Romney’s Tax Plan Defies the Rules of Math

Intellectual Amnesia
Intellectual Amnesia

Willard seems to have gambled that the electorate is so stupid that they can be brainwashed into voting for him on the basis of his haircut and his fat advertising budget. There is less than zero substance to anything Romney has proposed, and that is an intentional choice.

For instance: his tax “plan”…

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, claims his far deeper tax cuts would have a price tag of exactly zero dollars. He has no intention of submitting his tax plan to the committee or anywhere else that might conduct a serious analysis, since he seems intent on running a campaign far more opaque than any candidate has in years.

He has made his economic plan the fundamental basis of his candidacy, and yet with the Republican convention just two weeks away, we know next to nothing of the plan’s details. The extreme cuts proposed by his new running mate, Paul Ryan, are far more hard-edged, making Mr. Romney’s mathematically impossible promises look vague and shopworn by comparison.

For example, Mr. Romney wants to keep all the Bush tax cuts, then cut taxes much further, particularly for the rich, but he says the plan won’t grow the deficit by a dime. He won’t say how he will accomplish this — there are no real numbers in his plan beyond a vague pledge to eliminate some loopholes. The Joint Committee would take one look at his substance-free plan and say, we can’t work with this.

Mr. Romney’s tax proposal is no different from any other aspect of his economic plan. He promises to cut nondefense spending by 5 percent, but won’t tell voters what programs that will affect. He wants to repeal all of President Obama’s regulations that burden the economy, but won’t say which ones. And he pledges to eliminate health care reform, but won’t discuss how or even whether he would replace it.

Earlier this month, a nonpartisan group of tax experts took matters into their own hands and tried to analyze the tax plan. What would happen, they asked, if you actually made all the cuts he has proposed? That would mean extending the Bush cuts, reducing income-tax rates by an additional 20 percent, and ending capital gains taxes for the middle class, the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax and the various taxes in health care reform, including the Medicare tax increase on high incomes. The experts at the Tax Policy Center estimated that this would cost $456 billion a year, starting in 2015.

But Mr. Romney said the cuts would be “revenue neutral” and cost nothing because they would be paid for by ending tax breaks and loopholes. He never identified those tax breaks, and now we know why — the experts concluded that there aren’t enough loopholes in the tax code to balance out the cuts. Following Mr. Romney’s plan would mean ending popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions, which would wind up raising taxes on the middle class, while the rich would still enjoy the benefits of an income-tax cut larger than the deductions they would lose.

On issue after issue, the dominant theme of Mr. Romney’s plan is a refusal to make real choices. He talks endlessly about his 59-point plan “to get America back to work,” but you can scrutinize all 160 pages of his economic booklet without finding any evidence of decision-making. A few examples:

He says he wants to cut nondefense spending by 5 percent, and cap federal spending at 20 percent of the economy, down from about 24 percent. But what would that actually mean in terms of programs cut and services reduced? The plan is silent. The programs he mentions cutting are the comically minuscule national endowments for the arts and the humanities, foreign aid, family planning, Amtrak and a few others — all tattered Republican punching bags.

(click here to continue reading Romney’s Tax Plan Defies the Rules of Math –

Paul Ryan Is No Fiscal Conservative

Keep away from children
Keep away from children

The funny thing, at least from my perspective, is that Paul Ryan really isn’t a good fit with the Tea Party mantra: he has a voting history of supporting government expansion, especially when a Republican is suggesting it. You know, like if Romney, gods forbid, becomes President. But I guess in the new Tea Party controlled GOP, simply saying you are something is enough. Proof is not required.

Ryan’s voting record shows a robust support of big-spending programs to enlarge the role of the federal government, especially when they are promoted by a Republican in the White House. Ryan voted for all of the big-ticket, budget-busting items of the administration of President George W. Bush, including the No Child Left Behind Act and the prescription drug benefit known as Medicare Part D, often described as the largest expansion of the welfare state since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Ryan voted to create the new Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration that has harassed air travelers, while making aircraft safe from shoes, belt buckles and grandma’s knitting needles. He voted for the PATRIOT Act, giving government enhanced powers for warrantless snooping into the lives of American citizens as well as foreign nationals. Ryan voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program that bailed out the “too big to fail” financial institutions and inspired the Tea Party rebellion against big government and “crony capitalism.” He backed the auto bailout that turned GM into “Government Motors.”

And while conservatives generally like to leave wars and military spending off the list of costly “big government” programs, Ryan’s record on that front is also troubling. Like Romney, Ryan has no foreign policy credentials and no record of military service to point to in the election campaign. And like Romney, Ryan swallowed whole the Bush-Cheney line on Iraq and supported the decision to invade and occupy that country in a needless war that cost more than 4,000 American and hundreds of thousands Iraqi lives and has added roughly a trillion dollars to our soaring national debt. Ryan’s budget calls for no reduction in military spending, despite the continued presence of U.S. troops in some 130 countries around the world, most of which have no bearing on our own national security. Even more troubling is Ryan’s vote last December in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation included a provision authorizing the President to use the military to arrest suspected terrorists, including American citizens apprehended in the United States, and hold them indefinitely, without charges and without trial, in clear violation of due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution. This year Ryan voted against an amendment to remove that provision from the law.

Finally, the Ryan budget, while including a number of unspecified cuts in entitlement programs, would push overall spending higher than current levels. Despite its optimistic revenue projections, the Congressional Budget Office projects the Ryan plan will lead to a balanced budget by 2040.That suggests a rousing slogan for the Romney-Ryan ticket: “Slightly Less Socialism And A Balanced Budget in 28 Years.”

(click here to continue reading » Veep Pick Paul Ryan Is No Conservative Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.)

Paul Ryan: Murderer of Opportunity, Political Coward

Are We Done Yet?
Are We Done Yet?

As you probably heard, Mittens chose the his VP: Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin. I guess the Etch-a-Sketch isn’t going to move to the center after all. Here are a few articles I’ve read about Ryan today. 

Jim Messina, the President’s campaign manager, blogged:

What you need to know right now: This election is about values, and today Romney doubled down on his commitment to take our country back to the failed policies of the past.

Paul Ryan is best known as the author of a budget so radical, The New York Times called it “the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times.” With Mitt Romney’s support, he’d end Medicare as we know it and slash the investments we need to keep our economy growing—all while cutting taxes for those at the very top.

(click here to continue reading Romney’s VP pick — Blog — Barack Obama.)

a few news clips for your amusement: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: Back to the Failed Top-Down Policies

from the NYT article about the announcement, this bumpersticker:

It was the largest stage yet for Mr. Ryan, a native of Janesville, Wis., elected to Congress at age 28, who has spent his adult life working in the federal government of Washington that many conservatives deplore.

(click here to continue reading Romney Adds Ryan to the Republican Ticket –

Charles Pierce has a good description for Mitt Romney’s Vice President choice:

Leave it to Willard Romney, international man of principle, to get himself bullied into being bold and independent.

Make no mistake. In his decision to make Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, his running mate, Romney finally surrendered the tattered remnants of his soul not only to the extreme base of his party, but also to extremist economic policies, and to an extremist view of the country he seeks to lead. This is unimaginable to those of us who lived here under Romney’s barely perceptible stewardship of the Commonwealth (God save it!). If he’d even hinted that he agreed with a fraction of a smidgen of a portion of the policies on which Ryan has built his career, Romney would have been hanging from the Sacred Cod by the middle of 2005. And it’s hard not to notice that the way the decision got leaked — in the dead of a Friday night, with the Olympics still going on, after two weeks in which Romney and his campaign had demonstrated all the political skills of a handball — fairly dripped with flopsweat.

And more:

Romney now has forced the administration itself to confront its own silly attempts to woo Ryan as a serious man of policy back in the day. Granted, they split rather permanently last April, when the president, correctly, referred to Ryan’s “budget” as “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” (Ryan got all sad about how things had deteriorated.) But, prior to that, the president had treated Ryan as though the president were, oh, I don’t know, a CNN anchor or something, specifically wooing him prior to the big health-care summit back in 2010, when everybody was oh-so-reasonable while the howler monkeys were out across the dim horizon, photoshopping bones through the president’s nose. Nonetheless, it can be argued — and I’m fairly sure it will be — that Ryan is the logical end of any Grand Bargain the White House strikes on the economy and on debt reduction. And, if you have committed yourselves to that latter purpose over most others, then it’s harder for you to argue against a guy who’s more committed than you are to your own ultimate goal.  I have none of those problems.

Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live. This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth: our government. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution make a lie out of every speech he’s ever given. He looks at the country and sees its government as something alien that is holding down the individual entrepreneurial genius of 200 million people, and not as their creation, and the vehicle through which that genius can be channelled for the general welfare.

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan Romney VP Pick – Paul Ryan: Murderer of Opportunity, Political Coward, Candidate for Vice President of the United States. By Charles P. Pierce – Esquire.)

Dancing Lesson

Dancing Lesson 

David Frum has the script for a commercial already written, in his head, at least:

A woman’s voice over. “You’ve worked hard all your life. You’ve paid Medicare taxes for almost 30 years. But under the Republican plan, Medicare won’t be there for you. Instead of Medicare as it exists now, under the Republican plan you’ll get a voucher that will pay as little as half your Medicare costs when you turn 65—and as little as a quarter in your 80s. And all so that millionaires and billionaires can have a huge tax cut.”

That ad will draw blood and will—as Henry Kissinger used to say—have the additional merit of being true.

(click here to continue reading The Coming Democratic Attack Barrage – The Daily Beast.)

kind of like this ad:

Little Faith
Little Faith

Liz Ryan’s cover piece on Paul Ryan in the August 6th, 2012 edition of the New Yorker1 is worth a read, it includes a bio, and this bit of hypocrisy from Ryan:

The current Presidential campaign centers on the debate about the government’s role in the economy. Ryan, by forcing Republicans to embrace his budget plan, has helped shape this debate. Obama, on July 13th, told a crowd in Virginia, “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.” He added, “When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

To Ryan, Obama’s words were anathema. In a conversation three days later with James Pethokoukis, a conservative blogger for the American Enterprise Institute, he had harsh criticisms for the President. “His comments seem to derive from a naïve vision,” Ryan said, that is based on “an idea that the nucleus of society and the economy is government, not the people.” Obama’s “big-government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth,” he said, and amount to “a statist attack on free communities.”

When I pointed out to Ryan that government spending programs were at the heart of his home town’s recovery, he didn’t disagree. But he insisted that he has been misunderstood. “Obama is trying to paint us as a caricature,” he said. “As if we’re some bizarre individualists who are hardcore libertarians. It’s a false dichotomy and intellectually lazy.” He added, “Of course we believe in government. We think government should do what it does really well, but that it has limits, and obviously within those limits are things like infrastructure, interstate highways, and airports.” But independent assessments make clear that Ryan’s budget plan, in order to achieve its goals, would drastically reduce the parts of the budget that fund exactly the kinds of projects and research now helping Janesville.

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan’s Influence on the G.O.P. : The New Yorker.)

 Victim of Fuzzy Thinking

Victim of Fuzzy Thinking

  Charles Pierce snorts, in response:

The fact is that his “budget” will demolish federal spending on those very things, either directly, or by sending the deficit off in the direction of Alpha Centauri. But the quote illustrates something else about Paul Ryan: get him out of his comfort zone of being thought an intellectual by the likes of Louie Gohmert, and of being thought of as a bold thinker by half the buffet-grazers in the Beltway media, and he really is quite the political coward.…Paul Ryan… lives in a house overseen by the National Park Service, which means that he qualifies for a 20-percent investment tax credit for the house he lives in. Of course, his “budget” would largely decimate the NPS, but that would be only those parts of it enjoyed by other people. Yes, Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver, has done very well by the federal government that he seeks to dismantle.

Making The Same Mistakes
Making The Same Mistakes

Jamelle Bouie of the American Prospect:

[Paul Ryan’s] plan to cut taxes on the rich and gut the welfare state is one of the most unpopular proposals in American politics. Conservatives love Ryan, but seniors, young people, women, nonwhites, veterans, the disabled, and the poor might feel differently about a man who wants to make the federal government an ATM for the wealthy.

In terms of the election, it’s hard to see how Romney gains from this choice. Because of its large population of working-class whites, Wisconsin has the potential to become a swing state, but for now, Obama has a solid lead. Yes, vice presidential nominees provide a home-state boost, but it’s small—on average, two points. Barring a major change in the race, the most Ryan will do is help Romney lose Wisconsin by a somewhat smaller margin than he would have otherwise.

With that said, a vice presidential choice is most important for what it says about the nominee, and Ryan reflects poorly on Mitt Romney. On the first and most crucial qualification—“Can this person govern the country if the president dies or leaves office”—the answer is “no one knows.” Ryan has no executive experience of any kind: no experience leading a large organization, or something just as complex like a presidential campaign. Executive experience isn’t everything, but it does stick out, especially given Romney’s short tenure in public office.

(click here to continue reading Lipstick on a Wonk.)

 Waiting to be Discovered

Waiting to be Discovered

One day, some years from now, I’m going to figure out how Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, managed to fool so many people for so long. He’s a garden-variety supply-side faker. His alleged economic “wonkery” consists of a B.A. in economics from Miami of Ohio — which he would not have been able to achieve without my generosity in helping him out with the Social Security survivor’s benefits that got him through high school after his father kicked. (You’re welcome, zombie-eyed granny-starver. Think nothing of it. Really.) Whereupon he went to work in Washington for a variety of conservative congresscritters and think-tanks, thinking unremarkable thoughts for fairly unremarkable people. Once in Congress, however, he has been transformed into an intellectual giant despite the fact that, every time he comes up with another “budget,” actual economists get a look at it and determine, yet again, that between “What We Should Do” and “Great Things That Will Happen When We Do” is a wilderness of dreamy nonsense, wishful thinking, and an asterisk the size of Lake Huron. 

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan Is Not a Vice President. Paul Ryan Is a Fake. – Esquire.)

How about his legislative accomplishments?

If you’ve heard of Paul Ryan, you’ve heard of Paul Ryan’s budget. But Ryan has been in the House of Representatives for 14 years and has proposed many, many other bills. Looking through the Library of Congress’s records, I counted 71 bills or amendments that Ryan has sponsored 71 bills or amendments and 971 bills that he has co-sponsored. That’s a lot of legislation, and some of it is pretty interesting. As Ezra noted, Ryan sponsored a Social Security privatization scheme that went so far the George W. Bush administration rejected it. So let’s dig a little deeper in the Ryan archives.

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan’s non-budget policy record, in one post.)

 Ryan is no Green:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, is a virulent denier of climate science, with a voting record to match. A favorite of the Koch brothers, Ryan has accused scientists of engaging in conspiracy to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” He has implied that snow invalidates global warming.

Ryan has voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, to eliminate White House climate advisers, to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and to eliminate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E)

(click here to continue reading Meet Paul Ryan: Climate Denier, Conspiracy Theorist, Koch Acolyte | ThinkProgress.)

Rooster and angles
Rooster and angles

A Koch-sucker

Rep. Ryan’s budget maintains his recent path of supporting Big Oil at the expense of the middle class. In 2011 Rep. Ryan joined all House Republicans and 13 Democrats in his vote to keep Big Oil tax loopholes as part of the FY 2011 spending bill while cutting funds for education, medical research, and clean-tech investments. His subsequent FY 2012 budget left $40 billion in Big Oil tax breaks untouched, too, though it cut $30 billion from Medicare.

Interestingly, after Rep. Ryan introduced his 2012 budget last year, he told some of his constituents that he would support repeal of Big Oil tax breaks. Think Progress captured this discussion at a Ryan town meeting in Wisconsin.

Q: The subsidy for the oil companies that the federal government gives. They’ve gotta stop.

RYAN: Sure.

Q: End the oil company subsidies…

RYAN: I agree.

So why does his FY 2013 proposal leave these Big Oil tax breaks intact? Why would he break his word?

Perhaps it’s because Koch Industries, a large private oil company, is his fifth-largest campaign contributor over his career. And the oil and gas industry as a whole gave him $242,850 in campaign cash. Or maybe he maintained these oil tax breaks because Big Oil gave Republican incumbents and candidates 88 percent of their $20 million in donations so far this election cycle. This is a higher proportion than the 75 percent of $174 million in donations given by Big Oil to Republican congressional candidates beginning in 1990.

As he promotes his new budget, Rep. Ryan will make numerous claims about the urgency of cutting the federal budget deficit to justify cuts in clean energy, health, education, and other priorities essential to the American people. Maintaining $40 billion in tax breaks for rich Big Oil companies profiting from high gasoline prices makes his rhetoric hypocritical at best and a lie at worst.

(click here to continue reading Ryan Budget Pads Big Oil’s Pockets with Senseless Subsidies.)

Matt Taibbi was never fooled by Paul Ryan’s schtick…

Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

Every few years or so, the Republicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.

Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

The reason for this is always the same: the Republicans, quite smartly, recognize that there is great political hay to be made in the appearance of deficit reduction, and that white middle class voters will respond with overwhelming enthusiasm to any call for reductions in the “welfare state,” a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms.

The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts in what is left of the “welfare state,” one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors. So when the time comes to actually pull the trigger on the proposed reductions, the whippersnappers are quietly removed from the stage and life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries.

(click here to continue reading Tax Cuts for the Rich on the Backs of the Middle Class; or, Paul Ryan Has Balls | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone.)

and silly, but…

One small but important part of the announcement: Paul Ryan’s Wikipedia page is about to undergo a wave of edits and revisions. (The page was edited 14 times in the first hour and a half following the Romney campaign’s announcement.)

The first edit:

Removed unnecessary statement from Early Life about prom king or “Brown Noser.”  This is not needed in article is not common in such brief survey sections.

The detail, in Ryan’s Wikipedia biography since June 16, comes from an AP report on that date noting that Ryan “was voted prom king and the ‘Biggest Brown-Noser’ of his 1988 high school class before leaving for college in Ohio.”

(click here to continue reading The Paul Ryan Wikipedia edits begin –

Continue reading “Paul Ryan: Murderer of Opportunity, Political Coward”

  1. last week’s magazine []

John Schnatter CEO of Papa John’s Is An Asshole

Fennel Portobello Red Pepper Pizza
homemade Fennel Portobello Red Pepper Pizza

If I ever was tempted to eat a Papa John’s pizza,1 asshole CEO John Schnatter has convinced me to forgo the temptation.

John Schnatter, chief executive of the pizza chain, is bashing President Obama’s healthcare reform law as a policy that will force the company to choose between its customers and its investors.

And if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rolls out as planned in 2014, Schnatter’s strategy is “of course … to pass that cost on the consumer in order to protect our shareholders’ best interest,” he said in a recent conference call.

Schnatter estimates that the legislation will cost Papa John’s about 11 cents to 14 cents per pizza, which equates to 15 cents to 20 cents per order. An average delivery charge runs $1.75 to $2.50.

“We’re not supportive of Obamacare like most businesses in our industry but our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare,” Schnatter said. “Ergo, we have a high ticket average with extremely high frequency of order counts, millions of pizzas per year.”

(click here to continue reading Papa John’s to raise pizza prices if ‘Obamacare’ survives: CEO –

15¢ more, and health insurance for the people who make the damn cardboard-tasting pizza? Doesn’t seem like that big a burden to me. Especially in light of:

Net income for the second quarter, which ended June 24, rose 22.3% to $14.8 million, or 61 cents a share, from $12.1 million, or 47 cents a share a year earlier. Same-store sales soared 5.7% in North America.

Jerks like John Schnatter are what is wrong with America these days: no concern for anyone or anything besides the corporate quarterly profit. No wonder he’s a Mitt Romney zombie…

Unsurprisingly, Papa John’s chief is a big fan of Mitt Romney. Schnatter recently even hosted a private fundraiser for the Republican presidential candidate at his mansion in Anchorage, Ky.

I’ve worked in many places that didn’t provide healthcare for employees, luckily I was young, and um, lucky, not to need it. The food industry is built upon the backs of underpaid workers, who become disposable if ill, or injured.

  1. I never have in the past []

Mitt Can Only Dish It Out

 What, Pray Tell?

What, Pray Tell?

You’ve probably heard that Harry Reid, a Mormon, is not a buddy of Mitt Romney:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has what he says is an informed explanation for why Mitt Romney refuses to release additional tax returns. According a Bain investor, Reid charged, Romney didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Huffington Post from his office on Capitol Hill, Reid saved some of his toughest words for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Romney couldn’t make it through a Senate confirmation process as a mere Cabinet nominee, the majority leader insisted, owing to the opaqueness of his personal finances.

“His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son,” Reid said, in reference to George Romney’s standard-setting decision to turn over 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in the late 1960s.

Saying he had “no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,” Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.

“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying.

“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?

“You guys have said his wealth is $250 million,” Reid went on. “Not a chance in the world. It’s a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don’t pay taxes for 10 years when you’re making millions and millions of dollars.”

(click here to continue reading Harry Reid: Bain Investor Told Me That Mitt Romney ‘Didn’t Pay Any Taxes For 10 Years’.)

Restrained Moral Judgements
Restrained Moral Judgements

And of course, if Willard released his tax returns, this whole Harry Reid broo-ha-ha would vanish…

Logic tells us that Reid couldn’t possibly have heard this from multiple sources, so he’s just blowing smoke. And yet, even if it’s a lie, Reid’s put Romney on the spot, because what he’s saying sounds plausible to a lot of people.

Y’know, it’s a bit like saying that the current president is a secret Muslim socialist who lied about his U.S. birth and has a fake Social Security number and is secretly plotting to take away all privately owned guns if he’s reelected, either before or after he finishes the job of deliberately destroying American capitalism. It’s also a bit like saying that the previous Democratic president was a drug dealing serial murderer and rapist whose lesbian wife had her male lover killed when she wasn’t hanging sex toys on the White House Christmas tree.

It’s almost like that. The difference is that Romney’s not facing an ever-expanding list of accusations, most of them truly grotesque and preposterous, many of them of a felonious or treasonous nature, spread by multiple prominent rumormongers over the course of years, and believed in every particular by roughly a third of the country. Hell, what he’s being charged with isn’t even illegal.

But still, welcome to our world, Mitt. Now you have a vague sense of how Democrats feel all the time.

(click here to continue reading No More Mister Nice Blog.)

Ha Ha You Were Drowning
Ha Ha You Were Drowning

Harry Reid is a honey badger…

So lets game this out a little further.

Fox News will deploy their in-house “Democrats” and “liberals” to deplore the ugliness of the Reid “smears”. Expect to see Kirsten Powers looking like she is in the process of passing a kidney stone while Juan Williams says that he thinks that Mitt Romney should release his tax returns … but that he also thinks that Reid should not be involved. Evan Bayh will also make his usual cameo appearance as a brighter than usual mannequin, but will have  nothing to add, perking up only when he receives his check. Also, Jon Stewart will be cited many times (“Even Jon Stewart says…”) because he is the Get Out Of Jail card of last resort when it comes to Republican panic.

Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen will pen an editorial for either the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post urging Harry Reid to step down for the good of the country. The ole Perfesser will link to it pointing out that Caddell is a “Democratic pollster”.

The Romney campaign is already squealing like a stuck pig and they will blame the White House of conspiring with Reid on the story, calling it “unseemly” and “undignified”. In an effort to illustrate this unholy alliance between Barack Obama and a sitting senator of the same party, the Romney campaign will deploy Senators Rubio, Ayotte, and Portman, as well as Governors Jindahl  and Christie  and also sad sack unemployable intern Tim Pawlenty to dispense rage burgers made up of equal parts disgust, anger, and denial.

Harry Reid is the honey badger; he doesn’t give a shit. He has the advantages of being the Senate Majority Leader which comes with a bully pulpit that can’t be ignored, he’s not some bomb-throwing back bencher, and he is a fellow Mormon who, like Jon Huntsman, seems to harbor a white-hot hatred of all things Mitt. Reid is most likely serving his last term in the senate and he’s is plainly tired of fucking around with Republicans and fully intends to bury their standard bearer which can have down ticket implications if depressed Republicans decide to stay home on election day because their top of the ticket prospects look like they are deader than Bob Dole’s dick.

Republicans have to be in a panic (see above). They haven’t even nominated their guy, they don’t trust him, he’s a terrible campaigner, his wife may be worse, everyone hates him, his campaign staff is a clown car chock full o’ bumblers, stumblers and maladroits, his foreign tour was a disaster, the media (which he ignores) is growing to loathe him more than the general public does, and the Republican convention is only four weeks away at which time Republicans are expected to formally tie the knot with him despite the fact that his unreleased tax returns are undoubtedly a ticking time bomb loaded with tax avoidance maneuvers, overseas accounts, and financial 3-card monte.

And this is all so unfair because Democrats aren’t supposed to punch back.

(click here to continue reading Harry’s Game | TBogg.)


Not to mention:

But, of course, as even Steve M. acknowledges, Reid’s charges aren’t really anything like the kinds of crap the right slings at Democratic leaders every day of the week. Let me try to give an illustration of my point.

Mitt Romney isn’t really a Mormon. He’s an atheist who only went along with his father’s faith so he could duck the Vietnam draft. He didn’t actually try to convert anyone when he was in France either. In reality, he spent all his time in Monte Carlo gambling and buying high-end hookers. When his daddy found out what he was doing, he made him come home and marry his high school sweetheart. Actually, he only made him marry her after the second time she got pregnant. The first time, they got an abortion. Then Romney started using some of the mafia connections he had made in Marseilles to import heroin. By the time he became governor, they were flying it straight into a secret airport they set up in the Berkshires. When one of the pilots started to talk, Romney had him killed.

Now, if we started telling these stories to people, and a substantial percentage of the population started to actually believe these stories, and if congressmen humored and even encouraged the people who believed these stories, and if media figures talked about these stories, and if Congress actually had hearings about some of these stories, then Mitt Romney would know what it’s like to be treated like a Democrat.

(click here to continue reading Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community.)

Romney, and Aryan Racial Theory as a basis for Foreign Policy

Whitney - Graceland
Whitney – Graceland

Dr. Juan Cole discusses a bit of European history in context of Romney’s Aryan Nation remarks.1 Talk about dog whistles: Romney is talking to a very specific type of racist, whether intentional or not.

Anyway, Dr. Cole writes, in part:

I really dislike Nazi references. They are for the most part a sign of sloppy thinking, and a form of banal hyperbole. But there just is no other way to characterize invoking the Anglo-Saxon race as a basis for a foreign policy relationship, and openly saying that those of a different race cannot understand the need for such ties. It is a Nazi sentiment.

If you would like some evidence for what I say, consider Adolf Hitler’s own point of view:

For a long time yet to come there will be only two Powers in Europe with which it may be possible for Germany to conclude an alliance. These Powers are Great Britain and Italy.”

Of the two possible allies, Hitler much preferred Britain because he considered it higher on his absurd and pernicious racial hierarchy. Indeed, Hitler held Mussolini a bit at arms length while hoping for a British change of heart, a hope only decisively dashed in September, 1939, when Britain declared war.

Hitler complained that colonialism was in danger of diluting Aryan European strength, weighing down the metropole powers. He contrasted this situation with that of the white United States, blessedly possessing its “own continent.” Indeed, it is, he argued (genocidal crackpot that he was), Britain’s special relationship with the Anglo-Saxon-dominated United states that kept it from being overwhelmed by its subhuman colonials:

“we we too easily forget the Anglo-Saxon world as such. The position of England, if only because of her linguistic and cultural bond with the American Union, can be compared to no other state in Europe.”

The argument of Romney’s advisers has exactly the same shape as Hitler’s, only it is being made from the American point of view rather than the European.

And, if we had a Jewish president at the moment, couldn’t the Romney camp make exactly the same argument, that the person didn’t appreciate the importance of the Anglo-Saxon heritage and ties? Is this really the discourse you want to engage in just before you arrive in Israel?

Romney has to find out who told Swain these things, and fire them. He has to publicly disavow these racist sentiments. They pose the danger for him of raising again the question of his own attitude to African-Americans as a young man in the 1970s before the Mormon church stopped discriminating against them on the grounds that they bore the mark of Cain.

Beyond the distasteful resemblances of this white supremacist discourse to the worst forms of rightwing extremism, the allegation astonishingly neglects to take account of who Barack Obama is.

Obama’s maternal grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham, had English ancestry (among others), and some genealogists trace him back to the Earl of Norwich, who was a surety baron of the Magna Carta. Moreover, Stanley Dunham served in the US military in London and then on the continent during World War II, and was involved in saving Britain from Nazi Germany. You’d think that would be a basis for pretty warm feelings. And remember, it was Stanley Dunham who actually raised Barack Obama; he did not know his father.

In contrast, the Romney clan’s only practical relationship to Britain aside from ancestry was trying to convince Scots in Edinburgh in the 1920s to give up alcohol and caffeine and become Mormons. Aside from explosive mirth, I don’t know what other emotion that record might evoke among English Anglicans of the sort Romney appears to want to rub up against, but it certainly would not be warmth.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the whole idea of “Anglo-Saxon” England is a myth. Historical geneticist Eric Sykes has found in hisSaxons, Vikings and Celts that the genetic mix in England is not for the most part different from that in Wales and Scotland and Ireland. There are, here and there, signs of Norse or German (Angles and Saxons) settlement, but they are minor and have to be looked for and are mainly in the y chromosome markers, i.e. on the male side of inheritance. The women are virtually all “Celts.”

But even “Celts” are a historical construct as a matter of “race.” In his Seven Daughters of Eve, Sykes had found that almost all Europeans are descended from only seven women who lived sometime in the past 45,000 years, one of them from the Middle East. These seven haplotypes or genetic patterns show up in all European populations, including the Basque (in the mitochondria, the power plant of the cell, which is passed on through females and does not change in each generation).

There simply are no distinctive “races” in Europe.

(click here to continue reading Romney, and Aryan Racial Theory as a basis for Foreign Policy | Informed Comment.)

  1. quote: “suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa. “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney” []

Mitt Romney’s campaign is attempting to link Barack Obama to the corruption of Chicago-style politics of a different era

Whatever Gets You to the Light
Whatever Gets You to the Light

Amusingly, Jacob Weisberg has much the same reaction as I did to the nonsense phrase: Chicago Style politics, but expresses his disdain a bit more forcefully, in an article that begins…

If I hear one more person accuse the Obama campaign of practicing “Chicago-style politics,” I’m gonna kick all his nephews off the park-district payroll.  I’m gonna send some precinct captains over to straighten him out. Mitt Romney and his surrogates don’t understand what Chicago-style politics means. No one seems to have told them that it’s been gone for 25 years. And they don’t get that Barack Obama, in his Chicago days, never had anything to do with it.

Chicago-style politics, in common parlance, refers to the 1950s-1970s era of the Richard J. Daley machine. If you want to read a great, short book about that world, I recommend Boss by Mike Royko. The strength and durability of the Daley machine was its ethnically based patronage network, a complex system of obligations, benefits, and loyalties that didn’t depend on televised communication with a broader public.  It was a noncompetitive system that in its heyday had a lock on urban power and the spoils that went with it.

One of the most memorable phrases from that era comes from a story often told by former White House Counsel Abner J. Mikva, who described attempting to volunteer on a local campaign in the late 1940s.

“Who sent you?” asked the cigar-chomping 8th Ward precinct captain.

“Nobody sent me,” replied Mikva. “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

The machine was dominated by the Irish and centered in Bridgeport, the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that was the ancestral home of the Daleys. Bridgeport’s antithesis has always been the liberal, multicultural enclave of Hyde Park, the University of Chicago neighborhood where the Obamas—and Bill Ayers—live. (The other thing the precinct captain told Mikva was, “We don’t want nobody from the University of Chicago in this organization.”) Hyde Park’s 5th Ward was the only one out of 50 to elect an independent alderman until the late 1960s, when political reformers like my parents and their friends on the North Side began to challenge the Daley machine. 

By the mid-1980s, the independents had mostly finished off the Daley machine—thanks mainly to the Shakman decree, still very much in force, which prevents any political consideration in hiring, firing, and promotion, with the exception of a thin layer of policy positions. This meant that when Harold Washington, a black machine politician turned reformer, was elected in 1983, he controlled only a few hundred city and county jobs, instead of the 35,000 Daley had at his disposal. By the time the younger Richard M. Daley was elected mayor in 1989, the Chicago machine was, like the Italian Mafia, more legend than force. Chicago-style pizza still exists. Chicago-style politics, equally deplorable in my view, no longer does. 

(click here to continue reading Mitt Romney’s campaign is attempting to link Barack Obama to the corruption of Chicago-style politics of a different era. – Slate Magazine.)

Why Won’t Romney Release More Tax Returns

The Question Unceasingly
The Question Unceasingly

The longer Willard refuses to comply with presidential election tradition and release multiple years of tax returns, observers are going to wonder: what is in those documents that is so damning?

John Cassidy of the New Yorker speculates:

three well known Republican pundits—Bill Kristol, George Will, and Matthew Dowd—all criticized Mitt Romney for not releasing more of his tax returns.

“He should release the tax returns tomorrow: it’s crazy,” Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “You gotta release six, eight, ten years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two.” Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Will, the veteran columnist, agreed, saying, “If something going to come out, get it out in a hurry.” And Dowd, who was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, said Romney’s refusal to release returns for the years prior to 2010 was a sign of his “arrogance.”

With even prominent Republicans saying that his current stance is unsustainable, the obvious question to ask is: Why is the Mittster being so obstinate? He surely isn’t standing on principle, for what principle would that be? The notion that very rich men running for President shouldn’t have to disclose as much information about their personal finances as less wealthy candidates?

It’s only fair to assume that Mitt is doing what he always does: acting on the basis of a careful cost-benefit analysis. Will’s comments on this were spot on: “The cost of not releasing the returns are clear,” he said. “Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.” But what information could the earlier tax returns contain that would be so damaging if it were brought out into the open? Obviously, we are entering the realm of speculation, but Romney has invited it. Here are four possibilities:

(click here to continue reading Why Won’t Romney Release More Tax Returns? : The New Yorker.)

There Might Be Prizes
There Might Be Prizes

What could be contained in his returns? A few guesses:

  • Insane wealth? Maybe much more than Willard has admitted in his election paperwork? Or that he makes millions, still, from the various Bain entities?
  • Offshore money laundering and tax evasion? Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island non-taxable entities and so on? Or should I say, more than are known?
  • Investments in non-evangelical approved companies? Like fetus disposals, sweatshops, and worse? Or helping Mexican drug cartels launder money?
  • Negative tax? i.e., a tax rate lower than zero, or close to zero. Massively wealthy corporations like ExxonMobile and General Electric have creative accountants and tax lawyers, and some years pay less than zero in taxes, perhaps Willard has done the same.
  • Residency issues? Like claiming he lived in Utah instead of Massachusetts?
  • Not tithing ten percent to the Mormon Church? Or giving money to an even wackier religion, like Scientology? 
  • Nothing at all  – it’s all just a smokescreen, and a trap for Obama? Playing of the Dan Rather – Texas National Guard story from the 2004 election

What do you think it could be?

Mitt Romney and His Birther Pals

Danger Peligro
Danger Peligro

I wish I could be shocked that Willard Romney isn’t getting more media blowback from his wishy-washy toe-dipping into the birtherism sewer. But I’m not. Romney doesn’t have the strength of his convictions, much less the backbone to stand up against the bottom feeders in his own party.

Joan Walsh writes, in part:

If you haven’t been following the story, and I tried not to, the addled spawn of Andrew Breitbart found a dusty 20-year-old catalog from Obama’s former literary agency that said he was born in Kenya. An assistant quickly said that she wrote down incorrect information. Trump doesn’t believe her.

“That’s what he told the literary agent,” Trump told Grove. “That’s the way life works … He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said … He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia … Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”

Give us a break, Mitt. It was already embarrassing that you were using Trump as a fundraising lure – why not raffle off a dinner with Dick Cheney, who’s hosting a fundraiser for you in July? At least Darth Vader has gravitas; Trump is a joke. Pretending to run for president, Trump made birtherism his big issue, and ultimately Obama responded by prevailing on the state of Hawaii to release his long-form birth certificate – a truly sad moment for this country, when the overwhelmingly elected president, a black man, has to show a nasty rich white guy his papers.

If you ever want an example of the vicious political double standard that helps Republicans in this country, here it is: Democrat Hilary Rosen said something inartful about Ann Romney being a stay-at-home mom, and the entire Democratic Party had to denounce her; Obama campaign leaders tripped over themselves to be the first to push her under the bus; Rosen immediately apologized. But Romney has been able to keep his ties to Trump as well as misogynist Rush Limbaugh without political penalty — so far.

(click here to continue reading Joan Walsh – Hey, Mitt: Dump Trump! . After a new rant about Obama’s birthplace, Romney needs to cut all ties with the birther loon)

I like Bill Maher’s take on this, Wiferism


MAHER: The media can keep giving this story oxygen, but I think they’re neglecting a much bigger scandal, which is wiferism. Mitt Romney comes from a Mormon background. I don’t know how many wives he has. I’m not saying I believe in that. I just say he was born in a Mormon compound, I’m not a wifer, but for some reason he has never shown his original marriage certificate and we’d like to show it to you now.

Now I’m getting a lot of my information, I must say from a book called Me So Romney, the Secret Love Life of the World’s Horniest Mormom. Again, I’m not a wifer, I’m just saying that he has the blood of a nomadic polygamist tribesman, and I think that has shaped his world view.

Now this is a copy of Mitt Romney’s marriage license. I specifically asked for the original. I even offered to go to the Romney house and take it out of Ann Romney’s wedding scrap book, but for some reason they frowned upon that idea and instead sent me this obvious photocopy, and isn’t it a little weird that they chose to only send the short form license?

And why next to Ann Romney does it say spouse and not only spouse? I’m just asking the hard questions that the lame stream media won’t ask about Mitt’s unholy harem of obedient sister-wives, which I really hope I’m wrong about.

But, now look at this. This I’m told is the Romney tooth brush holder. And think about that strained look on Mitt’s face. That’s the look of a man who has not been able to get into the bathroom since 1988.

Plus, how is it that Ann and Mitt Romney have five kids and they’re all thirty years old? And here, what is Mitt pointing to in this picture? The Olympic symbol. What is it? Five rings and what else has five rings? Five wives.

And why did Mitt Romney strap his dog to the roof of his car? Could it have been because the station wagon was full of wives? I’m not saying I believe this wifer stuff. I take Mitt Romney at his word. But how do you explain this video?

(click here to continue reading Bill Maher Takes a Shot at the Birthers With Parody on Romney’s ‘Wiferism’ Scandal | Video Cafe.)

Empathy and Presidential Candidates

Willard Romney is woefully lacking in sensitivity and empathy. Not only that, but claiming he doesn’t remember incidents of bullying is unbelievable, or else he is a psychopath.

South River Public School 197x
South River Public School 197x

Since I skipped 2nd grade, I was nearly always the youngest in my class, and thus was bullied frequently until I learned to fight back, or discovered how to defuse situations of impending bullying. I can still vividly remember a few incidents, and how my nickname was “The Wildman of Borneo” after exploding in rage once to stop some older kid from fighting me, and then repeating that explosion a few times subsequently, until I stopped being a target.

Unlike Willard, more vivid in my memory are incidents where I was the bully, where I initiated fights with weaker foes, to my adult shame.

Like Dale Whats-his-name in 5th grade South River Public School who I picked a fight with and beat to a blubbering, quivering mass. His family had come from a city somewhere, North Bay maybe, or Toronto, and had only moved to tiny, rural South River, Ontario that fall. He was different from the rest of the country kids. We were friends for most of the year, I was his only friend actually, but something happened and I picked a fight with him, and won it decisively. I still recall at the end of the fight, I was sitting on top of him, punching him over and over while he wailed. I stalked away with my friends, who had all witnessed the beating, and Dale ran inside. And like it just happened Tuesday, I can recall Mrs. Sullivan, the fifth grade teacher, coming up to me later that day and asking what happened in a worried voice. “Dale is really upset”, she said. I realized what I had done, and was quiet, flushed even. The last month of school, I just avoided making eye contact with Dale, and since we moved to Toronto that summer, I never went back to that school again.

Why I'm Glad We Moved Away from East Texas
Why I’m Glad We Moved Away from East Texas

Or Harold Kennebrew, in 8th grade, Newton Junior High in East Texas,  a fat, black, insecure kid, who turned into my victim in the horribly racist culture of East Texas. In that area of Texas, there was certainly vestiges of Jim Crow lingering like a miasma, and in school there were two distinct spheres of black and white kids without much overlap, except perhaps during football games. On one day, the 8th grade boys were assembling in the gym, prior to PE class, and Harold walked by. I stuck my foot out so he tripped, than threw my library book at him (a massive volume of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories – several hundred pages thick). We boxed a bit, neither winning, but I landed blows on his face, and he didn’t land any on me and in fact didn’t really punch much. Assistant Coach Horn came over and broke up the altercation, and gave us each a couple of whacks with his paddle. The coach gave me a weird look, I recall his expression to this day. He was black, as was a razor sharp classmate who came up to me a few moments after (I wish I remembered his name, but I remember his face, and that he was the undisputed alpha male of the black kids) and said words that still echo, “What, are you going to fight all the black kids now?”

He was absolutely right: I had started the fight with Harold Kennebrew just because he was an easier target for my adolescent anger. Black kids could get into worse trouble on the playground if they fought white kids, there was a double standard at work. I’m still regretful of my actions, all these long years later, though to my credit, that was the last fist fight I picked with a black kid. Luckily for my mental development, that summer we moved the decidedly less racist, so-called liberal oasis of Texas, Austin.

If Romney can’t recall his actions as a high schooler, then there is something mentally wrong with him, or else he is lying to avoid scrutiny for his actions. I don’t necessarily consider Romney’s Cranbrook history as that relevant to 2012, except it is an insight into his character, and his flawed view of the world. Being a corporate raider, destroying companies from within, firing workers, these are much easier tasks to accomplish if you are already lacking in empathy, if you are a bully.

I don’t want a bully to be my president.

Stacks of Knowledge and Honor
Stacks of Knowledge and Honor

Charles Blow of the NYT writes, in part:

There is so much wrong with Romney’s response that I hardly know where to start.

But let’s start here: If the haircutting incident happened as described, it’s not a prank or hijinks or even simple bullying. It’s an assault.

Second, honorable men don’t chuckle at cruelty.

Third, if it happened, Romney’s explanation that he doesn’t remember it doesn’t ring true. It is a searing account in the telling and would have been even more so in the doing. How could such a thing simply melt into the milieu of other misbehavior? How could the screams of his classmate not echo even now?

Fourth, “if someone was hurt or offended, I apologize” isn’t a real apology. Even if no one felt hurt or offended, if you feel that you have done something wrong, you can apologize on that basis alone. Remorse is a sufficient motivator. Absolution is a sufficient objective. Whether the person who was wronged requests it is separate.

Lastly, this would have been an amazing teaching moment about the impact of bullying if Romney had seized it. That is what a real leader would have done. That is what we would expect any adult to do.

A 2010 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 77 percent of Americans believed that bullying is a “serious problem that adults should try and stop whenever possible.” Romney passed on that chance.

While I have real reservations about holding senior citizens to account for what they did as seniors in high school, I have no reservations about expecting presidential candidates to know how to properly address the mistakes they once made.

This is where Romney falls short, once again.

There was a malicious streak at the core of the high-school boy in these accounts. Romney’s muddled and confusing explanation and half-apologies only reinforce concerns that there is also something missing from the core of the man: sincerity and sensitivity.

Targeting the vulnerable is an act of cowardice. The only way to vanquish cowardice is to brandish courage. Romney refused to do so. This is an amazing missed opportunity to exhibit a needed bit of humanity by a man who seems to lack it.


(click here to continue reading Mean Boys –

Mixed Messages
Mixed Messages

Ruth Marcus adds:

Romney’s reported leadership in the episode; his merciless wielding of the scissors to snip off the bleached-blond hair that seemingly so offended his sense of propriety; his continuing cuts in the face of John Lauber’s cries for help — these do not speak well of him.  You want to imagine your future president in the role of the wise-for-his-years leader who intervenes to calm the howling mob of his more foolish peers.

But that is not the chief concern with the Romney story. The real problem lies in the adult Romney’s reaction to it — or, more precisely, his non-reaction. Others involved in the episode told The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz of their continuing shame and guilt. One said he apologized to Lauber years later.

Romney, judging by his own words, seems not to have given the ugly encounter a second thought. His campaign’s initial response was denial. “The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base, and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents,” said spokesman Andrea Saul.

As it turned out, The Post story was so detailed, gripping and well-sourced that brush-off wasn’t going to suffice, so response No. 2 was to issue the classic, conditional quasi-apology. “Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that,” Romney said in a radio interview.  “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.”

Hijinks? Pranks? This was an assault, pure and simple. Romney insists that sexual orientation had nothing to do with the incident he doesn’t recall. “I certainly don’t believe I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.” But it’s clear that Lauber’s offense lay in his being different from the others on the island of Cranbook prep, whatever label was attached

So I don’t really blame Romney for what he did. I blame him for what he fails to remember, or to acknowledge, that he did. Imagine if Romney’s response to The Post story had been to own up to the episode and talk about his enduring regret.

“I would think this would be seared in his memory,” one classmate who participated, Philip Maxwell, told the New York Times. “Certainly for the other people that were involved, nobody has forgotten.”

That Romney has forgotten, or says he has, speaks volumes — more than anything that happened on a spring day in Michigan half a century ago.

(click here to continue reading Romney’s troubling reaction to the bullying story – PostPartisan – The Washington Post.)

Mitt Romney Is Not a Moderate

Why Worry Now?
Why Worry Now?

Paul Waldman makes a good point: is there any evidence that Mitt Romney actually is a moderate? Not really, just lazy reporters who repeat what Romney’s primary opponents and other frenemies say about him. Show some proof if you want to assert he’s a moderate…

Time’s Alex Altman writes, “A very conservative party is on the verge of nominating a relative moderate whom nobody is very excited about, largely because none of his rivals managed to cobble together a professional operation.” I beg you, Alex, and every other reporter covering the campaign: If you’re going to assert that Mitt Romney is a “relative moderate,” you have to give us some evidence for that assertion. Because without mind-reading, we have to way to know whether it’s true.

What we do know is that when he ran in two races in the extremely liberal state of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney was a moderate. Then when he ran in two races to be the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney was and is extremely conservative. There is simply no reason—none—to believe, let alone to assert as though it were an undisputed fact, that the first incarnation of Romney was the “real” one and the current incarnation of Romney is the fake one.

Every single issue position that might mark Mitt Romney as a “relative moderate” is something he has cast off, whether it’s being pro-choice, or pro-gay rights, or not hating on immigrants

(click here to continue reading Why Do Reporters Think Mitt Romney Is a Moderate?.)


Mitt Romney could’ve avoided epic Illinois battle

I'm With Stupid
Stupidity On the Right

Speaking of the Illinois primary, Mitt Romney’s vaunted organization made a major error:

the Illinois GOP awards all of its 54 delegates by congressional district—three delegates to the winner of each of the 18 CDs in the state.

Delegates for Santorum in January filed the minimum legal number of petition signatures to appear on the ballot in just four of Illinois’ 18 available congressional districts, a review of petition signatures found. In 10 others, delegates who filed signatures came far short of the 600 required to appear on the ballot, a review of the signatures found. They didn’t file any delegates in four districts. “They were woefully short,” state treasurer and Romney Illinois campaign Chairman Dan Rutherford said.

The petitions of Santorum delegates were initially challenged in January, but those challenges were withdrawn shortly after they were filed, said Illinois Board of Elections Director Rupert Borgsmiller.

So, had the Romney campaign challenged the Santorum petitions where warranted, Santorum would only be eligible to win 12 of the state’s 54 delegates. It would’ve been a default Romney victory with minimum 42 delegates (or 3.7 percent of the total he needs to clinch the nomination) and he could focus instead on upcoming states, or at least save that $3.4 million (and counting) to use against Obama. So why didn’t the Romney campaign aggressively move to deny Santorum those possible delegates, the way they forced Santorum off the ballot in Virginia? Because that aforementioned Dan Rutherford, Romney’s campaign chair in the Land of Lincoln, also happens to be gearing up for a 2014 gubernatorial challenge. And if you hope to win a contested primary, the worst thing he could do is go to the mat for Mitt Romney by denying Rick Santorum his delegates.

(click here to continue reading Daily Kos: Mitt Romney could’ve avoided epic Illinois battle.)


Severe Conservative Syndrome

All Poems Are Accidents
All Poems Are Accidents

Mitt Romney’s entire campaign seems predicated upon running against an imaginary person that Romney calls Obama – though it isn’t anything like the real President, nor the real Obama’s record.

Paul Krugman writes:

But Mr. Romney is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and whatever his personal beliefs may really be — if, indeed, he believes anything other than that he should be president — he needs to win over primary voters who really are severely conservative in both his intended and unintended senses.

So he can’t run on his record in office. Nor was he trying very hard to run on his business career even before people began asking hard (and appropriate) questions about the nature of that career.

Instead, his stump speeches rely almost entirely on fantasies and fabrications designed to appeal to the delusions of the conservative base. No, President Obama isn’t someone who “began his presidency by apologizing for America,” as Mr. Romney declared, yet again, a week ago. But this “Four-Pinocchio Falsehood,” as the Washington Post Fact Checker puts it, is at the heart of the Romney campaign.

How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? For it was not always thus. After all, that health reform Mr. Romney wants us to forget followed a blueprint originally laid out at the Heritage Foundation!

My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.

Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control.

The point is that today’s dismal G.O.P. field — is there anyone who doesn’t consider it dismal? — is no accident. Economic conservatives played a cynical game, and now they’re facing the blowback, a party that suffers from “severe” conservatism in the worst way. And the malady may take many years to cure.

(click here to continue reading Severe Conservative Syndrome –

It was difficult to measure how much ground Mr. Romney has gained or lost, particularly given how the Republican Party has changed since 2008. He reminded the audience of his conservative record in a state that he called the most liberal in the country.

“I was a severely conservative Republican governor,” Mr. Romney said, adding “severely” to the text of his speech for emphasis. “I fought against long odds in a deep blue state.”

(click here to continue reading Romney’s Record as Governor Resumes Central Role in Nomination Fight –

Just for fun, using the built-in OS X Lion dictionary, here are the top synonyms for “severe”:

  • severe injuries: acute, very bad, serious, grave, critical, dreadful, terrible, awful; dangerous, parlous, life-threatening; formal grievous. ANTONYMS minor, negligible.
  • severe storms: fierce, violent, strong, powerful, intense; tempestuous, turbulent. ANTONYMS gentle.
  • a severe winter: harsh, bitter, cold, bleak, freezing, icy, arctic, extreme; informal brutal. ANTONYMS mild.
  • a severe headache: excruciating, agonizing, intense, dreadful, awful, terrible, unbearable, intolerable; informal splitting, pounding, screaming. ANTONYMS slight.
  • a severe test of their stamina: difficult, demanding, tough, arduous, formidable, exacting, rigorous, punishing, onerous, grueling. ANTONYMS easy, simple.
  • severe criticism: harsh, scathing, sharp, strong, fierce, savage, scorching, devastating, trenchant, caustic, biting, withering. ANTONYMS mild.
  • severe tax penalties: extortionate, excessive, unreasonable, inordinate, outrageous, sky-high, harsh, stiff; punitive.
  • they received severe treatment: harsh, stern, hard, inflexible, uncompromising, unrelenting, merciless, pitiless, ruthless, draconian, oppressive, repressive, punitive; brutal, cruel, savage. ANTONYMS lenient, lax.
  • his severe expression: stern, dour, grim, forbidding, disapproving, unsmiling, unfriendly, somber, grave, serious, stony, steely; cold, frosty. ANTONYMS friendly, genial.
  • a severe style of architecture: plain, simple, austere, unadorned, unembellished, unornamented, stark, spartan, ascetic; clinical, uncluttered. ANTONYMS fancy, ornate.

Amusingly, most do seem to apply to the Republican Party, actually, whether “Dog Mittens” Romney intended them or not. And many of the antonyms are fairly accurate descriptions of Romney! minor, negligible, slight, simple, fancy, and so on…

Campaign Finance Reports Show Super PAC Donors

Beer Money at the MCA
Beer Money

The money race is unfortunately just as important, or even more important than any other factor in the 2012 election.

The filings to the Federal Election Commission, the first detailed look at a crucial source of support for Dog Mittens Romney, showed his ability to win substantial backing from a small number of his party’s most influential and wealthy patrons, each contributing to the super PAC far more than the $2,500 check each could legally write to his campaign.

All told, the group, Restore Our Future, raised about $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of 2011.

Millions of dollars came from financial industry executives, including Mr. Romney’s former colleagues at Bain Capital, who contributed a total of $750,000; senior executives at Goldman Sachs, who contributed $385,000; and some of the most prominent and politically active Republicans in the hedge fund world, three of whom gave $1 million each: Robert Mercer of Renaissance Technologies; Paul Singer of Elliott Management, and Julian Robertson of Tiger Management.

Harlan Crow, the Texas construction magnate, gave $300,000 personally and through his company. William Koch, whose brothers Charles and David are among the country’s most prominent backers of conservative causes, gave $1 million personally or through Oxbow Carbon, the energy company he founded. Members of the Walton family, founders of the Walmart chain, gave over $200,000, while Bob Perry — a wealthy home builder who has long been the top patron of Mr. Romney’s erstwhile rival, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas — chipped in $500,000 in early December.

But as Mr. Romney sailed to an overwhelming victory in Florida’s primary on Tuesday night, fund-raising documents filed by President Obama showed the kind of financial juggernaut he will face if he becomes his party’s nominee: Mr. Obama reported raising a total of $140 million in 2011, far eclipsing the $57 million Mr. Romney raised for his campaign for the year.

(click here to continue reading Campaign Finance Reports Show ‘Super PAC’ Donors –

From the NYT article, the top ten Romney investors. If there was any way I could avoid them, I would, but odds are long that I’d ever encounter any of these people or companies.

Edward Conard

Investor and former top executive at Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mr. Romney helped start.

$1.0 million
Robert Mercer

Co-chief executive at Renaissance Technologies Corp., a hedge fund company.

$1.0 million
John Paulson

Billionaire founder of the hedge fund Paulson & Company. Well known for earning billions of dollars betting against the subprime mortgage market.

$1.0 million
Bob Perry

Houston homebuilder who was a major financier of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.

$1.0 million
Julian Robertson

Founder of Tiger Management, a hedge fund.

$1.0 million
Paul Singer

Manager of Elliot Associates hedge fund.

$1.0 million
Eli Publishing Inc.

Shares a Provo, Utah, address with F8 LLC.

$1.0 million

Shares a Provo, Utah, address with Eli Publishing Inc.

$1.0 million

An Idaho-based health and wellness products company; donations were made under the names of four associated companies.

$1.0 million
Rooney Holdings Inc.

Private investment firm based in Tulsa, Okla. Its chief executive is Francis Rooney, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

$1.0 million

The full list is here, where you can also see that Obama’s donors are from a much more diverse background. In fact, currently there are only two Obama donors who gave $1,000,000 or more: Jeffrey Katzenberg,Chief executive of Dreamworks Animation, who contributed $2 million; and Service Employees International Union, a labor union with 2.1 million members, contributing $1 million.

Something Fishy In Romney’s Taxes

A Fool Too Long
A Fool Too Long

The truth is Mitt Romney will probably be able to skate over the full release of his tax history, as there isn’t a law that says Romney has to release his records, much less multiple years. Still, seems clear that there is some funky stuff contained in prior years.

[Senator Carl ] Levin (D-MI) may well know more about tax avoidance strategies than anybody in Congress. In his capacity as the Democrats’ top investigator he’s has made extensive inquiries into the techniques businesses and individuals use, including overseas havens, to hide their money from the IRS. And what Romney’s revealed so far troubles him.

“I saw in the paper this morning that the spokesperson for the Romney campaign said that it was just an ‘ordinary’ bank account in Switzerland,” Levin told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast round table, referring to the revelation that the Romney family held a Swiss bank account in his wife’s name from 2003 until 2010.

“Folks, we’ve done a lot of research. We went after UBS in my subcommittee. We have seen abuses by American wealthy folks trying to hide from Uncle Sam, putting their money in Swiss bank accounts and bank accounts in other tax havens,” Levin said. “There was a period when the IRS said ‘OK, come on in, pay your taxes on your Swiss accounts, and you won’t have to pay any penalty.’ Thirty-three thousand people, I believe, showed up in the last couple years to pay their taxes…. And the spokesperson for the Romney campaign says it was just an ordinary bank account in Switzerland that Mrs. Romney had. There is no such thing as an ordinary Swiss bank account. Now, there may be a few exceptions where you’ve got Americans who are living in Switzerland who have bank accounts, but as far as I know, Mrs. Romney was not living in Switzerland.”

(click here to continue reading Top Dem Offshoring Expert Smells Something Fishy In Romney’s Tax Code | TPMDC.)