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Mitt Pulls a Boner

There’s no need to stick a fork in him, since there never was any blood in him in the first place.

It’s been four days now since Mother Jones magazine published Mitt Romney’s comments at that $50,000-a-plate fundraiser last May in Boca Raton, Florida, in which he asserted that 47% of all Americans are freeloaders who consider themselves “victims,” take no responsibility for their lives and expect the government to give them “free health care, free housing, free food, you name it.”

Poor little rich boy, with his 12% tax rate (in 2010; no one knows about the past) and $77,000 deduction for his wife’s dancing horse. He resents every police officer, firefighter, military veteran and active duty soldier, teacher, social worker, waitress, desk clerk, retail employee and factory worker, as well as every retiree, orphan and disabled person scraping by on Social Security, because they “pay no income taxes.” The horror of it all!

I’ve got news for you, pal. Everyone who works for a paycheck and gets Federal taxes deducted is paying income tax – along with FICA and Medicare.

While the media bleats about “payroll taxes,” those are income taxes. You make some income, you pay some tax. That’s how it works. Those are income taxes.

Every worker in this country pays income taxes.

True, they may get some of it back at the end of the year, but they’re paying income taxes. Believe me, the Federal government appreciates the float.

I’ve never gotten all of mine back, nor do I know anyone who has. Most people are glad to get a little refund on April 15, on what they paid in income tax.

Romney insulted half of America in front of his rich friends.

Meanwhile, I’m really disappointed in Howard Fineman (Huffington Post) and the rest of the pundits on MSNBC. They’ve been all over Romney for his idiotic remarks, but they won’t come out and tell the truth, which is that he’s just lost the election. It’s over. He’s done.

Fineman’s just covering his ass.

There’s nothing fine about Howard Fineman. The man needs a haircut in more ways than one.

“Oh,” the pundits say, “there’s a lot of time left, the debates are coming up, we could have a foreign crisis, this is way too soon to make a call.”

They won’t, but I will: President Obama will be re-elected this November.

Does anyone expect Mitt Romney to have a strong debate performance? He can’t even run a respectable campaign. He thinks the rich are supporting the middle class, when it’s the other way around!

Republican pundits know this election is over; but the Democrats profess to worry. And while some of this is strategic perhaps – people do still have to vote, after all, and that’s 50 days away – they end up not telling the truth, when the only reason they’re on TV is to tell the truth.

As a former reporter I understand the impulse to hem and haw. No one likes making a public mistake and having to eat crow. It’s a lesson reporters only learn by making public mistakes, and doing it often enough that by the time they’re Fineman’s age, you couldn’t drag them out on a limb. But they end up looking foolish anyway.

By pronouncing the presidential race over early, they could talk about the U.S. Senate instead. I think the Democrats will pick up a few seats, which will strengthen Obama’s hand in his second term. I think Maine will flip, that Angus King, the independent former governor, will win and caucus with the Democrats. I think Missouri’s going for Claire McCaskill. I think Tammy Baldwin could win in Wisconsin. Elizabeth Warren has pulled out to a lead in Massachusetts.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is sinking millions into trying to defeat former Gov. Angus King, but Mainers are an independent bunch.

Romney’s bonehead remarks will drag down Republicans in the House, too, maybe not enough to yield control to the Democrats, but the Tea Party is running out of tea. Republicans won’t be partying come November.

Here’s what’s happened. Romney isn’t ready for prime time and everyone knows it. He’ll still get millions of votes and carry some states, but he has proved himself incapable of governing the country, since he can’t even run a campaign. He isn’t ready to be Commander-in-Chief. Obama will win the military vote; he’ll win veterans.

Between now and Election Day attention will shift to the down-ballot races, those governors, senators and House races, and Republicans will find their candidates are too conservative. They have the Tea Party to thank for that, and after the election there will be a bloodletting.

I’ll be curious to see if Richard Mourdock wins in Indiana. He’s the Toilet Paper guy who beat Sen. Dick Lugar in the primary, but now Mourdock’s in trouble. His opponent is a conservative Democrat, Joe Donnelly; he may have a shot. He isn’t very talented and he doesn’t stand for much, but at least he’s mainstream; Mourdock is not. Hoosiers are used to splitting their tickets. I’ll also be interested to see if John Gregg can pull an upset in the governor’s race; he’s folksy, a smalltown guy, and he’s likable. He needs a lot to break his way in the next two months, but as a former Speaker of the state House, he knows what he’s doing. It would be very important to LGBTs in Indiana if Gregg can come from behind over Rep. Mike Pence, who’s already announced his anti-Gay, “pro-family” witchhunt if he gets elected. Indiana Democrats are going to need a lot of money, but Romney and the Tea Party are certainly a cause for hope now.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) compared the decision to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The bottom line: Romney’s going to depress turnout. That gives Democrats a chance to win.

Pay no attention to Fineman, he’s more worried about covering his hiney than covering the news. Obama’s got this one, and America will be safe for four more years.++

Even older Republicans have come to trust this man with foreign policy and the military. He killed off Osama bin Laden, and Mitt Romney did not.

Nation Shrugs at Romney-Ryan Lies; What’s One More, Anyway?

Which one is Dip? I say it’s the blond. (Meghan Sinclair for TBS)

 

The New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote a hand-wringing column today, “The GOP Fact Vacuum,” trying to point out in just a thousand words that vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, like Burger King, is the Home of the Whopper.

(Not that way, you nasty boy.)

I like Blow’s work, though I miss Bob Herbert and Frank Rich, former Times columnists. But today’s article bothered me a little, because of what it didn’t say, not what it did.

So I left a reply, which has received 129 “likes” so far, one of my more successful efforts of late. (Perspective: other commenters got hundreds more.)

I wrote:

I respect this column, but my frustration rose when Mr. Blow began his series of questions, e.g., “What does this portend for the republic? I worry deeply about this…”

The columnist’s job here is to answer the questions, not just ask them. But since he didn’t, I will. What this “portends” is that the truth no longer matters; a politician’s lies go through the same entertainment filter as a starlet’s latest arrest. It’s all showbiz; why not have Rush Limbaugh blaming Obama for Hurricane Isaac or Clint Eastwood talking to a chair? “Can you believe what that Akin guy said?” is the same as “Can you believe what the Kardashians are up to now?” There’s a reason HuffPo puts politicians right next to celebs and cute cat pictures. It’s all about clicks.

Truth doesn’t matter anymore. Some people will vote GOP just to see pix of Romney’s handsome sons for the next four years. Jon Stewart can’t get over how “cute” Paul Ryan is; so was Sarah Palin, and when that went south Levi Johnston took off his clothes.

Apathy combines with powerlessness to hand the billionaires a golden opportunity. Democracy is dying and plutocracy will replace it. Sure, we’ll still have elections and wave flags, but the masses gave up their power the day they traded commercials for free entertainment. Someone’s already Photoshopped Chip, Bip, Grip, Whip & Dip Romney onto some naked guys; Arianna’s already got a slideshow in the hard drive.

I am guessing that the precipitants to today’s era of “truthiness” are first, the mic’ed-up, little-challenged “birthers,” and second, George W. Bush’s claims that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, which was an article of faith to the corporate media (including The Times) after 9/11.

But there are so many other lies one could cite that I’m not betting a nickel. You could just as easily refer to ex-Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho): “I’m not gay, and I don’t cruise, and I don’t hit on men. […] I don’t go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn’t do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!”

I wouldn’t do it in Boise, either, so that part might have been the truth, except when he was cruising guys in sporting goods stores.

He was arrested on June 11, 2007. Despite his guilty plea he was allowed by his Senate colleagues and the people of Idaho to serve out the remainder of his term and didn’t leave office until January 3, 2009.

I would rather not sound like a prophet of doom; people vilified Cassandra even after they found out she was right.

But I do think this election is America’s last chance to save its democracy – that if Chip, Bip and Dip’s dad wins, we tip over into Rule by the Rich, if not psuedo-Christian fascism – and that the best way to prevent that and preserve the rule of law is to do to the greedy, selfish, sinful ideology of Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan what Lyndon Johnson did to Barry Goldwater: bury him in a landslide.

But here I sit this Labor Day weekend, and supposedly the polls are tied. No wonder Charles Blow is wringing his hands, asking questions and afraid of the answers.++

LBJ giving Sen. Richard Russell, his mentor, The Treatment: “Whaddayou mean you ain’t doin’ it, boy? Don’t you know I’m the Pres’dent of these United States?”

What Kind of Country Will the United States Be Next Year?

(Eric Thayer/The New York Times)

Mitt Romney has picked Congressman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Whoopee! Conservatives say this is a game-changer, while liberals are licking their chops and going on offense.

I’ll save my invective; I don’t see a need for it today. My sturdiest observation is that now the voters get to choose what kind of country we’ll be. We can pick Romney, Ryan, Adelson, the Koch Brothers, an end to Medicare and Medicaid, the EPA and financial regulation; or we can choose Obama, Biden, George Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Obamacare, clean energy and Dodd-Frank.

I’m rooting for the blue team, but it should be a good game. It’s the Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys, no matter which side you’re on. We’ll all get to cheer the good guys and boo the bad ones.

Let’s hope the refs at SCOTUS don’t try changing the outcome again.

Coming off the bench, do you like Ayn Rand or Elizabeth Warren? Pick one.

Up to now the polls have shown Obama with a slight but clear edge, in the country as a whole and in each of the swing states. Unemployment is high and people seem to think Romney would be better at handling the economy. They like Obama better, though; they think he’s much more likable than Romney.

Almost 70% of people want to see higher taxes on the rich, like Obama does. Romney wants to cut taxes for the rich and raise them for you.

“Health care reform” as a concept is unpopular—but its component parts do win favor; insurance coverage for nearly everyone, no disqualification for pre-existing conditions, carrying adult children on their parents’ policies until the kids get older and can buy their own. People like those things, they just don’t like “Obamacare.”

They don’t like that Romney made his money buying up companies, laying people off, shutting down plants and moving them overseas. They don’t like that he doesn’t pay much in taxes, or takes a $70,000 deduction for his wife’s show horse. They don’t like that he has secret bank accounts overseas, but wants to be President here. Which is it, pal?

They don’t like his being a Mormon, but they didn’t like Jeremiah Wright either. So that’s probably a wash.

They don’t pay much attention to foreign policy; it’s “over there somewhere.” Some of them know that Obama ended the war in Iraq (more or less) and killed Osama bin Laden. And some know the war in Afghanistan is still going on, though no one can really tell you why. But by and large, people don’t really care—even though these wars, started by George W. Bush, have been tremendous drains on the national treasury, which a lot of people claim to be concerned about—the money, that is, not the wars.

We could save money by ending the war in Afghanistan.

Not many people know that Romney likes saber-rattling and threatening war with Iran. Nobody likes Iran, but neither can they find it on a map or tell you the difference between Iran and Iraq. Iraq’s the one with the Q in it; that’s about the level of our knowledge. Both of them are Muslim countries “over there” somewhere. Are Sikhs Muslims? Americans don’t know. Sikhs wear turbans, and anyway they’re all foreigners.

In short we’re massively ignorant in this country, and I find myself wondering, with such a stark difference between these candidates, which way we’ll end up going.

Will we finally see through Obama and find the socialist he really is? Or will we finally see through Romney and find an abusive capitalist who really couldn’t care less about anyone who isn’t a millionaire?

Will Adelson and the Koch Brothers succeed in buying the election? I wouldn’t put it past them, but on the other hand they haven’t so far. Adelson’s first choice was Newt Gingrich, who went over like a lead balloon.

This election will put to the test, once and for all, the conventional wisdom about democracy: namely, that you can trust the voters to make the right choice.

They didn’t in 2010; they didn’t this year in Indiana, when they voted out Senator Dick Lugar. But they did in 2008, I believe, when they voted for President Obama, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.

What we got from the 2008 vote was Obamacare—no small thing—and tourniquets to stop the economic bleeding. The patient hasn’t recovered yet but at least it didn’t die.

(I hated Lugar’s record on domestic votes, but support him on foreign issues. In his previous election Indiana Democrats didn’t even put up a candidate.)

The person I most trust on investments, John C. Bogle of the Vanguard Group, is a Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and is going to do it again this time. Bogle makes sense.

Trust the voters? That’s as much a crapshoot as buying stocks and bonds.

My frank belief is that the USA isn’t a democracy anymore. We’ve become a plutocracy instead. But that’s an unfamiliar word to Americans, so we’re not riled up at all. (It means government by the rich.)

If I’m right, this is our last chance at a fair election. With all the billionaires lined up against him, if Obama can pull this out, then power still rests with the people, at least for awhile yet. I don’t think democracy will last much longer, but I don’t want to see it die before I do.

We face a moral choice this year, more than an array of policy choices, which every election presents. Do we idolize the rich and demonize the poor, or do we give everyone a fighting chance?

Do people get rich because God blesses them with wealth? Many religious leaders teach this. Jesus didn’t, he taught the opposite, but he’s not on the ballot this year—and I’m not sure he’d win if he were.

Romney’s crowd believes they’re rich because God blesses them—which means that anyone who isn’t rich doesn’t live right. That belief’s built right into Mormonism, and many Protestants and Catholics embrace it too.

I do not. To me, this is the most obscene photograph I’ve ever looked at.

That’s Mitt Romney, right in the front.

I ran it on dailyoffice.org during Lent, as an illustration of greed—one of the 7 Deadly Sins, you know.

It’s a promotional photograph for Bain Capital. It shows money coming out their ears.

Is that the kind of country you want to live in, where you elect a guy like that to rule over you?

Are dollars your God? Vote for Romney.

If God is your God, you cannot vote for Romney. You may not like Obama but you have to vote for him.

Who will win? I don’t know, but this election will determine what kind of nation we are forevermore.

I’m more optimistic about Obama than I am about the longterm future. I think we’ve already sold our souls to the devil, and that it started the day we traded “entertainment” for corporate brainwashing on TV.

Your cellphone is a tracking device. Big business wants to know where you are and what you’re doing at all times. Step out of line and the government wants to know too.

Your devices own you. You sold your soul already. Satan didn’t tell you the terms of the deal, but you didn’t ask. “Oh, look what this thing can do!”

Voting becomes less and less important than our daily choices. The guys who make money from those choices love this era we’ve entered. The rich get richer and you’re a chump.

People who live on the East and West Coasts know all these things, or sense them, but they don’t understand why “the heartland” doesn’t get it. Why, they ask, do non-millionaires vote Republican, against their own obvious self-interest?

Answer: people don’t pay attention anymore. They watch TV and soak up impressions. Obama is nice but “dangerous”; Romney is boring but “successful.”

Mostly they just vote the way their parents did. For “lesser offices” (no matter how important), they just vote the name they know.

They vote their emotions, which are mostly a product of TV.

Adelson’s putting $100 million into TV.

Obama may win this time, but I think the war’s already over. The United States got conquered by internal enemies, who work on a few streets in New York, Wall Street and Madison Avenue.

If Romney wins, we’re done. That’s what I think. So get yours while you can, I suppose. What else can you do when it’s “every man for himself”?

It’s human nature. There is no American Exception.

Love the one you’re with. While you can, anyway.++

Brigadier General Tammy S. Smith with her wife Tracey Hepner, a former Army captain. Smith just got promoted and is now the first openly-Gay general in U.S. history. Romney and Ryan would kick her out of the military, cut food stamps for the poor, and turn Medicare into a coupon program to limit health care for seniors and the disabled.

 

Government of the Rich, by the Rich, for the Rich

Unlike his predecessor, the sphinx Alan Greenspan, the current Fed chairman actually speaks to the public.

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, was on the “60 Minutes” teevee show last night, explaining why the Fed is spending $600 billion to buy U.S. debt, an untried strategy he hopes will prevent deflation – falling prices and wages like Japan experienced in its “lost decade” of the ’90s, and the U.S. went through as the 1929 stock market crash deepened into the Great Depression.

Economies spiral up and they spiral down; growth that’s too fast means that prices keep rising while wages don’t keep up. That’s called inflation and it’s bad, because a worker’s dollar doesn’t buy what it used to. Growth that’s slow or non-existent puts pressure on prices, including labor; employers cut paychecks, and even though a loaf of bread might turn a few cents cheaper, workers have less money to buy bread. That’s called deflation and it’s every bit as bad.

Steady growth that balances out prices and wages is the ideal, and that’s what Bernanke and the Fed are trying to achieve. However, his TV interview indicates this is a very tricky time for the world economy. Fed chiefs never go on TV; the last guy, Alan Greenspan, perfected the low art of using long words to say absolutely nothing in public. He didn’t have to; he was the chairman of the Federal Reserve, one of the most powerful men in the world.

So Bernanke’s appearance was fairly remarkable – less because of his immediate message about the $600 billion ploy, than because he also had to answer other questions from his interviewer, Scott Pelley of CBS News.

Bottom line:

• Unemployment is going to stay sky-high for years. (This cannot be good news for President Obama’s re-election plans.)

• The recent recession is over according to the economists, but another one, a double-dipper, can’t be ruled out.

• Education is key to an individual worker’s employment prospects; college grads have a 5% unemployment rate, while high school graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed. (Meanwhile states are cutting education funding and school districts nationwide are laying off teachers.)

• The Federal government’s budget deficit must be brought down – but not this year while so many people are suffering and deflation is the real scare.

Pelley couldn’t get Bernanke to condemn the Republican plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires – but the Fed chief did sound a mild alarm about the destruction of the middle class. To me, that was the most important part of the interview.

Excerpt from The New York Times:

When asked about rising inequality in the United States, Mr. Bernanke offered a response that was likely to be embraced by liberals.

“It’s a very bad development,” he said. “It’s creating two societies.”

One rich, one poor.

The Times chose to couch this inappropriately, in my view, as a call for revamping U.S. tax policy to eliminate what Bernanke called “inefficiency” (and the rest of us know as deductions, tax breaks, subsidies and giveaways), so that overall rates can be lowered and more money can be raised. The Times’ analysis is Beltway-speak, as Bernanke appeared to endorse parts of the regressive platform of Obama’s own Blue Ribbon Panel in Charge of Screwing Americans, featuring such winning proposals as raising the retirement age Till You’re Dead.

It’s entirely possible to eliminate the deficit without screwing the middle class, but you’ll never hear that out of a Blue Ribbon Panel, because rational solutions don’t conform to the current media blare.

Still, Bernanke went on about the widening gap between rich and poor, now the largest inequality in the developed world and the worst in U.S. history:

Mr. Bernanke added: “It leads to an unequal society, and a society which doesn’t have the cohesion that we’d like to see.”

That to me is the point; we’re losing our middle class, and even the Fed chairman knows that’s a grave danger to America and the entire world.

So sort the wheat from the chaff; I wouldn’t give you a copper penny for the Simpson-Bowles blue ribboneering, for Beltway obsessions or faulty Villager-speak. The chairman of the Federal Reserve has admitted we’re destroying our country.

And we’re doing it under Barack Obama just as we did under George W. Bush. The incompetence of the Current Occupant is astonishing to me; I’m sorry I ever promoted him, but that’s water under the bridge now. What shall we do? Where do we go from here?

It leads to an unequal society.

I’d happily blame all the usual suspects, not just Obama but McConnell, Murdoch and Limbaugh, if not for the fact that both parties and a majority of voters have arranged all this exactly to their liking.

We’re now governed by the same corporations whose TV commercials we lap up like dogs at the feed trough.

The USA is no longer a democracy, it’s a plutocracy. The Fortune 500 runs everything, having bought the entire Congress.

And why not? It was there for the plucking, since Americans decided 30 years ago (shortly after the Watergate scandal) that we wouldn’t be caught dead financing political campaigns with tax dollars.

Who does that leave to pick up the tab? The people with money.

Democrats are as eager to spread their legs for campaign cash as Republicans are. So this is the result, government by Halliburton, Exxon and Archer Daniels Midland.

It’s simply “the free market at work” – the same people who’ve screwed you over and over and taught you to like it.

Nor is this a new phenomenon; the basic alignment of political parties today in the United States actually dates to 1896, when William McKinley sold the Republican Party’s soul to Wall Street while William Jennings Bryan pleaded with voters not to crucify workers on a “cross of gold.” It’s ancient dusty stuff from the history books, and if you’ve never heard of it no one can blame you all these years later.

But the die was cast, the storm was unleashed, and now we are inheriting the wind.

It’s December 2010 and Mitch McConnell effortlessly jumps through mental hoops to argue for extending tax cuts for millionaires, while middle class people are losing their homes by the millions.

Obama and the Democrats will go along with this, to get unemployment benefits of $250 a week extended yet again for the New Poor. It’s already been, what, two years since we shed ten million jobs?

Campaigning for the House and Senate is expensive work; D’s are as eager as R’s to sell their souls. There’s only one political party in America now, the Corporate Suckups; the libs and the cons may caucus separately, but for the most part they agree that whatever Murdoch says goes.

On the margins of political life – say, if you’re Gay or Hispanic, Native or Muslim or Black, military or female, sick or disabled – it matters very much whether the D’s or the R’s control Congress and the White House. But it doesn’t matter much to anyone else. So what if 80 House seats changed hands? So what?

The Voters are parked on their couches watching Unreality TV and soaking up corporate propaganda, thinking it’s entertaining. They don’t care that rich people are making big bucks selling them worthless products and inedible, dangerous food, as long as it all looks glamorous, numbs their brain cells and makes them smile.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Ben Franklin said we chose not a monarchy but a republic – “if we can keep it.”

We still have the outward form, but it looks to me like the republic is lost.

Americans are resilient, and in extraordinary times we’ve achieved amazing things. I hope we never lose that capacity. But I don’t see anyone leading us in any direction but corporate hell.

I hate to say it, but as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, this is the middle class’s own fault. They’re afraid of change (Gays in the military! Same-sex marriage!) and easily seduced to vote against their own best interest, thus enriching the wealthy to exploit them every damn time.

It leads to an unequal society.

And Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.++

We invented this character; now we get to live with the results.