode Island Avenue.

8:12 A.M. Update | Southern Ave. reopened

Southern Avenue, which has been closed between Wheeler Road and Chesapeake Street in Southeast Washington, has reopened. The roadway had been blocked all morning.

8:09 A.M. Update | Red Line delays

Red Line trains are single-tracking between NoMa and Rhode Island Avenue due to a track problem outside of Rhode Island Avenue. Expect delays in both directions.

8 A.M. Update | Accidents on I-270 South, I-66 West

An accident on I-270 South after Montrose Road could create problems there.

An accident on I-66 West at Chain Bridge Road is blocking the left lane and left shoulder. A disabled vehicle on I-66 East in the same area is blocking the right shoulder.

7:55 A.M. Update | More MARC Penn Line delays

MARC Penn Line train 523 is going to run an hour late due to the severe delays of train 502. Again, and we cannot emphasize this enough: Metro will take your MARC tickets.

7:41 A.M. Update | Crash remains on I-66 East

The accident on I-66 East at Sudley Road is still blocking the left lane and left shoulder.

7:39 A.M. Update | MARC Penn Line update

MARC Penn Line train 407, which is stopped with mechanical issues, will couple with train 511 at Seabrook to proceed into Washington. Again, Metro will take MARC tickets, so try to take Metro instead if at all possible.

7:38 A.M. Update | Amtrak delayed as well

Amtrak trains are also delayed between Washington and Baltimore due to signal problems.

7:35 A.M. Update | Major MARC delays

MARC Penn Line riders are still encountering major headaches stemming from Tuesday night’s storms. Signal issues are a problem between Bowie and Washington, which means trains have to run at restricted speeds in both directions, according to the Maryland Transit Administration.

Riders should expect delays of between 30 to 60 minutes heading both ways. Metro will honor MARC tickets.

Penn Line train 409 was canceled due to a crew issue, while train 401 ran 30 minutes late heading to Washington. Train 407 is currently stopped at Bowie with mechanical issues.

7:30 A.M. Update | I-66 East crash cleared

The accident on I-66 East before Chain Bridge Road has been cleared from the road, but heavy congestion remains.

7:15 A.M. Update | I-270 South accident on shoulder

The accident on I-270 South before Montrose Road is blocking one of the shoulders.

7:02 A.M. Update | Another crash on I-66 East

An accident on I-66 East at Sudley Road is blocking the left lane and left shoulder.

The earlier accident on I-66 East before Chain Bridge Road is still blocking the right lane and right shoulder. Traffic is crawling approaching this spot, with major delays stretching back several miles.

7 AM. Update | I-95 North lanes reopen

The vehicle fire on I-95 North before Route 1 in Occoquan has been cleared and all lanes reopened. Heavy delays remain approaching this spot.

6:58 A.M. Update | I-270 North accident cleared

The crash on I-270 North after Falls Road has been cleared from the road.

Now there’s an accident on I-270 South before Montrose Road, which could create delays heading that way.

6:47 AM. Update | I-66 East crash update

The accident on I-66 East before Chain Bridge Road is now only blocking the right lane and right shoulder. Heavy, heavy delays remain.

6:45 A.M. Update | Accident still blocking I-270 North lanes

The crash on I-270 North after Falls Road is now blocking three northbound lanes and one of the shoulders.

6:35 A.M. Update | Accident blocks I-270 North lanes

The crash on I-270 North after Falls Road is blocking two northbound lanes and one of the shoulders.

6:32 A.M. Update | Accident on I-270 North

A crash on I-270 North after Falls Road could slow northbound traffic.

6:30 A.M. Update | I-66 East lanes closed by crash

An accident on I-66 East before Chain Bridge Road is blocking the right two lanes and the right shoulder.

6:25 A.M. Update | I-95 North lanes blocked in Occoquan

A vehicle fire on I-95 North before Route 1 in Occoquan is blocking all northbound lanes. Traffic can only get by on the right shoulder. Heavy delays are already building.

The earlier disabled vehicle on I-95 North before the Fairfax County Parkway has been cleared and those lanes reopened.

Columia Pike is closed between Four Mile Run and George Mason Drive in Arlington due to a water main break.

Original Post:

Good morning, commuters! We’ll be keeping an eye on the roads and rails this morning, reporting any delays or issues â€" and we will need your help.

If you see or hear about any congestion, delays or problems, tell us in the comments section below or by tweeting @drgridlock.

The storms and humidity that struck on Tuesday give way to much better weather today, according to the Capital Weather Gang. It will be breezy, sunny and quite mild.

So far this morning:

â€" Southern Avenue is closed between Wheeler Road and Chesapeake Street in Southeast Washington. The roadway will reain closed through the morning rush hour, according to police.

â€" A disabled vehicle on I-95 North before the Fairfax County Parkway is blocking the right two lanes and right shoulder.

Click here to receive e-mail alerts for major traffic and transit issues.

Nationals vs. Dodgers weather forecast: Delightful for doubleheader - Washington Post (blog)

Nationals vs. Dodgers (Doubleheader)
Wednesday Sept. 18, 4:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Game 1 Game 2 Weather Chance of Rain
73-67 68-63 Clear 5%

Superb weather for this doubleheader from start to finish. It will be cooler than we're used to so wear pants and consider a sweater or light jacket.

NatCast appears on the day of every Nationals home game. Also, if you haven’t already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Rainouts in New York, Washington lead to 2 key doubleheaders with playoff ... - Washington Post

The AP’s daily wrap on the playoff races and what’s ahead in the final weeks:

â€" RAIN GAIN: The Dodgers’ game at Washington was washed away by a storm that also caused the Yankees’ home game against Toronto to be postponed. It was still a productive day for the Nationals, whose NL East lead grew to 5½ games when Atlanta lost 4-3 in 10 innings to Miami. The Orioles (84-64) beat the Mariners 4-2 in 18 innings to pull within a percentage point of the Yankees (83-63) for the lead in the AL East.

New York and Washington will each host a doubleheader on Wednesday. Philadelphia, trying to make a late charge for the NL wild card, also was rained out and will make up the game against the New York Mets on Thursday night, originally a day off for both clubs.

â€" SLAMMIN’ CENTRAL: Miguel Cabrera hit a grand slam among his two homers and had six RBIs in Detroit’s 12-2 victory over wild card-leading Oakland to remain three games behind the White Sox in the AL Central. Chicago rode Alex Rios’ seventh-inning homer to a 3-2 win over Kansas City.

â€" SEPTEMBER SWOON: The Pirates fell to 4-12 in September with a 6-0 loss to Milwaukee. Looking for its first playoff berth and winning season since 1992, Pittsburgh dropped to 74-73 and slipped 3½ games adrift of St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot.

â€" NEXT UP: Tigers ace Justin Verlander (14-8, 2.82 ERA) faces Oakland’s Brett Anderson, who is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA since returning from Tommy John surgery.

â€" CHASE CHATTER: “We haven’t been playing the way we’ve wanted to play lately. We’re still coming in with the attitude that we’re in this thing,” Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lawmakers set aside differences to honor Myanmar's Suu Kyi with ... - Washington Post

WASHINGTON â€" Lawmakers are setting aside party differences as they honor Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi with Congress’ highest award.

The Nobel Peace laureate’s struggle against military rule in the country also known as Burma is one that Democrats and Republicans have united in championing over the years. Her landmark visit to America offers a poignant opportunity Wednesday to present the Congressional Gold Medal that she was awarded in absentia in 2008 when she was still under house arrest in her country.

Suu Kyi was meeting with House and Senate leaders as well. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also planned to attend the ceremony, to be held in the Capitol Rotunda.

Suu Kyi kicked off her 17-day U.S. trip with a Tuesday meeting with Clinton at the State Department. Afterward, Suu Kyi said she would support the U.S. easing its remaining economic sanctions on Myanmar â€" a step the Obama administration is considering.

Clinton voiced concern over continued detention of political prisoners and ethnic violence in Myanmar and its military contacts with North Korea. But speculation is growing that the administration could announce an easing of its ban on imports from Myanmar when its president, Thein Sein, visits for the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week.

After long decrying Suu Kyi’s treatment during her 15 years of house arrest, the U.S. has been at the forefront of the movement to re-engage the former pariah state, which has opened up over the past two years since Suu Kyi’s release. Thein Sein has eased draconian restrictions on the press and allowed Suu Kyi and her party to contest special elections in April. In response, the U.S. normalized diplomatic relations and in July allowed U.S. companies to start investing in Myanmar again.

Congress in August renewed the import ban, but President Barack Obama could seek to waive its provisions.

Despite bitter political divisions, both parties in Congress have broadly supported the administration’s steps to reward Myanmar for its shift from five decades of military rule.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Romney, refocusing, defines narrow government role; Obama says 'you have to ... - Washington Post

SALT LAKE CITY â€" President Barack Obama declared Tuesday night the occupant of the Oval Office must “work for everyone, not just for some,” jabbing back at Mitt Romney’s jarring statement that as a candidate, he doesn’t worry about the 47 percent of the country that pays no income taxes.

Romney neither disavowed nor apologized for his remarks, which included an observation that nearly half of the country believe they are victims and entitled to a range of government support. Instead, Romney cast his comment as evidence of a fundamental difference with Obama over the economy, adding the federal government should not “take from some to give to the others.”

As the rivals sparred with seven weeks remaining in a close race for the White House, two GOP Senate candidates publicly disavowed Romney’s remarks, caught on videotape at a fundraiser. Republican officials openly debated the impact that a series of controversies would have on the party’s prospects of winning the presidency.

Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, said the Republican presidential nominee was “obviously inarticulate” in trying to make his point. The Wisconsin congressman told KRNV-TV in Reno, Nev., “The point we’re trying to make here is, under the Obama economy, government dependency is up and economic stagnation is up.”

Top Republicans in Congress declined through aides to offer their reaction to Romney’s remarks â€" just as they generally refrained from commenting a week ago when he issued a statement that inaccurately accused the Obama administration of giving comfort to demonstrators after they breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

The most recent controversy in a campaign filled with them was ignited by the emergence of a videotape, made last May, in which Romney told donors at a fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes. They “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them ... believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement.”

He said, “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

In a next-day interview on Fox, the network of choice for conservatives, Romney said he didn’t intend to write off any part of a deeply divided electorate, including seniors who are among those who often pay no taxes. Instead, he repeatedly sought to reframe his remarks as a philosophical difference of opinion between himself and Obama.

“I’m not going to get” votes from Americans who believe government’s job is to redistribute wealth,” he said, adding that was something Obama believes in.

He also said he wants to be president so he can help hard-pressed Americans find work and earn enough so they become income taxpayers.

Romney didn’t say so, but the U.S. income tax is designed to be progressive, so those who earn the most theoretically pay the most. Through programs as diverse as Social Security, Medicare, health care and food stamps, the government collects tax revenue and pays it out in the form of benefits for those who qualify.

Congressional Democrats swiftly seize on Romney's video remarks disparaging ... - Washington Post

WASHINGTON â€" Democrats running for the House and Senate are pouncing on Mitt Romney’s remarks that nearly half of all Americans think they are “victims” entitled to government help and that he doesn’t worry about “those people.”

“Mitt Romney and Dean Heller are reading from the same script when it comes to struggling middle-class families,” said Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is seeking to unseat Heller in Nevada’s competitive Senate race.

“It’s a troubling and shocking position to take, especially for a man running for president of the United States,” said Annie Kuster, a New Hampshire Democrat hoping to oust Republican Rep. Charlie Bass in one of the country’s most competitive House races. “Congressman Bass needs to make clear whether he supports this view and explain why he continues to campaign with a presidential candidate who is this out of touch with the American people.”

Romney sent a ripple down-ballot when a secretly recorded video surfaced Monday of his remarks at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. on May 17.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney says in the video. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

“My job is not to worry about those people,” Romney added. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Romney has neither disavowed nor apologized for his remarks, instead casting his comment as evidence of a fundamental difference with President Barack Obama over the economy. The federal government, he said, should not “take from some to give to the others.”

But the pile-on had begun, bolstering Obama’s case that Romney does not represent a middle class struggling amid high unemployment and a sluggish economy.

Democratic candidates took their lead from Obama, who declared Tuesday night that the occupant of the Oval Office must “work for everyone, not just for some.”

Democratic candidates already were using Romney’s statements â€" made to a room of wealthy donors at a private fundraiser â€" to raise campaign cash.

The campaign of Lois Frankel, seeking an open House seat in a district that includes Boca Raton, Fla., blasted an email to supporters under the subject line “Seriously?” It asked recipients to donate because “the same people who saw Mitt behind closed doors right here in Boca” are planning to fund attack ads.

Some Republicans saw immediate peril in Romney’s remarks, particularly those in tight races. Linda McMahon, the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, quickly disavowed Romney’s remarks as her opponent, Rep. Chris Murphy, sought to tie her to Romney, releasing a statement talking about “the real McMahon-Romney agenda.”

“I disagree with Gov. Romney’s insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care,” said McMahon, who has narrowed the race to succeed retiring independent Joe Lieberman. “I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be.”

A bit farther north in New England, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown also quickly backed away from Romney: “That’s not the way I view the world,” he said.

But if early statements are any indication, Democrats are likely to continue to pound on Romney’s statements in the days ahead.

Take Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democrat seeking Wisconsin’s open Senate seat, who is running against former governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

“The fact that Mitt Romney said behind closed doors that he doesn’t care about half the people of this country reveals who he is and what he believes,” Baldwin said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly to debate in Washington - Washington Post (blog)

While the real presidential debates kick off next month, Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly are attempting to steal the show â€" the Comedy Central late-night host and Fox News Channel host will face off in a debate on Oct. 6 at 8 p.m.

The two TV personalities will meet at George Washington University for “The Rumble in The Air-Conditioned Auditorium” to argue about President Obama versus Mitt Romney and other various issues. The 90-minute debate â€" moderated by CNN contributor and former Fox News host E.D. Hill â€" will be live-streamed online for a $4.95 fee, and also available for download later.

“I’m excited to debate Mr. O’Reilly,” Stewart said in a statement. “I believe this will be a very enjoyable night for fans of our programs, political junkies, partisans and people who just enjoy yelling.”

“I had no idea my agent signed me up for this,” O’Reilly said. “How can I get out of it?”

Tickets to watch the live show at GW go on sale Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. and are in $75-$100. Half the proceeds of the event will go to charity, the announcement added.