Saturday, July 21, 2012

Welcome to Lawrence Welkistan. Don't let the bubbles get in your eyes.

Yes, I am this cool.

One thing that goes on in politics, which can get tiring, is that one side is always trying to tie some stupid thing said by a person or group supportive of the other side directly to the campaign. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't. When ABC news immediately and stupidly tried to suggest, incorrectly, that there was a Tea Party connection to the Aurora shootings, conservative pundits went crazy suggesting a liberal media conspiracy. When Hilary Rosen made her comments about Ann Romney's work life, the conservative media tried to suggest, without any proof, that Rosen was somehow close to the Obama White House. And, unlike some, I don't necessarily try to connect everything every right-wing crazy person says to Mitt Romney, though it would be nice if he disavowed some of it.

This is politics. This is the way it goes. So, I don't want to get too exercised about the fact that a well-known Romney supporter said something incredibly stupid about a Romney ad featuring Barack Obama singing a bit of Al Green. I don't know that it actually tells us anything about what the Romney campaign thinks or about what many of its supporters think, but it is a good question.

Gary Silverman at the Financial Times describes it:

One of the better answers I have found comes from a well-known supporter of Mr Romney – Suzy Welch, former editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, and wife of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. In an appearance on CNN with her husband, Mrs Welch suggested that Mr Obama's personal style and choice of musical material define him as a member of a "different America". I would imagine this is why Mr Romney's campaign included the snippet of Mr Obama singing "Let's Stay Together" at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. They hoped it would convey his otherness. 

"It's the difference between the songs that they're singing," Mrs Welch said. "Mitt Romney didn't exactly do a beautiful job on that song, but think about what he's singing, OK? I mean it's that patriotic song and he goes all the way through it. Then you've got the very cool Barack Obama singing Al Green. That is the two different Americas. Isn't it?"

Really? Two different Americas? Speaking as a pasty white boy who likes patriotic songs as much as the next guy but also loves soul music, what is she talking about? Maybe in her world this signals two different Americas. Maybe she means the difference between Lawrence Welkistan and a truly culturally diverse America. Or maybe this is just an incredibly dumb comment by someone as completely out of touch with huge parts of America as her candidate of choice, Mitt Romney.

Isn't it wonderful that this whole campaign may be defined by other people's definition of what it means to be a real American. Oh, joy.

Here's some Al Green, for your listening pleasure. Hope it cheers you up.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Quote of the Day: Rachel Maddow on truth in politics

There's also an interesting conversation to be had about how much you can get away with and still be considered a viable candidate for president. Are we so inured to the idea of everybody calling each other a liar, that when somebody actually really does blatantly lie it doesn't matter anymore? Ultimately, that is not a question about these guys fighting it. That is a question about us.

It would appear the Romney campaign is hoping Americans simply won't care about lies told in the heat of a campaign. But, more to the point, Romney is betting that Americans won't do the work necessary to distinguish between campaign rhetoric and things that can be proven wrong. He is hoping voters will roll it into one big ball.

There is a difference between candidates characterizing each other in unflattering ways and candidates simply saying things that are factually untrue. They may be related, but they are not the same thing. To the extent that we accept evidence as significant in determining what is true and what is not true, Mitt Romney's campaign has a record of lying about all sorts of things. Yes, as voters we may tune out when, for example, Romney says Obama wants to punish success in America. After all, how would you definitively prove or disprove something like that? But when Romney actually misquotes Barack Obama to say that Obama believes business people are in no way responsible for their own success, that's a lie, and provable as such.

If Romney wants to say Barack Obama doesn't know what it takes to make a business work or create jobs, that's campaign rhetoric. If he says Obama intends to raise taxes on small business, that is a statement contrary to fact, a lie.

It's one thing to say that President Obama is all about big government, which is campaign rhetoric. It's something else for him to say that Obama has doubled the deficit, which is untrue.

Steve Benen has been cataloging a number of instances in which Romney has lied about Obama's record, not simply characterized it in an unflattering light.

It's easy to tune out campaign rhetoric or simply consider it as the way candidates talk. But we make a mistake if we ignore things candidates say that are demonstrably untrue. Romney is hoping voters won't do the hard work to distinguish between those things that cannot be proven wrong and those things that can. He may be right.

In this sense, Maddow is right. This is about us. 

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Lemon. Wet. Good.

What a week! First a move, then no Internet, and all during a non-stop summer heat wave. It's enough to make you crazy. So, I can really relate to what has been going on in the world of Mitt Romney.

Here is a quote from the Mittster from a few weeks ago while in New Hampshire:

"Get out and vote next year, this November, I mean!" said Romney, wiping beads of sweat off his brow. At one point, stopping to guzzle a glass of lemonade, Romney was asked how it tasted, to which he replied, "Lemon. Wet. Good."

That is a great quote, is it not? He really nailed it! I mean, can you describe lemonade any better? I don't think so. Maybe if he becomes president we can look forward to more of this. Perhaps he could go to Iran and say something like: "Nukes. Bad. War!" Or maybe when asked to show his complete tax returns, as presidents have been doing since the 1950s, Willard can simply reply "Taxes. Really? No!"

And as if that weren't funny enough, we have seen a ratcheting up of how Romney may have committed a felony by lying about his tenure at Bain. Of course Romney is not a felon, but it has been fascinating to watch pundits and journalists fall all over themselves to tell this story as if there were any room for doubt. Of course Romney was still involved with Bain after he claimed he left in 1999. Whom is he fooling? Why are we pretending there is any doubt about this? He founded the company and made gazillions from it. He expects us to believe he just walked away from it to run the Olympics?

Actually... Yes. He. Does.

Recall, this is a man who expects you to believe he likes grits, is unemployed, and expects to bring unemployment down nearly three whole percentage points during his first term alone! This from a Gordon Gekko archetype who wouldn't know a home-baked cookie from one stuck to his shoe.

We are to supposed to see Mitt Romney as some kind of folksy, down-home, honest businessman who wants to "fix" America. But don't you believe it for a second. He has never been that and never will be. The only thing he intends to "fix," if president, is his tax bracket and offshore bank accounts so he can continue to make millions off his investments while those very investments take jobs away from this country, put people out of work, and make Mitt Romney an even wealthier man while he sleeps.

No. I think we have seen all we really need to see to know the real Mitt Romney. It is something that can literally be summed up in three words:

Rich. Soulless. Dick.

And while that might not be as thirst quenching as a glass of lemonade, it is accurate. And really, can you find a more fitting description?

I. Think. Not.

(Cross-posted at Take My Country Back.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Mitt Romney: Profile in cowardice

John McCain's defense of Hillary Clinton's aide, Huma Abedin, from wingnut attacks was a refreshingly nice act of courage. The problem is that it's news.

People like Michele Bachmann and their minions are always with us; you can go back through campaigns throughout American history and find idiots and fear-mongers at every turn. The McCarthy era was the first one on TV and seems to the benchmark, but it's the baseline -- in more ways than one -- for modern campaigning. And this one is not going to be any different.

Yesterday the Romney campaign announced that in reaction to the questions about Mr. Romney's tax returns and his career at Bain Captial, they were going to "take the gloves off" on Mr. Obama, bringing up drug use and cronyism in Chicago. This is old news -- we heard it all before in 2008 and it obviously didn't work then -- but it does make Mr. Romney one with the hard-right base of the GOP, which is what he needs. The problem with that is that it won't win over anybody else.

It's also shows the difference between the two men who faced Barack Obama in a presidential election. John McCain had a lot of flaws as a candidate, and I'm really very happy that he is still in the Senate, but at least he had the courage to face down the rabid nutsery and refused to go along with their lunacy. When faced with the same opportunity to turn down the rhetoric -- a woman in Bowling Green, Ohio, referred to the president as a "monster" -- Mr. Romney demurred, saying essentially, "Well, I wouldn't go that far..."

The man is a coward, pure and simple. We know he hasn't got the courage of his own convictions -- pro-choice / pro-life, pro-gay / anti-gay, pro-healthcare reform / anti-healthcare reform -- all in an attempt to make himself what someone else wants so he can win. But this is even more craven. Mr. Romney is afraid of his own followers, and that's not something to aspire to as a leader.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Gun violence is higher in Republican states

We did find several factors that are associated with firearm deaths at the state level. On the economic front, gun violence was higher in states with lower average incomes. Similarly, gun violence was less likely in states with more college graduates and stronger knowledge-based economies. Gun violence was also higher in states that tend to vote Republican.

Here's the map:

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, July 20, 2012

Louie Gohmert may be the craziest, stupidest, most idiotic Republican ever

I'm not crazy, I'm a Republican!

It's hardly breaking news that Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas is an idiot. We've called him on it a few times, like here, and he's been awarded our Craziest Republican of the Day (just once, though he deserves it pretty much on a daily basis).

The thing is, he isn't just an idiot and he isn't just crazy. I'm tempted to go with fucking idiot and fucking crazy, but even that isn't enough. Really, he may just be the craziest, stupidest, most idiotic Republican ever. I realize the competition is stiff, though (e.g., Bachmann, Michele), so, at the very least, I think it's fair to say he's near the top of the list.

And he just keeps outdoing himself:

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Friday that the shootings that took place in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater hours earlier were a result of "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs" and questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter.

During a radio interview on The Heritage Foundation's "Istook Live!" show, Gohmert was asked why he believes such senseless acts of violence take place. Gohmert responded by talking about the weakening of Christian values in the country.

"You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place," Gohmert said.


Gohmert also said the tragedy could have been lessened if someone else in the movie theater had been carrying a gun and took down the lone shooter. Istook noted that Colorado laws allow people to carry concealed guns.

"It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?" he asked.

Is there any point responding to an ideological madman? In this case, I'd just like to point out that, for all his craziness, stupidity, and idiocy, Gohmert's extremist views on "God" and guns, as on everything else, aren't outside today's Republican mainstream.

And that tells you something about today's Republican Party.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

President Obama and Mitt Romney comment on the Aurora, Colorado shooting

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Behind the Ad: The ad that builds on the lie

(Another installment in our extensive "Behind the Ad" series.)

Who: The Romney campaign.

Where: Unknown.

What's going on: As noted this morning, the Romney campaign released what can only be called a disgustingly dishonest ad that takes President Obama's comments out of context about the help businesses inevitably get from all sorts of sources, including the government. This is obviously just the way the Romney team works.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Mitt Romney is still trying to lie his way to the top

What, you think it's easy to keep all these lies straight?

Back in December of last year, I wrote that the Romney campaign was giving us fair warning they would lie as much as they thought necessary to win the general election. Our initial sense of what they were capable of came by way of a campaign ad in which they "quoted" Barack Obama saying, "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." Pretty much everyone with any degree of integrity pointed out that Obama used those words during the 2008 campaign to cite something his opponent, John McCain, had said.

The New York Times described the backstory this way:

On October 16, 2008, campaigning in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Obama cast his opponent, John McCain, as out of touch with the problems facing the country – a month after the financial collapse that saw the American economy crater. Obama was expressing his incredulity at McCain's lack of understanding of the full import of the world-engulfing fiscal crisis: "Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.'"

This is what a Romney campaign aide said at the time:

First of all, ads are propaganda by definition. We are in the persuasion business, the propaganda business... Ads are agitprop... Ads are about hyperbole, they are about editing. It's ludicrous for them to say that an ad is taking something out of context... All ads do that. They are manipulative pieces of persuasive art.

Here's what I said at the time:

Romney's team is saying that in politics everyone lies so it's not a big deal, in fact, we should expect it. Apparently, whenever Romney or his campaign says something, we should assume that we are being manipulated. We should have no expectation that they have any respect for the truth. By their own admission, we should expect their statements are taking things out of context. This is what they are telling us about how they are and will continue to run their campaign.

Here we are many months later, and Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog picks up the thread:

What we didn't know at the time was the extent to which this tactic would be important to the Republican's campaign. Indeed, at this point, hyperventilating after taking Obama quotes out of context isn't just part of the Romney campaign strategy, it is the Romney campaign strategy.

Mitt Romney has a new ad and is, in fact, building his current messaging around a deception, a "re-working" of something Barack Obama recently said in a recent speech.

Greg Sargent first caught the lie, and it's worth reading through the evidence because this is going to happen again and again. Here is what the Romney ad has the president saying, through clever editing and omissions:

If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be 'cause I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Here is what Obama actually said:

If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

As Sargent says:

It deliberately removes multiple sentences about the broader theme of Obama's speech that preceded the "you didn't build that" quote in order to deprive it of its actual meaning as Obama plainly intended that. And it creates the false impression of a seamless transition.

Obama never said that individuals didn't build their own businesses. He simply indicated that business success relies heavily on many things that other people do for you and, in many cases, things only government can do. The fact is that Romney has made this point himself many times.

Romney's new ad focuses on the lie that Obama is "demonizing" a local business in New Hampshire for its hard-earned success. Its claim is that Obama thinks the government should control everything, you know, like in communist Russia. You'll recall this is a part of the narrative begun by Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu who stated recently that Obama needs to "learn how to be an American" because, presumably, he doesn't understand the importance of rugged individualism, i.e., "the American way."

Romney, being the lying bastard he is, has responded that Obama's "you didn't build that" comment "wasn't a gaffe. It was his ideology." Needless to say, it wasn't even a gaffe because he didn't say it, at least not with the meaning Romney's team of liars gave it.

Let's go back to the comment Romney's aide made last year:

We are in the persuasion business, the propaganda business... Ads are agitprop... Ads are about hyperbole, they are about editing. It's ludicrous for them to say that an ad is taking something out of context...

No, it is not ludicrous, and in this case editing and taking things out of context is simply lying. Mitt Romney wants to lead the most powerful country in the world and this is the way he conducts himself. Let's be afraid, very afraid.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The people will want what they want

I know some people think Ann Romney is not fair game in the back-and-forth of the presidential election campaign, but she can't have it both ways. She can't make partisan comments and then expect to be left alone.

I quite enjoyed her statement on Good Morning America regarding calls for hubby Mitt to release more tax returns. Her response was that "We've given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our lives." I would emphasize the term "you people." Does she mean "you little people," or "you people of relatively modest means who simply don't understand?"

Well, you see, Ann, here's the thing. You and Mitt don't get to decide how much is enough. The American people will tell you what they need to see to make a decision. Sure, you can decide how much is enough in a formal way, but if the voters don't agree, don't expect to move in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

That's the sweet thing about politics in comparison to being an insanely rich private citizen. You have to be responsive to the interests of massive numbers of people all the time. You almost never get to tell them "we have given you people all you need to know," and if you do, you pay a price.

If you can't get used to that, you and Mitt are really not going to like the job you're auditioning for, should you be lucky enough to get it.

(Update: New York magazine said today they reviewed the tape of Ann Romney's comments and don't think she said "you people." I listened to it very carefully and I disagree. I even sat down with someone who hadn't heard the story beforehand and, without prompting, she heard "you people" very clearly.)

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Behind the Ad: "Tricky Mitt"

(Another installment in our extensive "Behind the Ad" series.)


Where: Ohio.

What's going on: is a liberal grassroots organization, and if Mitt Romney thinks his campaign is going to start "taking the gloves off," they may have to wait in line. CBS has called this ad, "Tricky Mitt," one of the harshest of the season, and they may have a point given that Mitt Romney is compared to Richard Nixon.

About the comparison to Nixon, Digital Journal writes that "it plays into the Democrats' larger narrative that Romney is a dishonest politician who may be lying about his business record or hiding information about his taxes."

Yes, that would be the larger narrative.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Only if you're really stupid

The latest sample of right-wing context-screwing "ah-ha-Obama's-a-socialist" is the snipping of a stump speech he gave in Virginia last weekend where he said basically that we're all in this together. The usual suspects at Fox News did some judicious editing and turned him into Lenin, as did S.E. Cupp, the second-string dingbat from MSNBC's new show The Cycle: "It's collectivism!"

Here, via TPM, is the full quote:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That's how we funded the GI Bill. That's how we created the middle class. That's how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That's how we invented the Internet. That's how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that's the reason I'm running for president — because I still believe in that idea. You're not on your own, we're in this together.

My theory is that the folks on the right have the attention span of a goldfish or that polysyllabic words confuse them. Or, to be cynical, they know exactly what Mr. Obama meant but knew that they could yank bits and pieces out of it and turn it into a bullshit quote out of context and feed it to their audience, most of whom still think Elvis is working in the Burger King in Grand Rapids.

The only way anyone could believe this is socialism, collectivism, or anything other than a ringing endorsement of the American tradition of working together would be if they're really stupid or so filled with blind hatred for Barack Obama that they'll believe anything rotten that someone else feeds them about him. Which is pretty much the same thing anyway.

H/T to Benjamin J. Kirby.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

There's something happenin' here...

Bring it on.

Maybe it was always going to be like this. Probably. But the 2012 presidential election is taking a decidedly ugly turn. I think Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Blog put it best when he wrote that "Dead Andy Breitbart is now Romney's top campaign strategist."

Somehow we're suppose to believe that poor little Mitt Romney is being blindsided by the big bad Obama campaign with their ruthless Chicago-style politics and, by golly, they just aren't going to take it anymore. So, according to BuzzFeed, the Romney campaign, much as they don't want to do it, are going to have to fight back as well as they can against such big meanies.

Or, as Romney's team prefers to have it spun:

Facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney's finances and business record, the Republican's campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisals.

As one advisor said:

I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate. The bottom line is there'll be counterattacks. 

Counterattacks my ass. The Romney campaign was always going to do whatever they believed necessary to take down Obama and are perhaps a little surprised to find out that Obama and team already know what it means to operate in the big leagues. Sorry Mitt, this isn't going to be like you and Gingrich in Florida. This is going to be different. You wanna bitch because Obama knows how to throw a punch, go ahead.

Breitbart loved to use that word "vetting," which was just another way of reintroducing all the crap that didn't stick in 2008. Sununu's diatribe was no gaffe. He was sent out there to begin the process. "Obama doesn't know how to be an American?" He spent too much time in Indonesia, worked as a community organizer, is steeped in "Chicago-style politics?" Unbelievable.

Maybe Steve M. is right. Maybe Romney is being pushed by his base and the zillionaires paying for his campaign who can't believe the old attack lines won't work. Maybe they are demanding he go there.

But I also think that, as the campaign heats up and Obama's team fights hard and fights well, Romney will happily do what John McCain wouldn't do, which is fully embrace the kind of filth peddled by the likes of Breitbart, Limbaugh and Rove. In a nutshell that means Romney will find creative and ugly ways to argue that President Barack Obama isn't "one of us" and that the country made a grave mistake that needs to be rectified. And, as we know, there are a number of ways to suggest that Barack Hussein Obama is not really "one of us."

Up until now I wasn't sure how ugly this would get, but my guess now is pretty ugly.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Behind the Ad: Mitt Romney not responsible at Bain?

(Another installment in our extensive "Behind the Ad" series.)

Who: The Obama-Biden campaign.

Where: Campaign website.

What's going on: Obama's campaign has a new man-on-the-street ad that takes advantage of the absurdity of Romney's comments about his position at Bain Capital between 1999 and 2002. The name of the ad is: "Mitt Romney: Chairman, CEO, and Sole Shareholder - But Not Responsible?" It features people reading from Romney's contorted statements about his status at Bain during that time and reacting to the words.

As one woman says: "That sounds very suspicious. If you're a person in charge of a business, then you should take full responsibility for your actions." That sounds about right.

It's a fairly humorous piece, something Jon Stewart might even like. The music is kind of funky too.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Stay Bachmann!

By Carl 

It is quite possible that we are witnessing the complete meltdown of a politician, first hand, as it happens:

Rep. Michele Bachmann defended her attempt to root out "deep penetration" by the Muslim Brotherhood into the U.S. government Friday, writing a 16-page letter explaining and expanding on her initial charges against Huma Abedin and others of being terrorist sympathizers. Bachmann's letter came in response to a challenge from a fellow Minnesota lawmaker, Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat who was the first Muslim elected to Congress. Ellison last week asked Bachmann for evidence to support a series of letters the Republican sent to five national security agencies demanding investigations into alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in their ranks.

In the new letter, Bachmann questions why Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, was able to receive a security clearance despite having family members that Bachmann believes are connected to the Brotherhood. "I am particularly interested in exactly how, given what we know from the international media about Ms. Abedin's documented family connections with the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, she was able to avoid being disqualified for a security clearance," the congresswoman wrote.

As evidence, she pointed to Abedin's late father, Professor Syed Z. Abedin, and a 2002 Brigham Young University Law Review article about his work. Bachmann points to a passage saying Abedin founded an organization that received the "quiet but active support" of the the former director of the Muslim World League, an international NGO that was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe in the 1970s through 1990s. So, to connect Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, you have to go through her dead father, to the organization he founded, to a man who allegedly supported it, to the organization that man used to lead, to Europe in the 1970s and 1990s, and finally to the Brotherhood. 

The charge, called "preposterous" by the State Department, is one of the more outrageous things Michele Bachmann has said this year, but far from the most outrageous. It did, however, extract a spirited defense of Abedin from none other than John McCain, whose lawn Michele has apparently trod upon.

Normally, when a Representative gets a dressing down from a senior party official, a Senator no less, she shuts up and moves on, but not Bachmann.

Indeed, I see this as a sign of great danger for her and people around her. I think she's headed for a psychotic break. Not from reality, but a break to reality.

Let me explain: Bachmann lives in a psychological bubble. It's not that she can't hear "no," it's that she will with all her might not hear it.

Her fortunes rose on the tide of the Teabagger movement, much like Sarah Palin only without the whole "quitty-leavey" problem. She became a figurehead for that movement and in so doing revelled in the attention and more important campaign-dollar-love. She amassed more campaign contributions in the last election cycle (2009-2010) than any other Congresscritter, Senators included.

Inside her warped little mental cocoon, this made her a deity. To her, it seemed like nothing could go wrong, that she held ultimate power to use as she pleased.

Nevermind that the facade, the shell, was cracking even as she inflated her ego further to press against the facade.

The pinnacle of her ego-stroking was when she won a meaningless straw poll weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Iowans quickly put paid to the notion that she was a serious contender in the actual caucuses, and soon Bachmann melded into the background the way Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, and so many others had or would.

This had to hurt. Starved for the attention that she had been getting on the capaign trail, Bachmann began to lash out left and right. Her party tolerated it for the sake of the caucus she leads in Congress, but it really only was a matter of time before her id would take command and drive her off a cliff. I think it started when she dropped a hint that she'd apply for Swiss citizenship and leave America.

Sadly, I think the time has come where she's lost all control of herself: while she holds a fairly commanding lead in the polls for her re-election and has a war chest the envy of many Senate candidates, the toll her antics are taking has to be weighing on the minds of her constituents, no matter how obtuse they might be.

She's been spanked back into her little corner of Minnesota and she's not licking her wounds quietly like a mature adult would. Each time she gets rebuked and ridiculed like this sees her car come a little closer to the cliff. Far be it from me to suggest someone should remove the guard rail and grease the highway, of course, but I can see how some would be tempted to do that.

My prediction? There's a major October surprise waiting for her, and that this will send her over the edge.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

It's the ego, stupid

Mitt Romney is refusing to release his tax records for the same reason Bill Clinton or Anthony Weiner refused to admit that they were fooling around on their wives: they think they can get away with it. It's ego, pure and simple.

Of course they always end up coming clean, so to speak, and I'm guessing that Mr. Romney will release his taxes -- at least more of them than the last two years -- by the end of the month. They will probably contain some embarrassing revelations like the possibility that he didn't pay any taxes at all in 2009, and the chatter will continue for a few weeks. (Well, the Republicans did say they wanted the election to be about the economy and taxes, didn't they?) But I just don't get it why they think they have to go through all of this for the sake of their precious ego.

Get over yourselves. 

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Can Romney win in November with Latino support so low?

...but Romney can't.

It's true that national horse race numbers on the presidential election aren't moving that much and it gets somewhat boring reporting consecutive polls within the margin of error. But some numbers, particularly for specific constituencies, are very interesting.

Today Latino Decisions released a poll showing President Obama with 70% of the Latino vote compared to 22% for Mitt Romney. To put that in perspective, Obama got 67% of the Latino vote compared to McCain's 31% in 2008 according to exit polls.

We know about Romney's problems on immigration issues and Obama's strength. But these are very impressive numbers for the president.

If you want to know how bad things could be for Romney, consider that 13% of self-identified Latino Republicans say they will cross over and vote for Obama. 60% of independents plan to vote for Obama.

As Steve Benen points out, "It's fair to say that even most Republican strategists believe Romney will have a difficult time winning the White House with Latino support this low."

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Behind the Ad: Obama's "Daisy," summing up Romney in 30 seconds

(Another installment in our "Behind the Ad" series.)

I was around, but I didn't see the one and only airing of the famous Daisy ad that the Lyndon Johnson campaign ran in 1964 against Barry Goldwater. It became iconic for its devastatingly simple message: vote for Goldwater and risk nuclear Armageddon. It worked not because it was just meant to make the viewer trash his shorts with the fear of a mushroom cloud over Toledo; it worked because it neatly encapsulated the whole argument against the Republican candidate in one minimalist ad... if you can call a nuclear blast "minimalist."

Every campaign looks for an ad like that: a spot that sums up the entire argument against a candidate in thirty seconds without having to use scary music, sneering voice-overs, or hard-hitting punch lines. All they need is something simple that says it all.

I think the Obama campaign has found its Daisy:

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Because of the things we do together

How much do you suppose one of these highway systems
would cost on eBay?

Republicans love to argue that success in America is only about individual initiative. They say government should simply get out of the way. But the fact is that it is impossible to succeed without the supports that collective action provide, in other words, things only government can do.

Thus President Obama said recently that "we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because of the things we do together."

To which presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney responded, "to say something like that is not just foolishness, it’s insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America." He than rattled off a list of successful businessmen including Apple's Steve Jobs, McDonald's' Ray Kroc, and Henry Ford.

To be fair, he cited the importance of the services government provides. But he also noted that they're funded by taxpayers, adding, "the taxpayers pay for government... It's not like government just provides those to all of us and we say, 'Oh, thank you government for doing those things.'"

What the hell is he talking about? Obviously taxpayers pay for the things government does on their behalf. Obviously citizens elect representatives to do the things that cannot be done by "the people" in their collective capacity. Those representatives would be the government. It's a crazy thought, but Republicans take great exception to the idea that government represents the interests and will of the people, that it is not something independent of that. They don't like the idea that government is the way we do things together. But taxes don't do anything unless someone is there to do something with the money. Again, that would be government.

The point Obama was making was that if government didn't invent the internet, Steve Jobs might not have sold many computers. If the government didn't build roads, Henry Ford might not have sold many cars. If the government didn't inspect meat, Ray Kroc might not have sold many Big Macs.

As Obama spokesperson Lis Smith put it:

As President Obama said the other day, those who start businesses succeed because of their individual initiative – their drive, hard work, and creativity. But there are critical actions we must take to support businesses and encourage new ones – that means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation benefits from them.

This is the insult that Romney sees to entrepreneurs and innovators, the suggestion that the things we do together are a necessary condition for the successes we have individually? That's the problem he sees?

Hey, I understand that Romney is playing that old right-wing game of setting up taxpayers / citizens and the government as adversaries. It just doesn't work that way. It would be like saying, "keep your government hands off my government."

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Behind the Ad: "Makes You Wonder"

(Another installment in our "Behind the Ad" series.)

Who: The Obama-Biden campaign.

Where: Pennsylvania.

What's going on: As long as Mitt Romney refuses to release more than two years of tax returns, he can expect to see ads like this one. Here's the punchline: "It makes you wonder if some years he paid any taxes at all." The fact is it makes you wonder all sorts of things, which we will all continue to do until he gives us reason to stop wondering.

Drip, drip, drip...

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

An awesome time: Dubya vs. The World

"Eight years was awesome and I was famous and I was powerful," says George W. Bush.

Well, he was famous and he was powerful. As for that awesomeness, apparently he remembers things differently than most of the rest of us.

Eight years that accelerated the decline and fall of America is more like it.


I'd say MoJo's Asawin Suebsaeng got it just about right:

Just to recap, George W. Bush is saying that his 96 months as chief executive of America -- endorsing torture, launching war on convoluted make-believe, jumping the gun, decimating a record budget surplus, politicizing NASA and the DOJ, wiretapping, ditching Kyoto, bungling Katrina, restricting stem-cell research, fighting AIDS in Africa, pushing reasonable immigration reform, and getting pissed at the South Park creators -- were straight awesome.

Will Ferrell is officially allowed to retire; George Walker Bush now ad-libs self-caricature at a level of sharpened, terse, crystallized wit that even the most practiced comic or impersonator could only hope to channel.

Yes, what a fucking awesome time that was. Good to see he hasn't lost any of his self-aggrandizing un-self-awareness.


Can't get enough of the ex-president? The following clip, which includes the "awesome" line, is over an hour long.


Bookmark and Share

McCain thought Palin was better than Romney

Harris-Moore 2016? You betcha!

Asked why he chose not to go with Romney, McCain said: "Oh come on, because we thought that Sarah Palin was the better candidate. Why did we not take [Tim] Pawlenty, why did we not take any of the other 10 other people. Why didn't I? Because we had a better candidate, the same way with all the others... Come on, why? That's a stupid question."

No, it's not a stupid question. People want to know why Palin and not Romney -- or, really, just why Palin. McCain's just an old crank at this point. If he doesn't want to answer questions, he should get the hell out of politics and retire to one of his many homes.

Anyway, let's not read too much into this. It's not that Palin was simply better than Romney, and it's not that she was necessarily "the better candidate." What she was, as we now know, was a "game change," which is exactly what McCain needed, or what his campaign thought he needed, at a time when he was floundering. And, too, she was the neocons' empty vessel, and of course the neocons, led by Krazy Bill Kristol, were big in the McCain campaign, having long been ardent supporters.

And maybe the old guy just feel head over hells for her, what with her sultry charm, what with that intoxicating wink.

Whatever. He blew it, and he's spent the past four years aggressively defending his pick, protesting way too much for his own good. This is just more of the same.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Change of perspective

By Carl 

The Tuva people of Russia have an interesting concept: The future is behind us (songgaar), and we face the past (burungaar): 

Tuvans believe the past is ahead of them while the future lies behind, not yet seen. 

The future remains unseen, so it has to be behind them always. Contrast that with Western... indeed, most of the world's philosophy that says the future is laid out in front of us, just waiting to be found.

Particularly in America, there is a sense of predestination, that each of us is has a future to fulfill that's already written for us. The whole American dream, any kid can grow up to be president, and if we just work hard enough and apply ourselves, we can accomplish anything.

The past three decades have proven the folly of this myth. We can always improve our lot, and yes, hard work is important, but we became so results-oriented that we've ended up a nation of paranoid idiots, slaving away at jobs for people who barely acknowledge our existence, much less our humanity.

For an ambitious people, what made us give up so easily? Why are we content to eat the scraps off the table of someone who is only "better" than us based on a bank balance? Who probably got that money because of a genetic accident?

Here's where I think the Tuvans have it over the rest of the world: the inference one can reasonably take is that by placing the past in front of them, they force themselves to take careful stock of their lives. They look at what they've done so far, and study the lessons therein. More important, they make changes. Not in anticipation of some unseen future reward, but to improve who they are right now.

Ironic, isn't it, that so many of us in western culture are urged to "live in the now": stop thinking about the future, stop reliving the past, be who are you are right now. That's a clue that our society is kind of screwy, because that's diametrically opposed to the other cues we get: save money for a house or for retirement, save our immortal souls, plan for the future, stock up on supplies for Armageddon.

See, if you live in the now, you accept the change that future brings. You learn how to survive, and if you fail, you fail. You can't worry about what you don't know. We're stressed to the hilt because we all know, at 65 we're retiring, and shortly after that, we die, and we scratch and scramble to make our lives mean something.

The Tuvans make their lives mean something now, not for when they're gone.

There's something to be said about that.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)


Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Romney must be hiding something really awful in those tax returns

Otherwise, why else refuse to release them?

As Matthew Dowd put it: "There's obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, 'Have at it.' So there's obviously something there that compromises what he said in the past about something.

And, obviously, there's some good ol' political calculation at work here.

As George Will put it: "The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them."

So, yes, there must something really awful in them, he doesn't want made public.

A couple of good pieces to read:

Of course, Romney himself is to blame for all the speculation. And while we may not know what he's hiding, it's possible to make some education guesses. Here's Klein, for example:

For what it's worth — and, since I haven't see Romney's 2009 tax return, it's not worth much — my guess is he paid some federal taxes in 2009. The sort of tax sheltering he would have needed to get to zero would be quasi-suicidal for a presidential aspirant. But his effective federal tax rate may only have been 3 or 4 or 5 percent, which would be nearly as bad as zero. Add in a couple of shelters that Romney fears would look particularly bad, given the microscopic attention being paid to his taxes, and it's probably enough to persuade him that some bad press for tax decisions people think he might have made is preferable to a feeding frenzy over tax decisions he definitely made.

The question none of this answers is why Romney didn't clean up his taxes in 2008 and 2009. But it's always worth remembering that the people running for office are human beings who procrastinate and make bad decisions and get distracted by other things. And given that Romney moves in a world where aggressive tax planning is the norm rather than the exception, he might simply have failed to recognize what a priority simplifying his taxes really was. My hunch is that the person spending the most time wondering why Romney didn’t get his taxes in order in 2008 is... Mitt Romney.

He may be right, but I think his assessment is too soft on Romney.

Sure, Mitt's a human being who has obviously made some bad decisions, and, sure, in his world, creative tax planning is de rigueur, but his arrogance, secrecy, and sense of entitlement, three of his core traits, are on full display here, and they reflect not just a flawed but a repugnant character, not to mention a deeper problem for his candidacy.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

The Romney campaign goes nuclear

Yes, I am really this obnoxious.

In an obvious attempt to change the channel on Obama's highly successful attacks on Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, Romney campaign surrogate former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu has rolled up every attack theme the GOP has ever directed at President Obama into one concise, vile diatribeSununu had this to say about Obama in an interview with Fox:
He has no idea how the American system functions. And we shouldn't be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S., he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure, and then got into politics in Chicago.

Well, it's finally happened. The Romney campaign has gone "all-in" Tea Party crazy. This should make us wonder about those tax returns. Are they so bad that Romney will direct his campaign to go super-size stupid to draw people's attention away from interest in his personal finances? It's interesting to note that Rush Limbaugh gave a speech yesterday in which he said Obama "hated America" and that his philosophy appeals to people with "miserable, meaningless lives." Initially I thought Romney might have to find a way to distance himself from such comments. Now I see a coordinated strategy coming into focus.

Conventional wisdom was always that Romney would have to cleave to the centre to appeal to independents once he secured the nomination. Looks like he's made the decision to take the first bus to Crazy-Town instead.

In response, Obama's team said the Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end. I'd say.

(Update: Well, it looks like the Romney campaign got nervous about the response to Sununu's comments, because they made him apologize. At the same time, Limbaugh took credit for the substance of Sununu's remarks on his radio program. I just don't know what to believe.)

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share