Friday, September 21, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Fear not, America. We Noo Yawkahs know how to deal with this problem. I'll see if I can post the best graffiti as they appear. Pam Gellar will likely wish she had just kept her mouth shut.
2) I'd have to call last night's Massachussetts Senate debate a draw, although Elizabeth Warren more than handled Senator Scott Brown's demeaning comments and scored quite a few points about his hypocrisies.
3) No wonder Mitt's kissing up to the wealthy.
4) Meanwhile, Ann Romney is trying to get people to quit picking on Mitt, you guys! When you run a crappy campaign, madam, you may expect crap to be flung at you.
5) Audience to Matt Lauer: Q you!
6) Republicans want to make this problem even worse.
7) Spain is open for business again, which is good news for the European Union.
8) MEMO To Tim Kaine: In answering debate questions, quit while you're ahead.
9) Thinking about travelling to Cuba? Here's a nice little story of what you might encounter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mitt Thurm

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live characters of all time was Nathan Thurm, created by Martin Short. In brief, the character was a weasel, a corrupt politicking jerk who would lie and then deny he lied, then deny his denial.
Ladies and gentlemen, last night we met Mitt Thurm:
"I said I'm not in favor of a deportation, a mass deportation effort rounding up 12 million people and kicking them out of the country," Romney said. "I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home and that's what I mean by self-deportation. People decide if they want to go back to the country of their origin and get in line legally to be able to come to this country."

Democrats have attacked Romney's "self-deportation" concept since the primary campaign, when Romney used immigration as an issue with which to attack his rivals from the right, essentially promising to make economic opportunity so scarce for illegal immigrants that they would leave the United States voluntarily.
To quote Nate, "I never said that! It's so funny to me that you would think I said that!" After all, forcing people to "self-deport" rather than starve their families is hardly voluntary, is it? It's called "ethnic cleansing." 
Mitt backpedaled and flagrantly denied his own words in front of a live audience and on live network (Univision) television. He denied his full-throated support of Arizona's racist immigration law, saying that, no, he only supported the employer verification rules, and claimed Obama, who had actually ramped up the number of deportations in his first term, was soft of illegal immigration.
He then denied that he ever denied that his Massachussetts healthcare plan was the blueprint for the Affordable Healthcare Act, and that he thinks anyone who received public assistance is not worth his time, mentioning that his own father received welfare when he had to flee Mexico ahead of a revolution.
Hmmmmmmmmm, he doesn't do nuance all that well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Elegantly Stated

Mitt Romney believes he could have more "elegantly stated" his contention about nearly half this country being victims, dependent on government and basically useless to him.
Paul Ryan would phrase it as "makers vs takers." Right out of Ayn Rand, that one, and about as hurtful.
John McCormack of the Weekly Standard (Bill Kristol's publication, if you're playing along at home) says Mitt's words play right into the liberal playbook, along with Mitt's comments that the Republican party is the "party of people who want to get rich."
I have an idea for Mitt: How about "Let them eat cake"?
See, here I think is the problem with the current dynamics of American politics: in this country, it should be a given that there will be poor, trod upon, disadvantaged folks but those folks are as important to the American dream of all of us as the folks who live in Park Avenue apartments and summer in the Hamptons. Indeed, if anything, those poor souls deserve a shot, an opportunity, to make something of their lives that's better than the current "40-40-40 plan."
That's where you work forty hours a week for forty years only to retire on 40% of what you were barely able to live on while you were working.
A true conservative believes this opportunity can be achieved through the free market. A liberal believes that the government should be involved, in order to make sure everyone gets some shot at the dream.
And that's what the basic dialogue in this nation should be. A true conservative understands that, but for the grace of God there go I. Good DNA, a little bit of bad luck in school, a good mentor, a bad community, all of these are involved in determining the opportunities available to a person as he develops. 
All this is before we actually take into account the individual.
Modern conservatisim gets into "blaming the victim," which is just wrong. That's not to say an individual is blameless for the state of his well-being. He or she makes choices, some of them smart, many really dumb.
But here's the thing: at the very least, we all ought to recognize that even if someone makes perfect choices, circumstances can align so that they cannot find the opportunities available to even the average American, and to expect extraordinary outcomes in circumstances like those goes beyond silly and all the way to cruel.
Does that describe the so-called 47%? No, not all of them. Most of that number are in transition, like students with Federally guaranteed loans, or the long-term unemployed. These are people who will eventually bounce back and put their lives together in some form that resembles a typical American life.
Another large piece of that puzzle is the already-retired. They took their best shot and are now leaving the stage. We care for them, of course, but they are not "victims" by any stretch of the imagination, except of the predations of modern conservatives.
The rest? Ahhh, these are the poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. These are the people who suffer the most every time a Republican tosses around phrases like "victim," "dependent," "don't care about them."
These are the disabled. The chronically disadvantaged, like people who had to drop out of high school to support their parents or a newborn baby. These are people whose best opportunities lie in fast food jobs and day work, home healthcare aides that might make $10 an hour if they are lucky, and so need a little supplement to their income because market forces are cruel. It costs money to live any place, and even though market wages may vary to reflect that, they rarely cross the cost-of-living line in order to support the person fully.
And are you going to tell Grandma she can't have her attendant? Or your kids that they can't go to McDonald's because it's closed?
Market forces are very cruel, and this is an issue that we can take up with both forms of conservativism: who gets to decide who really needs help versus those who are just "slacking"?
Which leads me to another aspect of modern conservativism: the ability to paint everyone with broad strokes. Like Romney's comment.
His 47% includes around 50 million elderly folks who favor Romney by about 8 percentage points. Well, they did until he just wrote them off. But then, look at his running mate and how he wants to treat Social Security and Medicare. I'm not sure he really cares.
Let them eat cake, after all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

There Are Bad Days. There Are Worse Days.

...Then there's Mitt Romney's campaign:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the 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. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax…[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Which contrasts nicely with this moment:

GOP front-runner Mitt Romney quickly sought today to clarify comments he made this morning about whether his campaign is focused on poor people.

In an interview on CNN this morning, Romney he’s not concerned about the plight of the country’s very poor because there are social safety nets that take care of them.

“I’m in this race because I care about Americans,” Romney told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien this morning after his resounding victory in Florida on Tuesday. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”

“I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”

By my maths, that means up to 142% of Americans are American.

By now, you've heard the outrage over Romney's comments at a fundraiser which he assumed was private. Silly, when you think about it, in a day and age when James O'Keefe can entrap innocent people into making inocuous comments that are then carefully edited to mean something completely different, or when the President's own realistic statement about infrastructure and business, "You didn't build that!", becomes a centerpiece lie of your campaign.

I suppose there's a case to be made that the person who recorded the moment was a "trusted" entity, that he or she was there by invitation and expected to pony up significant money. Romney would be protected by a sort of "Fight Club" mentality that you don't talk about what he said except to people who already know.

This moment reflects badly on Romney, to be sure, but it also reflects badly on the group he was speaking to that they were comfortable...well, most of them...hearing this and not tossing him out on his ear.

Think about that: there is a significant number of people with money and influence in this nation who believe that 155,000,000 Americans do not buy into the American Dream of hard work and frugality. And those people carry enough stroke to influence a Presidential election enough that either a candidate let his hair down and spoke from the heart or pandered mightily to them.

I'd like to think it was the latter, but even that's the lesser of two evils: it still means that those folks hold sway over him and they actually believe nearly half this nation is sucking the government dry. And these are successful people. We can presume they know how to read (unlike our Teabagger bretrhen, many of whom-- if not most-- are among that 47%) and can do a little arithmetic.

Among these people are a hedge fund manager with a predilection for porn parties, and any number of hedge fund and venture capital managers, many of whom-- like Romney-- offshored and outsourced jobs that forced people onto the dole, in effect creating the very thing that they rail against.

"Victims," indeed. Many, if not most, of the 47% have been victimized and can legitimately lay claim to that mantle, unlike Romney who will assuredly throw the victim card shortly. Through Ann, he's laid claim to being poor enough to eat off an ironing board-- subsisting on dividends and bond coupons, naturally.

The follow up tape, about the unacceptability of a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis, is more revealing of Romney's character. A Presidential candidate would at the very least make the prediction that he will get fully engaged in the dilemma and try to work for a solution. If he was pandering in Boca, as Romney clearly was, he'd foreshadow that the solution would only be in Israel's best interests.

The last thing a serious Presidential contender would claim is that he'd "kick that can down the road," which is Romney's precise metaphor.

Unless, of course, that's what his audience of pussilanimous pudwhustles of pandering wanted to hear. It's possible they did. It's possible that they stand to make much more money off a stalemate that sees both sides arm while never really firing a shot in anger. It's possible that Israel as a nation stands to benefit from the charity and goodwill of nations around the globe only if they remain perilously under threat from a "barbaric horde"...of their own creation.

There's serious discussion in the Tweetosphere that Romney is not a serious candidate. I wonder. It would make sense that he's using the Republican party as a springboard to a bigger hedge fund Rolodex.


Monday, September 17, 2012

I Love The Smell of Desperation In The Morning

So, how bad is it for Republicans supporting Mitt Romney?
The best they can do is claim it's still a horse race.

Want to start a business? Democrats laughed at the idea that a young man or woman might borrow money from his or her parents. The consensus at this convention was that they were entitled to take money from other people's parents. Delegates cheered at opportunities to take profits and property from the remaining, benighted, few Americans who still pay taxes instead of take taxes.

In Charlotte, people who would never break into someone's home and take what was not theirs celebrated a government that uses tax law to do it for them. Then Clinton took the stage and, in a temporary expression of sanity, lectured Democrats about overindulging. You have to appreciate the irony in that.

Clinton said, "Don't you ever forget, when you hear them talking about this, that Republican economic policies quadrupled the national debt before I took office, in the 12 years before I took office, and doubled the debt in the eight years after I left, because it defied arithmetic. President Obama's plan cuts the debt."

The comparison was poignant: If Obama had similarly embraced Simpson-Bowles or any kind of bold deficit reduction in his remarks the following night, he would be wiping the floor with the Romney campaign.

As if he isn't already. The only poll that shows Romney with even half a chance of beating Obama is Rasmussen, and Rasmussen is practically the house organ (heh!) of the GOP. Indeed, Rasmussen shows Obama winning handily in three key battleground states Romney must win-- Florida, Ohio, and Virginia-- thus negating the "national" polling.

More desperation: Dinesh D'Souza calls out President Obama for using the "N" word in describing his father. There's the pot calling the kettle "house." His film having tanked miserably at the box office when compared to, oh, a re-release of a film from twenty years ago, D'Souza is now reduced to rolling his hat around his hands, stamping his feet and screeching, "LISTEN TO ME!!!!!!"

According to John McCain, Obama has weakened America. I'm sure Osama bin Laden agrees, and this is good news for the McCain campaign.

The New York Times editorial board has had to try to revitalize the Romney campaign using backhanded complimenting.

They're even making up countries that stopped existing twenty years ago!

The whole "apology tour" thing has been revived in the wake of Mitt Romney's comments that President Obama has been appeasing terrorists, or some such wording, spoken just as Ambassador Stevens was being beheaded in Benghazi.

Well, I guess we now know the definition of "putting lipstick on a pig."


This Day In History

This is quite the day for pivotal events in American history:
1) 1787 - The US Constitution is adopted. Even now, two centuries later, people don't understand what the Second Amendment means.
2) 1862 - Just 75 years later, the Union nearly falls apart over a simple "We, The People" moment. Had the South won at Antietam, France and England would have recognized the Confederacy as a new nation. As it was, the battle allowed Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation just five days later, effectively bring the United States into the 19th Century. The South retarded us, yet again.
3) 2011 - Occupy Wall Street begins. Not a pivotal moment? Tell that to the folks in Europe who used it as a springboard to fight austerity measures, or the fact that it laid the groundwork to embarass the hell out of Mitt Romney and the Republicans this year. History will tell.