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Must Reads: Obama's 2012 Route Far From Clear

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Bush tax cuts "a failure in every conceivable way"
Ten years ago this week George W. Bush pushed through the first of his three major tax cut packages,  promising they'd put money in people’s pockets, reduce the size and scope of government, create jobs, and bring prosperity to all Americans. But the record's pretty clear, writes Anne Lowrey at Slate: The $2.6 trillion in cuts put money in people's pockets, true, but they were followed by sluggish economic growth, wage stagnation, and very little job creation. In fact, growth in the Bush years was the weakest since World War II – and that's not even counting the Great Recession of 2008. "By nearly all of the metrics set out by President Bush himself," writes Lowrey, "the cuts were a colossal failure."  [Slate]

Social media sites are the next bubble stocks
Social media sites like LinkdedIn and GroupOn are creating the next dot-com bubble, writes David Sirota at Salon. Their overhyped stocks are soaring, but their business models don't add up. How do we know?  "Look at the difference between what speculators are doing and what advertisers are saying," he writes. Social media sites make money by selling a mass audience to advertisers; this may have made sense at one time, but advertisers have come to realize that the mass audience isn't as valuable as it used to be -- decades of wage stagnation and widening inequality have seen to that -- and these days the real money is with the rich and ultra-rich. This will end badly. "You can just see it now — the enraged look on the face of the average rube investor who, on the advice of a CNBC blowhard or some speculative rag sheet, bought LinkedIn and Groupon high. One dark morning he will log onto his computer [and] see the stocks have inevitably crashed upon the belated revelation that those firms can’t sell ad inventory to advertisers interested only in marketing to the tiny group of rich people with money to spend." [Salon]

Former head of Pakistan's intelligence agency on U.S., bin Laden and Afghanistan
Foreign Policy snagged a rare interview with Gen. Ehsan ul-Haq, the former head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate and former commander in chief of Pakistan’s armed forces, positions that placed him at the center of the hunt for bin Laden and the "war on terror." He talks about Afghanistan, US-Pakistan relations, and just how much the ISI knew about where bin Laden was. On Osama, he doesn't give a lot away: "My view was, we don’t know where [bin Laden] is, so he may well be here, or he may be in Afghanistan, or he may be anywhere. But since we don’t know, to conclude … he is in Pakistan is wrong." On Afghanistan: "There is no other way except for seeking a political solution. There is no military solution. And as long as we keep using the military instrument to seek a solution, we will continue to push back the possibility of a political solution." [Foreign Policy]

Obama campaign struggles to map out 2012 strategy
Obama’s reelection team is gaming out multiple state-by-state scenarios for 2012 that look ahead to tough races in blue states as well as openings in Arizona and Georgia. Said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina to POLITICO: "We are preparing a variety of scenarios to get to 270 [the magic number of electoral votes needed for victory]. We are not putting our cards on any one state and don’t foresee doing that."  The approach, POLITICO says, "is a reflection of the reality that there’s not yet a way to know the combination of red, blue and purple states that will add up to victory," which is largely a function of the uncertain economy. "I would almost hate to be in their shoes, the economy is going into the tank and they have to look for votes wherever they can get them," said Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley. "They are hoping – hoping! – that the unemployment rate will be at 8 percent during the election. Good luck with trying to defend that record in these swing states." [POLITICO]

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