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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Polls For Sunday, September 30th

General Election: Romney vs. ObamaGallup TrackingObama 49, Romney 44Obama +5
General Election: Romney vs. ObamaRasmussen TrackingObama 48, Romney 46Obama +2
Iowa: Romney vs. ObamaDes Moines RegisterObama 49, Romney 45Obama +4
Ohio: Romney vs. ObamaColumbus Dispatch*Obama 51, Romney 42Obama +9
Washington: Romney vs. ObamaRasmussen ReportsObama 52, Romney 41Obama +11
Massachusetts: Romney vs. ObamaBoston GlobeObama 57, Romney 30Obama +27
Massachusetts Senate - Brown vs. WarrenBoston GlobeWarren 43, Brown 38Warren +5
President Obama Job ApprovalGallupApprove 46, Disapprove 46Tie
President Obama Job ApprovalRasmussen ReportsApprove 50, Disapprove 49Approve +1

Oh....No...

Some folks aren't going to like the answer to this question.

Which presidential candidate is truly pro-life?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Bittersweet Irony

Remember all that bitching about voter fraud and ACORN?

From the Wall Street Journal...

GOP Firm Accused of Voter Fraud

Suspicions of voter-registration fraud by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida spread to at least eight counties Friday after apparent irregularities in registration forms emerged earlier this week in a single county.

Two words come to mind initially.

"Fuck" and "Off."

And now we're done talking about voter fraud.

Heading in the Opposite Directions

Nate Silver over at 538 put up a piece yesterday which shows how events in the last few weeks have changed the numbers in the presidential race. Here's the graphic.



























His conclusion?

What we can say with more confidence is that Mr. Romney is now in a rather poor position in the polls. In three of the four national tracking surveys published on Thursday, Mr. Romney trailed by margins of six, seven and eight percentage points. He also trailed by five percentage points in a one-off survey published by Fox News. The exception was Thursday’s Rasmussen Reports tracking poll, which showed the race in an exact tie, although that was improvement for Mr. Obama from a two-point deficit on Wednesday.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens after the first debate.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Reality of the Electorate

As is often the case, someone will put up a post in comments that is worthy of its own post out here.

Barring any meltdowns from either side and as long as the campaign keeps going as is with no bombshells or October Surprises, I think Romney will win 52-47. I think Obama's own internal polls show that. How do I know? Just a hunch, a feeling, womens intuition, I don't know for sure. If Obama can get even more people on disability and food stamps from now till the election, that margin will narrow. (last in line)

My first thought is...where is the evidence for this (aside from Dick Morris' appearance on Sean Hannity on Wednesday)? Even Fox and Rasmussen show the president ahead in the polls. Fox had him up 7 points in Ohio last week (before the 47 percent comment) and all I heard was crickets. A couple of more polls come out that confirm this and suddenly it's on to massive mouth foaming. Gallup has the president at 50-44 over Romney (with approval/disapproval at 50-45) so I have to wonder how Mitt is going to get to that 8 points predicted in the above comment.

The only way I thought he could would be if Democrats got complacent. Certainly this is a worry of the Obama campaign and mine as well. It's still 5 1/2 weeks to Election Day and if people think the president has it in the bag, they are mistaken. In many ways, it's kind of terrible that he is up this much this early. People still need to vote. Of course, they already are voting early in many states, including Iowa which is a swing state this year. This obviously helps the president as he is running ahead right now.

All this bitching about the sampling is pretty amusing, though. The Democrats did the same thing in 2010 and the polls were all accurate. The fact is that more people identify as Democrats than they do Republicans. I guess that doesn't sit well with the Right. Now, these people could be lying but remember they are polling likely voters now and not registered voters.

Another thing to consider is that these polling companies make their money off of being accurate. If they aren't accurate, they lose business. So, it's in their best interest to poll as factually as they can.

Anyway, this whole poll flap has led me to the conclusion (something I was mulling over anyway) to put up posts with the latest polls each day. These won't just be horse race polls, mind you, but ones with substance behind the questions.

For example, here is the latest Kaiser poll which shows this


































The always sturdy voting bloc of elderly people are concerned about Paul Ryan's voucher Medicare idea and think the president is going to do a better job with the program the GOP ticket. Because of Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney is behind in these swing states with older people.

The icing on the cake to all of this is the final sentence in last's comment. I realize he is joking here but it's this sort of sentiment that's about to meet the reality of the electorate on November 6th.

The Last Temptation

The guy responsible for the "Innocence of Muslims" video, Nakoula  Bassely Nakoula, has been arrested for parole violation. A Coptic Christian from Egypt, Nakoula produced the video that inflamed the Muslim world and has resulted in attacks on several embassies, one of which may have been responsible or provided cover for the deaths of four American diplomats.

No question, Nakoula is a weasel. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay $794,700 in restitution. The terms of his parole forbade him to use aliases and the Internet. Oh, and he served a year in jail in 1997 for intent to manufacture meth.

But it appears that everyone has forgotten about a real movie, Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. Millions of Christians were outraged by Willem Dafoe's portrayal of a Christ whom Satan tempts during his final moments of life with a vision of consummating a marriage to Mary Magdalene. And many Christians reacted then like the Muslims in the Middle East today. In 1988 a fundamentalist Christian group lobbed a Molotov cocktails into a French theater showing the film. (The following excerpt is a contemporaneous account.)
Government officials, religious leaders and film directors condemned today an apparent arson attack against a Paris theater that was showing Martin Scorsese's film ''The Last Temptation of Christ.'' The fire Saturday night left 13 people hospitalized, 1 of them in serious condition. 
The fire, if it proves to be arson, would be the most serious incident in a series of attacks against the film in Paris, Lyons, Nice, Grenoble and several other French cities. The incidents have included the clubbing of moviegoers and the throwing of teargas and stink bombs in theaters.
... [T]he leader of one Roman Catholic group, Christian Solidarity, said, ''We will not hesitate to go to prison if it is necessary,'' to stop what he called a ''blasphemous'' film. 
The Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, condemned it without having seen it. He said, ''One doesn't have the the right to shock the sensibilities of millions of people for whom Jesus is more important than their father or mother.''
The film was banned in several countries and still is in Chile, the Philippines and Singapore.

Nakoula's arrest is, as they say, complicated. It may be more about placing him under protective custody than parole violation.  Last week 23 people died in Pakistan in riots sparked by Nakoula's trailer, and a Pakistani government minister offered a $100,000 bounty on Nakoula's head. This in turn may have more to do with internal politics and his getting "amnesty" from the Taliban than his outrage over the video.

There's a difference between a serious film like The Last Temptation of Christ and a 14-minute piece of religious pornography like the The Innocence of Muslims, which was crafted explicitly to incite outrage and violence. Martin Scorsese and Salman Rushdie, whose Satanic Verses earned him a fatwa against his life from Ayatollah Khomeini, are serious artists who upset the tender sensibilities of conservatives with art that ultimately echoed the messages of the faiths they were accused of blaspheming.

Nakoula is a vile pornographer who spilled blood in the water at a crowded beach to draw the sharks in to attack innocent swimmers. Yes, Nakoula has freedom of speech. But freedom of speech does not include shouting "Fire!" in crowded theaters.

Nakoula got exactly the reaction he was aiming for, and although I support the right to free speech, it's wrong that so many other innocent people had to pay the price for him to spew bile. Just because you can do something does not mean it's good for you or your country if you do it. Nakoula and the moron who publicly burned a Koran are selfish narcissists.

Will this be the last time Nakoula is tempted to kick over a hornets nest? Or will he succumb to their stings like his victims in Libya and Pakistan? I don't wish him ill, but karma, a concept from another major religion, can be a bitch.

Where Has This Mitt Romney Been?

Take a look at this video.



Where has this Mitt Romney been? See, I think that this is who Mitt Romney really is...he's not the guy who was playing the "makers/takers" ass at the Florida fundraiser and he's not the guy who thinks that the president is an anti-colonial, Kenyan socialist. He's a fucking sensible moderate and he always has been.

The problem for Romney isn't himself. It's the Republican party. In order get his base to turn out, he has to play the part of the mouth foamer. But he obviously doesn't believe that crap so he comes across as disingenuous. And he can't be in the middle...where he is most comfortable...because then he'll be labeled as a heretic. Worse, the middle is behind the president.

This all plays in to why Romney hasn't gotten specific on his plans. He knows that we are going to have to raise taxes and get serious about income inequality in order to solve our economic concerns. But if he says that, again, he's going to lose his main chunk of support.

As I have said many times, the Republican party is fucked. They haven't gotten over 300 electoral votes since 1988. The country is changing demographically and yet they continue to take a hard line on such issues as immigration and health issues (specifically women's health). They can't win with a moderate (no base support) and they can't win with a hard line rightie (no middle support).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good Grief

Floridians Want to Know: Is This Onion Article Real?

Many local inboxes and Facebook pages received versions of a viral email saying that Obama's rarely seen son Luther, "a shy slightly overweight teen who has lived all of his life with his mother in central Illinois," appeared with the president on the convention stage. The relationship between the two is described in the email as "somewhat distant and occasionally strained."

Like I said, they are going to get worse...

What The Hermetically Sealed Bubble Has Done To The Right


A Most Excellent Summation

The video below is an excellent summation of why the tide is shifting to the favor of the Democrats.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
I'll never understand how the power of fear causes people to retreat so much into fiction.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just Pretend

With recent polls showing the president with a ten point lead in Ohio, it seems only fitting that the party of unreality would create a new world in which Romney is actually leading in the polls.

Apparently, they don't like the way that the poll companies sample, thinking that there are actually less non white voters who are going to turn out this year (despite census evidence to the contrary), and so their polls are a more accurate reflection of reality. Of course, the forget that pollsters like Quinnipiac don't use apply any sort of corrections in sampling but, hey, what does reality matter anyway?

It makes me wonder...if the president wins, will they pretend that Romney won?

Doing His Part

I take solace in the fact that if the president wins re-election in November, he will have done a major favor to this market in our economy. See? He is adding jobs:)

Remember when they all rushed out to buy guns before he took office the first time?

Fool me once...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Heart Bill Kristol?

They need to focus on the next four years. If this election is just about the last four years, that’s a muddy verdict. Bush was president during the financial meltdown, the Obama team has turned that around pretty well. He’s [Mitt Romney]got to make it a referendum on the choice about the next four years, and explain what Obama would do over the next four years that would be bad for the country and what he would do would be good for the country.

Finally, the truth from someone on the Right.

And he's right about the election. If Mitt Romney can't specify what he's going to do in the next four years, he won't win.

Hospitals are People, My Friend...

For a guy who's supposed to be so smart, Mitt Romney is pretending to be just as dumb as George Bush. He had the following exchange with Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes the other day:
PELLEY:  Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the fifty million Americans who don't have it today? 
ROMNEY:  Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance, people -- we -- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and -- and die. We -- we pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.  
PELLEY:  That's the most expensive way to do it.  
ROMNEY:  Well the...  
PELLEY:  In the emergency room.  
ROMNEY:  Diff -- different, again, different states have different ways of doing that. Some -- some provide that care through clinics. Some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state, we found a solution that worked for my state. But I wouldn't take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, "You've got to take the Massachusetts model.''
This idiotic trope of emergency room visits as "health care" is just as stupid as when Bush uttered it in a speech in Cleveland in 2007. As Romney proudly notes, we have a law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act passed in 1986 under Ronald Reagan, that requires hospitals to provide expensive emergency care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. 

This is a perfectly reasonable law. It has undoubtedly saved the lives of thousands of people who just didn't happen to have their health insurance cards on them after they were pulled out of car wrecks. But EMTALA has caused many hospitals to close because such a high percentage of emergency room care is uncompensated. In this age of skyrocketing medical costs, it's unreasonable to expect hospitals and their customers to foot the bill for free riders who won't or can't pay.

So, why does Romney think it reasonable to have a law that forces hospitals to provide expensive emergency health care free of charge, but it's a total violation of all that's holy to require the patients themselves to get health insurance?

After all, Mitt believes that corporations are people, my friend, including those that run hospitals. Isn't forcing them to provide free medical care a far bigger burden than requiring someone to pay their own way, or get a government subsidy if they can't afford it? Isn't it a violation of the hospital's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection under the law?

As the godfather of Obamacare, Romney knows his emergency room argument is a fallacy. By explicitly endorsing the idea that hospitals can be forced to provide free emergency room care, Romney implicitly accepts the argument that people should be required to pay their own way.

But the fact that Romney now completely disavows the individual mandate and his accomplishments in Massachusetts underlines the problem with his candidacy: he will change his stance, shake the Etch a Sketch, and say and do anything the radical ideologues in the Republican Party want him to.

Wishful Thinking?

I get a lot of grief from my ol' buddy last in line when I speak of the end of the Republican party. He chuckles and reminds me of how I am thinking wishfully.

But what about when his hero, Rush Limbaugh, says the same thing?


Before I get to why is he right, I'm happy to see that he as finally put a date on when our country is going to collapse. It's going to be sometime in the middle of 2014. Rest assured, I will be holding him to it.

But he is right. And so is Laura Ingraham. Of course, it's not for the reason they think they are right. Rush thinks it's because the party hasn't gone conservative enough and that we will then see a third, farther right party. That may happen and nothing would make me more pleased. What America needs is to hear more of how the Democrats are all communists and to see more old men yelling at empty chairs.

Laura thinks it's because the president has done a terrible job and people are just stupid. If only their messaging and delivery was better, conservatives would win. The deafness of tone here is staggering. Their message and delivery aren't working because what they are saying isn't real. Their policies have not worked and they have nothing else left except lunacy. It's not that people are stupid. It's that they are smarter than we give them credit for and can recognize how similar the Right is behaving these days to the guy on street having a conversation with an imaginary person.

I'm not saying we have a nation of geniuses. Anyone that spends any length of time on the teacher side of a parent-teacher conference knows of what I speak. But they are smart enough to know that the president was born in the United States, is not a Muslim, is not a socialist, and has done a decent job, given what he was handed. This is why he is up on the polls at present and is the favorite.

Recently, though, I have learned the hard way that it's like walking on eggshells when you fuck with someone's fiction. The hate for the president has gone far beyond Krauthammer's Bush Derangement Syndrome. At least there, people were dying in Iraq so one can see why there might be some folks upset. With Obama Complete Mental Meltdown Syndrome, it's a post apocalyptic delusion that has absolutely no basis in reality and is, hands down, the finest piece of destructive fiction since Goebbels.

Unlike Goebbels, these lies are not taking root with the majority of Americans. Yet there are still many who believe these things to be true and are acting even more crazy. Why?

The answer to this question is perfectly summed up in one of the last scenes in the film, Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt. Pitt plays Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland Athletics, who takes a ragtag team of players, gathered because of their statistical ability to get on base, and manages them to a playoff berth, including a 20 game record setting win streak.

In one of the last scenes, the character of Beane meets with the owner of the Boston Red Sox, John W. Henry (played by Arliss Howard) for a job interview. As they are talking about Beane's incredible season, Henry says

I know you are taking it through the teeth out there but the first guy through the wall always gets bloody. Always. It's a threat, not just in doing business but in their minds...it's threatening the game....really, what it's threatening is their livelihoods. It's threatening their jobs. It's threatening the way they do things. And every time that happens...whether it's the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is...the people who are holding the reins...that have their hands on the switch...they go batshit crazy. I mean, anyone who is not tearing their team down and using your model...their dinosaurs. They're going to be sitting on their ass on the sofa..come October...watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.

I can't think of a better way to sum up the Right's mouth foaming about this election.

The way they think, the way they do business, the way they want to implement policy, their ideology...all of it...it's not working anymore.

There is no doubt in my mind that in the next 45 days they are going to get worse. Heaven help us if the president wins again.


Monday, September 24, 2012

I Thought Repealing Obamacare Was Popular

A Climate Change Winner and Some Losers

It's a common trope on Fox News and among Senate Republicans that climate change is a hoax. But there are some people who know different. Like, say, the employees of Shell Oil, who recently postponed drilling in the arctic for the season after an accident that occurred while testing their containment equipment. And the people of Greenland.

The New York Times has an article about one town in Greenland and the affects the warming climate has had on its residents:
Narsaq’s largest employer, a shrimp factory, closed a few years ago after the crustaceans fled north to cooler water. Where once there were eight commercial fishing vessels, there is now one. 
As a result, the population here, one of southern Greenland’s major towns, has been halved to 1,500 in just a decade. Suicides are up.
But as they lose one industry another may be starting up.
Vast new deposits of minerals and gems are being discovered as Greenland’s massive ice cap recedes, forming the basis of a potentially lucrative mining industry. 
One of the world’s largest deposits of rare earth metals — essential for manufacturing cellphones, wind turbines and electric cars — sits just outside Narsaq.
Greenland, whose population is only 57,000, is a possession of Denmark. It has relied on half a billion dollars in welfare payments from Denmark, though that subsidy was frozen and scheduled to decline after it was given home rule in 2009.

Greenland has looked at mining in the past. Niels Bohr, the Nobel prize-winning Dane, visited Narsaq in 1957 to investigate its uranium deposits. The weather ultimately nixed mining back then, but with global warming the equation has changed.

The development of mining doesn't thrill everyone. The mining companies have proposed importing Polish and Chinese miners. Fishermen and hunters are unlikely to relish trading in the clear skies and brisk cold air for the darkness and filthy radioactive dust of rare-earth mines. And as happened with every other mining venture since the dawn of man, toxic tailings from the mines will poison the environment, affecting polar bears and the seals that the native Inuit hunt and eat.

Denmark, a firmly anti-nuclear state, will have to revise its laws for the mining of radioactive material for these projects to go forward (rare-earth metals are often intertwined with radioactive elements). Or, which is quite possible, Greenland will be the first modern country created by climate change:
“For me, I wouldn’t mind if the whole ice cap disappears,” said Ole Christiansen, the chief executive of NunamMinerals, Greenland’s largest homegrown mining company, as he picked his way along a proposed gold mining site up the fjord from Nuuk, Greenland’s capital. “As it melts, we’re seeing new places with very attractive geology.”
But while Greenland becomes ice-free and independent, sea levels will rise by more than 20 feet. Miami, Manhattan, Bangladesh and the Netherlands will be flooded, and countries like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands will cease to exist.

But I guess that's okay if we get more gold, lanthanum and tantalum for our cell phones.

Voices In My Head

It's been awhile since I tapped in to the voices in my head and made up a view of the Right that was slander/bore false witness/poopy so I thought I would share this recent remark by Joe The Plumber, currently running for Congress in Ohio's 9th congressional district.


While the seat will likely go to Marcia Kaptur in this heavily blue district, I take comfort in the fact that Joe the Plumber is speaking his mind. Unless, of course, I imagined what he said and somehow it's all the fault of ___________ (insert name of liberal person or entity responsible).

Sunday, September 23, 2012


As opposed to pretending reality isn't reality...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Two Wars, Two Different Outcomes


Obama's "lead from behind" strategy during the Libyan revolution was criticized by Republicans as being weak and ineffectual. But if we compare the outcomes of Bush's tactics in Iraq and Obama's tactics in Libya from a cost standpoint in both dollars and lives, the results Obama obtained are an amazing deal.


One concrete result is the attitude of the people. Last night, nearly a year after Qaddafi was deposed, three Libyans died when they stormed the compound of Ansar al-Sharia, the extremist militia that they thought was responsible for the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. They are sick of these right-wing Al Qaeda linked groups messing with their country, and are doing something about it. And no Americans were involved or pushed them to do it.

A year after our invasion of Iraq every Iraqi despised us and L. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul of Iraq who ruled by decree. The tide only turned when Bush did a 180 years later and stopped persecuting former Baathists, who then turned against Al Qaeda and helped stabilize the country.

Many Libyans consider Americans to be their friends, and were angered when terrorists killed the American ambassador and three others: they liked our guy in Benghazi. The United States had helped them oust Qaddafi from power; not by sending in hundreds of thousands of troops as we did in Iraq, turning Americans into an occupying army, but by providing coordinated air support to rebels fighting to overthrow a tyrant. These Libyans might be conservative Muslims, but they don't want Al Qaeda and Sharia law imposed on them by right-wing militias.

Bush's war in Iraq will ultimately cost more than a trillion dollars in direct outlays and medical care for wounded veterans, and we still have a significant number of "advisers" stationed there. Our assistance to Libya cost one or two billion dollars, and there are no boots on the ground.

And the political outcomes? Similar in some respects, but not all:

Bush eliminated a dictator in Iraq. Obama helped Libyans eliminate a dictator in Libya. Check.

Iraq is still plagued by internal divisions and suicide bombers. Libya has a weak government plagued by militias who flout the law. Check.

Iraq is best buddies with Iran. Libyans are attacking the compound of the militia that killed our ambassador. Uh, no check mark there. And that's the most important result in the long haul.

And the crazy thing? Mitt Romney, John McCain and the gang of neocons advising them still think they were right about Iraq, and want to do the same thing to every other country in the Middle East that looks at Israel cross-eyed.

Yes, we have to put our interests first in the Middle East. But often as not that means letting these countries deal with their own problems, instead of jumping into the middle, wasting trillions of dollars and making everyone hate us.

Romney Releases Tax Returns

Yesterday night Mitt R Money released his 2011 tax return. You can always tell when someone is embarrassed by some bit of news when they issue it late on a Friday night, in the vain hope that everyone will have forgotten about it by Monday morning.

Why is it embarrassing?
Mr. Romney’s return for 2011 showed that he paid an effective federal income tax rate of 14 percent last year, or a little more than $1.9 million on adjusted gross income of about $13.7 million.
So far so good. He's been telling us over and over that he paid at least 13%. But here's the kicker (emphasis added):
Mr. Romney’s tax return for last year showed just how sensitive a political matter his wealth and tax rate has become. In a bit of reverse financial engineering, he and his wife, Ann, gave up $1.75 million worth of charitable deductions, raising his tax payments significantly. 
Had he claimed all the deductions to which he was entitled in 2011, his effective rate could have dipped to near 10 percent, contradicting his past assurances that he had never paid below 13 percent. 
But forgoing the full deductions available to him put him at odds with his own past assertions that he had never paid more taxes than he owed and his statement that if he had done so, “I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president,” as he put it to ABC News in July.
Is Mitt is throwing in the towel? Or does he now consider the IRS a charitable deduction?

This just goes to show that the wealthy can pay any tax rate they want. Using gimmicks like investment losses from prior years, shifting income from salary to dividends and long-term capital gains, tax-free municipal bonds, and foreign tax havens, the rich can pay as little or as much tax as they want.

This highlights the most unfair aspect of the Bush tax cuts, and the thing that makes Romney's taxes so low: the capital gains tax rate. Under Bush that rate was reduced to 15%. To see how completely and outrageously unfair this is, go to the Money Chimp tax calculator.

Let's say you're an unmarried self-employed small businessman, a free-lance window cleaner for example, who makes $50,000. You pay $11,364 in income and FICA taxes (it's a little complicated because you have to calculate FICA tax separately and then plug the deductible half into the adjustments on the income tax form). That's 22.7%.

Now let's say you're an unmarried trust fund baby who sits on the beach all day drinking piƱa coladas, making that same $50,000 income as long-term capital gains from stock sales and dividends, and a portfolio of municipal bonds your dear old dad left you, which was only $3 million and you live in a Hawaii, so you paid no estate and inheritance taxes. You pay no FICA taxes on any of that. Your total tax bill is $1,305, or 2.61%. And if you marry the girlfriend who's living with you anyway, you pay nothing!

Go ahead and put in the number for your own salary and see how little you would pay if you made your money like rich people.

And then ask yourself why Mitt R Money thinks that the capital gains tax rate needs to be lowered even further.

Friday, September 21, 2012

And the Rats Begin to Flee...

Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, briefly sought the Republican nomination for president. He quit early on, because he was the only person who wanted him to be president. He then immediately turned around and endorsed Romney for president and signed on to promote Romney's candidacy.

Now Pawlenty has quit the Romney campaign and has become the CEO of the lobbying organization for the financial services industry.

Pawlenty was briefly in the spotlight when he coined the term "Obamneycare" to describe the health care law President Obama signed into law, a law that essentially cloned from Romney's health care initiative in Massachusetts. But when Pawlenty appeared in a debate with Romney he declined to repeat his charge and tried to weasel out of it:
"Why is it not Obamneycare standing here with the governor right now?" King pressed.

"President Obama is the person I quoted," Pawlenty insisted. "Using the term 'Obamneycare' was a reflection of the president's comments."
Pawlenty is and always has been an empty suit. As an unmoneyed moderately conservative governor, he never had enough cash to buy delegates' allegiance to escape the stigma of coming from a liberal state the way Romney could. He's always been a weak and uninspiring candidate, winning election in Minnesota twice only because he was running in three-way races against two Democrats. In both 2002 and 2006 he ran against a former Democrat running in the Independence Party and a weak candidate running under the Democratic banner.

It was once thought that Pawlenty was a top contender for Romney's VP slot. That was always a pipedream (the Tea Party would never stand for two Romneys at the top of the ticket). After Ryan's selection it was thought that TPaw was wangling for a cabinet slot.

But now the first question is: has Pawlenty seen the writing on the wall and believe Romney's run for the presidency is doomed? And the second question is: Is Pawlenty a rat deserting a sinking ship, or just a lizard getting out while the getting is good? Considering that the lobbying organization he's going to run is dedicated making Wall Street banks even richer by eviscerating the Dodd-Frank law and forcing regular Americans pay the highest possible interest rates on our credit cards, I'd say he's like one of those mutant rat-lizard hybrids created by exposure to toxic radioactive waste on one of those barges coming out of Chris Christie's New Jersey.

The only real claim to fame Pawlenty ever had was that he was a middle-class "Sam's Club" Republican. But now that he's traded in his Sam's Club card for his American Express Black Card he's lost any shred of credibility that he might have ever had. Though his spokesman claims he still has the option of a career in politics, it seems unlikely he will ever be elected to office again: nothing says "kiss of death" to a politician's career than a resume that includes "lobbyist for Wall Street banks."

Will the Natural Gas Boom Go Boom?

In 2003 five men in Rosharon Texas were engulfed in a fireball when their truck ignited fumes from the fracking waste they were disposing of. Two of them died immediately and a third died six weeks later.

How did this happen?
The site at Rosharon is what is known as a "Class 2" well. Such wells are subject to looser rules and less scrutiny than others designed for hazardous materials. Had the chemicals the workers were disposing of that day come from a factory or a refinery, it would have been illegal to pour them into that well. But regulatory concessions won by the energy industry over the last three decades made it legal to dump similar substances into the Rosharon site – as long as they came from drilling.
The workers thought they were disposing of "BS&W" (basic sediment and water), but fracking fluids contain benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons. The relaxed regulation on the disposal of waste water from fracking operations has resulted in these deaths, as well as the contamination of numerous aquifers, forests, farmland, rivers, streams and lakes. There have also been thousands of cases of intentional malfeasance:
More than 1,000 times in the three-year period examined, operators pumped waste into Class 2 wells at pressure levels they knew could fracture rock and lead to leaks. In at least 140 cases, companies injected waste illegally or without a permit.
My brother in law is an executive for a large energy company. Several years ago, when natural gas prices were upwards of $8 per thousand cubic feet, his company started construction on a huge facility in Louisiana to import liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Since then the fracking boom has hit the United States. The price of gas has plummeted to $2 or less. According to my brother in law, at this price the frackers are losing money even faster than they can drill gas. This was echoed by Rex Tillerson, head of Exxon, who said they're "losing their shirts" on gas. So my brother in law is converting his LNG import facility to also serve as an export facility. He smugly noted that no matter which way the gas flows, his facility is guaranteed to make billions.

Here's the problem: all these domestic gas drilling operations made large investments in fracking technology and leasing rights several years ago when prices where high. Now they've all gone and done exactly the same thing at the exactly same time, and they've produced a huge glut of gas. And they're losing money hand over fist.

Now they're whining that we have to pull their chestnuts out of the fire by loosening regulations and letting them dispose of fracking waste anywhere they want to. And even though they're losing money on the gas they're already extracting, they're still pushing to open more and more areas for fracking in Pennsylvania and New York and all around the country. Which will only make their own problem worse.

The accident in Rosharon occurred in 2003, when the price of natural gas was two and three times what is today. In the current price environment we simply cannot trust that these people are going to do the right thing by their workers, the environment and our children. Because they are losing so much money, they are going to take shortcuts in sealing wells and disposing of waste. For this reason alone, we need increased regulation and enforcement on fracking.

In economic terms, the all-powerful market has sent a price signal. Supply has exceeded demand and the price has collapsed. Production needs to slow down so that the price can go up, making it profitable enough to safely extract gas and dispose of waste by detoxifying rather than just pumping or dumping it. In other words, the all-powerful market needs to weed out the weaklings and let the strong survive. Yeah, we're going pay more for gas. But better to pay more today than let financially strapped operators cause earthquakes and taint our ground water with carcinogens for the next thousand years.

We should be extracting this energy over the next thirty years for domestic consumption instead of exhausting our reserves in the next five by madly rushing to export to China as much gas as possible today at the lowest possible price.

This country needs natural gas. It's a much better fuel than coal because it produces less CO2—because of gas CO2 emissions in the United States are at their lowest levels in 20 years. It is much more versatile than coal—it can generate electricity, power vehicles, heat homes and cook food. It's safer to extract than coal because you don't have miners thousands of feet below ground. But it's outright stupidity to extract and burn or export it all at once just because we can.

We have to stop thinking of energy resources as the property of individuals and corporations to do with what they will. We need a long-term plan for transitioning away from fossil fuels, which are finite and will be exhausted within our lifetimes. Short-term corporate profits should not be allowed to endanger the long-term energy security of the United States.

Farmers often come under criticism for creating their own crises: when the weather is good, they all produce the same crops and the price collapses. They are characterized as whining for price supports, but the fact is that in bad years—like this year—they can lose everything.

Energy companies are doing the same thing now with gas, but they don't have the excuse of weather. They are creating a gas boom which is going to explode like that truck in Rosharon.


Simply A Beautiful Site




It's a rare moment when you can find John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell all sharing a stage in agreement on an issue.

But that's what the story of San Suu Kyi does for people. Her courage in the face of tyranny was truly extraordinary and it warms my heart to see her receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

We certainly do have our differences in this country but seeing all these folks together in this photo gave me hope that we can work out our disagreements because we all cherish freedom and personal liberty.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

No Way

Of all the things there are to say about Mitt Romney, I simply can't believe this is true.

No fucking way.

Good News on Housing

I've got loads to talk about today so I'm going to put up a few brief posts.

You don't hear the words "Good News" and "Housing" very often together so it's nice to hear that US Homebuilders confidence is at a six year high. Builders also report seeing their highest sales levels since July of 2006.

That's great news, folks, because it means we are climbing up from the bottom.

The Redistribution Canard

As a response to Mitt Romney's 47 percent video, the Right has pointed to the video below as proof that Barack Obama is a communist.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Let's take note of a couple of things. First of all, this video is not newly discovered nor was it hidden. This was a public conference, not a private fundraising gathering.

More importantly, take note of how the last part of the clip about markets and innovation was conveniently left off of the version on YouTube. Taken in context, what he is saying isn't any different than what Bill Clinton was saying in 1998 as well.

I also don't think this is a gotcha! moment because the only people who are going to be pissed off about this are people that aren't going to vote for him anyway.

I guess what I don't understand about this video is the apoplectic reaction to the word "redistribution." Somehow it  means communism. Or fascism. Or socialism. Or anti-colonial Kenyanism. Pick one and I guess it's right for whatever day it is.

But there's nothing wrong with redistribution when you consider that every organization (public or private) redistributes wealth when you think about it. The NFL operates under a profit sharing model where teams like Green Bay (owned by the city of Green Bay, a public entity) share profits through redistribution of wealth from larger market teams like the New York Giants or the Chicago Bears. This begs the question...are the owners of the NFL communists?

When we pay our taxes, that money is redistributed to the various sectors in public life that need it. These would include defense, b to the w. I hardly think anyone will argue that a member of our armed services not paying federal taxes because he or is she is in a combat zone is taking advantage of wealth redistribution or a moocher off of the government.

Of course, this doesn't mean that wealth redistribution isn't going on nor does it mean that there are ill effects from it. It most certainly is going on and we can clearly see by the inequality in this country that it is being redistributed upwards, not downwards, and this is the fault of the federal government to a large degree.

Cleared

In what is sure to spark howls of derision and extra foamy mouth foaming, the Justice Department's inspector general released its report on Operation Fast and Furious.

The Justice Department’s inspector general on Wednesday issued a scathing critique of federal officials for their handling of the botched gun-trafficking case known as Operation Fast and Furious, but essentially exonerated Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., whom many Republicans have blamed for the scandal.

In a long-awaited report, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, laid primary blame on what he portrayed as a dysfunctional and poorly supervised group of Arizona-based federal prosecutors and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, describing them as “permeated” by “a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures” that allowed a risky strategy to continue despite the danger to public safety.

The report identified 14 people who should lose their jobs. Pretty much what I had thought all along.

The 471 page report is exhaustive and I would hope that those detractors of Eric Holder and the president would take the time to read through it before rendering further judgments.

Up In The Polls

President Obama seems to be holding on strong to his convention bounce. Take a look at some of these polls from Fox News in the swing states.

  • Ohio: Obama 49, Romney 42
  • Florida: Obama 49, Romney 44
  • Virginia: Obama 50, Romney 46

That's not the only good news for the Democrats. A recent slew of Senate polls show them up in several states which makes their chances for holding the Senate much better. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Stiglitz Part Three

Given Mitt Romney's recent comments, I think it's time to get back to Stiglitz. The next section in his book, The Price of Inequality, is called Markets and Inequality. His basic premise here is that even though market forces are real, every law, every regulation and every institutional arrangement has been made to benefit those at the top and to the disadvantage of the rest. Simply put, it is the government's fault! They create the problem by making rules that benefit the wealthy and then they do little to change the fall out.

He faults the government's reaction to the technology boom, for example, as being quite poor when one considers that education at that time should have been shored up in a sort of GI bill type of way. The steel industry, for example, now operates with a quarter of the workforce because of technological advances. What are the remaining three quarters supposed to do now that their services are no longer required? Train for a new profession. Of course, this isn't usually easy and it can be expensive.

That's where the issue of stagnant wages comes in. Stigiliz accurately points out that from 1949 to 1980, productivity and real hourly compensation rose together. After 1980, they began to drift apart. Why? Because the government began to make policies that benefited rent seekers at the top of our society. This is where these two premises
  • Taxing the top at higher rates reduces incentive
  • Helping the poor means more poverty because they then don't want to work
are inaccurate and no longer apply. Because of the large amount of inequality, people have less of incentive to work. They are essentially hopeless so why bother? Stiglitz asks, "How seriously would incentive be weakened if we had a little bit less inequality?" The problem here is that the Straw Man Machine gets to work and labels folks like me and Stiglitz as wanting no inequality. That's simply not true and no one is trying to do that.

Further, incentive pay for wealth execs isn't really that.

Under incentive compensation schemes, pay is supposed to increase with performance. What the bankers did was common practice: when there was a decline in measured performance according to the yardsticks that were supposed to be used to determine compensation, the compensation system changed. The effect was that, in practice, pay was high when performance was good, and pay was high when performance was bad. (Bebhuck and Fried, Pay Without Performance

In fact, they were so embarrassed by this that "performance bonuses" was changed to "retention bonuses." Executives were (and still are) allowed to set their own compensation schedules which has effectively separated pay from performance and misalign incentives, as Stigliz correctly notes.

Countries that have large financial sectors typically have greater inequality. Deregulation along with hidden and open government subsidies distort the economy and make it easier to move money from the bottom to the top. As Stiglitz notes, "We don't have to know precisely the fraction of inequality that should be attributed to the increased financialization of the economy to understand that a change in policy is needed." Indeed. The banks are simply too big right now and need to be broken up. I'm happy to see that many on both the right and the left are calling for this to happen.

recent report by the Congressional Research Service confirms much of the information above.

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. 

However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.

I highly recommend reading the entire report. It is loaded down with data that supports Stiglitz's assertions.

The other big part of this chapter is a discussion on the free mobility of capital and the free mobility of labor. It is here where he and I part ways. He rightly criticizes the MNC's and financial institutions for some of the problems they have caused the Global South. However, he completely ignores the fact that the average age of mortality in Africa, for example, has doubled in the last fifty years and it's largely due to Global North investment and direct aid.

He seems to be calling for a return to trade restrictions and tariffs placed on imports that would, in turn, benefit labor in this country. I think that's a giant mistake. We have progressed for the last 70 years towards liberal and free markets. This was done to prevent world wars which were very costly in many ways (the biggest of which is human life). To go back after all the progress we have made in the Global South is very short sighted.

What we can do in the age of free mobility of capital is use that money to further educate our workforce and make the more competitive in the world. Labor around the world is very cheap right now and those without college degrees simply can't compete which is the main reason why we have a large number of people unemployed or underemployed. These people need to get college degrees and that's going to mean sacrifice by everyone...colleges, universities, professors, bankers, and many more of the very wealthy.

All of these people are going to have to step up to the plate, whether it is in the form of lower tuition, lower salaries for professors, higher taxes for the wealthy, or more private grants...A LOT MORE PRIVATE grants. Remember, the 1 percent can't enjoy their money without the support of a strong middle class.

With education, comes strength.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Rumble Is a Fox Fumble

Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly are going to have a debate in October. They're calling it a rumble, but it looks like a Fox fumble.

The debate posits that Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart are intellectual equals. It admits that Fox's true competitor is not the 336 hours of weekly programming broadcast by MSNBC and CNN, but the one hour of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert shown Monday through Thursday. Ultimately, it concedes the fact that Fox News is not a real news outlet, but is merely another entertainment outlet of the same caliber as the Comedy Channel.

Sadly, the same thing is true of the other cable news channels, MSNBC and CNN, and most local news broadcasts. But the truth is, if you want real news you don't watch television. There are quality news shows on TV (mostly on public television), but something about the commercial medium aimed at the broad public has in recent years diminished TV news to the level of tabloid journalism or worse.

The network evening news broadcasts used to be quality journalism, similar to what you get these days in public broadcasting, but now they're about puppies and grandchildren and only the elderly watch them (you only need to watch one commercial break to become acutely aware of that). Most everyone else gets their news and opinions from cable channel food-fights, right-wing talk radio, and Internet blogs. A few odd ducks like myself read newspapers and listen to public radio.

The common thread in the satire that Jon Stewart and the Daily Show have been doing for the last decade has been the devolution of news broadcasting to infotainment and propaganda factories. It's crazy, but the few million Americans who watch the "fake" news on the Daily Show are better informed than the several million who watch "real" news on Fox.

The reason is simple: the Daily Show is about satire and questioning authority, while Fox News is the official propaganda organ of the Republican Party, run by the former head of the RNC.

The core of this truth was revealed accidentally by Ann Coulter in a frustrated outburst of spite and venom during an appearance on Sean Hannity's show last month. (This was brought to my attention by the Daily Show, of course.) Coulter was tearing into Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman who was responding to an attack ad about a steelworker fired by Bain:
Her response was not that it was despicable, not that Bain… that Romney had left Bain five years earlier or the woman died five years after the plant closed and didn’t even get her insurance from her husband, her response was, ‘Well, if she had lived in Massachusetts with Mitt Romney’s health care plan, she would have had health insurance.’ Anyone who donates to Mitt Romney, and I mean the big donors, ought to say if Andrea Saul isn’t fired and off the campaign tomorrow, they are not giving another dime, because it is not worth fighting for this man if this is the kind of spokesman he has… 
There’s no point in you doing your show, there’s no point in going to the convention and pushing for this man if he’s employing morons like this. This ad is the turning point and she has nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat! She should be off the campaign.
Yes, Ann Coulter is telling us that the entire purpose of Hannity's show is to push Republican candidates for office and that the people who really control Romney's campaign are the "big donors."

Mittie the Moocher?

So, Mitt Romney believes that half the people in the country are lazy worthless unmotivated scum who will never vote for him. Exactly where do those people live? Mostly in states that are solidly Republican.

According to a story in the Washington Post, Romney will probably get 95 electoral votes from moocher states and Obama will only get 5.


As the original article points out:
According to the latest IRS figures for 2008, a record 52 million filers—36 percent of the 143 million who filed a tax return—had no tax liability because their credits and deductions reduced their liability to zero. Indeed, tax credits such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit have become so generous that a family of four earning up to about $52,000 can expect to have their income tax liability erased entirely.
So, according to Mitt, the biggest moochers in this country are people with lots of kids. That is, Mormons and Catholics he's hoping will vote for him.

No wonder he's not being specific about what he'll cut to make up for those gigantic tax cuts for the rich.

A Complete Ignorance of Facts

Well, Mitt Romney has really stepped in it now. Take a look at this video.



There are many levels in which his statement is completely wrong.

The 47 percent of which he speaks (it's actually 46.4 percent) has to be examined more closely. Of those 46.4 percent, 28.3 percent pay a payroll tax while 18.1 percent pay no payroll tax. This remaining 18.1 percent does pay other taxes (sales tax, state tax, city and local taxes) so to intimate that they aren't paying taxes and are freeloading/dependent is ridiculous.

It's also important to note here that the majority in the 18.1 percent are on EITC are on it for less than two years. This is not a permanent situation for these people as many of them are working. In fact, Mitt here (along with the many others on the Right) are under the mistaken impression that people on government assistance aren't working. Most are. In fact, the working poor rate (calculated through 2010) is at its highest since 1987.

It's also very dishonest to place so much emphasis on poor people which brings me to a recent conversation at the gym with a very wealthy (and very conservative) acquaintance of mine. He owns a manufacturing concern in Minnesota that supplies equipment for people with disabilities. He corners me constantly to yell about Obama and how he is __________ (you can fill in whatever you like here). Yet a few simple questions put to him reveal that he himself is a massive rent seeker who pays very little in the way of income tax or corporate tax due to the amount of money he makes and the nature of his business (obviously, heavily subsidized by the government).

Ironically, he is part of the 47 percent of which Mitt speaks! He made $2, 178, 866 in 2011 so he paid no federal income taxes. And he's certainly not going to vote for the president. In looking at who else comprises Mitt's 47 percent, we see the other main reasons why Mitt's comment is completely wrong (and, politically, very dangerous for him).

Many of these dependents are elderly who worked their whole lives (paying into Social Security and Medicare) and are now collecting their benefits. In addition to not being freeloaders, many of them are going to vote for Mitt Romney. At least they were:)

Many of the very poor in Mitt's 47 percent hail from red states.Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of people who pay no income tax, eight are solid red states. In fact, blue states like Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Massechussits, and my home state of Minnesota that are on the bottom of the list have taxpayers that are essentially paying for those folks in red states. That's OK with us, though, we don't have a problem with social welfare programs:) Here's that study from the Times again that backs this up.

Are the people in these eight red states going to vote for the President? Some will, obviously, but some won't because of abortion or other faith issues. Again, I wonder how many of these folks will change their vote based on this comment.

One can also look at government employees, soldiers, veterans, people who have gotten Small Business Administration loans, people who work for government contractors or companies the government bailed out (like banks and GM) are at least somewhat dependent on government. GE paid no taxes in 2010. Are they part of the 47 percent? How about defense contractors? How about oil? They get subsidies and are obviously dependent on the government for increase profit yet no one complains about them. Nope, it's just the poor people who are all lazy, don't work and sit around playing Xbox and eating Cheetos all day long.

Now, ol' Mittens was obviously trying to convince some fairly deep pocketed folks that he can win so maybe we should give him a break.  After all, he was telling them what they wanted to hear. No one really knows if he believes what he is saying but what he is saying is a complete a total myth. There are not 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax and those 47 percent are not all going to vote for Barack Obama.

To me, the larger discussion is much more interesting. In breaking apart this myth, we can clearly see the integral role that government plays in our society. Those who want to lessen the role of it seem to completely ignore the clear benefits that it provides, not only in their lives but the lives of millions of Americans. The practical application of such an exercise (shrinking government) seems much more unrealistic given the facts listed above.

Simply put, our economy is bigger than it was at its founding so our government has to be big as well. There's nothing wrong with this and it's certainly not communism, fascism or socialism. It's what we have always done and done very well, given the challenges.

Welfare capitalism.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Uh Oh


Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Are They Going To Think About This?

Nearly everyone thought that Mitt Romney's religion was not going to be an issue. But then he went and defended the "values" of the people who made the trailer for a film that may not even have been completed which set the Middle East in an uproar and now he might be screwed.

Remember, that we originally thought the film was produced by an Israeli named Sam Bacile but then the Israeli Foreign Ministry said no person exists. Now we find out that the film was made by a Coptic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who has been convicted of fraud and drug distribution. His spokesman is a guy named Steven Klein who founded Courageous Christians United, which holds protests outside abortion clinics but also outside Mormon temples.

When asked whether he had any regrets about participating in a film that led to the death of an American ambassador, Klein replied: "Do I have blood on my hands? No. Did I kill this guy? No. Do I feel guilty that these people were incited? Guess what? I didn't incite them. They're pre-incited, they're pre-programmed to do this."

Check out their page for their views on Mormonism. Here are a few sample questions from their table.

Question: Did Christ die for all sins? Mormonism: Christ did not die for all sins. Christianity: Christ did die for all sins

Question: Baptism for the dead? Mormonism: Baptism for the dead is required. Christianity: Baptism for the dead is not required

Question: Are there other Gods? Mormonism: There are many Gods for worlds and each God is equal to the God of this world. Christianity: There is only one God for all worlds

Question: Can humans become Gods for other worlds as God is God for this world? Mormonism: Humans may become Gods for other worlds as God is God for this world. Christianity: Humans cannot become Gods for other worlds as God is God for all worlds

Question: Does God need a wife to become God? Mormonism: God needs a wife to become God Christianity: God does not need a wife to become God.

None of this bothers me as people can think and believe whatever they want to believe. But I have to wonder how the majority of conservative Americans would feel about this stuff if they knew it. After all, they are the one who think the Barack Obama is in some sort of kooky religion.

What would they think about this?


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nice

Get used to seeing more of this..


.








Friday, September 14, 2012

Irate Republicans and Muslims: Not So Different after All

These days Mitt Romney and the Republican spin machine are sanctimoniously defending the right of some idiot to make a slanderous film about Mohammed, a film that ultimately cost the lives of four American diplomats and has launched attacks against American and other western embassies across the Middle East.

And most every conservative complaining about the attacks goes out of their way to mention that these protesters are also burning the American flag!, an act which seems to anger them even more than the killing of Americans.

But for decades Republicans have been fighting to amend the constitution to ban flag "desecration," using it as a hammer against Democrats. The House and Senate have voted on such an amendment numerous times in the last 20 years, the most recent of which failed by only one vote in the Senate in 2006.

Conservative outrage against flag burning is every bit as primitive and wrong-headed as Muslim rage against America for a video that an expatriate Egyptian Copt is apparently responsible for creating.

Why are people so completely unhinged by satire or criticism of religious figures like Joe Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Mohammed, Christ and God? Are the egos of these supposedly supreme and immortal beings really that fragile? How could the creator of the entire universe be harmed by a mere mortal taking His name in vain? How could God's one true Prophet be diminished in any way by some dork with a video camera?

How can the institutions of United States, our Constitution and our way of life possibly be threatened by some moron burning a flag in the streets of Cairo or Benghazi, or even Washington or New York? And how can you possibly call it flag "desecration" when the American flag is not the sacred symbol of a religion, but the physical banner of a temporal government? A banner that we plaster liberally on cakes, cars, towels, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and even underwear?

Every time the nitwits at Fox News rail about the "War on Christmas" they prove that they are just as intolerant, socially stunted and civically underdeveloped as they view the protesters around the American embassies in the Middle East.

The Question No One Is Asking

The question no one seems to be asking Mitt Romney is this: what are the values the president is "apologizing" for? Values that directly contradict respecting someone else's freedom to worship as they choose without fear of punishment? Values of a man who has been convicted of fraud and selling drugs? Values of mouth foaming bigotry?

These values that I mention are the ones inherent in the maker of the anti-Islamic video that started all the problems we have right now at embassies in the Middle East. This is what Mitt Romney is defending? I don't get it.

In addition, Mitt Romney seems to be living in some sort of time warp, as eloquently explained by Andy over at electoral-vote.com.

What Obama didn't say is that Romney's model of the world no longer holds. In the past, wars and attacks were governmental affairs. Country A invaded country B and then country B could send its army or air force to wreak havoc with country A. But like so many other government functions, in parts of the world, war has largely been turned over to the private sector. Al Qaeda, other terrorist groups, and jihadists who killed the American ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, are all private sector organizations, not government ones. As a result, you can't just bomb them because you can't find them. 

Mr. Romney lives in either 1958 or 1985. I can't tell which, to be honest.  He has very little understanding of what the world is like today and, so naturally, it must be (cue Made Up World) the president that really doesn't understand. Yeah, that's it...

I get why Governor Romney is saying what he is saying. His guys are telling him the only way he can win now is to go hard right and get out the base. They loathe the president to the core and will believe anything that is said about him. The bigger the lie, the more they believe.

It makes me sad because I wish we would have had a country where this would have happened after this horrible tragedy.

"Imagine if Romney had called President Obama, asked how he could be of assistance in this time of crisis, offered to appear at his side at a press conference to demonstrate that, when American lives are at risk, politics stop at the water's edge." Romney would have appeared presidential and Obama's equal at a joint press conference. Instead, he appears to be trying to profit from a tragedy. 

Wishful thinking, I know. But that's what you get when you have to deal with juveniles. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Apology Canard Again

Yesterday, Mitt Romney illustrated once and for all that he is completely incapable of handling the foreign policy of this nation.

He accused the president of giving sympathy to the protesters in both Libya and Egypt. His basis for this was a memo sent out by the US consulate in Cairo BEFORE the protesters showed up. I thought he might soften his stance a little after US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed but, instead, he doubled down, falling back on the "Obama is always apologizing" meme.

I don't get it. It's enormously frustrating to discuss this because it's so far from the truth that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Honestly, I'd like to do both because what Romney said was in such poor taste given four people had just been killed. Couple this with the omission, from his acceptance speech in Tampa, of the word "Afghanistan" or any sort of salute to the troops and it's very clear that he has no clue whatsoever in the international political realm.

The president's words and actions, however, demonstrate that he does know what he is doing and has certainly never apologized for this country. His entire life, for crying out loud, is a testament to American exceptionalism. In fact, it's exactly what the GOP want people to be like...come from nothing, work hard, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and make a lot of money.

To show how ridiculous this accusation is, take a look at this, reprinted in its entirety here from the New Yorker.

4/4/09: Barack Obama: I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world.

8/20/10: Mike Huckabee: His worldview is dramatically different than any president, Republican or Democrat, we’ve had … To deny American exceptionalism is in ­essence to deny the heart and soul of this nation.

9/20/11: Obama: Michelle and I, we’re only here because somebody passed on this incredible notion, this exceptional American idea that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter who you’re born.to.

10/8/11: Rick Perry: Those in the White House today don’t believe—they don’t believe in American exceptionalism. 1

1/12/11: Mitt Romney: We have a president right now who thinks America’s just ­another nation. America is an exceptional nation.

11/30/11: Obama: America is great not just because we’re powerful, but also because we have a set of values that the world ­admires … We don’t just think about what’s good for us, but we’re also thinking about what’s good for the world … That’s what makes us exceptional.

1/26/12: Newt Gingrich: If you are for ­American exceptionalism, you’re us. If you’re for European socialism and Saul Alinsky radicalism, you’re with Barack Obama.

3/8/12: Sarah Palin: Our president is not in this to unify America and to solidify our place as the exceptional nation in the world. He is trying to divide us.

3/31/12: Romney: Our president doesn’t have the same feelings about American ­exceptionalism that we do. 

4/2/12: Obama: My entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism.

4/30/12: John Sununu: It goes with ego. The man doesn’t understand that other ­presidents have made equally difficult decisions … He’s trying to make himself exceptional. Lou Dobbs: In embracing, if you will, ­American exceptionalism. Sununu: That is exactly right. That’s the last and only place he acknowledges it. 

5/23/12: Obama: The United States has been, and will always be, the one indispensable nation in world affairs. It’s one of the many examples of why America is exceptional.

5/27/12: John McCain: This has to do with a foreign policy led by a president who does not believe in American exceptionalism.

6/7/12: Obama: There are a set of values that make this country extraordinary, that make this country exceptional.

6/26/12: Condoleezza Rice: I’m pretty certain I don’t see that same level of willingness to assert this, that the United States is indeed exceptional.

7/14/12: Obama: What makes us exceptional—it’s not just how many skyscrapers we have; it’s not how powerful our military is. What makes us special is this idea that in this country, if you are willing to work hard, if you’re willing to take responsibility for your own life, then you can make it if you try.

7/17/12: Romney: I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success. I want Americans to welcome and to celebrate success and to encourage people to reach as high as they can … It’s the people of America that make America the unique nation, the exceptional nation it is.

Seriously, what reality does these people live in?