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Profile Information

Name: Matthew A. Harmer
Gender: Male
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Des Moines, Iowa
Member since: Wed Sep 17, 2008, 10:27 PM
Number of posts: 609

About Me

Born in Canada, Lived in Japan for two years, and I have three kids.

Journal Archives

The Forbes "Death Spiral" States

Courtesy of snopes.com

There's a new email going around that claims that eleven states now have more people on "welfare" (that vague notion of welfare which pervades the wingers' meager brains, anyway) than working. The email goes on to state that all eleven are "straight Democratic states" which surprises me because three of the states (SC, AL, MS) are the blood-reddest of them all.

Rated false, of course.

Oswego "Death Spiral Notebook" Atheist
Posted by OswegoAtheist | Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:30 PM (7 replies)

Truth Team Tipsheet #4

Catching up because I done forgot...

Today we received some good news: Last month, American businesses added another 233,000 jobs. That means that after inheriting an economy that was shedding more than 750,000 jobs a month when the President took office, we've now had two straight years of job growth. While it's certainly encouraging, we all know there's much more that needs to be done.

If you haven't seen it, check out this jobs chart, spread the good news, and encourage friends to stand with the President as he continues to fight for jobs:

It's been quite a week. Super Tuesday came and went, and now 23 states have weighed in. With every flip flop, pander, and endorsement from a Tea Party extremist, Mitt Romney is emerging as a severely damaged candidate, should he make it to the general election -- you'll see that reflected in this week's tipsheet. You'll also see a new feature. Based on your feedback, we added an email button, right next to the Facebook and Twitter buttons, to make it even easier to pass along the facts.

Take a look at this week's top stories, then share them far and wide:

#1 Keeping his Word: Homeowners
In this year's State of the Union address, President Obama said homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief. In a press conference on Tuesday, he kept his word, announcing clear steps to help homeowners by cutting the Federal Housing Administration's fees on refinancing loans, which could save two to three million Americans about $1,000 a year. He also announced steps specifically aimed at helping homeowners who served in the Armed Forces. Learn more about these changes here, and pass along this promise kept:

#2 Five things to know: Mitt Romney and women's health
With the celebration of International Women's Day yesterday and with birth control at the top of the news cycle (yep, in 2012), we took a look at Mitt Romney's record on a woman's right to make her own health decisions. Here's five things to know -- from his refusal to stand up against Rush Limbaugh's nasty attacks on Sandra Fluke for fighting for women's health, to his support for the Blunt-Rubio amendment, which would've put women's health choices in the hands of their employers. Check them out, then make sure everyone knows exactly where he stands:

#3 Mitt Romney's "best advice" on affording college: "Shop around"
Our President has put making college more affordable at the top of his priority list, doubling the funding for Pell Grants to help an additional 3 million students afford college and creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which can provide up to $10,000 per student. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, would cut Pell Grants. And those tax credits? He'd let them expire all together. His solution for students still struggling to pay for school: "Shop around." We put together an infographic highlighting his and the President's very different approaches to college affordability. Check it out, and share it with your social networks:

#4 Video: Romney was for the individual mandate before he was against it
Mitt Romney's trying to rewrite history. On the campaign trail, he rails against the individual mandate for health care in the Affordable Care Act -- even though it was a fundamental component of his own Massachusetts health care law. The individual mandate is a critical provision of health reform: It ensures that everyone who can afford it takes responsibility for their own health care. Still, Romney insists he "opposed the idea of a federal mandate from the beginning." The Democratic National Committee put together a short video fact-checking him on this. Take a look, then pass it on.

#5 Romney's wrong on the President and Iran
At this week's AIPAC's conference, Mitt Romney made an interesting statement to an eleven-year-old boy, of all people: He said that if President Obama is re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon because the President "failed to communicate [to Iran] that military options are on the table." Perhaps Romney missed the President's AIPAC speech the same day, where he vowed to take no options off the table -- political, diplomatic, economic, or military. While Romney plays politics with this issue, here's what our President said, "This is not a game - there's nothing casual about it. [The candidates] should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be. Everything else is just talk." Pass along his response today:

With the GOP candidates traveling the South to court next week's primary voters in Alabama and Mississippi, we guarantee some exaggerations, half-truths, and maybe even some flat-out lies. No matter what they say, you can count on us to fight back with the truth.

Thanks for spreading the word.

-- Stephanie

P.S. -- Did you know that Davis Guggenheim, director of Waiting for Superman and An Inconvenient Truth, filmed a documentary on President Obama's first three years in office? Check out the trailer here, then sign up to be the first to see it.

Oswego "Truth Decay" Atheist
Posted by OswegoAtheist | Fri Mar 30, 2012, 09:37 PM (0 replies)

NYT- New York [Congressional] Redistricting

Interactive redistricting map

New York’s much delayed redistricting process came to a partial end on Monday when a panel of federal judges in Brooklyn ordered the state to put into place a new map of Congressional districts drawn up by a court-appointed magistrate. The court-imposed plan will reduce the number of districts in New York to 27, from 29

My own district (NY-23) is being radically restructured, meaning that Bill Owens won't be my Representative come the next session. Oswego is now in the same district as Syracuse, meaning that we'll most likely go blue this next election, but at the cost of being roundly ignored by our representative. Bill Owens may have been a safe Dem for a historically red district (you may recall having heard of our special election a few years ago after John McHugh was made Secretary of the Army), but at least he stopped by once in a while.

Oswego "North Country Blues" Atheist
Posted by OswegoAtheist | Tue Mar 27, 2012, 09:25 AM (1 replies)

Truth Team Tipsheet #3

When we first launched the Truth Team site, I asked you to write back with your thoughts. Many of you sent some great feedback on how we can work together to set the record straight. One thing stood out: You want to see the Truth Team on Facebook.

So this week, I'm excited to introduce you to the Truth Team Facebook page. You'll find content from our site right on your newsfeed, and you'll be able to get the word out in real time as we post new items. We'll continue working to make the Truth Team as effective as possible. And remember, you're always welcome to drop me a line with your suggestions at [link:TruthTeam@BarackObama.com|truthteam@barackobama.com.]

Now, here's this week's tipsheet -- take a look, and arm yourself with the facts.

Thursday, the Senate voted down a bill that would have allowed employers to deny women coverage for birth control and any "objectionable" medical service, possibly even flu shots. Senators Roy Blunt and Marco Rubio's amendment would have allowed any employer -- not religious institutions, because they are already exempt -- to make this call on behalf of their female employees. That means a woman's boss at a restaurant, retail store, law firm or anywhere would have control over what health care she could receive. After an hour during which he was on the record opposed to it, Mitt Romney said, in typical flip flop fashion, "Of course I support that amendment." Of course he does. And we can thank him for paving the way -- he also said he would have supported a "personhood" amendment in Massachusetts, which could have banned abortion in any circumstance, some contraception, and even fertility treatments like IVF. Get the facts out.

The truth is, there's no silver bullet that can bring gas prices down. But according to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, "The doubling of gas prices ... is a conscious policy of this administration." That's an imaginary plot spread by our opponents that contradicts the facts: Under President Obama's leadership, our dependence on foreign oil reached a 16-year low, and the toughest-ever fuel economy standards will save Americans $8,000 per car by 2025. Share what the President has accomplished to lessen the pain at the pump.

This week, Mitt Romney said: "[President Obama] also promised he'd cut taxes for middle-income Americans. Hasn't done that, either." But just days ago, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, extending the payroll tax cut, and giving working Americans a total of $110 billion in tax relief. That's about $1,000 in working families' pockets this year. And that's not even the beginning of the tax relief middle-class families have seen. For some contrast: Romney's own tax plan mainly involves showering tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, but barely anything for the middle class. Don't let this lie gain traction while flying under the radar.

Check out this new infographic showing how a typical American couple pays a higher tax rate than millionaires. President Obama's Buffett Rule would close the tax loopholes that make this possible, and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share -- something many are glad to do. Share the infographic:

As Senator Blunt said this week, right after his over-reaching amendment failed in the Senate: This fight is far from over. And with Super Tuesday coming right up, Republican candidates will be on the spot to court their Tea Party base, so here's to having all the facts on hand.



P.S. -- Infamous oil profiteers Charles and David Koch claim that their front group, "Americans for Prosperity," is made up of "tens of thousands of folks" from "all walks of life." So campaign manager Jim Messina wrote the Kochs a letter with one request: Prove it by actually disclosing your donors. You can add your name to Messina's letter here.
Posted by OswegoAtheist | Mon Mar 19, 2012, 09:16 PM (0 replies)

Truth Team Tipsheet #2

Mitt Romney spoke in front of 65,000 empty seats at Ford Field in Detroit today to outline his economic plan. With all eyes on the Michigan primary next week, this is a critical time to spread the truth.

The differences between his plan and President Obama's go much farther than the fact that he would've "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." We've laid out a few in this week's tipsheet.

Take a look, then pass these on right now while the story's still hot:

As Romney speaks in Detroit, folks shouldn't forget that he and every other GOP candidate opposed the auto recovery, preferring to let the industry go bankrupt. From Day One, President Obama has stood with the American auto industry, saying, "We cannot, and must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish." He's kept his word: More than 1.4 million American auto industry jobs have been saved, 200,000 created, and more than 150,000 are expected in the next few years. Make sure folks know who's on the right side of this one. Pass it on:

Not a day goes by without hearing Romney and Santorum push for cutting the corporate tax rate. But what you don't hear is how they'll pay for it. President Obama plans to make our businesses more competitive by cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent -- and closing special-interest loopholes and subsidies to cover the difference. Romney and Santorum want to cut it, too, but they're sure not willing to close any special loopholes to do it. They actually offer no plan to make up the difference, meaning these corporate savings add straight to the deficit. Keep these self-proclaimed budget hawks honest:

Carried interest is tax jargon for letting Wall Street private equity and hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than most middle-class Americans -- and Mitt Romney is determined to protect it. Why? Maybe because he's earned $13 million from it the past two years, and paid a 15 percent rate when his normal income would be taxed at more than double. President Obama recently announced he'd close this loophole, saving $13 billion in the next 10 years. Folks need to know that when the President's working towards a system where everyone pays their fair share, Mitt Romney's working to protect millionaires and billionaires. Read more on carried interest, and tell others, too:

Tomorrow, Mitt Romney will be speaking at an event sponsored by the Koch brothers. These are the same guys who made their billions by jacking up prices at the pump -- and have already spent millions spreading lies about climate change science. It's good to remember that, while President Obama has outlined a strategy to ease gas prices, Mitt Romney quintupled a tax on gas as governor -- on top of the gas tax Massachusetts motorists were already paying. Get the truth here -- and spread the word:

In case you missed Wednesday's GOP debate, Mitt Romney reaffirmed his position as the most extreme GOP candidate on immigration. He praised Arizona's radical anti-immigration law, SB 1070, which forces all immigrants to carry "alien registration" documents and allows police to question them at any time, with or without cause. Add this to his support of encouraging "self-deportation" and promise to veto the DREAM Act, and you can see why he wins at being most extreme. Make sure folks know he actually called Arizona's immigration law a model for the nation. Spread the word now:

It takes a lot of time to sort out and fight back on this stuff, but I know that with you on our side, we can get the truth out there.

Oswego "From my inbox to your ears" Atheist
Posted by OswegoAtheist | Sun Mar 18, 2012, 05:12 PM (0 replies)

Truth Team Tipsheet #1

So one of the email updates I signed up for was the Truth Team Tipsheet from the Obama for President campaign. They send me a weekly email, so I'll post them here for discussion, along with relevant links if they were included. NOTE: I'm going to be posting the first few once a day, as they were accidentally routed to my spam folder.

Welcome to the Truth Team tipsheet. You signed up to be part of the team that fights back, and there's no time to waste.

This is the first of regular updates we'll be sending with actions you can take immediately to help support the President -- to debunk false attacks and make sure folks hear about what we've accomplished.

Here's how it works: We'll round up the best of our posts and turn them into short items, with Facebook and Twitter buttons after each so you can instantly share them with friends and family as you go down the list.

Read through this week's news, then do something about it:

This morning, Mitt's up with a new ad in Michigan slamming Rick Santorum for supporting earmarks. The thing is, before he ran for president, Mitt Romney was a pretty big fan of earmarks himself. In 2002, he requested "hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid" for the Salt Lake City Olympics. He did it as governor of Massachusetts for the Big Dig project too, saying "I'd be embarrassed if I didn't always ask for federal money whenever I got the chance." Call him on his hypocrisy while the story's still breaking.

This week, after President Obama released his 2013 budget plan, Rick Santorum called it "preposterous, not only in overall funding but in priorities." But a closer look at Santorum's plan shows he'd cut taxes for the wealthy, raise taxes for some families with children, and slash Social Security and Medicare under the "Cut, Cap, and Balance" plan. Here's the best part: Santorum's plan won't balance anything -- it actually adds to the deficit. Preposterous, indeed. Fight back.

In response to President Obama's decision that all women should have access to contraception, free of cost, Senator Rubio introduced a bill that would let any organization, religious or not, sidestep this rule, putting a woman's access to contraception at the whim of her employer. His solution for women who still would like it? Pay for it themselves, or find somewhere else to work. Folks need to hear what the GOP's trying to do. Pass it on.

When it comes to the auto recovery, Romney and Santorum continue to argue that a "managed" bankruptcy would've been better. Romney's famously said "Let Detroit go bankrupt," and Santorum would've preferred an industry "meltdown." This week, GM posted its largest profit in its history, and last month, it reclaimed its title as the "World's Largest Automaker." 1.4 million jobs were saved under the auto recovery. They're refusing to admit that the recovery's working, and it's time to call them on it. Show that we will.

And now for Good News...

As a senator, Barack Obama co-sponsored hate crime legislation because he believes that "...nobody in this country who should suffer violence because of who they are, what they look like, what they believe in, what faith they worship." As President, he kept his word, signing the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to strengthen protection against crimes based on race, color, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender. This is a promise kept. Spread the good news.

Three years ago today, President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law. Since then, more than 70,000 small businesses were able to receive loans to get started or stay on their feet. We put together a short video on the story of Bill, one business owner who has benefitted from the Recovery Act. Pass it on.

Every day from now until November, there will be misleading news stories, attacks, and flat-out lies about the President's record. It's our job set to them straight -- and nothing works better than the truth, backed by sound sources.

Fight back by spreading the word today.

Until next time,


Oswego "Question everything" Atheist
Posted by OswegoAtheist | Sat Mar 17, 2012, 02:12 PM (2 replies)
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