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Posted at 09:07 AM ET, 07/06/2012

Morning Bits

— The Romney campaign is still reeling from institutional conservative criticism that its operation is “insular” (Wall Street Journal), “amateur” (Jack Welch), and “delusional” (Bill Kristol). But The Post reports that Mitt Romney is responding to the attacks by “planning to fortify his communications and messaging team by adding seasoned operatives, advisers close to the campaign said Thursday, after withering criticism from prominent conservative voices that his insular team has fumbled recent opportunities.”

 — I’m inclined to agree with Hotair’s Allahpundit here, who thinks that while this health care “tax/penalty” flap might matter to Beltway types, it won’t ultimately resonate with independent voters. This doesn’t mean that the Romney camp isn’t running a flabby, often unfocused campaign, but Allahpundit reminds us that many voters have an uneasy relationship with the news cycle: “Bear in mind, despite the [Supreme] Court ruling having been front page on every newspaper in America last week, fully 45 percent of adults said afterwards that they either didn’t know how the Court had ruled or thought that they had struck down most of ObamaCare.” Indeed, most voters follow presidential elections like they watch basketball games, only really paying attention in the fourth quarter, when it gets exciting and both teams start playing dirty.

— Must I mention Rep. Joe Walsh’s embarrassing contretemps with Ashleigh Banfield, during which he shouting the CNN anchor’s first name over 90 times (“Ashleigh! Ashleigh! Ash…Ashleigh!”)? Why yes, I must! There is no excuse for Walsh’s loathsome comment that his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth, who served 20 years in the military and lost both of her legs in Iraq, wasn’t a “real hero” because she often invoked her military service too often for Walsh’s tastes. But Walsh sputtered this semi-coherent defense to Banfield: “This is a manufactured issue because when I’m out there, this is the lay of the land out there now. I’m being taped by Tammy Duckworth’s people. They are manufacturing this crisis.” How horribly unfair that these Stasi-like campaign operatives are recording a candidate’s every public utterance and accurately reporting them.

— Paging Dambisa Moyo! The United Nations, which possesses no authority to levy taxes, has proposed a plan that would tax billionaires and use the generated revenue to aid developing countries. In her influential book “Dead Aid,” Moyo, a Zambian-born economist, was blunt about the failure of African aid programs: "The notion that aid can alleviate systemic poverty, and has done so, is a myth. Millions in Africa are poorer today because of aid; misery and poverty have not ended but increased. Aid has been, and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for most parts of the developing world." Moyo argues that some tightly controlled and targeted programs that bypass kleptocratic governments can be useful, but that direct aid to governments is not only wasteful but often deeply harmful.

 But the United Nations’ report seems less interested in the efficacy of aid than with separating those who have “too much” from their ill-gotten money: “The ‘average’ billionaire would own $3.7 billion after paying the tax. If that billionaire spent $1,000 per day, it would take him or her over 10,000 years to spend all his or her wealth. Would this hurt them?” But that’s not the point, is it? If I walk into a Wal-Mart and stuff my bag full of pens, rolls of Scotch tape, and loaves of Wonder bread, and leave without paying, I won’t “hurt” the company or drive it toward insolvency, but it’s still morally wrong to take something that’s not mine simply because the other party can sustain the loss.

— In Sweden, where selling sex is legal but buying it isn’t, prostitutes will be entitled to paid sick leave underwritten by the state, a ruling that comes just weeks after the European Court of Justice ruled that workers in the European Union who fall ill while on vacation are entitled to additional paid time off,  a policy that already exists in Sweden. These poor people, suffering under the boot heel of this brutal austerity regime…

By Michael Moynihan  |  09:07 AM ET, 07/06/2012

Tags:  morning bits

 
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