Tuesday, July 31, 2012


At the Drudge Report right now:

"Smear"? Really?

Drudge's link is to The Weekly Standard:
Obama Campaign Brings Up 'Felons' in Latest Ad

The latest web ad from Barack Obama's campaign goes after Mitt Romney for not releasing more tax returns than he already has. The ad, titled "Mitt Romney's Tax Returns: When Will He Come Clean?," at one point flashes two words onscreen, "FELONS" and "TAX RECORDS."

The words, "FELONS" and "TAX RECORDS," are displayed onscreen for at least six seconds, so the Obama campaign wants to make sure its viewers see the words....

This isn't the first time the Obama campaign has accused Romney of possibly being a felon....
Oh, give me a break. The campaign isn't accusing Romney of a felony here. Watch the ad and see the six seconds in context. Romney was asked about his tax returns in a debate. You see John Roberts of Fox News noting the response of viewers who were electronically scoring that debate: Romney "was seen as dodging that question so much that we couldn't actually record the number of people who said that he was dodging."

Look, I'm sure the Obama campaign didn't mind the fact that the word "FELONS" happened to appear on the screen. But what Roberts says is such a delicious slam on Romney that the campaign surely would have put it in the ad even if "FELONS" hadn't also appeared on the screen.

The only somewhat deceptive thing here is that the ad starts with a (really sleazy, evasive) Romney clip from the January 19 debate, while Roberts is discussing Romney's answers in a debate that took place three days earlier (a debate that included a testy exchange between Romney and Rick Santorum about voting rights for felons). But come on, folks -- the Obama campaign just wants you to know that Romney's answers come off as slippery and duplicitous to a lot of people. "FELONS" is just a bonus.

A horrified FoxNews.com today:
NPR analyst Cokie Roberts claimed on air that Mitt Romney's stop in Poland was meant to excite "ethnic white voters."

... Roberts, also an analyst with ABC News, inferred that the visit is essentially a bid to attract former Reagan Democrats, especially "descendants" of Polish people.

...Romney's visit has been typically portrayed as having more context to it than a bid for Polish-American support....
FoxNews.com ten days ago (emphasis added):
[Romney will] likely receive a warm welcome. Poles have never showed the enthusiasm for Obama that Germans and other Western Europeans did, and his popularity there has declined further during his years in office. But for Romney, the critical audience for his Poland trip is likely the many U.S. citizens with Polish ancestry who live in critical swing states across the American Midwest.
Why does Fox News hate white people, according to Fox News?

(Today's Fox story channels this outraged story from Breitbart.com.)

If you're advertising yourself as the businessman with vastly more experience in the private sector, shouldn't you at least be able to achieve a minimal level of competence when it comes to hiring staffers?
A Mitt Romney aide told reporters to "shove it" Tuesday morning after the American press corps here shouted questions at the presidential candidate.

As Romney was walking away from Pilsudski Square toward his vehicle, reporters asked him about his string of gaffes and whether he had any comment for Palestinians, some of whom took offense at the Republican's suggestion Monday in Jerusalem that Israel's economy is superior because of cultural advantages Israelis enjoy. Romney ignored the questions and got in his car.

But his traveling press secretary was furious.

"Kiss my ass; this is a holy site for the Polish people," said aide Rick Gorka. "Show some respect."

Gorka then told a reporter to "shove it."
Hmm, let's see: Romney hired Richard Grenell without quite realizing that his sexist wisecracks on Twitter would be an embarrassment (and also without realizing that religious rightists would demand the openly gay, pro-marriage equality Grenell's head). Romney also hired (and continues to employ) Eric "Etch A Sketch" Fehrnstrom. And now Gorka goes to a holy site in Poland and tries to act like a club bouncer guarding a velvet rope. Hey, Mitt -- isn't a quarter-century as a CEO supposed to teach you something about the importance of good personnel decisions?

Of course, the problem here is that Romney is used to building teams for an enterprise that's simply not answerable to most of the outside world. Plus, he's hiring from a talent pool that has no respect for people outside the conservative tribe. So maybe Mitt's vaunted business experience doesn't help him at all in this -- nor would it help him if he were president. Just the opposite, in fact.

If I were a right-winger, I supposed I'd be pretty steamed at Newsweek's "Wimp Factor" cover featuring Mitt Romney, and I might want to do a parody of it. But a parody that's going somewhat viral on the right is, well, curious:

This showed up somewhere off the beaten blog path, at the Web site of the John Locke Foundation, but it's been linked by Glenn Reynolds, husband of "men's rights" champion Dr. Helen Smith, and by beauty pageant aficionado John Hinderaker at Power Line.

I had problems with the original Newsweek cover, largely because it equates superficial masculinity with competence and integrity. But Michael Tomasky, who wrote the Newsweek cover story on Romney, was making a larger points about Romney's lack of principle. This parody is just about the horror of a male possibly listening to a woman. And, I suppose, a black woman (or two black women!) at that.

Of course, that wasn't a problem in George W. Bush's first term, when it was considered awesome that Condoleezza Rice had the president's ear because she was seen as a heroic freedom-fighter. (A recent Fox poll suggests that rank-and-file Republicans still like Rice a lot, and would really like her to be Romney's running mate.) Oh, and, when it suits their purposes, wingers sing the praises of Margaret Thatcher, Phyllis Schlafly, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Sarah Palin, and plenty of other women.

I'm struck by the Valerie Jarrett reference in this parody, and in the story the parody is citing, the one in the Daily Caller that said Jarrett got Obama to postpone the bin Laden raid three times. I expected the Caller story to dredge up all the sinister-sounding stuff in the right's Jarrett dossier -- her father-in-law was a big commie! -- but it's as if the right isn't even bothering to try to sell that story anymore. The bottom line on Jarrett seems to be: She has Obama's ear. She has a vagina. Isn't that horrible enough?

Really -- on manliness, this is all they've got? Their own fear of girl cooties, projected onto the rest of the electorate?

Monday, July 30, 2012


Mitt Romney, identifying and targeting a victim no one in his prep school would defend, 1960s:
Mitt Romney ... spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

"He can't look like that. That's wrong. Just look at him!" an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend....

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school's collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber's hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors....
Mitt Romney, identifying and targeting a victim hardly anyone in America will defend, last night:
In a salute to Israel's economic growth, Romney compared the GDP of his hosts to that of the Palestinian territories as though they were just any old neighboring countries. "As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," he said.

Romney (who actually grossly overestimated Palestinian GDP) made no mention of the Israeli occupation, and its restrictions over Palestinian life as being perhaps somewhat determinative in the economic disparity he lauded as a sign of Israel's success.
Romney went on to say:
... if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.
Romney, of course, really, really wants the few people who'll stick up for the Palestinians -- fellow Muslims and us pointy-headed liberal elitists -- to call him racist. On Twitter, The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin squeals with delight, and sums up the Romney strategy succinctly:

Romney knows that, in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, Americans' sympathies are overwhelmingly with Israel. This is a freebie. You want to talk about the last acceptable prejudice? This is a serious contender.

His policies notwithstanding, George W. Bush personally shied away from overt racism toward blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims. Romney, by contrast, will eagerly exploit bigotry when he thinks he can get away with it. In this case, he knows he can not only get away with it but benefit from it, because so many Americans will cheer the dog whistle and so few will be outraged. He showed in prep school that he won't refrain from hate if hatred has no negative consequences.

Where Every Day Is Opposite Day

As a sort of footnote to Steve's post about that Daily Caller story claiming Obama wimped out on catching bin Laden(at the behest of one of his Chicago thugs), I wanted to highlight their source.

The author of the book they're quoting is a former editor for the Washington Times named Richard Miniter. Miniter's other published work includes Losing bin Laden, and Shadow War: The Untold Story of How America is Winning the War on Terror.

"Losing bin Laden" is about the Clinton administration. "How America is Winning the War on Terror" is about the Bush administration.

That tells you pretty much all you need to know.

I haven't read the full story at the Daily Caller because I keep getting malware warnings when I click on the link, but I've looked at what others have written about it, and I've at least managed to read this much:
At the urging of Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving the May 2, 2011 Navy SEAL mission, according to an explosive new book scheduled for release August 21. The Daily Caller has seen a portion of the chapter in which the stunning revelation appears.

In ”Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him,“ Richard Miniter writes that Obama canceled the "kill" mission in January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March. Obama's close adviser Valerie Jarrett persuaded him to hold off each time, according to the book....
I guess what we're being told is that the killing of Osama bin Laden doesn't really count because it was delayed. It doesn't matter that bin Laden's dead. It doesn't matter that the president ordered the mission to go forward -- he could have ordered it sooner, so it's as if he never ordered it at all.

You know what else was like that? 9/11 itself. At least that's what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said when he was interrogated. This is from The Eleventh Day, a Pulitzer-nominated book about 9/11 by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan. They base this on reports from KSM's interrogations:
At one point that spring [2001], with no more justification than that the number 7 was by tradition auspicious, bin Laden urged KSM to bring forward the hijackings and strike on May 12. That date, he pointed out, would be exactly seven months after the successful attack on the Cole. KSM told him the team was not yet ready.

In mid-June, following reports in the media that Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon was within days due to visit President Bush at the White House, bin Laden bombarded KSM with requests for the operation to be activated at once....

KSM, however, again persuaded bin Laden that precipitate action would be ill-advised.
So those guys reportedly delayed their mission as well. By Daily Caller logic, that means 9/11 doesn't really count as a terrorist act -- 3,000 people didn't really die.


Of course, following that logic, it doesn't really matter whether bin Laden is dead or not, does it?

I guess I'm supposed to be happy because this is on the cover of Newsweek:

To start with, it doesn't make me think Romney's inevitably going down to defeat, derided as pathetic by a mocking nation -- after all, this a very conscious echo of a Newsweek cover story from 1987 about George H.W. Bush, and Bush went on to win. If anything, this could make the right's endless complaints about the bias of the "liberal media" seem plausible to swing voters -- yes, a magazine where Niall Ferguson has a regular column might now seem like part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to force Obama on America for a second term.

More to the point, the cover story by Michael Tomasky validates arguments that helped turn most of the Democratic presidential candidates of the past forty years into losers, particularly the notion that awkwardness is a presidential disqualifier (which killed Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry). It also endorses the notion that, yes, recent Republican presidents really were manly men, and thus deserving of the presidency:
In hindsight, Poppy [Bush] looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in -- ready? -- Paris. Where he learned ... French. Up to his eyeballs in deferments. Where Reagan saddled up a horse with the masculine name of El Alamein, Mitt saddles up something called Rafalca -- except that he doesn't even really do that, his wife does (dressage). And speaking of Ann -- did you notice that she was the one driving the Jet Ski on their recent vacation, while Mitt rode on the back, hanging on, as Paul Begala put it to me last week, "like a helpless papoose"?

... In some respects, [Romney]'s more weenie than wimp -- socially inept; at times awkwardy ingratiating, at other times mocking those "below" him, but almost always getting the situation a little wrong, and never in a sympathetic way.
Did I say the story endorses the notion that recent GOP presidents were manly? Check this out:

If you can't read that caption, it describes W annd Bush as "The Presidential Studs." I don't care how happy I'm supposed to be at turnaround-as-fair-play -- it's bad for America that we pick our presidents based on this kind of superficial faux-machismo. And I'm sorry, but Romney's failings don't make W and Reagan look better by comparison.

But a bigger problem is that Tomasky isn't particularly convincing when he says Romney's a wimp. Even he doesn't seem fully convinced:
Romney is the genuine article: a true wimp. Oh, there are some ways in which he's not -- a wimp lets himself get kicked around, and Romney doesn't exactly do that. He sure didn't during the primaries, when he strafed Rick Perry and carpet-bombed Rick Santorum....
Romney may be, in some ways, weak and whiny, but he overcompensates for that with an ego-driven determination to crush opponents and avenge slights. If that makes him a wimp, then Nixon was a wimp, too. That's not really how I'd describe Tricky Dick.

Romney is dangerous. He has tenacity, and he has an army of zillionaires and vote-suppressors backing him up. That's why I never call him "Mittens" or "Willard" -- I don't see him as weak and pathetic. I see him as capable of getting himself elected and executing the mad plans of the Kochs and Murdoch, of Norquist and Rove (and please note that the last two guys I mentioned would seem pretty wimpy if you didn't know how much power they wield).

Yeah, Romney is awkward. Yes, he's spineless. But he's angry and bitter and egocentric. There's a core of unhealthy power beneath that simpering exterior.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Today's Ross Douthat column lumps together three recent news developments, in two different countries, and concludes that they're all signs that people like himself -- good, upright believers in "Western monotheism's ideas about human sexuality" -- are being persecuted, or at least relegated to the status of people who believe in human sacrifice.

The three affronts to his sensibility are the birth control mandate in the Obama health care law, a decision by a court in Cologne, Germany, that restricts circumcision, and recent statements of opposition to Chick-fil-A by a number of U.S. municipal officials. Never mind that prominent opponents of Chick-fil-A have backed off attempts to prevent the chain from opening new restaurants, and that a number of liberals have denounced attempts to restrict the chain. Never mind that the circumcision ruling has been denounced by Angela Merkel and by other German politicians. And never mind the fact that the birth control mandate is already on the books in 28 states. Help, help -- Douthat and his fellow sexual traditionalists are being repressed!
... of course every freedom has its limits.... You can believe in the gods of 15th-century Mesoamerica, but neither Chicago values nor American ones permit the use of Aztec sacrificial altars on the South Side.

To the extent that the H.H.S. mandate, the Cologne ruling and the Chick-fil-A controversy reflect a common logic rather than a shared confusion, then, it's a logic that regards Western monotheism's ideas about human sexuality -- all that chastity, monogamy, male-female business -- as similarly incompatible with basic modern freedoms.

Like a belief that the gods want human sacrifice, these ideas are permissible if held in private. But they cannot be exercised in ways that might deny, say, employer-provided sterilizations to people who really don't want kids. Nor can they be exercised to deny one's offspring the kind of sexual gratification that anti-circumcision advocates claim the procedure makes impossible. They certainly cannot be exercised in ways that might make anyone uncomfortable with his or her own sexual choices or identity.
Working back, let me just point out that the folks at Chick-fil-A don't simply want to make people "uncomfortable" with their sexual orientation -- they want to make them feel that they're (a) destined for hell, (b) destroying America, and (c) discriminating against sexual traditionalists. Oh, and the Chick-fil-A folks are spending large amounts of money to keep a traditional expression of "sexual choices or identity" illegal for one group of Americans. Even then, I'd say they have a legal right to open their restaurants (which I then hope will be widely boycotted).

Regarding the circumcision case in Cologne, has Douthat even read the judge's ruling? It's online in translation, and it's very brief. There's not a word about "the kind of sexual gratification that anti-circumcision advocates claim the procedure makes impossible." The court decided (in a case involving a circumcision that led to excessive bleeding) that circumcision of a minor is, by definition, unacceptable bodily harm without the possibility of informed adult consent. I see both sides of this: I'm circumcised and don't feel mutilated, but I'm sure it hurt like hell, and I'm inclined to think I wouldn't have wanted a son of mine circumcised. But I'm opposed to a ban on the practice, because its effects are not like those of clitoridectomy, and it's a deeply meaningful ritual to two major religions. And I think a lot of liberals come down pretty much where I come down on this.

I'm not surprised that Douthat distorts the Cologne ruling -- his distortion dovetails so perfectly with his Santorumesque view of sex, which is that it really isn't supposed to be fun and it really must always be procreative within marriage. (For the record, Pat Robertson doesn't even believe that all married sex must be procreative.)

I understand that Douthat is repulsed by gay marriage and sexual pleasure and birth control and voluntary sterilization. I understand he wants to be the bestest Catholic ever. What I don't understand about Douthat and other non-cafeteria Catholics is why they don't take it all the way. For instance, when are strict Catholics going to start complaining that their tax dollars help pay for divorce courts? Surely that's religious bigotry! Surely that should be stopped immediately! It's bad enough that America offends "Western monotheism" by allowing divorce, but the legal system in which it's obtained is government funded! Unfair! Unfair!

A guy who served under an underinformed and incurious governor-turned-president thinks it was a bad idea for John McCain to pick an underinformed and incurious governor as his running mate:
Dick Cheney has some advice for Mitt Romney on choosing a running mate: Don't pick another Sarah Palin.

In his first interview since receiving a heart transplant in March, Cheney told ABC News, that John McCain's decision to pick Palin as his running mate in 2008 was "a mistake" -- one that it is important from Romney not to repeat....

"I like Governor Palin. I've met her. I know her. She -- attractive candidate. But based on her background, she'd only been governor for, what, two years. I don't think she passed that test...of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake." ...
I'm not sure what the point of this is -- to give Mitt Romney cover when he names Rob Portman as his running mate and we're all desperately slapping cold water on the backs of our necks to try to stay awake? -- but I do see that Mark Halperin is worked up:
It will be interesting to see if Palin's take-no-prisoners supporters on the web lash back at the former veep. If they do, it will be interesting to see if Liz Cheney lashes back.
Ooooh, catfight! Sarah vs. Liz! Down, Mark. Down.

Maureen Dowd tries to figure out what makes Mitt Romney act the way he does:
As a candidate, he’s expected to stoop to conquer, to play a man of the people. But he really wants voters to know that he earned $250 million, and not even in the same business where his dad made a name for himself.

So he keeps blurting out hoity-toity stuff to make sure we know he's not hoi polloi -- about his friends who are Nascar owners, his wife's Cadillacs, how he likes to fire people and how he, too, is unemployed. And he builds a car elevator in the middle of an economic slough.
So does The New Yorker's John Cassidy:
Despite his four years in elected office in Massachusetts and his experience in two Presidential campaigns, he still lacks the political antennae of a lifelong politician.

... He is still naive or arrogant enough to think that when Brian Williams asks him a seemingly harmless question about the preparations for the Games, which have certainly encountered some problems, it is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his mastery of the subject.
If you put these together, I think you get a pretty good picture of what makes Mitt tick. Dowd emphasizes the pride in money, but really, as Cassidy says, Romney is proud of what he regards as his superiority in general, -- yes, he's rich, but that just means he's smarter than you, and better at getting stuff done, which is the real point. Hey, did he ever tell you about the time he singlehandedly saved the Olympics?

But it's odd: he's arrogant, but he's also needy. He craves reinforcement of his sense of superiority, so he keeps reminding you to acknowledge it -- and he does so in a way most people find noodgy and off-putting and sometimes insulting.

But maybe he's used to being surrounded by people who don't find it off-putting and insulting. Dowd writes:
In the Mitt-sphere, populated by his shiny white family, the Mormon Church and a narrow, homogenous inner circle, Romney's image of himself as wise, caring, smart and capable is relentlessly reinforced. That leaves him constantly surprised that other people don't love what he is saying.
They're used to him, and give him the praise he craves. Much of the time, we don't.

I feel he's running for president not because he wants to do anything in particular, but because it's the ultimate affirmation of his smarts and superiority -- he wants to be president just so he can say that other people also wanted to be president, and they're not in office and he is. So there!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


From The New York Times:
In his latest broadside against the incumbent's foreign policy, Mitt Romney blamed President Obama for the Arab uprisings last year, arguing that he could have headed them off by pressing the region’s autocrats to reform first.

"President Obama abandoned the freedom agenda," Mr. Romney told the newspaper Israel Hayom, referring to President George W. Bush's democracy policy, "and we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history in a more peaceful manner."
(Emphasis added.)

Really? You're looking to win over unpersuaded voters in the middle and you make an approving reference to George W. Bush's foreign policy? Because that did such a bang-up job of making the Middle East a peaceful and U.S.-friendly place?

I really can't wait for the convention and the debates. I suspect Romney isn't going to be able to shake the notion that whatever moves the needle on Fox News and talk radio is what he should be saying to the general public.

I'm starting to wonder whether his commitment to wingnuttery is more bone-deep than we realize -- we've known for a while that he'll never dare to defy the crazies, either on the campaign trail or (God help us) if he becomes president, but I'm starting to believe he's not faking anymore -- he really doesn't want to defy them.

I missed the big Churchill dust-up yesterday. As I understand it, Charles Krauthammer accused President Obama of insulting the British by contemptuously returning a bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Oval Office for most of the Bush years; the White House botched the fact-check, first saying that the bust had never been returned, then acknowledging that there were two Churchill busts in the White House, one still on display, the other returned, as per custom, at the end of George W. Bush's term.

This has been an obsession of the right throughout the Obama years -- and for the life of me I can't figure out why it's coming up in an election year (Mitt Romney pointedly says he wants the other bust back). I mean, I know it's meant to make Obama look bad -- but to whom? Who cares about this except people who are already certain to vote for Romney anyway?

Imagine you're a low-information swing voter and a moderate. Here's the pitch: Barack Obama is a bad American because he returned the bust of ... a foreign guy. A guy who was prime minister of another country. A guy who was prime minister of another country long before you were born. (In fact, if you're 46 or younger, he died before you were born.) And Obama replaced Churchill in the Oval Office with (depending on the story) either Abraham Lincoln -- one of America's great presidents! -- or Martin Luther King -- a national hero! (Remember, we're talking about moderate swing voters, not racists or neo-Confederates. The latter groups are in Romney's camp already. The former really do tend to admire Lincoln and King.)

Oh, and there were two Churchill busts and Obama still has one.

Where's the insult? Obama's not a patriot because he replaced a non-American with an American? Hunh?

The Americans who still revere Churchill are, apart from Fox viewers who've successfully undergone the usual Pavlovian conditioning, octogenarians who lived through (or fought in) World War II. But Obama's already struggling with older voters, and he never had the ones most inclined to see him as foreign and "other," even in 2008. How many people does this tip into the GOP camp?

The bizarre thing about this is that it all dates back to the right's period of Tony Blair hero-worship because Blair backed Bush to the hilt in the Iraq War -- a conflict that most Americans now regard as a dreadful mistake.

Back in 1999, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll presented a list of eighteen famous people from the twentieth century and asked U.S. respondents to chose the greatest figure of the century from among them. Churchill finished tenth out of eighteen, well behind Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, JFK, Einstein, Helen Keller, FDR, and others. (Funny -- FDR was Churchill's stalwart ally in World War II, and denigrating him is never regarded as unpatriotic.)

This poll was conducted thirteen years ago. Do non-Fox viewers in America admire Churchill more now, with the passage of time? I doubt it.

I'm here in New York, and pretty much all I know about Heidi Heitkamp's U.S. Senate campaign in North Dakota comes from this Gail Collins column, but I can't help noticing that she seems more willing to nationalizing her race, and more willing to confront the GOP head-on, than Democrats in much bluer parts of the country.

First of all, she's decided not to run away from the health care law. Admittedly, her biography gives her a way to respond to attacks that's not available to most other Democrats:
She ... has a dramatic story that centers on the year 2000, when she ran for governor and was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, but she stayed in the race, campaigning even while she had chemotherapy and her trademark red hair fell out. She lost but seems to have made an indelible imprint on the public....

As soon as the North Dakota Senate race began, Republican super PACs began beating Heitkamp with the health care mallet. "Heidi endorsed Obamacare," says one much-aired ad that features a very brief tape of Heitkamp saying, with no apparent enthusiasm, "It actually is a budget saver." In response, she almost always brings the discussion back to her own story. Her next ad began with Heitkamp discussing her bout with cancer and adding, "When you live through that, political attack ads seem silly."

"I have a pretty well-known pre-existing condition," she says dryly.
Perfect. Now, here's the ad. Yeah, she says that the health care law needs adjustments. But she's solid and unswerving on not wanting to "go back":

Yes, for her that last line has a double meaning -- go back to the days before the law and go back to her time with cancer. But if you're a Democrat who hasn't experienced a health crisis like this personally, don't you know people who have? Friends? Relatives? Constituents? Talk about it. Make it real.

Heitkamp also doesn't seem ashamed to say she's voting for her party's presidential candidate, even in a state where he'll lose:
... Heitkamp says she'll be voting for Obama in November -- because Mitt Romney supports the House Republican budget.

"People ask me why, and I point to that budget," she says.

... Heitkamp is betting that the House budget, with its Medicare restructuring and dramatic program cuts will seem even more radical to the emotionally conservative North Dakotans than the stimulus or health care law. "There's $180 billion in farm cuts in there," she said, launching into a litany of government aid it would strip away from North Dakota.
According to a new poll, she has a 6-point lead, in a state where Obama trails by 19.

Yeah, she slammed Obama a couple of months ago, saying he "failed in the one test America had for him, which was to unite the country." That's nasty. But I'm still giving her points for slamming the GOP agenda. Republicans nationalize every election. Democrats need to do the same. The national Republican agenda will be horrible for everyone, and everyone could grasp that. But Democrats need to say it. (Are you listening, Elizabeth Warren?)

Friday, July 27, 2012


If you were Fox Nation, what would you be leading with in the immediate aftermath of Mitt Romney's horrible gaffe-filled day in England?

You'd be leading with this:

Yeah, right -- that's what's on our minds right now: Obama's gaffes.

The Fox thread links to a Washington Free Beacon story by Bill Kristol's son-in-law, Matt Continetti. It's the 764,328th item in the right-wing media to reference "You didn't build that," which is pretty much all you need to know about it.


Just as Mitt Romney is about to visit Israel, shameless, hypocritical right-wingers are trying to make an issue out of this:
WH's Carney Refuses To Name The Capital Of Israel

White House press secretary Jay Carney is asked by a reporter what is the capital of Israel.

Reporter: What city does this Administration consider to be the capital of Israel? Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?

Jay Carney, White House press secretary: Um... I haven't had that question in a while. Our position has not changed. Can we, uh...

Reporter: What is the capital [of Israel]?

Jay Carney: You know our position....
Carney refused to answer. Anti-Semite! Jew-hater! Ally-betrayer! Barack Hussein Obama's administration is uniquely depraved!

... Except that, um, I don't see any of the right-wing hypocrites bringing this up:
October 02, 2002

The Bush administration said today that it would ignore as unconstitutional new Congressional dictates that would require the United States to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel....

As a candidate for president, Mr. Bush backed Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital, but in office he fell back on the longstanding American position that Arabs and Israelis must settle the question together....

On Monday, rather than veto the bill, Mr. Bush signed it. But he said the provisions on Jerusalem "if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the president's constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the nation in international affairs and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states." He added, "U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed."
Here's the signing statement in which Bush rejected the provision.

It's quite possible that Mitt Romney will say in Israel that he regards Jerusalem as its capital. You know who else did that while running for president? Barack Obama, in June 2008. (OK -- strictly speaking, Obama said, "Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel.") But, once in office, president after president has found that a bridge too far. And yes, wingers, that includes Saint Ronald Reagan, who resisted calls to move America's embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Hey, peasant! If you're so smart, why ain't you rich? If you're so smart, why can't you figure out how to get gun control laws passed? Mike Bloomberg is stinking rich, which obviously means he's much, much smarter than you -- smart enough to figure out how to break the NRA's stranglehold on gun legislation. As he explains in this op-ed for, um, Bloomberg, it's a piece of cake!
...What can be done?

One of the U.S. Senate's most pro-gun members has paradoxically shown how the battle might begin. Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, also the chamber's most sincere fiscal conservative, has made it his mission to diminish the influence of another ideological group that has exercised unwarranted sway over public policy: the anti-tax absolutists led by Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform.

To confront Norquist, Coburn identified an indefensible tax -- the ethanol subsidy -- isolated it and forced a vote on it. His colleagues, many of whom had signed Norquist's pledge never to raise taxes, were forced to choose between opposing what Coburn decried as an obvious "special interest giveaway" or looking like spineless shills for Norquist. By heightening attention on the vote, the tactic worked. The $5.4 billion ethanol subsidy was voted down.

The Coburn approach could be applied to guns....
Yeah, right -- because that sure broke the back of Grover Norquist, didn't it? Why, after that vote, Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform were utterly toothless, and now there are no more Bush tax cuts for the wealthy! They're gone! Um ... right? Aren't they?

Oh, and as for those ethanol subsidies:
So why did the powerful corn ethanol lobby let it expire without an apparent fight? The answer lies in legislation known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which creates government-guaranteed demand that keeps corn prices high and generates massive farm profits....

The RFS mandates that at least 37 percent of the 2011-12 corn crop be converted to ethanol and blended with the gasoline that powers our cars... [As a result] the current price of corn on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is about $6.50 per bushel -- almost triple the pre-mandate level.
That's a quote found in a Kevin Drum post titled "Ethanol Subsidies: Not Gone, Just Hidden a Little Better."

Look, I'm glad Mike Bloomberg is angry about guns -- but he's run for office in only one place, a place where he's absolutely politically insulated from the influence of the NRA. That means he hasn't got a clue about the extent of the NRA's power in the rest of the country.

Fighting these guys will not be easy. If it can possibly happen, it will be a long, slow slog. And it would take huge amounts of money to match the NRA's spending on PR and lobbying.

Hey, Mike, can you possibly spare a few million bucks?

Thursday, July 26, 2012


So I'm trying to figure out the reason for Mitt Romney's gaffe-a-minute day in London. Earlier today I took a stab at trying to explain why he got himself into such trouble, but I'd like to elaborate further.

I think Romney just believes a guy like him couldn't possibly make serious mistakes on a trip like this. I think he believes this in part because (as I said this morning) he's been the alpha dog in his world for decades -- but he also believes it because he believes his own campaign's rhetoric, and the rhetoric of his party.

Think about the way Republicans talk about themselves relatives to Barack Obama. Obama is the epitome of everything that's harmful to America. He hates freedom. He hates America. He apologizes for America. He loves our enemies and hates our allies.

Concentrate on that last one: Obama hates our allies. All Republicans believe this. And all Republicans believe they are the antithesis of Barack Obama. Everything he is, they're the opposite.

Mitt Romney may not be a true wingnut ideologically, but when he says things like this about Obama, he really says them with relish. He really seems to believe them. He's really internalized the notion that Obama is lethal to America in every conceivable way and he, by dint of being a Republican, is the exact opposite.

So Romney goes to visit one of our allies -- remember, Obama hates our allies -- and Romney just figures it's categorically impossible for him to say the wrong thing. He loves freedom! He loves our allies! He hates our enemies! So he doesn't have to prepare! He doesn't have to weigh his words about the Olympics, or learn the diplomatic nicety that, if you've been meeting with the head of MI6, you don't say so out loud, or make sure he knows the opposition leader's name and job! He is the anti-Obama! Therefore by definition he cannot offend our allies!

I really think Romney went on his overseas trip believing something like this. I really think he's swallowed his own party's malarkey about the innate treasonousness of Democrats and innate, intuitive rightness of whatever Republicans say and do and think.

I'm no Glenn Greenwald fan, and I understand if you don't agree with what he's saying about the attempt to keep Chick-fil-A out of Chicago and Boston, but if you don't agree with his argument, you have to at least admit that the quid pro quo could actually happen. And what then?
If you support what [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel is doing [in Chicago], then you should be equally supportive of a Mayor in Texas or a Governor in Idaho who blocks businesses from opening if they are run by those who support same-sex marriage -- or who oppose American wars, or who support reproductive rights, or who favor single-payer health care, or which donates to LGBT groups and Planned Parenthood, on the ground that such views are offensive to Christian or conservative residents. You can't cheer when political officials punish the expression of views you dislike and then expect to be taken seriously when you wrap yourself in the banner of free speech in order to protest state punishment of views you like and share.
If socially progressive officeholders establish this as a legitimate governmental approach to business licensing, how is the war going to proceed? It isn't just that red-state mayors and governors will feel entitled to ban gay-owned or pro-Planned Parenthood businesses -- it's that their side is far more united in anger and vindictiveness. When the dust settles, who will have banned more businesses: a few liberal-leaning mayors and governors -- or the entire Bible Belt? What would Rick Perry do with a precedent like this? Or Bobby Jindal? Or Ken Cuccinelli if he wins his gubernatorial campaign? Do we really want to find out?

I'd never eat in a Chick-fil-A and I absolutely think individuals should shun the place. But I think Greenwald may have a point -- legitimizing the notion of government bans in these circumstances (i.e., in the absence of real evidence of legal discrimination) may not be a principle we'd want to see carried through universally. (The best-known bit of evidence that Chick-fil-A discriminates in hiring has been declared a fake by the company, though the company ought to be watched carefully.)

I see the counterargument: this is like anti-black discrimination; society has to declare it beyond the pale. I try to imagine the reaction if the mayors were trying to prevent, say, a branch of the notoriously racist Maurice's Barbecue from opening a branch up north. (Hell, even Maurice Bessinger's brother recoiled when Maurice's began flying Confederate battle flags and selling racist merchandise.)

So I'm torn. My first reaction was to cheer what Mayors Menino and Emanuel are trying to do. But -- taking this out of the realm of principle -- I suspect there'll be a war, and it won't end well. Two sides can play this game.

I don't think we should be surprised that Mitt Romney is insulting the locals on his trip overseas:
The prime minister has hit back at comments from the US presidential candidate Mitt Romney querying Britain's readiness for the Olympics....

Romney said the fallout from the G4S security fiasco and a threatened strike by immigration officials were "disconcerting" and questioned whether British people would get behind the Games.

"Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin. It is hard to know just how well it will turn out," said Romney.
Why would Mitt Romney ever be diplomatic in his language? It's been more than a quarter of a century since he became the alpha dog of Bain Capital, and since then he's basically been at the top of every food chain of which he's been a part -- as the guy running the Olympics, as the candidate in multiple campaigns, as governor of Massachusetts. If you've ever had a job, you understand how this works: He's the boss. That means you have to weigh every word. He doesn't.

Beyond that, he's thrown in his lot with an equally undiplomatic group of people: movement conservatives. He my not be one of them to the depths of his soul, but he's worked hard to make himself one of them. And movement conservatives surround him in the campaign. Movement conservatives operate by two rules: (1) no enemies on the right and (2) no concessions to anyone who's not on the right. And "no concessions" means you don't even concede non-conservatives' human decency or good faith -- anyone who disagrees with you is evil. (See: Congress, dysfunction in.)

After being the top guy for nearly thirty years, and after faking death-before-compromise wingnuttery for six, how can Romney possibly get himself to choose his words carefully?

You may say this was always Romney's nature, as shown in The Washington Post's Mitt the prep-school-bully story. But some people grow out of that kind of thing. Romney's life experience has ensured that he hasn't had to.

You probably know about this:
A Greek triple jumper has been expelled from the Olympics after she posted a racist joke on Twitter.

Voula Papachristou was kicked out of her national team for mocking African migrants and expressing support for a far-Right political party.

Her offending message – which was referring to reports of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus in her home country – read: 'With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!'
Wanna know what sort of voters the Romney campaign is trying to reach with its "Anglo-Saxon" talk and incessant attempts to link the president to the word "foreign"? I think the target market is folks like these Lucianne.com readers, who are discussing the Voula Papachristou story:
Apologies are no longer acceptable; death my fire or hanging is the only thing suitable. We have become a world of politically correct, oversensitive fools. There is nothing I enjoy more than my own people's ethnic jokes. Show me a liberal who says he has never told a private ethnic joke and I'll show you either a liar or a saint.


The joke was not racist at all.

The Olympics need a new event: Eggshell walking.


You must understand that from the standpoint of any international, multi-faith, multi-ethnic, and by all means tolerant and non-bigoted organizations (such as the IOC; see also: UN), she is white and she is female. This simply will not do.


Agreed #2. There was absolutely NOTHING racist or offensive about that joke. It was kind of funny even. Home made food. That means nothing except the little insects come from the same place as the people....big deal!!


I'm not sure who was offended - did the mosquitoes threaten to withdraw from the games?


Are we now forbidden to even say "African" ?
Liberalism is not only a mental disorder ... liberalism is a cancer.


There may be a huge population of WHITE Africans in Greece. Prove it's racist you Olympic twits. I think they kicked her out for the support of the "far-Right political party." Notice there's never a description of a far-left group.


I think Michelle Malkin is keeping track of liberal hate speech on Twitter.Don't know where she finds time to do anything else but these people can say the most vile and reprehensible things about conservatives and it's all good fun.It's fine for one of these morons to say people are voting for Romney only because he's white.They're projecting their own racism on others.These people eat,sleep and drink race.


Geece was the birthplace of western civilization. Isn't it fitting that it should be the first part of the west to throw itself on its own sword for the good of multi culti insanity?


"there are so many Israelis in Athens that a Hezbollah mosquito would think he was eating home cooking" She would've received a gold medal.


She's hot, so I forgive her. LOL
Honestly, pitical correctness is just old fashoned censorship. I thought we hated that? Oh right. Only for the left to decide. Morons


# 12 and 13: Both of you are banned from the Olympics.

Show up at sensitivity class next Monday or you lose your citizenship.



Why are there so many Africans in Greece?

Don't they have their own home?


the people who made the decision are hypocrites guilty of sins worse than a flippant comment.


Shes the perfect poster child. She's white and blonde. She has to be racist.
Except for the one commenter who thinks there's a horrible double standard ("Notice there's never a description of a far-left group"), I see that no one addresses Papachristou's support for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party. The BBC tells us:
... Papachristou had also reposted a tweet by Ilias Kasidiaris, a politician with the far-right Golden Dawn party, criticising Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's stance on immigration.

She had previously retweeted several links to videos promoting the views of Golden Dawn, which won 7% of the vote in Greece's recent elections, and had directly communicated online with Mr Kasidiaris.

Mr Kasidiaris gained notoriety for slapping one left-wing woman politician and throwing water over another, during a heated debate on a television show.

Papachristou tweeted him on his name day last week: "Many happy years, be always strong and true!!!"
Another new Greek MP from Golden Dawn is this guy:
A "Nazi punk" musician who once sang that he would burn down parliament has become Greece's newest MP.

Artemis Matthaiopoulos, a member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, used to play bass for a band called Pogrom, known for its racist lyrics, Britain's The Times reported on Thursday.

Among the songs was one titled 'Auschwitz', which contains the lines "F*** Wiesenthal. F*** Anne Frank. F*** the whole tribe of Abraham. The Star of David makes me vomit."
As Human Rights Watch notes:
Golden Dawn is an unabashedly neo-fascist party with a logo reminiscent of the Nazi swastika; its manifesto calls for the creation of a People's Nationalist State which does "not ignore the law of diversity and difference in nature" and asserts that "[b]y respecting the spiritual, ethnic and racial inequality of human we can build equity and law in society." ... The leader of the Golden Dawn, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, won a seat on the Athens municipal town council in local elections in November 2010; he was filmed doing the Nazi salute in the Athens town hall in January 2011....

In a March 2012 press release, ... Golden Dawn proposed laying anti-personnel landmines along the Greece-Turkey border in Evros and placing special forces in the area with a license to shoot at will.
Oh, and did I mention Golden Dawn's call for a Greek-only blood bank?

There are the heroes of the Lucianne readers' poor, suffering victim, who was told she wasn't welcome at an gathering of athletes meant to promote international peace and cooperation.

Yeah, if I were the Romney campaign, and were so blinded by cynicism and ambition that I utterly lacked a moral compass, I suppose I'd be dog-whistling to these voters, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


A few blogroll adds: The Daily Banter, Desperately Seeking Sanity, Disaffected and It Feels So Good, Emokidsloveme, Engineer of Knowledge, Extreme Liberal, odd time signatures, Osborne Ink, The Political Carnival, and What'd I Say? Thanks for saying what you're saying.


ALSO: American Nihilist.

Dear management of Ball Office Products in Richmond, Virginia: If you're going to allow your company to be featured in a Mitt Romney "We Did Build This" event, in order to help Romney highlight Barack Obama's unconscionable assertion that government often actually helps business, then you might want to avoid posting pictures like this on the company Web site:

If you can't read the text above the photo, here it is:
Remember how I said I became "sorta famous"? I was referencing to my opportunity to meet Governor McDonnell in person. I was there for his signing of HB585 (Merricks)/SB344 (McDougle) Small Business Investment Grant Fund!
Here's a description of that bill:
... beginning July 1, investors who want to put money into small businesses in Virginia will have an added incentive....

Under the program, those loaning money to a small business would be eligible to get a grant equal to 10 percent of a qualified investment....

The state will put $1.5 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1 into the grant fund program, and another $1.5 million in the following fiscal year....

The hope is that the refund program will encourage private capital investment in small businesses that, in turn, should spur economic development and job creation, {Governor Bob] McDonnell said during the bill signing ceremony....
Yeah, tell me again that business and government are utterly incompatible, and that all right-thinking businesspeople avoid government like the plague.

OK, the headline is somewhat misleading -- Craig Whitney used to write for The New York Times and he has an op-ed in the Times today titled "A Way Out of the Gun Stalemate." But despite the fact that Whitney has an in at the Times, his piece is instructive, because it's custom-made in a way that would get it accepted at any mainstream paper in the country.

His secret? His hook is: both sides do it.
THE national conversation about guns, since James E. Holmes shot 12 people to death and wounded 58 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., has been a dialogue of the deaf. Unless gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters stop screaming at each other and look for common ground on how to deal with gun violence, the next massacre is only a matter of time.

Liberals have to deprive the National Rifle Association of its core argument, that the real aim of all gun control measures is to strip Americans of their right to have and use firearms. Gun-control supporters must make clear that they accept that Americans have had this individual, common-law right.... Liberals should accept that the only realistic way to control gun violence is not by keeping guns out of the hands of as many Americans as possible, but by keeping guns out of the hands of people we all agree should not have them.

Gun owners and their advocates must, in turn, stop insisting that gun ownership is an absolute right. The Second Amendment is not a law unto itself. Before and after 1791, the right to keep and bear arms has been inseparable from civic responsibility....
Do you think "the only realistic way to control gun violence is not by keeping guns out of the hands of as many Americans as possible"? Is that your goal? Is that your non-negotiable demand?

It isn't mine. It probably isn't yours. So there's the first problem -- Whitney has replaced you with a figure made of straw.

A bigger problem is that, a few paragraphs later, Whitney tells us this:
Even after President Obama tried to start a dialogue on gun violence last year, stating, "I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms," the N.R.A. flatly rebuked his overture and urged its members to vote against Mr. Obama so that he couldn't try to deprive them of gun rights through Supreme Court appointments in a second term.
So Whitney just finished telling us that the logjam will break once gun control advocates accept that the Second Amendment confers an individual right -- but then he acknowledges that the president of the United States has already made this concession, and it hasn't softened the gunners' stance one tiny bit. (Whitney also notes that the Brady Campaign has made this concession. Still no conciliatory movement from the gunners.)

Whitney lectures liberals on what must not be discussed:
Shooting sports are important recreation for many Americans. So an outright ban on bulk ammunition purchases, or on "assault" weapons like the AR-15, would be a nonstarter.... The 1994 ban on purchases of new assault rifles and extended magazines, which was allowed to lapse in 2004, was similarly overbroad.
Why? Just 'cuz. Gun fans see AR-15s or high-capacity magazines and, like kids looking at sugary cereals in the supermarket, say "WANT! WANT!" That's reason enough not to bring any of this up again, hippie.

What might be acceptable to the gunners?
Gun-control supporters need higher-precision instruments than the federal assault weapons ban in their arsenal if they want legislators to discuss and debate their proposals instead of dismissing them. A law requiring membership in a shooting range or a gun club for bulk purchases of ammunition or extended magazines would be a reasonable start. Vigorous enforcement of existing federal laws that criminalize buying guns, under a false pretext, for somebody else who can't pass the federal background check -- a favorite ruse of criminals -- would be a good next step. (Here we should take the N.R.A. at its word; it keeps saying laws on the books should be enforced.)

Maybe someday we could even require people who buy guns from private owners, online or at gun shows to pass that same federal background check. But we’ll never know until we begin seriously talking to each other about our gun violence problem.
Oh, right -- a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines is de trop, but the gunners might actually go for (to take Whitney's last example) closing the gun show loophole ... if we ask them really, really nicely!

Let's check out some blog post titles from the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action:
* Will Gun Shows Become Extinct?
* Michael Bloomberg's and MAIG's Deceptive "Gun Show Loophole" Ad Campaign
* The War On Gun Shows
* The Truth About Gun Shows
* S. 843: Lautenberg Trying Again To Regulate Gun Shows
* The Gun Show Myth
Oh yeah, these guys seem really ready to compromise -- on this and (presumably) Whitney's other "acceptable" proposals.

You know what, Craig? Sometimes both sides aren't to blame. Sometimes blame for a societal stalemate absolutely can be assigned to one side more than the other.

(X-posted at Balloon Juice.)

I can see that this was meant as a calculated attack, but it's a gaffe -- though, as a gaffe, it's a logical by-product of the kind of foreign trip Mitt Romney's campaign put together:
Mitt Romney would restore 'Anglo-Saxon' relations between Britain and America

... In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one [Romney adviser] suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.

"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have".
The Romney people want to bait Obama as "foreign," but the use of "Anglo-Saxon" is a bridge too far -- saying that, instead of the usual "Anglo-American," is going to elicit negative responses in the center as well as on the left, and it's going to upset, among other people, some Jewish voters who might otherwise be receptive to Romney's message -- a voter group Romney is courting on this trip.

Now, what exactly is Romney doing on this trip? Honing his foreign policy chops? No. He's opening a few more fronts in his Fox/talk-radio-style war against Obama. The entire trip is meant to push wingnut hot buttons. There's literally nothing else going on here.

What's his itinerary? England, Israel, Germany, and Poland. That's it -- no other Middle Eastern countries, no India, no Pacific Rim, no Africa. Roy Edroso explains that the whole point of going to England is to embody wingnut rage:
Romney's advisors say that as President Romney "would seek to reinstate the Churchill bust displayed in the Oval Office by George W. Bush but returned to British diplomats by Mr Obama when he took office in 2009." They're still going on about that bust, even though it was meant to be returned all along and no one gives a shit except the two million conservatives who blogged about it at the time. In fact, all of this nonsense is a rehash of one of the more ridiculous rightwing fits of 2009, when the Obamas were alleged to have dissed Queen Elizabeth because something something no curtsey, thereby shattering what had once been a great "Anglosphere" alliance of Christopher Hitchens and anybody else who didn't like wogs.
Oh, and:
Mr Obama has appeared less interested in relations with London than Mr Bush. He repeatedly rebuffed Gordon Brown when the then-prime minister sought a meeting at the UN in 2009 and was criticised for responding to an elaborate gift with a set of DVDs that did not work in Britain.
The right-o-sphere has never gotten over that.

Israel? Obviously he's going there to make the point that Barack Obama hates Jews (a point being reinforced by a multimillion-dollar ad campaign bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson that aims to persuade Jewish voters of the same thing).

Poland? Well, as The New York Times noted a few days ago,
In Warsaw and Gdansk, he will make a play for Catholic and Polish voters (a big constituency in Pennsylvania and Michigan), Republican political strategists say.
This is also linked to the American right's "We are all Catholics now" notion (Obama wants to force churches to pay for birth control!), as well as to the right's Ronald Reagan fetish (Reagan and a Polish pope ended the Cold War is, on the right, a plain statement of fact).

Germany? I imagine Romney's going there to celebrate austerity -- ignoring the fact that German austerity coexists with a social safety net that's much more extensive than even the one that the big commie Obama maintains. Romney won't note that Germany actually did this as the crisis spread:
They extended the "Kurzarbeit" or "short work" program to encourage companies to furlough workers or give them fewer hours instead of firing them, making up lost wages out of a fund filled in good times through payroll deductions and company contributions.

Romney won't mention or acknowledge that. Romney's remarks throughout the trip will be pure Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. He's not even going to pretend to be broadening his base of knowledge about the world. He's not even going to fake gravitas. It's going to be pure revanchism from beginning to end.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Arizona congressman (and ex-vice president's son) Ben Quayle explains to the Daily Caller why gun laws are futile: because evil happens, no matter what you do about it.
"No, look, I mean, the problem is you can't regulate evil. Evil happens. This individual, the guy who was in Aurora, Colorado, he is an evil person and was going to find a way to inflict as much damage as possible... those that want to actually have evil actions, they’re going to find a way to do that regardless of what restrictions Congress or the state puts on them,” Quayle told TheDC on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

"See, that's the problem with thinking that you can regulate people's minds and people's actual actions. You can't do it. When somebody wants to do something as atrocious as that person did in Colorado, they're going to find one way to do it...."
So I guess we should just disband the military and welcome Al Qaeda to our shores, saying, "We can't stop you, so you may as well just do what you intend to do, because we know you'll find a way."

We may as well disband the FBI and all state and local police forces. We should remove the locks from our homes and just welcome criminals in, because when somebody wants to do something atrocious like take all your possessions, and maybe sexually assault and/or kill you and every member of your family, they're going to find one way to do it.

We may as well stop trying to prevent perverts from raping children, and we may as well just make it legal to sell heroin in playgrounds -- evil people are going to find a way to inflict as much damage as possible.

We may as well just make it legal for hackers to steal our credit card numbers and other identifying information so they can bleed our bank accounts dry -- those that want to, they're going to find a way.

Really, there's nothing we can do to stop any evil act of any kind -- slavery, torture, human sacrifice, it doesn't matter, because you can't regulate people's minds and people's actual actions.

So there you have it. Ben Quayle speaks the truth. Humanity has been futilely legislating against evil acts for millennia, and not a single one has ever been prevented. So we should give up already and just accepted the world as it actually is.


And I probably shouldn't single Ben Quayle out, because gun absolutists say You can't regulate evil and You can't regulate human behavior and People will find a way to do what they want all the time, and their co-religionists always nod vigorously in agreement, convinced that they've trumped every pro-gun-control argument ever. So why not apply the same logic to every other antisocial or sociopathic behavior in life?


Oh, for crissake:

I don't just blame Drudge for this bit of idiot bait. I blame WNEW, a CBS news radio station in D.C., which posted the linked story, based on AP reporting. Drudge didn't pull that detail out -- it's WNEW's lede:
James Holmes Received $26K Grant From Bethesda-Based National Institutes of Health

James Holmes, the alleged gunman in the recent theater shooting that left 12 dead in Aurora, Colo., was previously awarded a $26,000 federal grant.

WNEW News reports that Holmes was awarded a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It gave the graduate student a $26,000 stipend and paid his tuition for the highly competitive neuroscience program at the University of Colorado in Denver. Holmes was one of six neuroscience students at the school to get the grant money....
Somebody at WNEW undoubtedly knows that rabid government-bashers on the right will eat up a story like this, a story that says an evil, horrible person was sucking on the government teat. Never mind the fact that most of us want the government to encourage education and science, and that Holmes absolutely seemed to be a deserving recipient until he took leave of his senses -- anything that stirs the blood and reinforces the prejudices of Randian rageaholics (even if some of them are part of the hypocritical "keep your government hands off my Medicare" crowd) is good journalism by modern standards, i.e., it pulls in an audience.

So, are the wingers going to be calling this massacre Obama's fault soon? Are they going to say he stole your tax dollars and gave them to a killer to buy massacre weapons? Thanks a bunch, WNEW.


UPDATE: Clayton Cramer and Instapundit spread the stupid.

"Gross," today:

"Pic of the day," nineteen days ago:

(First photo via Wonkette.)

I don't really have a strong disagreement with what David Brooks is saying today about spree killers:
People who commit spree killings are usually suffering from severe mental disorders. The response, and the way to prevent future episodes, has to start with psychiatry, too.

The best way to prevent killing sprees is with relationships -- when one person notices that a relative or neighbor is going off the rails and gets that person treatment before the barbarism takes control. But there also has to be a more aggressive system of treatment options, especially for men in their 20s.
What bothers me is that, although Brooks says he's in favor of tighter gun laws, he doesn't want us talking about guns after spree killings, which makes him just like his fellow right-wingers who unswervingly oppose tighter gun laws. He makes the case for dismissing the impact of weapon availability by mischaracterizing what a lot of us are saying and thinking:
The crucial point is that the dynamics are internal, not external. These killers are primarily the product of psychological derangements, not sociological ones.

Yet, after every rampage, there are always people who want to use these events to indict whatever they don't like about society. A few years ago, some writers tried to blame violent video games for a rash of killings.
I'm not advocating stricter gun laws because I'm looking for an excuse to talk about a pet peeve. I agree with Brooks that spree killers need help, and if we could get them that help, they wouldn't shoot people. (I'm ignoring Brooks's support for a party that advocates severe cuts in mental health funding.)

I don't blame gun culture for what's going on in James Holmes's head. I don't blame gun culture for what was going on in the head of Jared Lee Loughner or Seung-Hui Cho. They all needed help.

I blame gun culture for the fact that, since we can't successfully intercede in every case of incipient mass-homicidal madness, because we don't have the resources and don't have perfect foresight, the gun culture doesn't permit us to intercede in another way that might prevent the shedding of innocent blood. We can't flag mass purchases of firepower that could be signs of a massacre in the making, the way we can flag mass purchases of Sudafed or huge money transfers. We can't place even low barriers between unidentified crazy people and huge arsenals. It's like running a prison and not being certain whether a new inmate is a suicide risk, but not being allowed to take his belt away except under extraordinary circumstances, because the pro-belt lobby is so powerful.

Yes -- absolutely we should get more of these people help. But why does that preclude any other measures to reduce the risk posed by their madness?

And, in reply to that:

Ours is a depraved culture.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Oh, tee-hee:
Star of Romney 'My Hands Didn't Build This' Ad Received Millions in Government Loans and Contracts

... In a new TV ad, Romney features an offended New Hampshire businessman, saying, "My father's hands didn't build this company? My hands didn't build this company? My son's hands aren't building this company?"

The New Hampshire Union Leader's John DiStato today reports that in 1999 the business in question, Gilchrist Metal, "received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority 'to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment'..." In addition, in 2011, Gilchrist Metal "received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008..."

The businessman, Jack Gilchrist, also acknowledged that in the 1980s the company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling “somewhere south of” $500,000, and matching funds from the federally-funded New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center....
And if that isn't enough, as I've discovered, Gilchrist was also a subcontractor once on a piece of public art. Public art!

From the New Hampshire Weekly section of the January 31, 1999, Boston Globe:
In Flagstaff, Ariz., pedestrians, bikers and motorists traveling the storied Route 66 now have a new view in addition to a panoramic mountainscape. "Solar Calendar," a public sculpture by Amherst's Mary Boone Wellington, is part space-age Stonehendge, part modern sundial, part pastoral night light.

The sculpture, which Wellington designed and built with the help of Advanced Energy Systems of Wilton and Gilchrist Metal Fabrication of Hudson, consists of 12 free-standing metal and plexiglass columns, ranging in height from 6 to 17 feet, each a different color symbolizing a different month....
Presumably the sculptor got a grant -- your tax dollars, Flagstaff residents! -- to get this done, and she paid the rugged Randian individualists at Gilchrist to help make it.

And, um, a decade later, it's not exactly beloved by the citizenry:
A series of illuminated pillars alongside Route 66 at Postal Boulevard that cost taxpayers $50,000 several years ago is now gathering dust in a city warehouse.

City officials scrapped what some in Flagstaff facetiously dubbed the "alien outhouses" on Monday after a car hit the sculpture a few weeks ago. That accident exposed a 110-volt electrical terminal, creating a public hazard, said City Architect Karl Eberhard. This was the second time a car plowed into the expensive piece of art since its installation.

Named "Solar Calendar" by artist Mary Boone Wellington, the artwork has been plagued by problems, mainly in illuminating it.

The city had brought in various experts over the years in an attempt to fix it, Eberhard said, but estimates pegged the repairs at several thousand dollars. The city also made numerous attempts to contact Wellington over the years for a consultation but never received a response from the artist.

Several attempts to relocate the piece were also explored over the years but were eventually ruled out because it would have been cost-prohibitive....
I'm sorry it didn't work out -- it's kind of interesting:

But I know it's the kind of thing that infuriates right-wingers, and makes them shoot "Boondoggle!" And Romney's guy and his colleagues helped build it.

From USA Today:
Despite concerted Democratic attacks on his business record, Republican challenger Mitt Romney scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs, a national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, those surveyed say Romney's background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation's economic problems over the next four years.

The findings raise questions about Obama's strategy of targeting Bain's record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns.
By double digits, those surveyed say the president better understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives.
This at a time when the #1 problem most Americans face in their daily lives is a bad economy.

This is bad for Obama:
A record number of Americans express skepticism about the activist role of government Obama espouses; 61% say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.
And yet:
Forty-seven percent say they agree with Obama on the issues that matter most to them; 45% say that of Romney.

And, ultimately:
In the separate Gallup tracking poll, the race stands at 46% Obama, 45% Romney.
So apparently voters care most about the economy, and vastly prefer Romney on the economy, and think Obama's approach is too activist, but agree with Obama on the issues more than with Romney, and so the race is neck-and-neck. Obama's strategy of highlighting Romney's business record has backfired -- it just reminds people that he's been successful in dealing with money -- except that it hasn't backfired, because voters still don't favor Romney. Or maybe it's that they say they want someone who'd do a good job on the economy, and Romney fills the bill, but on second thought, given an Obama-Romney choice, they don't want Romney, even though he's persuaded them that he's the guy to do precisely what they want done.

Right. Got it.