Saturday, July 21, 2012

Crazy Bachmann does it again #2

Jon Stewart really scored a hit of scorn on Michele Bachmann -- and cleverly showed how she has a closer connection to Muslim terrorism than does Huma Abedin.

Here's Bachmann's allegations about Abedin's connection:

   1.  Decades ago, Abedin's now-deceased father, a professor of social sciences in Saudi Arabia, headed the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs at a university in Saudi Arabia.

   2.  The institute had the support of another academic, who also happened to be the former Secretary General of a second, totally separate organization, the Muslim World League.

   3.  Someone has said that the Muslim World League has a history of possibly having had some dubious connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.

That's it.   From Huma Abedin, to her deceased father, to his professional associate, to another activity of that man, in an organization that may have had an association to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ergo -- could the logic be clearer? -- Huma Abedin is a prime suspect -- guilt by association -- and must be investigated as a Muslim conspirator infiltrating the highest level of our government.   She's a top assistant to our Secretary of State, fer cryin' out loud.

Now here's where Stewart's brilliance comes in.

He has investigated and found that Bachman herself has an even closer link to Muslim terrorists than Huma Abedin.

1.  In 2008 Bachmann received a $1000 political contribution from the HSBC bank.

2.  The HSBC bank has been caught out laundering money for Al Qaeda.

Man !!!    You see.   We just can't be too vigilant.   That Bachmann woman should be investigated.   She might be very dangerous.   Those stupid things she says?   It's all part of her cover, trying to appear stupid and bigoted so we won't suspect what she's really up to.

Get rid of her !!!!!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Credit where due

As critical as I have been lately of Mitt Romney, I admire what he did today in response to the movie theater massacre in Colorado and I want to say so.

He suspended any campaign activities for the day and took down all political ads in Colorado.  He read a message of compassion and unity in this time of grief and called on us all to reach out to those who may be suffering.

It was presidential.

So was President Obama's statement.   But we expected no less from him.



Two phrases from the Romney camp jumped out at me and made me wonder if they were said intentionally or simply as inadvertent slips.

Ann Romney, defending her husband's refusal to release more tax returns, said:
"[W]e've given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life."
"You people"?   In fact, it was first reported without the "you," just: "We've given all people need to know."   But some alert person pointed out the omission.   Saying "you people" conveys are very different tone.  It's a demeaning, condescending slur.

And then a campaign adviser said:
"Unfortunately it’s disappointing that the attacks . . .  are diverting away from what real Americans want to talk about. And real Americans want to talk about getting back to work."

"Real Americans"?   As in Sarah Palin's "real Americans"?   Are we back to that kind of divisiveness from Republicans?

Unintentional?    Or are they intentionally playing to the base?    The "you people" would of course mean the prying press and the Democrats.    The "real" Americans are the patriots who vote Republican and have the "right" values.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Crazy Bachmann does it again

It was such a nice respite after Michele Bachmann dropped out of the Repubican primary.  But now she's back with a paranoid, vicious attack on Muslims.

Specificlly, she and four other Republican Congressmen, have sent a letter to five different federal agencies demanding an investigation of the "infiltration" of our government by the Muslim Brotherhood

Sound familiar?   Substitute "Islamic fundamentalists" for "communists" and we're right back into the McCarthy era.

What evidence do they based this claim on?

No evidence at all -- just a "report" by the Center for Security Policy, which is an organization run by the fanatic Frank Gaffney, who has been fanatically crusading against the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia law for years.

They mention by name Huma Abedin, a State Department official who has been an aide to Hillary Clinton for years.   She is also the wife of former Congressman Anthony Wiener.   The "evidence" against Abedin is typical of the flimsy tale they spin.

She is Muslim, yes, that's not in doubt.  Bachmann et al claim that three of her family members are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Ergo, she's part of an infiltration conspiracy.

John McCain and Anderson Cooper are two who have called the charges unfounded and have denounced these tactics.  

McCain said:
"These allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant. . . .

"Ultimately, what is at stake in this matter is larger even than the reputation of one person.   This is about who we are as a nation, and who we still aspire to be ... When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it."
Bravo, John McCain.   You have repeated your defense of Barack Obama when a woman at one of your campaign rallies in 2008 stated that Obama was a Muslim.   Thank you.

Cooper deconstructed the "evidence"  - a series of tenuous connections.   It seems that years ago Huma Abedin's deceased father had some connection to another man who also was part of some other group that had some connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.

And Cooper concludes:  "And because of that, Huma Abedin might be some sort of spy or infiltrator and deserves to be investigated."

This is really pathetic and despicable.   Michele Bachmann has sunk to a new level of mean and low and once again proved herself unfit to be in Congress, much less the Oval Office.  She could be dismissed as a joke, if the media didn't give her such exposure and, hence, power to sway ignorant, bigoted people's opinions.


Well, at least they're consistent

Never let the Boy Scouts of America be accused of flip-flopping.

Eric Jones is a 19 year old Boy Scout who is in his fifth summer working as a camp counselor for the Scouts.    Eric was in the process of coming out as gay, and he decided that it was time "to have my life in scouting and my other life come together."    So he told the camp director, hoping that they would make an exception to the no-gays policy since he'd been involved with the camp for so long and they knew him well.

He was wrong.   They fired him.

Two years ago, top Scout leadership formed a special committee to study the policy.   They have also just released their report, which reaffirms the official BSA policy that excludes gays, both as scout leaders and as scouts.

They say the majority of parents support the decision.    Right.    The ones who have not already taken their sons out of BSA rather than let them be part of such a discriminatory group.  Their opinions, of course, were not surveyed.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Romney on the ropes #6: Withdraw or be rejected?

The sense that Romney might really (have to) withdraw grows more likely by the hour.

And now it's looking like, even if he doesn't choose to do so, he might get pushed -- or dumped.

Here's what's coming out:

He has now given an interview to the National Review in which he acknowledges that Bain's Cayman Islands accounts were set up to allow foreign investors to avoid paying U. S. taxes on their investments with Bain.

Again, this is all perfectly legal. It's called "loopholes" that allow the wealthy to avoid taxes. But it's politically very damaging for the Repubs to have to admit all this.

And Romney is just stepping all over the party message.

I see it all unraveling for him. At this point, I'd give it a 50/50 chance that he will withdraw -- or they'll nominate someone else.

The Obama camp knew what it was doing. They made a big show about releasing the tax returns -- and then sat back and watched it all unravel.

So:   Who's next?     Tim Pawlenty.

Certainly the party powers would have the main say in this.  They'd never get behind Santorum, the last alternate.   Or any of the other also-rans?    Gingrich? (joke);  Perry? (riotous joke);   Bachmann or Cain?  (what comes after riotous joke?).

My God.   What a line-up.

Pawlenty is the man.   He has national experience early in the campaign.  So that gives him an advantage over the potential VPs.

Stay tuned.


Romney on the ropes #5: Might Mitt withdraw?

Huffington Post is reporting information from several current and former executives at Bain Capital that Romney was confident that he would not have to release any tax returns prior to 2010 -- and that their understanding is that if he had known:
He never would have gone ahead with his run for president.
They also said that they have been instructed to keep any information about the company connected with Romney strictly confidential.

Now this is the most devastating thing yet to suggest there's something really damaging -- at least politically damaging.   Some have even suggested he might have been involved in the "Swiss tax evasion scandal of 2009," which involved a large Swiss bank and a scheme to evade U. S. taxes.   There's no known evidence that he was -- it's just one more speculation trying to understand what could be so damaging to make releasing the tax returns worse than this.

[added later].    However, it is now known that he did have an account with the Swiss bank UBS that had the scandal about tax evasions.   That doesn't mean he was involved -- but it's close enough to the smoke that it raises questions about fire.

But here's what really perked up my ears.   "He never would have gone ahead with his run for president."    This introduces the idea that he could back out at this point.   The convention hasn't been held yet.  They could have a brokered convention and choose someone else -- either because Romney withdraws or simply because they don't want him to run now.

Some 40% of Republicans are said to not really like Mitt Romney.   So there might be a groundswell to replace him -- the justification being that this makes him a damaged candidate who can't win.

Hoo ha !!!   This is some development.


Pathetic . . but oh, so characteristic of Dubya

Interviewed at the Hoover Institute (a conservative think-tank), George W. Bush was answering a question about his post-presidency and why he is keeping a low profile.
"Eight years was awesome, and I was famous and I was powerful. But I have no desire for fame and power anymore. . . . I thought long and hard about that and decided that not being on the stage was something I was comfortable with."
His statement reeks with what I scorn in the man:   an undeserved narcissism and entitlement -- and a complete unconcern for the serious issues and the harm his policies did

Add to that a tone of simple-mindedness --where you'd expect a bit of nuance and complexity, perhaps some irony, or maybe even a touch of self-deprecation -- he goes for the "golly-gee, aren't I important?" tone.   Like a little kid playing grown-up with a straight face.


At Madame Tussaud's wax museum ?

This is supposedly a photo of President and Mrs. Obama posing with former President and Mrs. George W. Bush at the White House this week for the unveiling of the official Bush portraits.

But please tell me that the Obamas actually went to Madame Tussaud's Museum and posed with the wax likeness of Dubya and Laura.

Can they really look that frozen in real life?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Romney on the ropes #4

Here's a plausible explanation from Bloomsburg Business Week for Romney's "lack of enthusiasm" for releasing more tax returns.   The article admits it is pure speculation.  But here goes.

As everyone is now coming to believe, there must be something that would be even more politically damaging than the negative heat he's taking for not releasing them.   Here is one scenario.

Like most ultra-rich investors, Romney probably took a lot of losses in the 2008 market crash.  Given the tax laws that allow capital losses to be carried forward as deductions from future capital gains, it's possible that he paid no taxes at all in 2009.

That, while perfectly legal, would be politically devastating.

Why so devastating?   Because it confirms that rich people have special advantages.  The fact that it is legal confirms that there are different rules for them and the rest of us.

Just compare:    A rich person's stocks lose value;  he's allowed to take it as a capital loss to reduce capital gains tax in a future tax year.  A teacher loses her job and all her income   No way to subtract that lost income from next year's salary -- assuming she's lucky enough to get another job.

Krugman on Obama's rationale for going after Romney's Bain experience

Paul Krugman examines the question of why the Obama campaign is focusing on the trivia of when Romney left Bain instead of their economic policy differences.

Krugman says, in essence:   Look, it's all too complicated for people to understand, especially with the sound-bite, short attention span that our TV news is committed to.  Even print journalists too often simply present both sides of a difference, without any analysis or fact-checking.

He tells of a focus group in which Romney's economic policy was presented in simple terms, explaining what it actually means.   People in the focus group simply refused to believe that any politician would take such positions.

So there you are.    People form their opinions based on the sound bites and the superficial trivia.

Ergo:   let's talk about something people can understand, like conflicting statements Romney has made about when he gave up responsibility for Bain Capital.

Krugman goes further, however.   He says that, actually this story line is also about the policy and ideological differences, however.   It spotlights the difference between how the wealthy and powerful benefit from our system at the expense of the majority, as in tax cuts for the rich and cutting assistance for the poor.

This should be a winning attack line:   Do you believe there should be different rules for the rich and the rest of us?  Is so, then vote for Mitt Romney.

At least it's more on point than yelling about birth certificates and screaming that "Obama hates America !!" as Ruch Limbaugh did once again yesterday.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Change the subject

First rule of political campaigns:   When things are going badly, change the subject.   Trot our something that will grab headlines.   Distract the news media and grab the spotlight.

The most heinous example, of course, would be what Republicans falsely accused Bill Clinton of doing:   Start a war.   In the midst of the fight with Newt Gingrich's Republicans over budget matters, which eventually led to a shutdown of the government, Clinton did urge NATO to act on the intransigent Bosnian Serbs, and U. S. planes began bombing Bosnian strongholds.

That was far more complicated than a simple distraction.   But you get the idea.

So now, the Romney campaign is on the ropes over conflicting documentation of when Romney actually was no longer responsible for Bain Capital's policies and actions.

So:   look for them to announce his choice for VP any day now.

And my guess is it's going to be Tim Pawlenty.    Second guess:   Rob Portman.

It's not going to be Condi Rice.  Or, if it is, it will indicate real desperation.  Desperate enough to counter the fact that her slightly moderate stance on abortion would widen the gulf with the Tea Party crowd.   Besides, she seems to really really mean it when she says she's not interested in the job.   [Look, she's already baby-sat one president who wasn't qualified for the job;  give her a break.]

Perhaps the recent flurry about her being considered was just so they could appear to be giving serious consideration to choosing a woman VP.   Of course, she would be a two-fer:  she's (1) a woman and (2) African-American -- two demographics that Romney lags badly with.    But she's way too moderate for the current climate.


PS:   Given how badly things are going for Romney, maybe he is that desperate.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Romney on the ropes #2

Mitt Romney did a media blitz on Friday -- going on five different networks to say, over and over, in the same words and tone (he memorizes well), "I had nothing to do with any entity at Bain after February 2009."

He tried to dismiss those annoying documents that list him as "sole shareholder, chief operating officer, and president" as mere forms that were filled out with the old data while they were working out the transition to someone else.

It didn't work.   There are now just more questions.

Another pesky document has surfaced, filed with the state of Massachusetts in late 2002, a month after he was elected governor.   It lists Romney as one of two "managing members" of Bain Capital Investors, LLC.

You tried to whitewash, Mitt.   It didn't work.   This is going to keep dripping out and making you look bad -- as well as dominating the news cycle -- until you come clean.   Either fess up that you did still had responsibility at Bain, and therefore have to own up to being in charge when their record is not so savory -- or else you retained the titles (and a salary listed as "over $100,000") and did absolutely nothing to earn it.

The beauty of this as a campaign tactic for Obama is that, while the issue itself is a trifle (did he or did he not attend board meetings and make decisions?):  (1) it further taints the image of Romney as an admirable corporate executive;  (2)  it keeps reminding people that things happen differently for the wealthy and powerful (wouldn't we all like to have a $100,000 salary for doing nothing?);  and (3) it reinforces the image of Romeny as slippery with the truth, of changing what he says to fit the moment.


Penn State cover-up #2

Let's see.   You're the 84 year old legendary football coach at Penn State, where football is god.   Everyone thinks you are the greatest coach ever, and your reputation is that of a really good guy -- known for integrity and honor.    To many generations of football players and coaches you are a god yourself.  There is a statue on the campus of you.

But it's January 2011, and you've just been called before a grand jury to testify in the sex-abuse scandal of one of your former assistant coaches.   The public didn't know it at the time, although the university president obviously did, but you knew a lot more about this case than you admitted to.

In fact, as far back as 1998 and again in 2002, formal complaints had been filed against Assistant Coach Sandusky.   We now know that Sandusky was questioned by the campus police and reportedly confessed to this and other incidences of inappropriate behavior with boys in the college gym.

You knew about this but you never spoke to Sandusky about it.   And you agreed with the Athletic Director and the University President that no further action should be taken, other than letting Sandusky quietly retire the following year -- and he could continue having an office on campus and use of the athletic facilities (and use he did for the next 10 years, bringing boys in and sexually abusing them in the showers).

Everybody knew you as a man of rectitude and integrity -- but you knowingly had condoned a pedophile for 10 years -- and created such an atmosphere in the athletic department that several janitors have now testified that they observed Sandusky raping boys.   But they were too afraid of being fired, so they didn't report it.

So now it's January 2011 and another case has come to light that can't be ignored.  A grand jury is convened.  Your role in the failure to report and the cover-up is exposed.

So what do you do?   You, Joe Paterno, icon of a football empire, go to the president and begin negotiations for an amended contract that isn't due for renewal for more than a year away.  And you do negotiate that amended contract:   it gives you a $3 million bonus if you retire at the end of the 2011 season and forgiveness of $250,000 interest-free debt the university has been carrying for you.  And a few more perks -- like access to a stadium luxury box for the next 25 years for your family.

The amended contract was accepted.   Then the scandal hit the news.   Paterno was fired -- and his offer to finish out the season was rejected by the Board of Trustees, who had not been informed about all the earlier incidents.

Paterno claimed he had not known the extent of the inappropriate behavior, that it had been described to him only as "fondling."

But why -- if you had no fear of losing your job over your failure to act -- would you hurry to amend your contract to make it even cushier for you and your family?

It smells like guilt to me.