“His Poor Father Must Be So Embarrassed About His Son”

 

The headline at HuffPo said it all:

Harry Reid: Bain Investor Told Me That Mitt Romney ‘Didn’t Pay Any Taxes For 10 Years’

Now, that kind of speculation about what Romney is hiding is inevitable and will only get worse, despite the fact that Mittens is standing strong against transparency.  The HuffPo story relates:

“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?

How it looks now is increasingly becoming a problem for Romney, who is still running strong on the idea that he was a “sterling” bidnessman—his latest ad quotes Bill Clinton as saying so—but refuses to let the light shine on the whole of his business career and how he benefited from it and from America’s skewed tax system.

In any case, Harry Reid, who at times is frustratingly kind to his Republican colleagues, also said some other stunning things about money and politics. Although he said he is optimistic about the Democrats’ chances of keeping control of the Senate, he accurately summed up what’s wrong:

We feel comfortable in the Senate. Where the problem is, is this: Because of the Citizens United decision, Karl Rove and the Republicans are looking forward to a breakfast the day after the election. They are going to assemble 17 angry old white men for breakfast, some of them will slobber in their food, some will have scrambled eggs, some will have oatmeal, their teeth are gone. But these 17 angry old white men will say, ‘Hey, we just bought America. Wasn’t so bad. We still have a whole lot of money left.’

Give ‘em hell, Harry!

 

Foreskin Hunting

Sometimes, as we fight the culture war battles, it seems as if we are wasting our time, at least those of us who are fighting Iron Age thinking developed from biblical precepts. Here is just one of those precepts:

If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. — Leviticus 20:13

Lest ye say that is just the Old Testament and we are living under the New, Paul the Apostle called homosexuality “shameful” and said such folks who practice it were due a “penalty for their error,” which, of course, means “death.”

Today, twenty centuries later, things are finally—finally—starting to change:

As you can see from the graphic, things are changing rapidly among Democrats, whose party may include in its platform a marriage equality plank. But things are not so rapidly changing among Republicans, whose ranks include a horde of Iron Age thinkers called evangelicals, folks who enthusiastically endorse the Bible’s view of homosexuality expressed in Leviticus and by Paul, if not the penalty associated with it. These days even the zealots don’t believe gay bashing includes the electric chair.

My point, though, is that it matters greatly what message gets transmitted by culture-war infantrymen, whose job it is to engage bigotry and senseless discrimination, especially that brand brought to us by ancient texts, the kind that approved of murderous deeds like David perpetrated in the Old Testament, especially when he had a hankering to become part of the king’s family:

David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

You see, when conservatives in either party tell us the Bible has the last word on the propriety of homosexuality, we have to object and object loudly, we have to engage in that battle. We have to win that fight. Because the same ancient culture that produced a book that pronounced God’s wrath on gay people also had no problem condoning ritual slaughter like the kind David committed, or any number of slaughterous episodes one can find in the Bible.

It goes without saying that today even the most committed, Bible-laden Christian would not endorse foreskin hunting, and the message has to be continually sent out to all that it is simply past time to put away all antiquated thinking derived from the Bible, and those who refuse to do so should be aggressively challenged in the public square until such time as hating on homosexuals is as unacceptable as cutting off the foreskins of Philistines.

Thankfully, recent polling shows that at least on the gay marriage issue the cultural tide is turning.

Romney’s “Hand Of Providence” Madness

Romney’s foreign policy trip is quite a success so far, if pissing off the British and the Palestinians was on the agenda.

The latest comes from The Guardian:

Palestinian leaders expressed offence and outrage at comments by Mitt Romney during his lightning visit to Israel, in which he said the Jewish state’s economic success compared with its Palestinian neighbours was due to “cultural” differences and the “hand of providence”, and declared Jerusalem to be “the capital of Israel”.

Now, I know not many folks here in Southwest Missouri don’t give a damn about offended and outraged Palestinian leaders, since many of my fellow citizens in these parts believe Jesus is going to rain down hell on all of Israel’s enemies some sweet day, when God finally stops dithering and starts killing.

But  if there is ever to be peace between Jews and Arabs in the real world, it might behoove folks like Romney to stop suggesting God is on Israel’s side—and by extension ours—even if Romney’s home-cooked religion tells him so. It was a stupid thing to say, given what is at stake, and particularly stupid if Romney becomes our Theologian-in-Chief.

The Guardian continues:

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, condemned Romney’s comments. “It is a racist statement, and this man doesn’t realise that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” he said.

“It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people. He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”

Romney, who did not visit the West Bank while in the Holy Land, made no mention of either Israel’s 45-year occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, nor its continuing blockade of Gaza, both of which have had a catastrophic impact on the Palestinian economy.

The consensus of international economists, including the IMF and the World Bank, is that the Palestinian economy will fail to develop firm foundations and sustained growth until Israeli restrictions on imports, exports and the movement of goods are lifted.

So, not only does Romney not understand American economics—he is a supply-sider, after all—in one 30-hour stay in Israel he has thrust his ignorance into the middle of a long, long feud in the Middle East.

Can’t wait for his remarks in Poland today. Have you heard the one about the Polish firing squad?

Is Romney A Decent Guy?

Responding to my post, “Romney: Champion Of Ugly Americans Everywhere!a thoughtful commenter named Treeske wrote:

…one feels almost sorry for this, probably very decent guy’s clumsiness, or is it truly arrogant ignorance (like you mentioned) the elite so often fall victim to?

Tree,

You know, I hear the description of Romney as a “decent” or “nice” guy all the time—mostly from Democrats who then go on to bash his brains out!—but I’m not so sure what kind of guy he is in terms of being decent or nice.

I mean, is Romney’s decency defined by his willingness to say literally anything to achieve the presidency?

Is Romney being a nice guy when he tells lies constantly about Mr. Obama and suggests he is less than an American, helping to legitimize the weird fantasies of amateur and professional right-wing Obama-haters?

Is his decency indicated by an unseemly eagerness to carve up his belief system so as to make it compatible with the extremists in the Republican Party, extremists who seek to alienate large swaths of society?

Is Romney’s niceness defined by a willingness to custom-make his principles in order to get the approval of creeps like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter?

Does a nice guy do the things that Romney has done, like the the dog incident or the haircutting incident or the haircuts he gave workers and their pensions when Bain took companies over and loaded them with debt in order to make a profit? Do good guys do that stuff?

Was Romney being nice when he brought health care reform to Massachusetts but now is being doubly nice when he opportunistically attacks the same reform when Obama fought to bring it to all Americans? Huh?

Is it decent of a guy to store some of his dough overseas in order to shield it from taxes that help support our country? How many roads weren’t built because Romney’s beer money is resting in Bermuda?

Does a nice guy have offshore companies the financial and moral significance of which are kept secret from potential voters?

Does a decent guy keep his tax returns hidden from the millions of taxpayers he seeks to govern?

Look, obviously I don’t know Mitt Romney personally. And I admit to some prejudice in the matter, being a drinker, a Democrat, and an opponent of fundamentalist religion, especially the kind of freakish fundamentalism at the center of Romney’s life that keeps him clothed in special skivvies and away from alcohol.

I can only know Romney by what comes out of his mouth, like the many lies he has told and keeps telling about Mr. Obama, or by what kind of policies he says he will pursue should, God forbid, Americans make the mistake of putting him in charge.

And while judging his personal decency by his religious aversion to the drink or by what comes out of his mouth might sound like I’m swimming at the shallow end of the pool, I do have some Romney-approved company:

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.

Romney: Champion Of Ugly Americans Everywhere!

Doesn’t have a point of view,
Knows not where he’s going to,
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

—”Nowhere Man,” John Lennon

he Times of London headlined—now famously— an article on Romney’s visit there:

”Nowhere man” Romney loses his way with gaffe about the Games

Nowhere man? Romney? Who could believe that?

I, for one, find it refreshing that Mittens has finally found his political footing and is abroad competently representing the interests of Ugly Americans. I mean, pompous Americans need a champion too!

And who is better qualified than Romney to look down his nose at what other folks are doing around the world, like, say, putting on the Olympics in London? Does your wife have a tax-deductible horse competing in the dressage competition at the Games? Huh?

And who better than Romney can represent the boorish businessman from America whose in-your-face superiority has been pissing off inferior people for a century! And by God the second bananas need to know who they are!

And some people think Romney forgot or never knew the name of Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party, but it is obvious that Romney was sending  a coded but distinct message from Ugly America which I will gladly interpret: We don’t give a dog’s egg about that left-wing bloke!

And so what if Romney let it be known that he had a meeting with the hyper-secretive British intelligence agency MI6, which normally likes to keep folks in the dark, it being peopled by a bunch of spies and all. But how dare they try to put limitations on Americans! We kill people with invisible drones for God’s sake! Don’t they know who we are?

Yep, they do now!

By the way, The Times was not the first to label Mittens the “nowhere man.” Suspicious conservatives did that  in 2007:

Lazy Journalism

Nothing angers me more than lazy journalists, like the kind I heard on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning discussing the state of our national politics.

The easiest thing in the world is to say about what is happening what Mike Barnicle said this morning:

There’s no certainty in this country as to what’s gonna happen to my children. We are now living in a country, where—because of the way this campaign is being waged on both sides—where too many people no longer can afford to dream, and that’s a huge hole in the American fabric. A huge hole.

The huge hole, of course, is in Barnicle’s careless, almost comatose, analysis. If he built his journalistic career on such sloppy, inattentive thinking he has been one lucky guy.

The uncertainty in the country belongs squarely on the Republican Party, whose leaders from the beginning of Obama’s term decided that the best political course for them to follow was to create as much uncertainty and cultural angst as possible. There is simply no disputing that.

And the Romney presidential campaign is following that myopic political script written after the 2008 election by trying to capitalize on the almost complete Republican obstruction of the Democrat’s attempt to fix the massive economic problems left to them by years of governance according to Republican Party principles.

On that note, today’s Joplin Globe editorial played the same kind of game that Mike Barnicle was playing on television this morning. Oh, the piece, titled, “Stop pointing fingers,” started out just fine:

In 2001, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the federal government would collect surplus funds in the amount of $5.6 trillion during the period 2002 through 2011.

Instead, we incurred a deficit of $6.1 trillion resulting in a gross loss in federal revenues during that period of time in the amount of $11.7 trillion. The question, of course, is why such a miscalculation occurred.

Well, that is certainly one question. But another one would be, who was responsible for the reversal from surpluses to deficits? Huh?

On the way to answering its question, the Globe cited some studies by the CBO, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Government, and the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative, all of which came up “with the same answers”:

 • The overall weakened economy was the primary cause. Growth for the entire period was predicted to be 3 percent. But from 2002 through 2007, growth was only 2.6 percent. Then during the period 2008 through 2011, growth was only an average of 0.2 percent. This overall lower-than-expected growth caused a 27 percent drop in federal revenue expectations during those years.

• The second highest cause was a 13 percent drop in federal revenues caused by enactment and continuation of all the Bush-era tax cuts, amounting to a 13 percent drop in federal revenues. Other smaller contributors were the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, increases in discretionary spending, defense spending increases not related to wars, the Obama stimulus, and the 2010 tax cuts.

Now, a fair-minded person, upon discovering that the Republican Party was in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House during most of the time the country’s economy was in decline and collapsing and when the path toward massive deficits was first being cleared of surplus brush, would naturally blame the Republicans for most of the mess. Right?

Except that the Joplin Globe editorialist, shielding Republicans from the blame they deserve, had a better idea:

It seems rather naive to be arguing about which party alone caused today’s American economic problems. Again, they both did so big time by cutting federal revenues as shown above, yet continuing to spend at historically high levels.

“Both sides” are apparently equally responsible, it turns out, despite the facts cited in the piece and despite what is plainly clear to anyone paying attention.

All of this, from Mike Barnicle’s dumb statements this morning to the Joplin Globe’s dumb editorial conclusion, serves the right-wing reactionary Republican Party very well, as it requires very little thought to simply assert that both parties are equally guilty, that both parties are equally to blame for the mess we’re in, and therefore the economic philosophy that brought us to our knees can be tried again.

General Motors: Political Ingrate

If you don’t find the following not only offensive but damned depressing, you have thicker skin than I do:

Members of Congress who voted against the auto bailout are getting campaign money from an unlikely source — General Motors, the biggest recipient of auto bailout money.

GM’s political action committee has donated $43,000 to House members who voted against the bailout in 2008, according to OpenSecrets.org. That’s roughly the same amount it’s given to House members who voted in favor of the bill…

The automaker’s political fund has also given $2,000 to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who was a vocal opponent of the bailout and prevented a bailout bill from passing in the Senate. Corker said he thought the United Auto Workers union had too much bargaining power during the bailout. Union workers booed Corker during an appearance at GM’s Tennessee plant.

GM has made three separate $10,000 donations to individual candidates this year. Two of those candidates, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), voted against the bailout. The third, Rep. David Camp (R-Mich.) voted in favor. Camp is the chairman of the Ways and Means committee.

GM said its donations are consistent with its business strategy.

Apparently it is lost on the brilliant honchos at GM that if it were up to Republicans, they wouldn’t have a business to strategize about. Man, oh man.

The final blow:

GM’s campaign donations are heavily weighted in favor of Republicans. During this campaign cycle, it has donated $62,500 to Republicans and $34,300 to Democrats.

The NRA: “Defenders Of Movie Theater Mass Murderers”

 

If you didn’t see Tuesday night’s “Rewrite” segment by Lawrence O’Donnell, then you must. It is by far the best bionic elbow strike ever landed on the NRA and its $1,000,000-a-year  leader and “blood-drenched lobbyist” Wayne LaPierre. This is one of O’Donnell’s best:

 

Muslim Internment

Recently I read an essay written by one of my favorite thinkers, Sam Harris (author of bestsellers The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, And the Future of Reason and Letter to a Christian Nation, among others). The essay is titled, “In Defense of Profiling,” and its basic argument is that at our nation’s airports,

We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

Harris claims that all the unnecessary screening procedures at airports amount to a “tyranny of fairness” because they are wasted on “people who do not stand a chance of being jihadists.”  While I recommend reading Harris’s post, I also recommend reading a thoughtful rebuttal of it written by security expert Bruce Schneier, who argues that Harris’ profiling idea is a bad one because,

It doesn’t make us any safer—and it actually puts us all at risk.

Schneier offers several good arguments against profiling Muslims at airports and the one I find most convincing is this one:

Beyond the societal harms of deliberately harassing a minority group, singling out Muslims alienates the very people who are in the best position to discover and alert authorities about Muslim plots before the terrorists even get to the airport. This alone is reason enough not to profile.

This deliberate harassment and resulting alienation is not something to ignore just because “we” are not the ones being harassed or alienated. As with most important policy issues, it comes down to this: What kind of country do we all want to live in?

I bring up all this because of the shameful nonsense in the news about right-wing legislators, including Michele Bachmann, and their conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, being nefariously connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Even John McCain found what these legislators did—and continue to do— shameful and he, along with a handful of Republicans, denounced it. But other prominent conservatives, including Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, have defended Bachmann and her colleagues, claiming she was only asking questions and not making allegations.

Gingrich suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood may have influence over the Obama administration and he asked Bachmann’s critics,

What is it they are afraid of learning?

Gingrich’s and Limbaugh’s and Bachmann’s curiosity would be admirable if, say, it was applied to Mitt Romney’s tax returns, but it is disgusting in this case because there is no evidence—exactly no evidence—that the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Muslim group has “infiltrated” our government. The only “evidence” is that there are folks working in the government who happen to be Muslims.

And that is why people like Sam Harris are wrong to endorse profiling at airports. Once such profiling is widely accepted, the public can easily slither into dangerous reasoning like the following, from the founder of an Arizona Tea Party group:

Have you ever read the Quran? I suggest you do so, because anyone that is a Muslim is a threat to this country, and that’s a fact. There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. If they are Muslim they have to follow the Quran. That’s their religion and that’s their doctrine.

As the AzCapitolTimes reported, the Tea Party honcho is planning on recalling John McCain for criticizing Michele Bachmann’s smearing of a government official and he also endorsed an email from an extremist website (which used to be hosted by WordPress, by the way) that accused McCain of defending “Islamic enemies of America.”

You see? If you are a Muslim you are ipso facto a threat to the country and if you dare to oppose such specious and culturally-damaging reasoning you are defending our “Islamic enemies.” Such hysteria characterizes reactionary politics these days, and Sam Harris, a man whose mind I admire greatly, contributes to it with his advocacy of profiling Muslims at airports.

I share with Harris a deep aversion to fundamentalist Islam, which is similar to my deep aversion to all fundamentalist religions. But I ask again: What kind of country do we want to live in? Isn’t taking your shoes off at an airport and undergoing a brief screening better than pushing a whole group of people into metaphorical internment camps?

The Good, The Bad, And The Morally Ugly

Last Friday, President Obama had the unmitigated gall to say of the horrific shooting in Colorado:

My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.

Sunday evening at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, our President said the following:

Scripture says that “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.  Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And when you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones — as I described to them, I come to them not so much as President as I do as a father and as a husband.  And I think that the reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion — what it would be like and how it would impact us.

Now, if you, a normal person, saw or heard or now read Mr. Obama’s remarks, the last thing you would think was that they were motivated by a selfish person, by someone trying to take political advantage of a murderous tragedy. Mr. Obama has two daughters, and naturally he relates the senseless death of murdered, mostly young people to the landmarks in his life, Sasha and Malia.

But, I said, a “normal person” would not think a thing about those remarks in political or diabolical terms. Rush Limbaugh, however, is not a normal person. He is a certifiably disturbing human being, who profits from publicly hating Democrats, those profits coming from sycophants who hang on his every wretched word.

I quote the following at length because it is important to understand that Limbaugh, and the millions of people who continue to make him rich, are morally ugly—goddamned ugly—people. He said of Mr. Obama’s remarks:

Look, I’m mayor of Realville.  I deal in the literal.  First off, did he say, “My two daughters go to the movies, what if they had been in that theater that night?”  Did he say, “I wonder if”?  Even if he said, “I wonder if my two daughters had been,” trying to relate to average, ordinary peons just as they might be asking, “Gee, what if my daughters had been there?”  Well, without those daughters, would he have a different reaction?  What’s the deal here?  If his daughters weren’t there, would he have a different reaction?  If Trayvon Martin hadn’t been black, would he have had a different reaction to a son that he didn’t have looking like Trayvon Martin?  When I read that, when I read that note, I thought, well, this is very typical, this is an egomaniac who really thinks that the people of this country think he is more important than any other human being alive in this country.

And then I said, can he only relate to this through his own flesh and blood?  Can he not relate to this with simply the loss that people in that theater have experienced?  Folks, I don’t know about you.  When I first heard about this, and I don’t have kids, so I didn’t think, “Well, what if my kids had been there?”  But I also didn’t think, “Gee, what if my brother had been there?  What if my nieces had been?” I’ve got nieces and nephews, I did not think, “Gee, what if they’d been in there?”  It wasn’t about me, I guess is my point.  Why does everything have to be about this guy, and why does he have to turn everything of noteworthy consequence in this country around so that it’s about him?  “My daughters go to the movies.  What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids are each day?  Michelle and I will be fortunate to hug our kids.”  I don’t know.  I just don’t know how many people made this about them.  That’s my only point.

And my only point is that if you think Rush Limbaugh’s remarks above are appropriate, then you too are one disturbed and disturbing human specimen.

Will It Be The Long Or The Short Straw, Romney Fans?

I saw parts of the following video on MSNBC’s The Last Word on Monday night. If, after viewing the complete video essay below, you are still a Romney fan, the only question left is whether you would suck sweat from Romney’s butt crack through a short or long straw in order to beat President Obama in November:

The NRA’s Mad Methodology

As James Holmes, the apparently methodical mass murderer in Colorado, appeared before a judge today, I thought about how methodical too does our justice system attempt to be, as it seeks to cross all t’s and dot all i’s in the administration of justice.

But such excruciating methodology is also a characteristic of the National Rifle Association, which through its command of the Republican Party has essentially and systematically murdered any meaningful political debate in America regarding common-sense gun control laws.

As an example, I present a couple of excerpts from Fox “News” Sunday‘s program, which featured two senators, Diane Feinstein the California Democrat and Ron Johnson the Wisconsin Republican:

WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, let’s go with the big picture. Another case of someone slaughtering innocent people on a college campus, in a restaurant, now, in a movie theater. What are your thoughts?

FEINSTEIN: My thoughts are these — pure and simple — weapons of war don’t belong on the streets. This is a powerful weapon. He had a hundred round drum. This is a man who planned it, who went in and his purpose was to kill as many people as he could in a sold out theater.

I think — you know, we’ve got to sit down and really come to grips with what is sold to the average citizen in America. I have no problem with people being licensed and buying a firearm. But these are weapons that you are only going to be using to kill people in close combat. That’s the purpose of that weapon.

You can put a hellfire switch on it. You can fire semi-automatic very rapidly. This drum was huge. He had a hundred bullets in it, and he went out to kill a lot of people. I think that these weapons ought to be stopped. I think the sale and transfer. That’s what my bill did for 10 years and since my bill expired. What happened was, there have been –

WALLACE: The assault weapons ban.

FEINSTEIN: The assault weapons ban. There have been 452 instances, 650 people have been shot, 300 have died of those 650. And it’s unnecessary.

Now, who could object to that sensible position? Assault rifles are “weapons of war” and they certainly don’t “belong on the streets.” Yet there is an objection to such common sense, by a man who sits in the United States Senate and who represents most right-wing political thinking on the issue:

WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Johnson.

The Supreme Court has spoken. The Constitution means when it says — when it says that Americans have a right to bear arms.

But let’s look at this case. Does the suspect James Holmes — does he have a constitutional right to buy an AR-15 assault rifle, along with a magazine that holds a hundred rounds that makes it so easy to commit this kind of slaughter?

JOHNSON: First of all, Chris, this is a horrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and the community of aurora.

The fact of the matter is, though, he’s sick and demented, you know, evil individual. And, unfortunately, I don’t think society can keep sick and demented individuals from obtaining any type of weapon to kill people. I mean, somebody who wants to purposely harm another individual is going to find a method of doing it.

Case in point, if you wanted to kill people in that theater what was the first he did? He walked in the doors and he threw some incendiary devices. He could have made some other explosives.

This isn’t an issue about guns. This is just really an issue about sick, demented individuals. And it’s a tragedy and I don’t think there is a solution here in Washington to solve this problem.

Get that? We simply can’t stop “sick and demented individuals” from getting their hands on “any type of weapon to kill people.” Those evil people will “find a method of doing it.” In this case, Senator Johnson said the killer could have “made some other explosives” to do what he wanted to do.

Except—except—he didn’t do that. You know why? Because it was too easy to get his hands on an assault weapon, thanks to people like Senator Johnson. Sure, there are other ways to kill lots of people. I suppose, for instance, the killer could have driven a large truck through the theater. But that would have been much messier for him than picking up an assault rifle with a large magazine and lots of ammo and shooting people, including a six-year-old girl.

For Senator Johnson there is apparently no limitation—and we are only talking about limits—he could endorse, when it comes to gun rights. When asked about banning the big clips that go with the semi-automatic weapons, he said:

JOHNSON: I mean, for example, the left used the term assault rifles. They’re really talking about semi-automatic weapons that really are use in hunting. That’s what happens in Wisconsin. These are rifles that people use in hunting.

And just the fact of the matter is, is that this really is not an issue of guns. Again, we are talking about sick people doing things that you simply can’t prevent.

It’s really an issue of freedom. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution. And part of that Constitution is the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to bear arms. These types of laws infringe upon that right and I just — I don’t agree with them.

WALLACE: Let me ask you, we’re not talking about hand guns. Does something that would limit magazines and carry 100 rounds, would that infringe on the constitutional right?

JOHNSON: I believe so. People will talk about unusually lethal weapons. I mean, that could be potentially a discussion you can have.

But the fact of the matter is, there are magazines, 30-round magazines that are just common all over the place, and you simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals that want to do harm.

WALLACE: Let me –

JOHNSON: And when you try and do it, you restrict our freedoms.

I don’t know what kind of guy Senator Johnson is. I’m sure he loves Jesus and Wisconsin and America and the Tea Party. But his narrow mind is under the influence of an extremist interpretation of our Second Amendment, an interpretation he would surely reject if applied to any other provision in our Constitution.

And he is supported by an organization, the NRA,  that at least helped mass murder the political fortunes of Democrats, who dared in 1994 to ban assault weapons like the one used in Colorado to kill movie fans. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, Bill Clinton argued in his autobiography that the NRA was instrumental in the Democrats’ worst loss in a congressional election since WWII ended:

Those who warned him “were right, and I was wrong,” Clinton wrote. “The price for a safer America would be heavy casualties among its defenders.”

That ban expired under Republican leadership in 2004—they wouldn’t even allow it to come up for a vote—and most Democrats, afraid that what Clinton wrote was true, have been scared to touch the issue since. It is a political form of post traumatic stress disorder, unfortunately affecting even President Obama.

But Senator Ron Johnson has himself a disorder to deal with. He thinks that making assault rifles and large magazines available to disturbed people like the killer in Colorado makes us freer as a people:

WALLACE: I’m going to give you the final word, Senator Johnson. Are these massacres horrible as they are and people here in Washington are looking for solutions, are they just a fact of life and death in America?

JOHNSON: Well, I hate to say it, but they probably are. Listen, I understand Senator Feinstein has seen gun violence up close and personal. I don’t doubt her sincerity for a moment.

But I also, I really would hate to see a tragedy like this used to promote a political agenda to reduce American’s freedoms. Enough have been taken away and we don’t want to lose anymore.

Not only has the NRA helped massacre the fortunes of Democrats on the gun issue, it has butchered the consciences of Republicans too.

The Real Muslim Conspiracy

Look, it is obvious that congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a nut’s nut, is a very sick woman. But her conspiracy-laden, paranoic mind couldn’t do the country much harm if it weren’t for folks like John Boehner, who appointed her, for God’s sake, to sit on the House Intelligence Committee.

And her paranoia would mostly go unnoticed, if it weren’t endorsed and spread far and wide by people like Glenn Beck, who said on Thursday:

There are a few people in Washington D.C. that I trust and tell the truth…Michele Bachmann is one of them…

One of the Beckian truths that Bachmann is still telling, despite a scolding by John McCain, is that our government is being infiltrated by double naught Muslim Brotherhood spies, one of whom may be Hillary Clinton’s long-time aide, Huma Abedin. The truth is, though, that our government, particularly the House of Representatives, has been infiltrated by some folks with double naught IQs.

As Salon pointed out, Michele Bachmann, who is taking much of the criticism for slandering Huma Abedin, is not the only one who signed onto letters demanding investigations of five national security agencies. One of those other nuts is a man named Louis Gohmert, needless to say a Tea Party Republican from Texas. Gohmert warned just a few short years ago that Muslim terrorist babies—yep!—were invading us:

It appeared they would have young women who became pregnant [and] would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn’t even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would return back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, 20, 30 years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.

Yes, I know. It sounds like I’m just making that up, a fine piece of satire. But I’m not making it up, just like I’m not making up what Gomer, uh, I mean Gohmert said today about the killings in Aurora, Colorado:

You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place…People say … where was God in all of this? We’ve threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.

If God had a protective hand, surely he would use it to slap some sense into people like Louis Gohmert and Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck, wouldn’t he? I mean I can’t think of a better use of his hand than that.

But the sad fact about all this is that even paranoics have enemies. As Nina Burleigh pointed out, there is something to worry about in terms of a global Muslim conspiracy, and the latest nuttery from the right-wing draws attention away from it and even undermines an understanding of it:

There is a kernel of truth to Bachmann’s paranoia. If she really cared, she could start looking at America’s good friend, Saudi Arabia, which, according to political scientist Alexi Alexiev, spent over $80 billion between 1973 and 2002 creating a worldwide network of Wahhabi mosques, Islamic centers, madrassas, and charities “that constitute the actual infrastructure of Islamic extremism worldwide,” including in many Western cities. Among the recipients of Saudi money are the Afghan Taliban and Islamic fundamentalists as far away as Indonesia. “This truly colossal sum” Alexiev told a Congressional committee, was “the largest worldwide propaganda campaign ever known.”

Saudi Arabia’s publicists and agents in the United States and on K Street include highly paid men in fine suits and savvy blonde PR girls who tote expensive designer bags and sport gold earrings snagged during layovers in Dubai. They have American and British accents and names that Bachmann’s constituents at Lake Woebegone can pronounce. Some of them have probably even walked through the Capital Hill offices of the intelligence expert and Congresswoman from Minnesota.

Note: Before some of you, especially my liberal friends, criticize me for including the above quotation, please read “The Global Spread of Wahhabi Islam: How Great a Threat?” as well as this article by Thomas Friedman, then we can have a discussion.

Wealthy And Stealthy

Ann Romney now famously said about her husband’s tax returns:

We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life.

And that’s that.

This morning I heard Joe Scarborough say that it is quite likely that Romney didn’t pay any taxes some years and had offshore accounts he doesn’t want to talk about. But, he assured us, that all was done legally and no one is suggesting Romney broke any laws.

Of course no one is suggesting he broke any laws in his rather nimble manipulation of the tax code. And that is the point. Romney not only wants to hide his relationship with offshore accounts and dodges and low or no tax rates, he also doesn’t want to reveal that what he has done is perfectly legal, even if it is perfectly unseemly to most folks.

The rich are different from you and me largely because they play by different rules, rules they mostly make up for themselves so that everything is “legal.” And God forbid that the rabble find out just how different the rich are and how the rules are designed to promote and preserve their well-being. Which is why, in her patrician wisdom and as a member of the stealthy class, Ann Romney can say:

We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life.

Why Trayvon Martin Hit George Zimmerman, In Zimmerman’s Own Words

I don’t know what was worse, George Zimmerman picking Sean Hannity and Fox for his one and only television interview, his lawyer allowing him to do it, or Sean Hannity pretending this was a real interview and not merely an extension of Zimmerman’s legal defense, which, by the way, he appeared to have actually harmed (read the whole thing and you will see).

In any case, despite Hannity’s embarrassing performance, it is fairly easy to see why Trayvon Martin felt threatened by Zimmerman. After calling police and then pursuing Martin (Zimmerman initially said he wasn’t following him and said he only moved “approximately 100 feet” from his car, but even from this interview it is clear he was following him—he eventually tells Hannity he doesn’t regret doing so and then contradicts himself later), Zimmerman made it sound like Martin just materialized right before his eyes and he revealed just why Martin felt the need to punch him:

HANNITY: OK. And so at that point, Trayvon is — all of a sudden you turned around and there he was?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

HANNITY: What happened next?

ZIMMERMAN: He asked me what my problem was.

HANNITY: Expletive problem?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir. And I was wearing a rain jacket, and I had put my cell phone in my jacket pocket, as opposed to my jeans pocket where I normally keep it. And I immediately went to grab my phone to this time call 911 instead of a non-emergency, and when I reached into my pants pocket — because that’s where I keep it out of habit — it wasn’t there, and I was shocked. I looked up and he punched me and broke my nose.

HANNITY: One shot?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

HANNITY: One shot?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

HANNITY: So he said to you, you have expletive, you have a problem. Those are the exact words used. You remember it?

ZIMMERMAN: “Do you have a problem? What’s your problem?”

HANNITY: What’s your problem.

And you said to him, “I don’t have a problem.”

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

HANNITY: You reached for your phone?

ZIMMERMAN: I reached for it as I was saying, “No, I don’t have a problem.”

HANNITY: And at that point you just got hit?

ZIMMERMAN: He was already within arm’s length from me.

Now imagine Trayvon Martin’s mental state through all this. At one moment he was walking in a place where he clearly belonged, minding his own business, and the next moment this big guy starts following him. At some point, Martin asks this big man what his problem is, which causes the big man to reach into his pocket.

I can only tell you what my reaction would be at that point: I would have done the same thing Trayvon Martin apparently did. I wouldn’t wait to see if it were a gun Zimmerman was reaching for. I would have hit him square in the face and I would quite likely have attempted to disable him in some way. In that sense, it is Trayvon Martin who deserves the benefit of the stand your ground law in Florida, not Zimmerman.

So, it is clear to me from Zimmerman’s own mouth that at the very least he deserves blame for escalating what should have been a non-event into the death of a teenager, if not a conviction for second-degree murder. And it is also clear to me that any normal person would at least have second thoughts about his role in this tragedy. But, incredibly and bizarrely and outrageously, Zimmerman doesn’t:

HANNITY: Is there anything you regret? Do you regret getting out of the car to follow Trayvon that night?

ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

HANNITY: Do you regret that you had a gun that night?

ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

HANNITY: Do you feel you wouldn’t be here for this interview if you didn’t have that gun?

ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

HANNITY: You feel you would not be here?

ZIMMERMAN: I feel it was all God’s plan and for me to second guess it or judge it –

HANNITY: Is there anything you might do differently in retrospect now that the time has passed a little bit?

ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

God’s plan? Not for him to second guess his own actions? Even those of you out there who think what Zimmerman did was perfectly okay have to concede that a brain that could utter the words above, given what happened to Trayvon Martin, is a sick brain, one in need of some serious rehabilitation.

Now, it is true that later in the interview, after much time had passed, Zimmerman was obviously told by someone, either Hannity or his ought-to-be-fired attorney who was present, that his answer above would not play well with the public or with a potential jury:

HANNITY: I asked you if you wanted to — if you could speak to Trayvon Martin’s family. I asked you if you could speak to even the American public, there’s so many people that have so many opinions that vary so much. You know, if you wanted to look into that camera and tell the American public something about George Zimmerman and about — this case with Trayvon Martin that has gotten such media attention, what would you want to tell them?

ZIMMERMAN: First, I would like to readdress your question when you asked if I would have done anything differently. When you asked that I thought you were referring to if I would not have talked to the police, if I would have maybe have gotten an attorney, if I wouldn’t have taken the CVSA and that I stand by, I would not have done anything differently.

But I do wish that there was something, anything I could have done that wouldn’t have put me in the position where I had to take his life. And I do want to tell everyone, my wife, my family, my parents, my grandmother, the Martins, the city of Stanford, and America that I am sorry that this happened.

I hate to think that because of this incident, because of my actions it’s polarized and divided America and I’m truly sorry.

Go back and look at Hannity’s original question. It was clear what he was asking and it remains clear that Zimmerman still doesn’t get it. In his revised answer he states,

But I do wish that there was something, anything I could have done that wouldn’t have put me in the position where I had to take his life.

To anyone, even the most ardent Zimmerman supporter, there was plenty he could have done that night to avoid what happened. And the fact that he, and his legion of mostly right-wing supporters including Sean Hannity, won’t simply come out and admit that obvious if disturbing fact, tells us much about the state of their minds and their level of decency as human beings.

Should Democrats Allow Us To Go Over That Cliff?

On Wednesday night’s edition of The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell, brilliantly, suggested a Democratic strategy for winning the war on taxes, in terms of getting rates raised on the top two percent of wealthy Americans.

He simply urged Democrats to let all of the Bush tax cuts expire on January 1 (go “over the cliff”) and then immediately introduce a bill to cut taxes only for those making $250,000 or less, leaving the Clinton-era rates in place for the wealthy. He argued that given the Republican Party’s undying loyalty to Grover Norquist and his tax pledge, they would have no choice but to support the Democratic proposal. How could they defend not voting for a tax cut for 98% of Americans?

O’Donnell reminded viewers that they would have to tolerate a short period in January where their taxes would go up, but after the legislation passed they would get a retroactive refund of those increased taxes.

Now, as I say, this appears to me to be a brilliant strategy and one that has potential. My only concern is that those Bush tax cuts for everyone under $250,000 should not become permanent, but should be modified in the future, after the economy has sufficiently recovered, so as to  help get and keep our fiscal house in order.

Other than that, it may be a strategy that works, although as O’Donnell suggested, Democrats may not have the, uh, huevos to pull it off. We shall see, but it remains an interesting concept.

The Spirit Of Ayn Rand Versus Obama

Please tolerate the length of this essay. Hopefully you will be rewarded by staying with it:

othing causes conservatives more consternation than hearing the truth about what actually makes human societies flourish.

Such a truth was spoken  by President Obama last week during a campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., and what he said has driven already hateful right-wingers even further into the abyss of Obama-hate.  Here is the part of his speech you usually hear critics play:

That one phrase is played or quoted again and again, including on Tuesday by Mitt Romney:

If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.

So, what was Mr. Obama’s point? Oh, I’ll let him tell you, in context and as as part of the rest of what he said:

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

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

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

Wow. What a controversial idea! We’re in this together? Nobody can do it alone? Are you kidding me? No wonder Rush Limbaugh said this about Obama’s words:

Somebody who loves America, who loves the founding, who understands it and knows everything about it, this is a declaration of war against the country.  This is a declaration of war from the White House.  This is a declaration of war against what this country’s always been.

And Limbaugh said this:

I think it can now be said, without equivocation — without equivocation — that this man hates this country. He is trying — Barack Obama is trying — to dismantle, brick by brick, the American dream.

Now, it is easy to dismiss an ideological prostitute like Limbaugh. But rising Randian star Paul Ryan—who Romney is considering as a VP pick—had something to say about Obama’s remarks too:

This is not a Bill Clinton Democrat. He’s got this very government-centric, old 20th century collectivist philosophy which negates the American experiment, which is people living in communities, supporting one another, having government stick to its limits so it can do its job really well … Those of us who are conservative believe in government, we just believe government has limits. We want government to do what it does well and respect its limits so civil society and families can flourish on their own and do well and achieve their potential.

Gawd. As an aside, you gotta love the right’s recent embrace of Bill Clinton (see here  for Romney’s version), a man some of them accused of drug trafficking and murder just 15 short years ago. But beyond that,  look at what Paul Ryan said more closely. He contrasted “collectivist philosophy” with “the American experiment, which is people living in communities, supporting one another…” Isn’t “living in communities, supporting one another” what collectivist philosophy ultimately entails? Huh?

Ryan said,

We want government to do what it does well and respect its limits so civil society and families can flourish on their own and do well and achieve their potential.

How, you have to ask yourself, can civil society and families flourish “on their own,” if it is conceded that government is necessary for them to do that? I have discussed before the incoherence of the anti-collectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand (and Ryan is a Rand devotee, despite what he claims now), but the incoherence here is stunning.

But perhaps the most stunning thing I saw related to Obama’s common-sense comments about success was on MSNBC on Tuesday.  S. E. Cupp, who used to spout Obama-hate on Fox and other places, is now a regular panelist and rotating host on a show called The Cycle. Today she offered an incoherent commentary that included an on-screen quote from none other than Ayn Rand:

Cupp began,

According to President Obama, you don’t get anywhere through your own hard work or ingenuity. Every success you have is thanks to the collaborative work of thousands from the people who collect your taxes to the people who pave your roads. Well, of course that’s true in that most folks have a kind friend, a nurturing relative, a wise mentor or, well, a paved road to drive. We’re all products of an American community that helps each other out from time to time. But that generosity of spirit is the very reason the president thinks we should abandon the notion of the American dream and individual success in favor of collectivism, that incredibly inspiring belief that success is shared and the state alone can make all your dreams come true.

Besides the shocking incoherence of this paragraph—she is criticizing Obama’s remarks even though she admits, “We’re all products of an American community that helps each other out from time to time”—Cupp lies about what Obama said. He did not say, “you don’t get anywhere through your own hard work or ingenuity,” nor did he say, “we should abandon the notion of the American dream and individual success in favor of collectivism.” What he actually said was a variation of what Cupp herself admitted:

…when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

You see, the problem with the right-wing punditry and the right-wing political class in the Age of The Scary Negro is that even a simple declaration that we’re not in this world alone, that we can and do depend on others for help—something that conservatives gladly admit—becomes on the lips of the right-wing’s black devil, a thing of disgust, of hate-inducing hysteria.

When these hysterical reactionaries, most of them Christians, invoke the name or reference the ideas of Ayn Rand, they are endorsing a strange and silly philosophy, one which completely misunderstands how mankind has engineered success against the vicissitudes of nature.

Ms. Rand’s heroes were “the men who produce,”  those,

who think and work, who discover how to deal with existence, how to produce the intellectual and the material values it requires.

These “forgotten men of history,” she said,

are first to discover any scrap of new knowledge, are the men who deal with reality, with the task of conquering nature, and who, to that extent, assume the responsibility of cognition: of exercising their rational faculty.

The task of conquering nature” is given to those producers and everyone else is a parasite, living on their efforts. The “rational faculty” is man’s “unique reward,” his instrument of survival, his means of conquering nature:

…animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself. If a drought strikes them, animals perish—man builds irrigation canals; if a flood strikes them, animals perish—man builds dams; if a carnivorous pack attacks them animals perish—man writes the Constitution of the United States.*

Ah, there’s the obvious silliness, the unmistakable flaw in Rand’s elaborate, self-created philosophy she called “Objectivism.” In that Constitution she praises, in that document she regards as the product of man’s reason designed to combat the “carnivorous pack,” are the words,

We the people…a more perfect unioncommon defence, general Welfare…

In the preamble to our Constitution those collectivist words represent the secret of man’s tentative success, the only hope he has of conquering nature, of overcoming the carnivorous pack. Our Constitution, with its appeal to collectivism, is perhaps the last best hope of mankind for conquering the worst angels of our nature, of making a civilization out of competing individuals, of ensuring that “success” includes all of us, not just a fortunate few.

And in their obvious and embarrassing hatred for Barack Obama, conservatives are willing to attack the premise of our American civilization, so eloquently expressed by the President:

We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea.  You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.

___________________________________

All of the Rand quotes are from my copy of For The New Intellectual.

The Outsourcing Pioneer Gets His Due

In case you haven’t seen it, here is a clip of Big O getting a standing O as he slams Romney for being a “job creator”:

We have not found any serious economic study that says Governor Romney’s economic plan would actually create jobs — until today.  I’ve got to be honest.  Today we found out there’s a new study out by non-partisan economists that says Governor Romney’s economic plan would, in fact, create 800,000 jobs.  There’s only one problem:  The jobs wouldn’t be in America.  (Laughter and applause.)  They would not be in America.  They’d be in other countries.  By eliminating taxes on corporations’ foreign income, Governor Romney’s plan would actually encourage companies to shift more of their operations to foreign tax havens, creating 800,000 jobs in those other countries. 

Now, this shouldn’t be a surprise, because Governor Romney’s experience has been investing in what were called “pioneers” of the business of outsourcing.  Now he wants to give more tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. 

So I want everybody to understand, Ohio, I’ve got a different theory.  We don’t need a President who plans to ship more jobs overseas, or wants to give more tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  I want to give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Ohio — (applause) — that are investing in Cincinnati, that are investing in Hamilton County.  (Applause.)  I want to give incentives to companies that are investing in you, the American people, to create American jobs, making American goods that we’re selling around the world, stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.  (Applause.) 

That’s why I’m running for President of the United States.

Romney Brings Out The Best In Us

Politics is an amazing intellectual sport, one that requires skillful mental gymnastics. On one day the honcho running the National Republican Senatorial Committee needs to sound interested in someone’s tax returns, then on another day he needs not to sound interested in someone’s tax returns:

_________________________________

 Speaking of tax returns, CNN’s Erin Burnett chimed in:

_________________________________

Turns out there is some humor in Bain Capital and Romney’s tax returns:

_________________________________

The serious stuff:

Angry White Males With Money To Burn

Today Senate Republicans are set to kill the DISCLOSE Act, which is summarized this way:

To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit foreign influence in Federal elections, to prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections, and to establish additional disclosure requirements with respect to spending in such elections, and for other purposes.

In other words, the proposal wouldn’t do much to change the Citizens United money now flowing freely into our electoral system, but it would attach a name and a face to it. But such transparency—outside groups like Super PACS would have to disclose who their donors are—would be fatal to the success of Republican politics these days, as rich right-wingers seek, well, I’ll just let Harry Reid say it:

If this flood of outside money continues, the day after the election, 17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they’ve just bought the country. That’s a sad commentary. About 60 percent or more of these outside groups’ dollars are coming from these 17 people. These donors have something in common with their nominee. Like Mitt Romney, they believe they play by their own set of rules.

Romney The Beautiful

O beautiful for heroes proved 
In liberating strife. 
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life! 
America! America! 
May God thy gold refine 
Till all success be nobleness 
And every gain divine!

—America the Beautiful

o matter what date Mitt Romney actually left Bain Capital, there are two questions that he should be forced to answer:

1. Do you now approve of the deals that Bain made regarding outsourcing between February of 1999 and 2002? 

2. If Americans were allowed a more extensive look at  your tax returns, would they learn that you paid little or no taxes on your income some years?

You can see that any answer to the first question poses even more problems for Romney. If he says he doesn’t approve of what Bain did, the follow-up question would be:

But you were variously listed in filings with the SEC during that time as Chief Executive Officer, president, managing director, sole director, and sole shareholder. Additionally, you have profited from Bain holdings, including holdings involving outsourcing.  Do you regret doing so?

A “yes” answer to that follow-up, or if Romney says he does approve of what Bain did during the period between 1999 and 2002, would generate a final question:

3. What do you plan on doing with your free time after November 6?

As for question two above regarding Romney’s tax returns, if he said his returns would not show that he paid little or no taxes some years, he would then be asked to show them to us to prove his claim. If he said they would show that some years he did pay little or no taxes, see question 3.

Finally, Missouri isn’t considered a battleground state this cycle (so far), so we don’t get to see all that many political ads involving Romney and Obama and we’re missing a lot of the fun surrounding Bain Capital. But here is one of the finest campaign ads I have seen in ages:

Romney Tax Returns− “Higher Costs,” “Something In There”

This hurts

ABC News’ George Will slammed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for failing to fully release information on his tax returns and offshore accounts, saying Romney “must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.” ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd agreed, saying “there’s obviously something there” in Romney’s returns that he doesn’t want public.

It won’t be long now.

Reproductive Rights Safe In Missouri — For Now

“Theocracy is a form of government in which official policy is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or is pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religion or religious group.”

Wikipedia

Finally—finally—Governor Jay Nixon has done the right thing by vetoing Senate Bill 749, which essentially would make the vaginas of Missouri women subject to theocratic control. Here’s how the Post-Dispatch described the measure passed this year by a Republican-dominated legislature:

The bill would have allowed Missouri employers and insurers to decide not to provide coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if such procedures ran contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

In January HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Affordable Care Act would require that all health insurance plans provide, free of charge, contraception coverage, as well as coverage for sterilizations. That action pissed off pastors and priests all over the country, who insist that their theological tastes trump a woman’s right to manage her own vagina.

The Missouri Catholic Conference, which describes itself as “The public policy agency for the Catholic Church in Missouri,” is urging “enactment of SB 749, the governor’s veto notwithstanding.” That means, of course, the legislature overriding Nixon’s veto, which has a very good chance of happening. Republicans have more than enough votes in the Senate and need only three Democrats in the House to force women to live by others’ moral and theological convictions.

So, while Nixon did the right thing, the right thing may not survive a September override vote. Missouri women need to pressure their legislators between now and then or the zealots will prevail, and reproductive rights will become subject to a male-created theology.

Finally, I want to leave you with a message from the “Most Reverend” James V. Johnston, Bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese:

The Catholic Church will never yield in her defense of both the sacredness of human life and the inseparability of the unitive and procreative aspects of conjugal love. This is a moment where each of us will be called to take a stand either for or against the Church.

For the reverend, this is not merely a hell-avoiding choice for women. It is a choice for men, too, who the last time I checked don’t have vaginas and can’t have babies. But for zealots, biology doesn’t get in the way of their fundamentalist imagination.

Rice Pudding

Now that a torrent of facts are starting to wash away Romney’s fairy-tale business narrative, his campaign goes black for shock:

Of course, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will never be Romney’s VP choice, but this leak to friendly Matt Drudge  may give the campaign a little time to come up with a way to deal with the souring revelations about Romney’s Bain days.

Is Romney A Felon Or Will Obama Have To Apologize?

Thursday afternoon’s HuffPo Front Page:

The latest twist in the quest (say that three times) to understand the limits or lack of limits regarding Romney’s money-making during his private-sector years is a Boston Globe article:

Romney stayed longer at Bain
Firm’s 2002 filings identify him as CEO, though he said he left in 1999

The article makes clear why it is important when Mittens left his life in high finance:

The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date.

We all know the man is rich, many of us know at least some ways he got so rich, but an increasing number of us know there is still more to know:

Contradictions concerning the length of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital add to the uncertainty and questions about his finances. Bain is the primary source of Romney’s wealth, which is estimated to be more than $25o million. But how his wealth has been invested, especially in a variety of Bain partnerships and other investment vehicles, remains difficult to decipher because of a lack of transparency.

The Obama campaign and other Democrats have raised questions about his unwillingness to release tax returns filed before 2010; his offshore assets, which include investment entities based in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and a recently closed bank account in Switzerland…

One of those Democrats raising questions is a honcho on the Obama-Biden 2012 payroll. From The Guardian:

In remarks that took the campaign to a new, uglier phase, Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Romney had either misrepresented his position to government regulators or had lied to the American people.

Now, I don’t know why The Guardian chose to characterize this as “a new, uglier  phase,” since wanting to get to the truth is neither new nor ugly.  But there is something strange stirring, as hints are popping up that there is more to come.

Politico’s reporting included this:

Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter laid out the issue as the Obama team sees it: “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony.”

“Or,” she said, “he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments,” including layoffs and the outsourcing of jobs.

Felony? Ouch. The use of that word ups the ante a bit, no? Presumably, Ms. Cutter did not make that comment lightly. Her head may roll, if it turns out there is substantial evidence against the notion.

Romney’s team has been in a feud with the Obama campaign and various newspapers over the charges that he was active at Bain after he said he wasn’t. The campaign keeps claiming that “independent fact checkers” have “confirmed” Romney “had no input on vestments or management of companies” after 1999. That is not true, of course. As far as I can tell, what those fact checkers have said is that up until now there has been no proof that Romney was actively involved in Bain’s business after 1999.

But one can fairly say at this point that there is a prima facie case against Romney’s version of events, and it is now up to him to offer more information (tax returns, maybe?) to rebut the accusations, if he can rebut them.

And speaking of accusations, another one appeared today courtesy of Mother Jones:

EXCLUSIVE: Romney Invested Millions in Chinese Firm That Profited on US Outsourcing
The GOP candidate decries China poaching US jobs. But at Bain he held a large stake in a Chinese company that did just that.

And that job-poaching of U.S. jobs occurred before Romney claims he left Bain in 1999, so the timing controversy has nothing to do with this latest charge that Romney invested in companies that he knew—knew—thrived on outsourcing American jobs to China.

Stay tuned.

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