Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

Debate II Suffers ‘Mittitus Interrupt-us’

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Above, 'the picture of the night,' according to the website I Acknowledge Class Warfare Exists ( 'I think this picture sums it up,' wrote blogger Icarus. 'Romney interrupting Obama in the debate again, with no respect or deference for the president. This picture is a perfect caricature of Romney during his entire campaign. 10k bet?'

By Emily Theroux

After watching the second Obama/Romney debate, a town-hall brawl staged at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island, I felt as if I’d disappeared down Alice in Wonderland‘s rabbit hole into the “sea of tears” and come up gasping for air in Orwell’s 1984.

Nothing the Republican standard-bearer said made sense.  Up was down. Black was white. Truth and lies were indistinct, mutable, virtually interchangeable, because that’s how Mitt likes it. Chaos and dissension permit him to dominate the conversation, manipulate the viewers’ perceptions of his rival, and falsely cast himself as upholder of righteousness, captain of industry, foreign policy virtuoso, and champion of the middle class — which bamboozles the unwary as long as the debate moderator buckles and Romney’s opponent remains loath to call a flip-flop a dirty, deliberate lie.

This time, however, no one — with the possible exception of the 82 absurdly indecisive and largely uninformed town-hall questioners — was taking Mitt the Impaler’s smug, derisive nonsense lying down.

The moderator, Candy Crowley of CNN, fought back valiantly against Mitt’s dizzying displays of entitlement, pique, condescension, disrespect, and refusal to observe the rules of the debate.

President Obama showed up this time firing on all cylinders: the actual 2008 campaigner, come back to life. While Willard “Myth” Romney kept coming at him — throwing hissy-fits of petulance when Crowley or Obama had the temerity to stand up to him; ominously stalking the stage while alternately seething and smirking; hurling contempt and flinging invective — it was clear that Mitt wasn’t quite sure what hit him.

Obama was present, engaged, wry, witty, assertive, even aggressive when necessary, without relying on Joe Biden’s fallback posture during last week’s vice-presidential debate with Paul “Lyin’ ” Ryan — laughing in his opponent’s face every time he lied. From the moment when Obama first said, “Candy, what Governor Romney said just isn’t true,” I knew it was only a matter of time before Mitt the Wazzock (a name which shall live in infamy Across the Pond) lost his loosely corralled marbles and launched into the primary-tested “Mitt the Twit” arrogant-bully persona taken viral by tweeting Londoners last summer.

The Mittster, by contrast, was defensive and offensive in turn, rattled, domineering, snappish, pouty, and a complete churl. My relatives in South Carolina have an expression for such boorish behavior: Mitt acted, as my mother used to say, “like something on a stick.”


Fox ‘questioned the questions’ undecided voters asked

Not that you could tell Obama trounced Romney from the wingnut drivel that inevitably followed the debate. The fools on Faux News were spinning Romney’s embarrassing performance so furiously that some actually concluded that the sorest of sore losers won the debate!

You could have set your alarm clock by Fox’s — and, I’m afraid, CNN’s — escalating paint-by-numbers idiocy.

  • Color #1: Brit Hume, the Fox “straight news guy,” observed, “I thought Mitt Romney was the same Mitt Romney we saw in Denver two weeks ago” (no mention of the cold, unalterable fact that Mittens was lying like a used-car salesman and insolently hectoring the sitting President of the United States — nor that he was devastated by the president’s comebacks to his preposterous lies, and Crowley’s “fact-checking” of Romney’s mischaracterizations of Obama’s reaction to the Sept. 11 attack on the American consulate in Libya). Hume did conclude, however, that Obama ” will probably be declared the winner of this, on most cards.”
  • Color #2: John King of CNN fell into the predictable mainstream trap of trying so hard to keep from being accused of “liberal media bias” that such journalists end up creating a “false equivalency” between the comparatively rational Democrats and the extremist “insurgent outlier party” that the GOP has devolved into. “I think Gov. Romney did a very good job prosecuting against the incumbent’s record,” King proclaimed. (That assessment becomes meaningless when you’ve delved into Romney’s symptomatic pattern of deceit long enough to realize that what appears to the uninitiated as “a very good job” is merely a very thorough pack of lies.)
  • Color #3: Sean Hannity raved about Romney’s debate “win,” calling Romney’s performance “the most-devastating indictment of the Obama economy that we’ve seen. CBS snap poll 65-34 Romney tonight.” (This was not what other journalists said about the CBS poll. The Washington Post said Obama won 37 percent to 30 percent, while 33 percent described it as a tie; they also reported that a “snap CNN/ORC poll” said Obama won, 47 percent to 39 percent. Other mainstream sources agreed.) Hannity also called Romney’s failure to make the case that Obama “didn’t call the attack in Libya an act of terrorism” (when he clearly did) the debate’s “best moment.”


Romney retaliates with imperious, hit-and-run debating style

“Romney came across as a kind of irritating know-it-all who doesn’t operate well when he’s challenged,” said Jonathan Alter to Chris Matthews, in what had to be the understatement of the evening.

At one point, Romney charged Obama with a 14 percent drop in oil production and a 9 percent reduction in gas production this year on federal land — because, he said, the president halved the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters. “This has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal,” he snarked.

Then, after Obama called Mitt’s attack “not true,” the Republican started in on Obama with a manic, rapid-fire inquisition that astonished viewers with its sheer impertinence, as well as by Mitt’s absolute refusal to let Obama finish a response or get a word in edgewise.

“So how much did you cut ’em by?” (Obama, again: “It’s not true.”) “By how much did you cut ’em by, then? (Obama: “Governor, we’ve actually produced more oil on —”)

“No-no,” Mitt snapped, as if shushing an impudent child or dismissing an “illegal” Mexican gardener. “How much have you cut on licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?” (Obama: “Governor Romney, here is what we did. There are were a bunch of oil companies —”) “No, I had a — I had a — I had a question —” (Obama: “No, you — no, you — you — you want —”) “— and the question was, how much did you cut them by?” (Obama: “— you want me to answer a question, I’m —”) “How much did you cut them by?” (Obama: “I’m happy to answer the question.”) “All right, and it is?”

OMG, MittWit! I fumed. Did you remember to take your meds today?!!?!

Obama actually managed to articulate a paragraph about refusing to let oil companies squat for 20 to 30 years without drilling on public lands. Then more crossfire ensued over whether oil production was up (Obama) or down (Romney) on federal land. Finally, Mitt bashed Obama with this doozy: “I don’t think anyone believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. You’ll get your chance in a moment,” the challenger informed the incumbent, “because I’m still speaking.”

(Obama: “Well, Governor, if — if you’re asking me a question, I’m going to answer it.”) “My — and the answer is I don’t believe people think that’s the case, because I — I’m — that wasn’t a question.” (Obama: “Okay. All right.”) “That was a statement.”

A white supremacist advertises his racist proclivities to like-minded voters attending a weekend rally for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who targeted white voters throughout his campaign with racial dog-whistle signals. Photo by Getty Images.

Un-freaking-believable! Mitt Romney was just as testy, disdainful, and disrespectful toward President Obama as he was to Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum — “swatting him away,” as Chris Matthews put it. Noblesse, in Romney’s case, does not oblige. (“Excuse me; I’m still speaking … I’m not finished … Anderson? Anderson? … Let me complete!”) The baby of George and Lenore Romney’s family, MittForBrains can be insufferably whiny and demanding when he doesn’t immediately get his way.

“Candy, I’m used to being interrupted,” joked Barack Obama, Leader of the Free World.

And dissed. A “white pride” voter was allowed to attend a Romney campaign event over the weekend wearing a navy-blue T-shirt emblazoned with the following legend: “Put the White Back in the White House.”

Sadly, ever since Obama’s first State of the Union address, when the execrable South Carolina congressman, Joe Wilson, shouted out, “You lie!” to the first black president of the United States, such staggering effrontery has precipitously eclipsed the audacity of hope.


Debate results indisputable: Mitt slept in doghouse last night

After the fireworks ended with Obama’s “47 percent” grand finale, Ann Romney’s subdued behavior was telling: No congratulatory kiss and hug for hubby.

By morning, fortunately, cooler heads than the talking ones on Fox News prevailed. Although they weren’t effusive in their praise, the usually insufferable Morning Joe team on MSNBC gave Barack Obama some credit for winning the debate — while ascribing to Mitt Romney a heap of blame for losing it.

Joe Scarborough, who called the debate “Romney’s missed opportunity,” made it clear that he didn’t like Mitt’s autocratic and dismissive debate posture (although Scarborough’s condescension toward Candy Crowley was almost as irksome as Romney’s poised-to-go-viral comment about the “binders full of women” that he falsely claimed resulted from his own efforts to recruit “qualified women candidates” to hold cabinet positions and agency posts in Massachusetts).

“You don’t run over a female moderator,” said Scarborough. “And you don’t run over the president of the United States.” The general consensus, he added, dictated “that you treat the president with deference.”

About Mitt Romney, Morning Joe sidekick Mike Barnicle opined, “He behaved as if he were a CEO and this was a hostile takeover.”

Let’s hope he doesn’t see dollar signs in American voters’ eyes and decide, once he wins the election, to ship all of our jobs to China.

Will the ‘Real’ Mitt Please Stand Up?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Obama's debate implosion, by Andrew Harrar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Emily Theroux

One short week ago, President Barack Obama was on top of his game, running 2-7 points ahead in 11 battlefield state polls, thanks to the wave of so-called “waitress moms” (white, blue-collar women without college educations) who had swung the incumbent’s way after his rival’s May fundraiser videotape — which disparaged 47 percent of Americans as irredeemable moochers malingering on taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars —  came to light.

At the time, Obama enjoyed an eye-popping 18 percent margin among all likely women voters. That astonishing lead, however, evaporated after “Mendacious Mitt” Romney used the first presidential debate to flip-flop his way back into the good graces of working-class white women and win over undecided voters. Meanwhile, Obama largely stood by without calling Romney out on his lies.

The MittBot had been in virtual freefall for two weeks before the debate. Obama appeared poised to outshine his badly stumbling opponent by highlighting Romney’s “severely conservative” agenda. I expected the president to mount the stage in Denver and chip away at MittWit’s “47 percent” videotape debacle, then spotlight Mitt’s reluctance to present a detailed picture of what he actually intends to do in office. Obama would likely close by hammering home the question he has posed rhetorically to Romney throughout the race: “What are you hiding in all of those undisclosed tax returns?”

Willard "Etch A Sketch" Romney is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. You never know which one you're going to get.

But the Republican candidate who showed up for the debate was a new, improved Mitt Romney, freshly cranked out of the Etch A Sketch for some 70 million TV viewers, many of whom hadn’t listened to a word from either candidate before that evening. Multiple Choice Mitt was free to be whoever he wanted to be — with or without the consent of Rush Limbaugh, Erick Erickson, or Ann Coulter.

The centrist GOP pol who turned up on that stage was no “severe conservative.” Obama looked as astonished as any well-informed voter at the modulated, almost-reasonable sound bites that emerged from Romney’s mouth. The problem was that the low-info crowd who usually ignore politics didn’t know the difference.


‘I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,’ said Obama.

My take on the president’s lackluster performance? Obama took the stage armed with thoughtful retorts to the wingnut demagoguery his opponent had been parroting for the previous 18 months. When Romney reversed one after another of his extremist talking points, Obama was stunned into a perplexed ennui.* He may have been thrown off his game by the previous night’s “race speech” brouhaha, and perhaps he even submitted to a last-minute appeal from his Chicago team to stay cool and fly under the radar.

But whatever the reason for Obama’s apparent malaise, the approach failed miserably. “I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,”  Obama mused a week later. “Because, you know, sometimes it’s hard to just keep on saying, ‘What you’re saying isn’t true.’ It gets repetitive.”

Massachusetts Mitt stood up there dishing out plausible-sounding positions as if he’d never carried water for Hannity and El Rushbo. His erstwhile “parasitic” 47 percenters — the low-wage workers who keep Uncle Sam at bay by claiming Reagan-era tax credits — slurped it up with a white plastic spork.

Plutocrat Mitt told a roomful of “have-mores” that these have-nots were professional “victims” whom he wasn’t even going to worry about during his elitist presidential run — yet Everyman Mitt smirked through his lying teeth, gushed about “our poor,” and might as well have called them “my base.”

Will the “real” Mitt Romney please stand up?

* A Daily Kos blogger, AmBushed, theorized that Romney used a debate technique known as “the Gish Gallop,” which, according to the Urban Dictionary, “involves spewing so much BS in such a short span that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it. To make matters worse, a Gish Gallop will often have one or more ‘talking points’ that has a tiny core of truth to it, making the person rebutting it spend even more time debunking it in order to explain that, yes, it’s not totally false, but the Galloper is distorting/misusing/misstating the actual situation.”


Underwhelmed by Massachusetts Mitt’s debating style

By the second time out of four that Romney repeated his favorite bald-faced anti-Obama lie — “Obama is going to steal $716 billion from your Medicare benefits” — without a sign of challenge or retort from the president, I knew Obama’s chances of winning the debate were in peril. The problem was that he didn’t know it. Obama was subdued, pensive, professorial, and working harder to corral his obvious scorn than he did to make forceful debate points.

Romney’s performance, however, was appalling. He was shifty-eyed, devious, oblique, and overbearing. He lied shamelessly and with few challenges from the moderator, made up his own rules for the debate, and contradicted every position he has ever claimed he espoused throughout the campaign. “OmniMitt the Apostate” argued the right, left, and center positions of every issue. He abandoned his own party’s platform, uttering heresy after heresy against conservative orthodoxy.

Does Mitt Romney even privately believe in any of the things he says, or does he simply practice situation ethics, selecting a “core belief” to match every occasion? He’s altered his “message” so many times in the past week that it’s giving me vertigo. The “severely conservative” primary candidate, with his hard-right bromides about tax cuts, regulations, and mandatory vaginal probes, changes his opinions on taxes and abortion nowadays more often than women change their tampons.

Yet Romney continues to deny his Etch A Sketch rap. “You want to know my position on issues?” he challenged a journalist. “Ask me, and I’ll tell you.”

And what would he tell you? It depends on his mood, his audience, his campaign’s current machinations, and the edicts of the far right. One day, he’s fiercely pro-life; the next, he doesn’t foresee acting on any kind of anti-abortion proposal. Yesterday, he railed against regulating business; today, he insists some type of regulation is essential. Throughout his campaign, he promised a 20 percent, across-the-board tax cut; during the debate, he flatly rejected its $5 trillion price tag. Mitt disputed his own positions on energy independence, cutting Medicare funding for current seniors, and firing teachers. He also assured debate viewers he would keep Obamacare’s popular “pre-existing conditions” provision (an assertion his campaign staff immediately  “walked back” offstage).

In the end, the only really consistent principle Romney has followed is that it doesn’t really matter what he says from one day to the next. If he works enough variation into the mix, he succeeds in confusing voters, confounding his critics, and backing his opponent into a corner. Obama now understands why his own straightforward, linear approach has worked against him thus far. As a general rule, Republicans believe the end justifies the means, while Democrats view that type of dissembling as a moral failing. If they’re not using the same playbook, how can the “right-versus-might” team get a jump on the “anything goes” crowd?

“Last week, Mitt Romney was the Lance Armstrong of politics, using performance-enhancing lies to win the debate,” MSNBC’s Martin Bashir observed.

How do you catch a dancing laser beam, or snag a really slippery fish while it’s furiously flipping in and out of the water?

“MittFlop” never promised to fight fair — or to hold still while Obama struggled to bait his hook.

Drudge Incites October ‘Obama Drama’

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator, spoke at a 2007 ministers' conference about the LA riots, Hurricane Katrina, and improving the lot of African-American communities all over the country. Some conservatives thought he sounded "too black" or "too angry."

Click here to view “Obama’s ‘Other’ Race Speech

By Emily Theroux

“Attacking Obama for Jeremiah Wright Is So 2008.”

That was the snappy headline posted last May on Keith Boykin’s blog, Fighting Words. A Republican super PAC planned to hire an “extremely literate” pitchman, Boykin said, “to argue that Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as a ‘metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln'” when he took a stand in support of same-sex marriage. The kicker? Attack ads linking the president with his controversial former pastor.

Word leaked out, however, and the PAC announced that the scandalous plan had been scrapped.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Boykin was incensed that anyone would admit they found “literate” blacks unusual — or characterize Obama as “metrosexual.” The group  wanted to “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do” in 2008, Boykin noted. “That is, they plan to lead a campaign of good old-fashioned race-baiting.”

“When asked whether Wright is off-limits in the 2012 presidential campaign, Romney said he hadn’t ‘read the papers yet,’ according to Los Angeles Times reporter Maeve Reston. Perhaps that should come as no surprise since the presumptive GOP nominee has already tried to link Obama to Wright, as he did in a radio interview with talk show host Sean Hannity in February. And though the official Wright ad campaign will never see the light of day, the racist undertone will persist through November. This is part of a dog-whistle campaign to reach out to those crazy conservatives who think Obama is a radical socialist Muslim Kenyan with no birth certificate and no right to be president.”

Willard "Mitt" Romney

A fellow BET blogger quoted GOP candidate Mitt Romney‘s famous last words on the matter: “I repudiate that effort. I think it’s the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign. I hope that our campaigns can respectively be about the future and about issues and about a vision for America,” Romney told the press.

Now, Mythological Mitt has repudiated something he’d insisted five months ago was beneath his stellar standards. Before embarking on a new plan of attack designed to hit Obama hard with the GOP’s perennial backstop when the going gets rough — the race card — the Romney campaign issued a preemptive statement  denying any involvement with his henchmen’s “October surprise.”

Mitt may have delegated this new hit job to right-wing media mavens, but the scheme has Willard’s Mitts all over it. He must have been cracking all kinds of stupid, robotic jokes last night, when The Drudge Report, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity teamed up to do his dirty work, by going flat-out, race-baiting “Goddamn America!” Jeremiah WRIGHT on his opponent’s unsuspecting a$$.


Drudge: ‘Curious tape’ will ‘ignite accusations of racism

Matt Drudge

Yesterday afternoon,  conservative newsbreaker Matt Drudge dribbled out Twitter-hints designed to foster a feeding frenzy on the right. “Curious tape dropping tonight. NOT from MOTHERJONES. Will cause controversy, ignite accusations of racism — in both directions!” read the first Drudge clue. “Internal debate at news network about airing tape tonight, on eve of debate… MORE” came out an hour or so later.

Andrew Kirell of Mediaite chipped away at the teased Drudge story, finding several edits of what he suspected to be the tape in question, as well as a 2007 blog post by Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times that included a transcript of Obama’s speech. The video, recorded on June 5, 2007, at the Hampton University Annual Ministers’ Conference in Virginia, had been posted online for the past five years.

Then-Senator Obama spoke eloquently and without a teleprompter, using the metaphor of “a baby born with a bullet in its arm,” to a mother who had just been shot in the stomach in Compton, to discourse about despair in the African-American community — over the L.A. riots 15 years earlier, over second-rate schools, low-paying jobs, and substandard housing. He riffed about Hurricane Katrina, black prison inmates, and college students. He cited programs that would create jobs and improve transportation and health care; about investing in minority-owned businesses and ending the Iraq War.

Obama spoke with the relaxed “urban” drawl he’s been known to use when speaking to black audiences, but what of it? The longer version of the tape featured powerful, stirring oratory, not anger, and included Obama’s shout-out to the Rev. Wright, only months before the pastor’s infamous videos appeared online. Someone going for a “dangerous,” “edgy,” backbeat failed miserably by adding cheesy boom-box bass effects to the beginning and end of the tape.


Tucker Carlson c. ’07: ‘This isn’t a dog-whistle. It’s a dog siren.’

Tucker Carlson, ABC/Getty Images

This isn’t a dog-whistle,” intoned Tucker Carlson, who “broke” the tale of the recycled Obama tape yesterday on his website, The Daily Caller. “It’s a dog siren.”

“The racially charged and at times angry speech undermines Obama’s carefully crafted image as a leader eager to build bridges between ethnic groups. For nearly 40 minutes, using an accent he almost never adopts in public, Obama describes a racist, zero-sum society, in which the white majority profits by exploiting black America.

“The mostly black audience shouts in agreement. The effect is closer to an Al Sharpton rally than a conventional campaign event.”

This characterization is absurd. Calling a speech delivered by a black politician to a black audience “racially charged” seems like hyperbolic fear-mongering to me — unless, of course, Carlson is expressing that kind of aggrieved mindset prevalent in people who cry “racism” whenever a black man raises his voice.


“THE ACCENT. THE ANGER. THE ACCUSATIONS. THE SHOUT-OUT TO REV. WRIGHT, WHO IS IN THE AUDIENCE was emblazoned across the top of Drudge’s site when he posted “The ‘Other’ Obama Race Speech.”

Sean Hannity

“Tape of Obama pushing class warfare surfaces on debate eve,” read Hannity’s preposterous headline when he posted the video on the Fox News website last night. “STATE of the RACE,” the tape trumpeted in garish, 150-point crimson type. The mainstream media, Hannity noted, had been ignoring this Obama bombshell “for years,” yet Tucker was flogging it as an “exclusive.”  The truth was that both Fox and Tucker had debuted the tape when it first emerged in 2007.


Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich’s take on Obama was already cranked up and ready to roll. (I’ve added italics to the code words pointed out by Rachel Maddow in this extraordinarily condescending, openly racist diatribe. This guy needs to retire from public life. His rhetoric is disgusting.)

“I’m assuming there’s some rhythm to Barack Obama that the rest of us don’t understand — whether he needs large amounts of rest, whether he needs to go play … basketball for awhile. I don’t watch ESPN; I mean, I don’t quite know what his rhythms are. But this is a guy who is a brilliant performer as an orator, who may well get reelected at the present date, and who, frankly, happens to be a partial, part-time, uh, president.  I mean, he really is like the substitute referees in the sense that he’s not a real president. He doesn’t do any of the things presidents do. He doesn’t worry about any of the things presidents do. But he has the White House; he has enormous power. He’ll go down in history as president —  and I suspect he’s pretty contemptuous of the rest of us.”

It was good old white-boy Newt who originated the term “Food Stamp President” and hatched the brilliant plot to falsely accuse Obama of removing the work requirement from welfare — the same “lazy parasite” canard suggested by the sleazy Romney slogan “Obama isn’t working.

What do Romney’s hate-mongering surrogates think the tape reveals about Barack Obama? Surprise! Back in 2007, he was “way more black than he seems to you now,” said Rachel Maddow. He went to black churches. He even talked black sometimes. Fancy that: He is more than a figment of Sean Hannity’s delusional imagination; he doesn’t always follow Insannity’s black-socialist-president script.

As it turned out, the October surprise flopped badly, even on the right. Noah Rothman of Mediaite pronounced it “The Obama Tape Dud” and said it only served to indict the 2008 press corps. “What do conservatives think they will accomplish in 2012 by consistently and incessantly submitting evidence which proves the press failed in their jobs in 2008? … Republicans would do well to focus on the issues of 2012, because the Democrats, the media and persuadable voters have moved on long ago.”

Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator’s Spectacle blog also offered his perspective: “(C)ertain allowances for edginess always have been (made) to black speakers before black audiences — a slight double standard, to be sure, but one that slavery and Jim Crow provide at least semi-reasonable excuses for, and one that is less damaging than actual policies (quotas, etc.) that enshrine discrimination into law.”


The MittWit’s life of unquiet desperation as the walls close in

Three months ago, Romney campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar boasted that the Romney campaign would remain in what journalist Ben Smith dubbed “the Mittness Protection Program” by continuing to avoid vital questions about his policies or “core beliefs.” Instead, Mitt would filter his utterances through conservative conspiracy websites like Drudge and

“When this election is over, one of the lessons that will be learned by the mainstream media is that they no longer have a toe-hold on how Americans receive their news. … We no longer allow the mainstream media to define the political realities in America. The rise of Breitbart, Drudge and others, combined with an aggressive Romney campaign, is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the conservative movement.”

So how’s that Drudgy/Techie thing goin’ for ya, Mitt? Whoops! It’s almost debate time. Download a few more of those pre-programmed zingers, and do try to hide your desperation. It’s going to be a long, tetchy hour-and-a-half.

Romney on Health Care

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

Listen to the words of a man whose income two years ago was $22 million and then tell me he has a scintilla of understanding of what it’s like to be an American of ordinary means.

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have [health] insurance,” Mitt Romney said on his now-famous interview on “60 Minutes.” “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

In fact, Mitt Romney doesn’t know what people do when they have heart attacks. He doesn’t know if people sit in their apartments and die. He doesn’t know if they call 911 and ask for an ambulance. He doesn’t know which side of town gets the better service.

Romney’s misplaced optimism comes at a time when the nation is losing emergency medical services. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported a study last year showing that “From 1990 to 2009, the number of hospital [emergency departments] in nonrural areas declined by 27 percent, with for-profit ownership, location in a competitive market, safety-net status, and low profit margin associated with increased risk of [emergency department] closure.

I don’t think Mitt Romney could possibly be so rosy about treatment in a hospital’s emergency room if in the last two years he had read a report by the American College of Emergency Physicians, which found the average time patients spend in the emergency room is four hours, seven minutes.

Romney doesn’t know this because he doesn’t know anyone who depends on the emergency room for treatment of a broken arm, a raging fever, a dose of Lyme disease.

Many years ago, I was living in Flushing and awoke one Sunday morning at about 2 o’clock with an excruciating toothache. Take it easy; I’m not about to sit here and suggest that my toothache compares in any way with someone’s having a heart attack. And I’m not going to tell you that a toothache is anything like the pain of labor or the pain of a kidney stone.

But it hurt like hell. My wife drove me to Queens General Hospital, about a 15-minute ride from our apartment. An admitting clerk took my name, asked me what the problem was, and told me to take a seat. I remember asking if I could just have a pill for pain while I waited and of course this was out of the question. So I waited.

People staggered in to that emergency room with all kinds illness and injury. So I waited. I absolutely understood and accepted the fact that my emergency paled when compared with some of the others playing out before me. Still I was annoyed that the process had to take this long.

My annoyance subsided about an hour after I registered with the arrival in the ER of a man whose shirt was drenched with blood. The staff went into high gear and they got this man off his stretcher, onto a gurney and whisked him away, presumably to emergency surgery.

I turned to my wife. At this rate, the ER triage might get me some pain medication in a year or so. It was time to go home.

Now, Mitt Romney is saying not to worry if you don’t have health coverage. Just direct your feet to the nearest emergency room.

But back in 2010, when that four-hour ER stay was reported, Dr. Angela Gardner, the then-president of the American College of Emergency Physicians declared: “Hospital emergency departments continue to close, which reduces access to medical care still further. More patients plus fewer ERs equals longer wait times.

“Near one quarter of hospitals report periods of ambulance diversion because they are over capacity,” Gardner continued. “A longer ride to the hospital is not good medicine.”

Responding to Romney, Dr. Debra Houry, the vice chairwoman for research and associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine, told the Huffington Post: I know that not only is it ridiculous to imply that emergency rooms are a replacement for insured health care, but that our already overburdened system can’t even go on much longer as it is – underfunded, overcrowded and little understood.

Remember how Bill Clinton was ridiculed when he said he feels our pain? This week, in Westerville, Ohio, Romney informed an audience: “I’ve been across this country. My heart aches for the people I’ve seen.”

Does anyone believe him?


USS Mittanic Lists in Turbulent Seas

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Illustration by Lance Theroux

By Emily Theroux

The decks are beginning to creak aboard the ship of fools that the GOP insists cannot be sunk. The legendary iceberg looms in the dark water dead ahead, but the captain and crew have had too much $100-bill bubbly to see disaster coming.

When the USS Mittanic put out to sea after the Republican primaries yielded a lackluster contender no one was really thrilled by, the shipbuilders who were funding the crusade to purge Barack Obama from office thought they had come up with a sure bet. Willard “Mitt” Romney wanted the presidency so badly that his fat-cat donors figured, once they had ponied up to install him in the Oval Office, he’d be happy to “dance with the ones that brung him.”

America faced a stalled economy, with Barack Obama at the helm. Everyone with a conservative blog and half a brain or less believed “Nobama” was a foreign, socialist, Muslim, job-killing tyrant who was universally hated by his “subjects.” How could they be so sure? Because Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Erick Erickson, and Rush Limbaugh told them so, and that handful of towering intellects had yet to be conclusively proven wrong.

Romney, the former “Taxachusetts” R.I.N.O., had instantly reversed every principle or ideal that he had ever claimed he held, declaring in the most withering tone he could muster that he had been “a severely conservative Republican governor.” He’d be putty in the hands of the Brothers Koch and Karl Rove, who were running the show. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out, just about everything.

In a recent interview, David Koch discussed wealthy donors “investing” in political candidates with the expectation of receiving some kind of return, now that the Citizens United case has made such a breach in the democratic process possible.

It had never occurred to the campaign’s high rollers that their enormous cash stash might not be enough to close the deal and actually buy the American presidency outright. (That was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as are a lot of the things I write — which I feel I need to declare, since this campaign’s have become so surreal that readers are starting to take parody and satire as accounts of actual events.*)

GOP masterminds had all the bases covered, including getting so many Republican state legislators elected in 2010 that voter ID bills have already been passed in 33 states. Their goal was to disenfranchise black, Latino, poor, and college-age voters, in case Mitt began to straggle behind the president in the polls.

They had even had the foresight to establish a movement called True the Vote, a conservative “voter vigilante” organization whose website is packed with right-wing lies. The group plans to sic one million volunteers on polling places in poor and minority neighborhoods all over the country. Their goal, in plain English: bullying Democratic voters by singling them out, challenging their identification even if the state has no law requiring photo IDs, telling voters they’re in the wrong place, or they don’t have the proper paperwork, or the election happened yesterday whatever intimidates people enough to make them leave without making it into the voting booth.

Do what you have to do to get where you need to go; that’s Citizen Rove’s motto. Leave what your parents taught you at the door when you agree to work for totally unscrupulous people. It doesn’t matter how you play the game. Winning is everything. Failure is not an option.

If Romney can’t get there by following the rules, he’s not above winning ugly.


‘Republicans don’t fall in love; they fall in line’

Yet it still wasn’t clear that their plan would work. The GOP had put up the best candidate in the bunch, and by mid-September, the public disliked Mitt Romney so much that he was clearly losing.

Ever since the Mother Jones website linked to Mitt’s Big Bloopers Reel a week and a half ago, and all of that rot that proverbially starts at the fish’s head began to ooze out, a really big stink ensued on the far right. The religious fundies were hopping mad, praying that God would smite the listing vessel with something godawful, maybe a North Atlantic typhoon. That would fix those Beltway Republicans for the mortal sin of dredging up Romney again from the dustbin of history, brushing him off, and dressing him in mom jeans and a blue checkered shirt that he didn’t take off for the next four months.

But that’s the way it’s done in the Greed and Opulence Party, whose entitled members feel they can afford to be magnanimous. For the current campaign’s “winner,” they almost always choose the previous campaign’s loser. For some reason, the GOP put stodgy old Bob Dole up against ever-popular incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996, and sure enough, as Ann Coulter warned at the outset of the current cycle, “He lost.” They ran John McCain in 2008, eight years after he had lost the nomination to George W. Bush (who, even though his father had been president before him, happened to be the first “D.C. neophyte” that the GOP had nominated since Ronald Reagan recaptured the White House  from Jimmy Carter in 1980).

Mitt Romney embarked on his general election voyage in 2012 as the also-ran of 2008. This blueprint for failure has caused disastrous results for Republicans, yet for some reason they refuse to abandon it. The party keeps going with the “safe” moderate and then expecting him to hang a sharp right and morph into a firebrand wingnut ideologue. As hard as he tries, Mitt-bot’s demeanor and delivery are so mechanical and repellent that nobody’s buying it.

Now, the Romney/Ryan campaign is imploding before the presidential debates have even begun. The rats are deserting the ship left and right. Normally blustery N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s allegiance to the current GOP nominee sounding iffy; he crooned Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” at the convention, and the other day he admitted to a reporter, “We had a bad week. If the election were going to be held tomorrow, that would be a problem.” Christie added that the campaign still had 42 days to catch up, but he didn’t sound that convincing.

The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, who once worked for Saint Ronnie,  clambered into one of the first lifeboats, pronouncing Romney “incompetent” one day and then bumping her criticism up several notches the next day to “a rolling calamity.” Her emergence from the elephant herd handed the press a colorful metaphor for kicking off MittWit’s upcoming bus tour.

  • Tim Pawlenty resigned last week, trading in his leading role in the sinking of the USS Mittanic for a cushy sinecure as a banking lobbyist.
  • Obama is currently 8 points ahead in Ohio, the state that no Republican who won the national election has ever lost.
  • Remember those folks at NASCAR that Mitt trashed, cruelly mocking their cheap plastic ponchos? A new Zogby poll showed that 49 percent of NASCAR fans now favor Obama, while only 42 percent would vote for Romney.

“The Romney campaign has the stink of death right now,” warned Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, who seemed to be keeping a safe distance from the sinking clown show.


Politico satire taken seriously by pundits because this campaign is so crazy, it almost could be true

Roger Simon of Politico, inspired by the bedlam the Romney campaign has become mired in, turned the tragicomic Plight of the Right into a wickedly funny satirical riff on a quote that appeared in The New York Times. The speaker, GOP operative Craig Robinson of Iowa, had described the stinking rift that has sprouted like a dank mushroom in the ill-fated Romney/Ryan union. Here’s an excerpt:

“Paul Ryan has gone rogue. He is unleashed, unchained, off the hook.

“‘I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,’ Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told The New York Times on Sunday.

“Coming from a resident of Iowa, a state where people are polite even to soybeans, this was a powerful condemnation of the Republican nominee.

“Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, ‘If Stench calls, take a message’ and ‘Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.'”

I came across Simon’s piece late last night, after somebody posted it on Twitter. I clicked on the link, began to read it, and couldn’t stop laughing at the hilarious picture Simon had evoked in his Ryan parody. My first thought was that it had to be satire because it couldn’t possibly be true. Unfortunately, not everybody realized it was a joke.

  • Paul Krugman of The New York Times, who apparently fell for Simon’s account of PowerPoint’s origin as “a way to euthanize cattle,” blogged about Politico’s fantastic Ryan “scoop,” calling the V.P. hopeful’s alleged tantrum “just bad behavior.” Upon learning that he had been unintentionally “scammed” by a political column that Politico didn’t label “satire,” Krugman revisited his own column and used a heavy hand with the strike-through key. One reader retorted in the comments section that Krugman was “just dumb as bricks” for falling for Simon’s spoof; another branded Krugman “a sore loser.”
  •  Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC absolutely couldn’t resist the opportunity for a lengthy on-air snark-fest at Ryan and Romney’s expense.
  • Tommy Christopher of Mediaite who did, to his credit, express some trepidation about using unattributed Ryan “quotes” apparently succumbed to how newsworthy they would be, if true. “For what it’s worth, I believe the quotes are real,” wrote Christopher, who later posted an indignant update.
  • Comedy Central‘s Dennis DiClaudio called “the Stench” one of those “affectionate nicknames” that politicians (“namely,” Dubya) bestow on each other, like calling Rove “Turdblossom,” or Vladimir Putin “Pootie-Poot.” (DiClaudio attempted to save face by printing a Photoshopped picture of Paul Ryan and Peggy Noonan having finger sandwiches.)

BuzzFeed reported that conservative blogger Jammie Wearing Fools, who apparently wasn’t punked by Simon’s spoof, offered the embarrassed pundits a way out: “Satire should actually be funny,” Jammie opined.

Bloggers, of course, weren’t the only night owls online in the wee hours. The Twittersphere pounced on the story, and within three hours, the hashtag #TheStench was trending at No. 3 in the U.S.

“Over at Politico, where the story originated,” I posted on my blog-in-progress, “the attribution may be a little murkier, but ‘the dirt’ is so funny that Tweeters (who aren’t constitutionally capable of sitting on their hands when a good joke is idling) had no other choice than to just take #TheStench and run with it.

Mail from AARP Misses the Mark

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

By Michael Kaufman

My mailboxes, traditional and electronic,  have been filled to the brim lately with communications from the AARP. I keep hoping they will contain information about how the organization is fighting tooth and nail to preserve Social Security and Medicare as we know it, for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. I look for information that exposes the lies suggesting these great social programs are on the brink of insolvency and must be “privatized” and/or replaced by “voucher” plans that will provide reduced, inadequate coverage. Of course, folks will have the “option” of purchasing additional coverage in the “free marketplace” (as Mitt likes to call it) but those who can’t afford it will be left to fend for themselves.

People will die if this happens but when Alan Grayson tried to point this out when he was in Congress the people who made up the story that “death panels” were included in the Affordable Care Act attacked him for being an extremist.  Now they are talking about moving up the “retirement age” to 70 when there is little or no opportunity for seniors to obtain good jobs as it is now. So what does the AARP have to say about all this?

Well, there was the recent issue of the magazine with pictures of Mitt and Anne Romney on the cover and a folksy interview inside. There was the email from AARP Member Offers suggesting that I “race home with $100 cash back bonus from the AARP Visa card from Chase.” Another email announced, “Michael, You Could Win a $5,000 Dream Spa Vacation for Two!” Another blared, “Michael, Last Chance! Win $50,000 for Your Retirement.”

The main headline in the August 17 edition of the AARP Webletter said, “Slideshow: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in Photos.” I saw enough photos of poor Marilyn when she was alive, thanks. She would be about 86 now. I didn’t look at the slideshow but the headline made me want to see “The Misfits” again. 

A Jo Ann Jenkins from the AARP Foundation sent an email urging, “Michael, Get our 2013 calendar before it’s gone!” She said I could “reserve” my copy by making a tax-deductible donation to the AARP Foundation. And every other day (or so it seems) an envelope arrives bearing the AARP logo and containing offers for all kinds of insurance policies. All are from big-name insurance companies that pay the AARP royalties for its endorsement and use of the AARP logo.

Lately I’ve also been getting envelopes and emails reminding me to renew my membership in the AARP, something I have routinely done for the past 10 years, but which I am now reconsidering. I wouldn’t mind all the fluff they send if it was accompanied by at least some sense of urgency regarding the current state of affairs.

We are weeks away from a national presidential election that will be decided between candidates from two major political parties. Neither is any bargain when it comes to representing the interests of ordinary people versus corporate donors and lobbyists. But one has declared war on all social programs affecting seniors (along with the war on women’s health rights, public employees, Head Start, immigrants, trade unions, the environment and the voting rights of African Americans….to name a few). Yet the AARP refuses to make an endorsement.

Last week I got a letter from Michael Olender, associate director of the AARP in New York State, announcing an AARP-sponsored forum on Medicare fraud to be held Thursday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, 142 Stage Road. Experts from AARP and various agencies “on the frontlines of fighting Medicare fraud” will explain “the basics about Medicare fraud including how it is committed, how to spot it, and what to do if you think you recognize it.” Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but reservations are required by calling 877-926-8300.

I am thinking about attending if only to remind them that if Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Nan Hayworth have their way, there will be no Medicare fraud to fight against….because there will be no Medicare.

Michael can be reached at


Mitt Romney: America’s Pain

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

The most startling aspect of the Romney implosion is the degree of contempt he reserves for half the population of the country he would govern.

In essence, he dismissed 47 percent of Americans as a bunch of moochers standing around on Saturday night with nothing to do but demand a hot time in the old town, courtesy of the United States treasury. In a line that will live as long as Clinton’s search for what the definition “is” is, Romney told a bunch of fat cats at a $50,000 a plate dinner last spring that people of the 47 percent “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, [and] believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it…. ”

Let’s see. That 47 percent would include older people, poorer people, sick people, wounded veterans, people who’d like better schools for their kids, hungry people, people who sleep in cardboard boxes in winter, farmers, federal employees who could use a raise. The list of carefree people having a happy time seeking government handouts goes on.

If that weren’t enough to ruin a billionaire’s day, this 47 percent paid no federal income tax last year, Romney says. Which, of course, is at worst a deliberate distortion of the truth, or at best sheer ignorance. The New York Times quoted from a report of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center indeed showing that 46.4 percent paid no federal income tax last year, but noted that most of those people were elderly or low income. However, most of those households paid payroll taxes, which fund Medicare and Social Security.

The inescapable irony in Romney’s complaint about poor people and taxes is his continual ducking of the question of how much income tax he himself paid – if he paid any at all – in the years leading up to 2011, when he had an income of $22 million, or $6,000 a day.

Regarding Romney’s upset with people needing help, we Americans are not so cold that we’ll ignore a man going hungry or a woman seeking emergency care for a sick child. This is what Romney calls entitlements. Is a man entitled to a meal? Of course he is. Is someone entitled to get a child seen by a doctor? By their very membership in the U.S. branch of the human race, they are entitled to such help. Do you agree?

And, to again use that word that Romney and his friends so despise, two people raising a child or two on $25,000 a year indeed are entitled to food and housing assistance precisely because this is America where we can and will help those who are struggling.

This is America where we try to get people off the streets when the temperature drops in winter. This is America where sick people get treated.

It’s America, where Romney the candidate said of the 47 percent, “My job is not to worry about those people,” leading any reasonable person to understand that Romney the President would say precisely the same thing.

After the tape of Romney telling his pals about the 47 percent, he found his face covered with a half dozen eggs and called a 10 p.m. news conference this week – he rarely speaks directly with reporters – to inform any and all that he wants it both ways.

–1. He stands by his dismissal of half the country.

–2. But his comments were “not elegantly stated.”

–3. Although he had been speaking off the cuff.

–4. In any case, he wishes “to help all Americans – all Americans – have a bright, prosperous future.”

–5. That’s all Americans in case you missed it.

Question: Does any member of the 47 percent believe him?

Question: Does any member of the 53 percent believe him?

Romney fails to understand the Declaration of Independence’s noting that “all men” – not just the ones whose daddies ran a big car company – are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And he doesn’t get it, that “life” is not merely the opposite of death but an ongoing qualitative term. No one enlisted in the Continental Army to fight for life the way it used to be.

Romney further fails to understand that in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, and promote the general welfare, as the Constitution claims as its raison d’etre, a nation and its leaders must be ready to stand with the poorest as well as the richest.

America gets it. Would-be President Romney does not and as a result, ought to do the country a favor and step aside. He’s not qualified for the office.

Mittastrophe! Secret Videotape Reveals the Republicans’ Real Class Warfare

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Still photo and videotape* courtesy Mother Jones

*Videotape, Part 1 ………………………………………………. *Videotape, Part 2

By Emily Theroux

“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. … Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

— Matthew 25: 41-45, The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

* * *

Malingerers, moochers, freeloaders … the ugly, racially charged words roll in with the wholesome manure-reek of Mitt Romney’s imagined heartland, where the bounteous harvest is in, “the 53 percent” pay their taxes, and true patriots don’t take nothin’ from nobody. Unemployed bottom-feeders who don’t want to work for a living — that’s how the “severe conservatives” Mitt emulates have characterized the “least of these,” the poor, sick, hungry, and downtrodden whom Christ taught his followers to care for.

Almost half the American populace “are dependent upon government,” Mitt tells an audience of fellow zillionaires. The objects of his derision are folks who, he asserts, “believe they are victims” or “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing” and other perks of deliberate parasitism on the taxpayers’ dime.

If you voted for Barack Obama for president in the 2008 election, that’s how “Willard of Oz”, as Chris Matthews crowned him, perceives you.

During the months after May 17, when a videotape was surreptitiously recorded of Romney addressing a $150-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., bits and pieces of it surfaced on YouTube without attracting much attention. Then James Carter IV, former President Jimmy Carter’s activist grandson, gave a copy to investigative reporter David Corn, who posted a salient snippet of it on the website of Mother Jones magazine.

Viewers were astonished to hear the GOP candidate speaking in a straightforward but glib and cynical tone of voice — a total departure from the practiced, artificial wheedle he employs on camera or the sanctimonious platitudes he dishes out at campaign rallies. You may notice that he sounds slicker (and, if possible, even more calculating and ruthless) than you previously imagined. After listening for a moment, you realize that this new, no-nonsense tone is something you’ve never heard before: the unaccustomed sound of Mitt Romney telling the truth — to people he doesn’t look down on, about people he does.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, all right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That it’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. … And they will vote for this president no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Mitt thinks his job, I repeat, is “not to worry about those people.” (Shades of Lady Ann, Rafalca the Austrian warmblood, and #YouPeople!) Willard Romney had written off 47 percent of the public — a stupendous number of people to hold in utter contempt — with the sole purpose of pandering to a handful of rich donors. The gobsmacking “tale of the tape” went viral within hours, ricocheting around cyberspace. Two days out, the one-minute video had been viewed 7.1 million times, the second-highest number of YouTube hits ever on a political story. (Katie Couric’s 2008 interview of Sarah Palin topped the list, with 24.4 million views.)

While far-right radio talkers didn’t wait for a cue to defend the standard-bearer they had once conditionally accepted, reviews of Romney’s “performance” by mainstream pols and pundits were withering:

  • “A sneering plutocrat” (Jonathan Chait, New York magazine)
  • “Thurston Howell Romney” (David Brooks, The New York Times)
  •  “Arrogant and stupid remarks” (Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard)
  • “Not big, not brave, not thoughtfully tackling the issues … An intervention is in order” (Peggy Noonan, WSJ)
  • “An increasing problem with him being able to connect with voters” (Mark McKinnon, GOP strategist)
  • “The worst presidential-candidate gaffe since Gerald Ford announced in 1976 that ‘there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe'” (David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter)
  • “You don’t win an election by disparaging just about half of the electorate” (Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, on Fox News)
  • “Inaccurate, insensitive, almost callous in (his) disregard for the American people ” (Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania)
  • “You trashed the very people who are your margin of success” (Chris Matthews, MSNBC)
  • “A magnetic moral compass that has no true north” (Alex Wagner, MSNBC)
  • “That’s not the way I view the world. … (B)eing on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.” (Scott Brown, GOP senator from Massachusetts, who “grew up in tough circumstances”)
  • “(T)he vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be” (Linda McMahon, Connecticut Senate candidate)
  • “We’re losing” (Jim Dyke, veteran GOP strategist)
  • “This is what it looks like for the wheels to come off” (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC pundit, Rhodes scholar, national treasure)
  • “Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism” (Dr. Gregory Prince,** Mormon historian and author)
  • “I’d say Romney’s performance will help to determine most of the close Senate contests” (Larry Sabato, University of Virginia political scientist)
  • “My feeling is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot” (Barack Obama, President, USA)

Lord Willard writes off people ‘who don’t pay taxes.’ Does he?
Un-freaking-believable! Lord Willard Romney’s blowing off half the nation because of the GOP’s misleading “new orthodoxy,” popular during the Republican primary season, which suggests that 47 percent of Americans “don’t pay any taxes” or don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. The way Romney explained it to what Eddie Murphy once termed a “roomful of rich dummies,” I don’t think even Mitt knew what he meant.

The now-infamous 47 percent statistic (which Mitt mangled into his own inaccurate Obama vote percentage) actually refers to a taxpayer analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, showing that 46.4 percent of American households did not pay federal income tax in 2011. “The households in question consist primarily of the retired, the poor and low-income families with children,” two New York Times reporters explained. “Moreover, they do pay taxes, if not income taxes: Just 8 percent of households do not pay payroll or federal income taxes, discounting the elderly.”

“Many people don’t pay income taxes because they’re so poor they don’t make enough money to be able to pay income taxes,” former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “But they pay payroll taxes, they pay state taxes, they pay excise taxes. This man apparently feels that if you’re not a part of his social class or you don’t have his economic status, that somehow you’re a parasite.”

Another reason that a larger percentage of people pay less in taxes is that Republican fiscal policies have provided tax incentives to low-income workers — including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the child tax credit, which enable low earners to offset a portion of their income tax obligation with exemptions similar to the mortgage interest and property tax deductions that benefit middle-class workers.

Erick Erickson, above, of the right-wing blog RedState, angered by the Occupy Wall Street movement, started the "We Are the 53%" Tumblr to provide a site where conservatives could express their views.

Since Obama’s inauguration, however, GOP legislators have become so resentful that they’ve turned against their own policies, including the EITC, originally passed by Gerald Ford and later expanded by Ronald Reagan. This deduction was intended to help “lift people out of poverty” and provide them with an incentive to keep working at tough jobs that paid very little. But when President Obama’s stimulus bill and other tax legislation expanded EITC benefits and extended relief from the “marriage penalty,” Tea Partiers viewed it as providing lazy “moochers” with unfair advantages. (The right-wing “We Are the 53 Percent” movement was founded to express such sentiments, after the Occupy Wall Street movement caught on nationwide.

A final question, after slogging through the videotape: Isn’t Mitt himself one of the 47 percent he dismisses, by his own definition? He doesn’t have a job. (Translation from Republican: He’s a lazy POS.) He pays neither income tax nor payroll tax. (In other words, he’s the paragon of “victimology.”) And because he refuses to release his tax returns, 100 percent of Americans remain in the dark about whether he really pays the measly 15 percent capital gains tax on his investment “income” (already the biggest scam in the annals of tax avoidance — and yet the wannabe Veepster, Paul Ryan, wants to eliminate this loophole altogether!).

As it turns out, CNN Money published a story about this very subject after the “Mittastrophe” tape went viral. “The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes over $1 million ended up with zero federal income tax liability in 2011,” Jeanne Sahadi wrote. “Another 14,000 made between $500,000 and $1 million.” Mitt Romney admitted to his Boca Raton audience that he is one of them.

Release the tax returns!!!

Colbert: ‘He dropped the R bomb: redistribution. Which is just fancy talk for a black guy’s coming for your stuff’
The Romney campaign has apparently done some tape-sleuthing of its own, digging up another golden oldie: a grainy recording of then-Illinois State Senator Obama, speaking at a 1998 Loyola University conference on Chicago city government. Obama had the misfortune to have uttered the word “redistribution,” albeit in a completely different context from that of the current GOP “Romneyhood” feeding frenzy over the designs of the poor on rich people’s’ “rightful” lucre.

It didn’t matter that Obama was really talking about “fostering marketplace competition” and business innovation, not rampaging serfs pillaging the fortunes of their feudal lords. Mitt’s team pounced anyway, diced and spliced the tape, and excerpted the sliver they wanted from the part might have resonated with the great unwashed 47 percent. Bingo! You stay classy, Romney-O!)

Will the scum-suckers, leeches, and other assorted parasites that Lord Romney so viciously disdained, when surrounded by his “peerage,” buy the new, improved “Moderate Mitt” who came out last night as the candidate of “the 100 percent”? No, if you ask me. Will the wingnut blowhards breaketh wind? Too early to call.

I say let’s Occupy Romneyworld and throw him to the crocodiles circling the sorry carcass of his candidacy in the moat below the castle walls.

* * *

* Click the following links to view Part 1  and Part 2 of the videotape, which was recorded surreptitiously at a May 17 Romney campaign fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. Videotape courtesy Mother Jones.

** “When the news of Mitt Romney’s Florida video broke on Monday evening, I was incensed — but not for its political implications,” wrote Dr. Gregory Prince, Mormon historian and author who knew the candidate personally. “His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share — the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is ‘to take care of the poor and needy throughout the world.’ My first impulse was to rent an airplane towing a banner: ‘Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism!'”

In a future column, I’ll discuss the people who actually do receive government checks – and ask why in hell Mitt Romney thinks he has any right to look down his nose at them.

Diplomacy D-Day: What Would Willard Do?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Mitt Romney defends his criticism of President Obama, after four diplomats were killed during protests in Benghazi, Libya. Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP.

By Emily Theroux
With only eight weeks to go before the 2012 election, tensions are ramping up in Rightwingistan. Mitt Romney, sadly, got no bounce from his disastrous convention, while President Obama soared with a 12-point spike in the polls among independents. And even more humiliating for Mitt, Fox News released the poll results.

By September 11th, conservatives were wringing their hands. Nothing they could think of seemed to be selling this bill of goods to any undecided working-class voters who weren’t dyed-in-the-wool racists. (One white Virginian, who voted for Bush twice and firmly believes Obama is a Muslim, told a reporter that she wouldn’t vote for Romney because he didn’t know “everyday people” like her and would only help the wealthy. Surprisingly, Obama will get her vote. “At least he wasn’t brought up filthy rich,” she observed.)

Pastor Terry Jones

Rush Limbaugh was desperately goading Mitt to “get tough” with Obama, and Mitt’s pal Bibi Netanyahu was saber-rattling about Iran, suspiciously close to the November election. A show of “force” was needed on the world stage to bring independent stragglers into the GOP fold. When Florida’s infamous, Koran-burning pastor, Terry Jones, proclaimed this year’s September 11 anniversary “International Judge Muhammad Day,” and talked up the YouTube debut of a crude, anti-Muslim video, Romney saw his chance.

When the video appeared in an Arabic translation, outraged Muslims tuned in to horrifying, “cartoonish” depictions of their beloved Prophet Muhammad as “a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester, and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug,” wrote David D. Kirkpatrick  in The New York Times.

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens

News of the blasphemy spread quickly online.  Furious protestors ran riot in  Libya, attacking the American consulate and killing four American diplomats, including the widely respected U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens. It was the first time since 1979 that such a high-ranking diplomat had been murdered in the line of duty. In Egypt, protestors scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and burned the American flag.

Mighty Mitt, hearing that a statement condemning “religious incitement” had been issued by the embassy in Cairo,  rushed in to seize the day. Before Stevens’ body had even been identified or his family notified, Mitt  issued an ill-advised proclamation of his own (despite the fact that he had vowed to refrain from politicking on the September 11 anniversary):

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Never mind that the embassy’s statement was issued six hours before the protests began. Obama apologized for America again! was Mitt’s take on it, and he was sticking to it. Obama loves Muslims. (Good line; reinforces the canard that Obama is a Muslim.) How dare “the Obama regime” target the “good-guy” American filmmakers instead of the evil Muslim protestors?

Then Mitt just sat back and waited for the fireworks to explode.

Faced with mounting criticism, Romney dug in
This morning, after the negative reviews of his rash reaction started flooding in, Mitt stepped to the microphone again and, instead of making amends, shocked the political establishment by doubling down:

“When our grounds are being attacked and being breached, the first response should be outrage Apology for America’s values will never be the right course. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America.”

“A terrible course for America is to stand in apology for American values,” Mitt later told a reporter. (What does that even mean? Whose values – his? The entire substance of his attack on Obama was based on a deliberate, compound falsehood. The embassy didn’t issue an apology; their statement was an attempt to stave off the violence they saw coming well before the attacks; and Obama had no direct involvement in what they said.)

Did Mitt Romney jump the gun in issuing statements “that were laced with politics,” asked NBC’s Peter Alexander?

“I don’t think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles,” replied a testy but self-righteous Mitt.

Romney clearly deplores “bad form” more than he appreciates good substance.

Mitt’s foreign-policy moves ‘craven,’ amateurish
The far right performed as expected. The following snarky Fox tweet was par for the course:

Somebody get some bandages and salve for Obama’s press corps — Romney just delivered a thumping.

— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) September 12, 2012

Michelle Malkin,’s John Nolte, and Dan Calabrese, writing for CainTV, piled on.

But moderate and even conservative members of the mainstream press — and members of the GOP establishment — took a much dimmer view of the way the candidate handled this contretemps.

  • “They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,’ said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an ‘utter disaster’ and a ‘Lehman moment’ — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.” — Ben Smith, BuzzFeed Politics
  • “Likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign” — Mark Halperin, Time magazine
  • Romney hasn’t been “doing himself any favors. Sometimes, when really bad things happen, hot things happen — cool words, or no words is the way to go” — Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter
  • “Irresponsible”; “a bad mistake” — Chuck Todd, MSNBC
  • Romney’s attack “does not stand up to simple chronology” — Jake Tapper, ABC
  • Romney’s actions “ham-handed” and “inaccurate” — Ron Fournier, National Journal
  • “The Romney campaign’s politicization of the embassy attacks is even worse than I expected” — Blake Hounshell, Foreign Policy
  • “Who told Mr. Romney to issue a political broadside against the commander-in-chief the day after a U.S. ambassador was murdered?”  — Joe Scarborough, MSNBC
  • “Tolerance of a religion that represents 1/7th of the world’s population is a very wise policy” — former ambassador to NATO  R. Nicholas Burns

“I can’t remember in foreign policy, anything like this,” said Democratic strategist Bob Schrum, who served as a consultant to numerous Democratic campaigns. “This guy seems to have an instinct for saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, in politics. He came across as craven and incompetent on national security. This is a disaster; this guy’s just not ready for prime time.”

As progressive radio host Joe Madison said, “This man is stuck on stupid.”

Is Mitt Romney even qualified to be Commander-in-Chief?
My question: Should someone with Romney’s personality flaws even be under consideration for the sensitive job of leading the most challenging foreign policy operation in the world? He lacks both experience and any respectable source of  advice. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t even have what my father, a Dallas native, used to call “kitty brains” — in this case, the instincts to choose a running mate who knows his way around the world. Romney has no habit of critical thinking, no facility for introspection, and no empathy for other people — and there’s not a diplomatic bone in his body. To my mind, he’s not at all “presidential.” All he’s got going for him is a boatload of money — and good hair.

Foreign policy involves a great deal more than braying chauvinistically about “American values,” shooting big guns, and deciding where and when to “put boots on the ground,” as the Bush/Cheney debacle should have taught the people who don’t understand how critical it is that they not vote for a redo of eight years of  sheer folly.

Someone said today that this was Mitt Romney’s three A.M. phone call. Thank God he didn’t have his finger on the nuclear trigger, or Benghazi might have been reduced to radioactive rubble last night.

Clara & Mitt: Two Views of Unions

Monday, September 10th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

It is 2012. We’re supposed to have advanced over the last 100 years. We’re supposed to be smarter, maybe even more compassionate. Workers are supposed to be better off. Management is supposed to be more enlightened. But I’m sitting here looking at The Times’s account of two clothing factory fires in Pakistan and the deaths of 300 workers, young people for the most part between 18 and 25.

I read, and reread, a line in the Times story – “Officials said panicked workers [of a garment factory] were trapped inside the multistory building, which had just one exit” – and something sounds familiar. The calamitous Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911 in downtown Manhattan was in a multistory building with one fire escape, two stairwells and lots of locked doors. The loss in the Triangle fire was 146, mostly young women who had immigrated from Italy and Eastern Europe to find a better life.

I keep reading and learn that that the garment factory in Karachi had 1,500 workers and one exit. Additionally, management had installed grills to stop employees from leaving through windows. The bosses didn’t approve of people going home before the end of their shifts.

And I think about the fearless Clara Lemlich and the feckless Mitt Romney.

Lemlich was a garment worker and union organizer who led a strike in New York in 1909 over working conditions and who declared at a meeting of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, “I have listened to all the speakers. I have no further patience for talk, as I am one of those who feels and suffers from the things pictured. I move we go on a general strike.”

For her courage and for the fact that the bosses’ hatred of her was matched by the adoration of thousands of clothing workers, Lemlich was attacked by thugs hired by management. Later she was blacklisted from work in the industry. Despite serious physical injury – she was just 5 feet tall but the lead attacker made sure to bring some help – and the difficulty in finding work, Lemlich never quit. She lived to the age of 97 and, as reported by the great Jim Dwyer of the Times, in her final years helped organized the workers in her nursing home.

And then there is Romney and another nice bowl of Pablum he serves up for anyone who will listen. Recently he uttered the standard right wing line about labor unions: “Over the years, unions have made extraordinarily important contributions to American society.” Which of course is not the whole story.

Labor didn’t make those contributions. Rather, Labor won those contributions, sometimes through calm, peaceful negotiations and at other times through the use of Labor’s only real weapon: the strike. As a result, in some cases, windows were unlocked, doors were allowed to swing open and shut. Workers could get out. Salaries went up. Medical insurance was offered.

“But today, the effects of unionization have changed in ways that need to be recognized,” Romney says at a campaign website. “Too often, unions drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation.” And he goes on to make the lame argument that union officials don’t care about anything except staying in business. As if to say that workers are the stooges of their union leaders.

What Mitt Romney, and others like him who had to struggle along on an income of $22 million last year, refuse to accept is that every time a union has won a concession for its members, there were two parties at the bargaining table. This is not complicated unless you don’t wish to understand.

If Romney can cite an example of Labor’s holding a gun to the poor oppressed skull of management, I will retract the following observation: Mitt Romney knows as much about the work life of ordinary people as another famous millionaire, Scrooge McDuck.