Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weekly Roundup, May 21-28, 2012

by BlueberryT

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tildama’s guest post reported on an extended interview of Joe McGinniss at a writer’s festival in Sydney, Australia.  This was an intimate chat between Joe, interviewer Annabel Crabb, and more than 900 Aussies in the audience – wow!  The anecdotes that Joe told conveyed how threatened Alaskans are of the vindictive Palins.  Joe regaled the crowd with the tale of the “wild ride,” which by the peals of laughter accompanying every part of the story, demonstrated that the Aussies were not fooled for one nanosecond by Palin’s malarkey.  Tildama reported something we could all relate to: “I can’t explain how very therapeutic it was to hear this laughter – to hear Palin finally become a laughing stock – a subject of derision . . . . Oh, it felt soooo good!  In fact, so often the mere mention of Palin’s name made 900 Aussies laugh out loud.  It was obvious that many there in that theatre had a very good understanding of Palin propaganda and could see through the smoke and mirrors – they weren’t taking what she’s serving, that’s for sure.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sunnyjane has Mitt Romney’s number, and wittily points out the long list of things that Mitt can’t bring up without making for an “awkward” conversation (pets; gay marriage; health care; women’s issues; religion; standing by what he said, whatever that was; his record in Massachusetts; …).  This leaves him without a lot to say!  So, It’s the economy, stupid…or maybe NOT.   Romney wants to run as a “jobs creator” (or as LOLGOP says, a “jobs creationist”) but the record shows that his role at Bain had nothing to do with job creation.  It was all about maximizing profits, usually by burdening previously successful companies with crushing debt, and often at the expense of the workers.  Sunnyjane covers his vulture capitalism at work on GST (steel mill) and Ampad, both well-established profitable companies that went bankrupt under Romney’s management, at the cost of many jobs and pensions.  I am glad to see that the Obama campaign is not shying away from Romney’s record; he claims that his business experience is what the country needs to create jobs and turn the economy around, so it is fair game to examine what that experience really is. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Patrick highlights more farces from the campaign season.  We thought – hoped – prayed that we had gotten rid of Donald Trump, but noooooo… like a bad penny, he keeps coming back.  Here he is again with his idiotic birther rantings, and there is Mittster, looking on adoringly as the celebrity firer spews more nonsense.  [Did his campaign really think through how it would look to have Romney, who admits that he likes to fire people, together with Trump, who gleefully fires people on his “reality” show?  There’s a combo that really says “job creation,” right?]  The post includes a passionate smackdown by Joan Walsh of Salon, who has had it up to here with the birther BS.  She calls out Romney’s “leave no Obama-hater behind” campaign for the sleazy pile of horse manure that it is.  Enough already!  As several people pointed out, if the birther stuff is back on the table, it should be fair game to look at Romney’s family history as well… does he really want to go there?  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scott Brown shocked the nation, and certainly the political establishment in Massachusetts, by running a dark horse campaign that won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, ending the very brief (24 day, ^cheeriogirl) period when Congress was in session and President Obama had a super-majority.   He was able to run this campaign on the strength of out-of-state donors, and he is doing the same thing this go-round.   His funders include the Koch Brothers and the notorious slave master/polluter Pepe Fanjul of Florida, also a billionaire who uses his wealth strategically to influence political leaders.  I had the opportunity to compare Brown's campaign to that of Elizabeth Warren.  Brown is increasingly beholden to corporate special interests, whereas Warren is running as a person who understands, appreciates and fights for fairness for the middle class.  She told of her own very modest middle-class upbringing, the benefits she received from the public's investment in educating students like her, and how she has translated that education into a career fighting for the middle class against an economic and tax system that is increasingly stacked against us.  She is an informed, articulate and persuasive advocate, and also a warm and friendly person who would be a much-needed, effective voice for the people in the U.S. Senate.

Some Comments and Links:

Linda1961:  The more I learn about Mittens' "business" practices while at Bain Capital - destroying jobs, stealing pensions, loading companies with unsustainable debt (some of the companies were healthy until Bain took over), and then getting bailed out by the taxpayers so that he made millions, the more I realize that not only is he unsuited for President, but has a special place in hell awaiting him when he goes.  [Later:]  If Quitter hadn't gotten addicted to plastic surgery, she wouldn't be looking 60 or older.  If she had a healthier diet, was really a runner (or participated in any kind of regular exercise), and had good grooming habits, she would look a lot better also, too, and at less cost than plastic surgery.  Mostly, if she weren't so hateful, and spewed so much hate and ignorance, she would have the grace and beauty that anyone can have, regardless of their outside looks - it's the grace a beauty of character, that is, a character based on love, compassion, intelligence and willingness to be truthful.  Anyone can have that, if they so choose, or they can be mean, hateful and a liar, like Quitter.  No amount of plastic surgery will fix that.

Zane1:  … my favorite combo interview is O'Reilly & Palin.  He has such great contempt & superior attitude towards her.  It's magic.  It brings out the worse in both of them.

Maelewis:  Citizens United has taken away what we cherished most: Government of the people, by the people, for the people, which is about to perish from the Earth, sorry, Abraham Lincoln. Now, government can be bought by a few billionaires, who pay lower taxes than most people (if they pay any taxes at all), whose money is sheltered overseas, and whose political voice is louder by virtue of the advertising that they can buy, drowning out all of those "of the people, by the people"  people.

Psalm023:  Mitt Romney has silver-spoon-in-mouth-disease.  

Crow:  Everything about Mitt Romney can be summed up by the title of his book - "No Apology".  The original title was to be "Fuck You", but Ann persuaded him to tone it down a bit because he's "running for office for Pete's sake".

Cheeriogirl linked to Paul Krugman in NYT onDimon’s déjà vu debacle and to this from Think Progress on “overwhelmingly Republican” California Supreme Court’s nearly unanimous 2004 decision upholding health insurance requirement to cover contraception and to the Best White House photo ever

Older_Wiser linked to this from  

HopeforAmerica pointed this out about KatieCouric’s new show and open invitation to Sarah Palin.  

Alwaysthink linked to WSJ/Marketwatch, saying/showing that there was no spending spree under President Obama.  

ProChoiceGrandma found this excellent article in Rolling Stone on Bain Capital – the worst of Capitalism.  

PalinStuff (and HonestyinGov) found another good one in Rolling Stone, this on the big payoff expected by Romney’s billionaire backers.  

EbbtideMB posted the link to the excellent Boston Globe series on Mitt Romney.  

For those who need a good laugh, check out Allison’s series on “Cristol Saplin” at The .  (h/t Older_Wiser)  
Palin Place

HonestyinGov linked to this on the Wisconsin recall, on Daily Kos.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Fundraisers - Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown

by BBT

A month ago, a friend invited me to a fundraiser for Elizabeth Warren.  I had actually never attended a political fundraiser before, but was very interested in learning more about Warren, so I eagerly accepted the invitation and made a modest donation to the campaign.  The event took place a few days ago, on a beautiful day in a town near where I live.  It turned out that I knew quite a few of the people who attended, so I was having a good time catching up with old friends.  At that point, Elizabeth came up to our group, was introduced to us all, and we talked for a few minutes about the work we do and our interests.  She is very down-to-earth and friendly.  A little while later, she gave a wonderful, moving and heartfelt speech to the crowd of about 100 people.  She was very relaxed but also energetic as she spoke without notes for about a half hour, telling her life story and emphasizing the theme that the American way that has served our country so well is to invest in education, infrastructure and research, and to expand opportunities for the next generation.  During the Q&A, she handled a lot of questions very deftly, expanding on her remarks and fluently covering a range of issues that have not been discussed in the media about her campaign.  She knows her stuff.

Her life story is very compelling – she grew up in a modest middle class home, the “baby sister” with three older brothers, her father a maintenance man whose serious health problems caused financial hardship to the family; her mother worked at Sears; Elizabeth babysat (for 35 cents an hour) and began working as a waitress when she was 13, later attended  college, married when she was 19, graduated and taught special needs elementary school students for a short time, then had her first child, started law school when her daughter turned two (she told a funny story about needing her daughter to be “dependably potty trained” so she could go to day care on that day), graduated from law school just before her second child was born, and practiced law from her living room with two toddlers at her feet, before eventually combining law and teaching. 

She talked about how grateful she was for the opportunities she had; how, when America had suffered the Great Depression, it began 50 years of public investment that led to tremendous growth in our national economy and of the middle class, as the country invested in its people, its roads and bridges, and in research and the “pipeline of ideas” that drives innovation.  But then, in the 1980s under President Reagan, there was a shift away from the commitment to invest in our future, toward an I’ve- got-mine-and-rest-of-you-are-on-your-own mentality, which of course has become so much more extreme in recent years.  She talked passionately about burdening our young people with unsustainable debt, breaking the social contract that had helped so many people have a better life. She also talked about deregulation of the financial sector, moving away from regulations and policies that prevented dangerous risk-taking in the banking sector, rules that had served the country well since the Great Depression.   She covered other topics, including some issues that have not gotten too much coverage, such as her stand on environmental protection.  She debunked the false dichotomy between jobs and environmental protection, pointed out the importance of clean air and clean water to healthy families and communities, and also talked about her own personal interest in and commitment to the environment.  She also had some strong points to make about Senator Scott Brown’s voting record. 

I went to the event expecting to agree with Elizabeth politically, and that she would be articulate and well-informed, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find her so warm, approachable, personable, energetic and yet relaxed in a setting with so many people whom she had never met.  She seemed like a "regular person" who is very smart, but not an elite, aloof wonk that some would like people to believe she is.    


Senator Scott Brown also had a fundraiser recently, one of many, of course.  This one in particular caught my eye, because the name of one of the hosts was familiar, thanks to Patrick’s recent post of the two documentaries by Jamie Johnson.  In “The One Percent,” Johnson had featured Florida’s Fanjul family, including “sugar baron” brothers Alfie and Pepe, who own the sugar companies and control what is close to a monopoly on sugar production in the U.S.  Unbeknownst to me before Patrick’s post, the U.S. taxpayer heavily subsidizes sugar production, which a former Secretary of the Interior and others in the documentary scathingly criticized – similar to the oil industry, the subsidies pad the profits of an already highly profitable industry, and the profiteers use their money to buy political influence and prevent adequate regulation of their activities.  (This part of the film begins at the 30 minute mark and runs for about 10 minutes.)  The film also pointed out the terrible poverty among the Fanjul family’s workers, who were routinely cheated out of fair wages (estimated at $10 million a year in minimum wage violations).  Instead of a fair wage, they were functioning essentially as slave laborers, subjected to extremely dangerous and hard work and living in deplorable conditions in the town of Belle Glade, just a few miles down the highway from the lavish lifestyle of Palm Beach.  The film also mentioned that the sugar industry in Florida is one of the big culprits in damage to the Everglades, even as the U.S. government spends hundreds of millions of dollars trying to restore and protect that ecosystem.  Yet we subsidize the Fanjul empire with our tax dollars. 

Pepe Fanjul

If I had read Think Progress’s article a few weeks ago, it would not have meant nearly as much to me as it did after seeing the Jamie Johnson documentary.  Here is the report:  Scott Brown attended a fundraiser hosted by Pepe Fanjul, who is described as a “sugar baron” accused of “modern day slavery.” The report echoes the documentary insofar as the conditions of workers in the U.S., but paints an even more horrific picture of the exploitation of workers in the Dominican Republic

Thus it seems that my Senator, from Massachusetts, is consorting with a slave master whose reputation for labor violations and environmental degradation is well-known.  So, first, why is Scott Brown schmoozing with Fanjul?  Money, of course.  The better question is, what does Fanjul expect to get in return?  Obviously he already has access to the halls of power in Washington; that’s why his family gets the huge sugar subsidies.  I imagine he sees hosting the fundraiser for Brown as pocket change – a trivial investment to make sure his subsidies, and labor practices, and the environmental damage his businesses cause, can continue without hassles from the federal government. 

I already knew that Brown was beholden to the Koch Brothers, and had kissed up to them for money in the past.  (Here are reports from the Boston Globe  and Rachel Maddow on the Koch Bros. funding of Brown and, from Rachel, of “every scummy political scandal.”) Seeing Brown’s interaction with Fanjul, it felt like another slap in the face to the voters of Massachusetts, whose interests were undoubtedly the farthest thing from Scott Brown’s mind when he was wining and dining in Florida.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Joan Walsh slams Mitt Romney: "Leave no Obama-hater behind" - Daily Beast: "Mitt Romney’s New BFF" Donald Trump is still peddling Obama-birther theories

By Patrick

Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney on February 2, 2012 in Las Vegas

Donald Trump is a person you do not really want to be associated with. He turned into an Obama-birther last year, only to be humiliated when President Obama swiftly presented his long-form birth certificate, and was then even further humiliated when afterwards Obama himself roasted Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Notably, Donald Trump's big friend Sarah Palin fully supported him in his "Birther activities" last year, asking in public whether "there’s something there that the president doesn’t want people to see on that birth certificate." Well, Sarah Palin obviously spoke from experience as she successfully managed to cover up Trig Palin's real parentage, whose birth certificate she stubbornly hides from prying eyes.

Just as everything that Sarah Palin touches has the unbreakable habit to into a big ugly mess (the infamous "Palin curse"), it is possible that Donald Trump could deliver a curse of his own - to his new BFF Mitt Romney. After all, as the "Daily Beast" now reveals, he continues to cuddle up to Mitt Romney, and also continues to say very silly things. This looks like a winning combination, but only for the Democrats, I believe:

"Look, it’s very simple,” said Trump, who has spent the past 13 months questioning Obama’s constitutional eligibility to occupy the White House (and only doubled down with his stubborn skepticism after Obama produced a long-form birth certificate, certifying he was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Hawaii, and then hilariously roasted him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. “A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book,” Trump went on, “he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital.”

Actually, Obama’s literary agency at the time, two decades ago, published a recently discovered catalogue of clients and their projects that included erroneous information about Obama and a prospective book about race that he ended up not writing. An agency assistant back then, Miriam Goderich, said last week that she was mistaken when she wrote that Obama was born in Kenya.

But Trump isn’t buying it.

“That’s what he told the literary agent,” Trump insisted. “That’s the way life works… He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said… He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia… Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”

Donald Trump has big plans regarding his support for Mitt Romney - he might start his very own Super PAC for Mitt Romney, as the "Daily Beast" reports:

“I don’t know,” he said, noting that he raised more than $600,000 recently at two $1,000-a-person receptions for Ann Romney, with 600 women at his and Melania’s apartment in Trump Tower. “A lot of that money [for Obama, at the time of the Clooney dinner] poured in automatically because they did it the day after he came out in favor of same-sex marriage. It wasn’t because of the dinner.” As for the June 28 Trump/Romney meal, fortunate attendees will receive, according to the campaign, “airport transportation in the Trump vehicle… stay at the Trump International Hotel & Tower… [get a] tour of Trump Tower” and “dine with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney.” Trump will host a fundraiser for Romney, featuring a drop-by by former rival Newt Gingrich, next Tuesday at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Trump, meanwhile, confirmed reports that he is planning to start a self-funded super PAC in support of the Romney campaign. “We may do our own commercials out of the super PAC,” he said, adding that he has yet to focus on the enterprise.

So the connection between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump might please the "crazies" in the Republican party, and we all know that there are more than enough of them, but this could easily alienate the independents who would rather stay clear of the loony fringe. Donald Trump's close connection to Mitt Romney certainly provides the Democrats with excellent material.

Yesterday on Hardball, Joan Walsh from "Salon" and David Corn from "Mother Jones" slammed Mitt Romney in a glorious fashion (big h/t to Sunnyjane!). Especially Joan Walsh was outstanding and said that new motto of Mitt Romney's campaign could now be called "Leave no Obama-hater behind." 

This is an excellent clip, which should be seen and shared by as many people as possible - and gives a taste that Mitt Romney's "embrace the Obama haters" approach might backfire in the end.

But maybe that would be no big surprise. After all, the "Palin curse" could be contagious. Dance with the crazies, and you will reap what you sow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mitt Romney Wants to Talk About The Economy...Or Not

by Sunnyjane

Um...let's see.  There', no, can't talk about THAT...

Mitt Romney (R-Three Lavish Homes) is having a very hard time trying to find an issue -- any issue -- on which to attack Barack Obama (D-White House) and woo voters out on the campaign trail.  This should be easy, right?   Let's check out his list of options.

1.  He could always appeal to pet owners, referencing his nurturing and special care for the family dog, Seamus.    (Oh rats, perhaps that is not a good topic to bring up.)

2.  OK, there's always gay marriage.   Romney said in October 2011 that he's certainly against such a thing because, That’s why as a society we say we’re going to call marriage what it has been called for 6,000 years or longer — a relationship between one man and one woman.   (Wellllll, maybe that's not too smart an issue to get into since great-great-grandpappy took unto himself  not one, but twelve wives.  In addition, a gay staffer quit the Romney campaign, and a wealthy gay donor asked that his campaign contribution be returned because Romney would try to force a constitutional amendment which would attempt to make my own legal and blessed marriage null and void.)

3.  Healthcare!   There you go!   That's a fine subject, since Mitt has already made it clear that, as president, of course, you get rid of Obamacare, that's the easy one.   (He's tried hard to divorce the Massachusetts Romneycare from the hateful Obamacare, but folks just aren't buying it.  Added to that is the fact that Americans like the Affordable Care Act, and well, SHOOT!)

4.  An attack on women's issues!  (  He already tried that when he mocked the President's cartoon character depicting how government policies could benefit middle-and-lower-class women.  This ridicule didn't even get him a twenty-four-hour news cycle.  Before that, of course, was the little issue of the Lily Ledbetter Act that was the first law President Obama signed after becoming President.  But Romney's campaign policy director couldn't verify that their guy actually supported the wage fairness act, telling a reporter, We’ll get back to you on that.)

5.  All right, then!  He could always attack President Obama on his human rights and civil rights records, and...oh, never mind.   That wouldn't work out very well, either.

6.  Ah ha!  Surely he could chide President Obama on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright issue.  (OK, maybe not.  That just might elicit questions about his own religion, which Romney refuses to discuss.  As he told Piers Morgan back in June 2011 concerning the tenets of Mormonism on certain issues, I'm not a spokesman for my church. And one thing I'm not going to do in running for president is become a spokesman for my church or apply a religious test that is simply forbidden by the constitution, I'm not going there. If you want to learn about my church, talk to my church.  In addition, Romney rarely remembers what he believes, much less what he's said.  Just recently, during the Joe Ricketts brouhaha concerning a $10 million attack ad on President Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright, from which Romney is trying hard to distance himself, he couldn't remember that back in February he said to Sean HannityI’m not sure which is worse: him listening to Rev. Wright or him saying we must be a less-Christian nation.  When reminded of this statement, Romney compounded that little problem, stating,   I’m not familiar with precisely what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.  I'll go back and take a look at what was said there.)

7.  Surely he can talk about being the governor of Massachusetts, right?  Well, no.  Because he's been trying throughout the entire 2012 campaign to convince Republicans that he was severely conservative, while selling himself in 2002 like thisI think the old standby definitions of who votes for which party have been blown away in this campaign. I think people recognize that I'm not a partisan Republican—that I'm someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive. 

So Mitt has settled on The Economy  as The Issue that will make Barack Obama a four-year resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Yes, indeedy, as he bleated to a reporter in Colorado who recently dared  to ask him about his stand on medical marijuana (a very significant issue in that state), Aren't there issues of significance that you want to talk about…the economy, uh, the economy, the growth of jobs, the need to put people back to work, the challenges of Iran, the enormous issues that we face…

By God, Mitt wants to talk about his extensive business experiences and expertise and the President's failed economic policies; and even if he has to stomp his foot, gosh darn it all, he's going to talk about it!  Or... is he?

There is No Balm in Bain

After earning two degrees from Harvard in the early 1970s (the snob!), Romney went into the Management Consulting business.  In 1977, he was lured away from Boston Consulting Group by Bain & Company, another consulting management firm.  Though by all accounts it seems that Romney was very successful in this position, after a few years he grew tired of telling other companies how to operate their businesses; he wanted to be in charge of his own business.

It just so happened that Bill Bain had decided to start a new venture business that would buy into companies, have them benefit from Bain techniques, and then reap higher rewards than consulting fees.  And would Mitt like to run this new business?   You bet bippy!  (Perhaps it was that reap higher rewards thingy that did it, eh?)  

In 1984, Mitt, T. Coleman Andrews III, and Eric Kriss became the co-founders of Bain Capital, setting itself up as an alternative asset management and financial services company that specializes in private equity, venture capital, credit, and public market investments.  There has been no argument that the company founded by these three businessmen has been very successful.  During the Republican primaries, that is all Romney talked about, never letting his fellow hopefuls -- and American voters -- forget that he was the only GOP wannabe-the-nominee with real business experience.   As late as April, when Romney decided that he had clinched the nomination, his victory speech never mentioned his years as governor nor his time with the Olympics, but touted only his business experience: I’d say that you might have heard that I was successful in business.  And that rumor is true.  But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people.  You might not have heard that our business helped start other businesses, like Staples and Sports Authority and a new steel mill and a learning center called Bright Horizons. And I’d tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson.  And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery!

So why doesn't the Romney team want to "go there" any more?  It could be because of issues such as... 

As the Daily Kos reported a few days ago (after the less-than-brilliant Bobby Jindal remarked that President Obama had't even run a lemonade stand)Mitt Romney's experience at Bain was nothing like most businesses and it certainly wasn't anything like running a lemonade stand. When Mitt Romney invested in companies that failed, he still made money. When he raided pension funds, taxpayers had to pick up the bill. Have you ever heard of a lemonade stand making money even though it didn't sell any lemonade?

Opinion writer Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post said about Romney's GST Steel involvement,  The company, which was more than 100 years old, failed after a decade under Bain’s ownership; GST’s 750 employees lost their jobs, pensions and health benefits. Bain, however, made money, investing $8 million in the company and taking out $4 million in profits and $4.5 million in management fees. The Romney campaign contends that GST, with its unionized workforce, could not compete with cheap foreign steel being dumped on the market. The Obama campaign alleges that Bain burdened GST with crushing debt while sucking the company’s coffers dry.

Mitt's message to the GST workers?
Romney's push-back on his critics went like this:  "They said, 'Oh, gosh, Governor Romney at Bain Capital closed down a steel factory.' But their problem, of course, is that the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. I was no longer there, so that's hardly something which is on my watch."   No, Mitt, it's your problem, because you lied; you still retained full, sole ownership of GST.

Another absolutely horrifying story regarding the devastating effect Bain Capital's involvement had on one business, Ampad, in Marion, Indiana in 1994, can be read here.  There is also a video featuring several of the Ampad workers.  

ABC News summed up Romney's Bain-identity-problem like thisOne reason you won't hear Romney talk about Bain a lot is because it separates himself from real workers in real jobs, not financial speculators and high-powered investors who buy and sell companies. Even if Romney had impeccable success at Bain, few independent voters are able to connect with the idea of running a private-equity firm. 

Robert Reich demonstrates in this video, The Magic of Bain Capital's Profits Explained in 8 Easy Steps, how Mitt Romney became so obscenely rich and how American tax payers sometimes get stuck with the bill.

But the GOP's Great White Hope Has a Bold Economic Plan!

If you liked how George W. Bush handled the economy during his eight wretched years in the White House, you're gonna love Romney's strategy.  It would overhaul federal tax, regulatory, trade, and energy policies. His bold plan is a collection of business-friendly ideas that fit neatly in the mainstream of the Republican Party, with a few innovative proposals sprinkled throughout, namely tougher stances on China and labor unions.  [Pardon my yawn.]


The Romney campaign is hardly ready for prime time.  They asserted recently that  it's "clear" that the Obama campaign "is running a campaign of character assassination."   Only problem there is, they have not been able to give an example on this charge.  Just another instance of We'll have to get back to you on that?

Even Fox News is becoming dubious of Romney.  Brit Hume has saidYou're only allowed a certain number of flips before people begin to doubt your character.

Character assassination, Mitt? In truth, Romney commits character suicide on a daily basis.  And it appears that conservative voters are starting to realize it.


Note by Patrick:

Thank you, Sunnyjane, for your excellent post! I thought that it would be a good idea to add the following photo comparison to this post, which Sunnyjane posted earlier today in the comments - it speaks for itself:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Sarah Palin Stopper" - Joe McGinniss in Sydney, Australia - The Aussies laugh at Sarah Palin - BONUS: New interview with Joe McGinniss (Video)

Guest post by our good friend Tildama

"Sarah Palin Stopper"

- an hour spent with Joe McGinniss and Annabel Crabb 
at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

The Sydney Theatre at The Rocks in Sydney apparently seats 896 people, and I didn't see one single vacant seat - in fact, I saw staff members squeezing in extra seats on two of the upper dress circles. Sadly, I was seated up in the nose bleeds right at the back, but fortunately I could still hear everything being said very clearly.

The format for the hour-long session was more like an informal chat between McGinniss and Annabel Crabb, a journalist who works at the ABC in Sydney. Crabb confessed from the outset that Palin described McGinniss as her stalker, while she (Crabb) on the other hand, was most definitely McGinniss’s stalker. She recounted that when visiting the US last year, she wore McGinniss down with her repeated requests for an interview, so eventually McGinniss said that if she was ever in the Connecticut region, to come and have lunch with him. On being told this, she immediately drove the entire breadth of the country and landed on his doorstep ready to take him up on his invitation for lunch.

The two talked, firstly, about M's previous work and the trouble he has encountered while writing and researching. Over the years, he had experienced difficulties with the Kennedy family, the Mafia, criminal and political figures and of course, the Palin family. They joked about how trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, and he explained that establishing the truth can cause problems, but he said he always maintains his focus and is never intimidated by those who would want to stand in his way.

McGinniss then went on to explain the famous incident that took place in Wasilla when Joe and the “First Dude” t-shirt wearing Todd Palin came face to face. He explained he had encountered far more fearsome opponents in the past than “little” Todd Palin - who is only about “this big." The audience laughed uproariously!

The audience was given an insight into the kind of fear that exists in Alaska - the kind of fear that stifles and paralyses a community, so they remain silent. The three examples he gave were of an oil executive who lost his job three weeks after talking to him, of a female judge who invited 15 female friends to dinner to talk to him about Sarah but only 3 ended up coming. And thirdly, the story of the person who would have loved to talk but had a relative who had applied for a scholarship to the University of Alaska and was too afraid should he speak to McGinniss, he could jeopardise this young person’s prospects of gaining that scholarship. For me, this was the first time I actually managed to get a feel for the toxic atmosphere Palin and her cronies have created in that state.

Thankfully, no topic was off-limits in this discussion. Crabb brought McGinniss around to the issue of Trigg’s birth. Although McGinniss says he is unable to say for certain whether or not Sarah gave birth to this child, he recounted the “Wild Ride” theory in every detail and concluded that, if in fact she was the birth mother, she is one hellishly reckless “mother." As he described each detail of the “Wild Ride” sequence of events, with the revelation of each new detail, the laughter became louder and louder. So by the end of the story, when he came to the part where she took an hour and a half drive from Anchorage to a basic and ill-equipped Wasilla hospital, the audience was in stitches! The audience left no doubt they believed not one syllable of the story – not one.

I can’t explain how very therapeutic it was to hear this laughter – to hear Palin finally become a laughing stock – a subject of derision . . . . Oh, it felt soooo good!  In fact, so often the mere mention of Palin’s name made 900 Aussies laugh out loud.  It was obvious that many there in that theatre had a very good understanding of Palin propaganda and could see through the smoke and mirrors – they weren’t taking what she’s serving, that’s for sure.

Unfortunately the hour with Joe McGinniss had flown by so fast, so there was only time for two very quick questions from the audience.  The first question asked was about the role the media played in this whole Palin farce.  McGinniss felt that there was a lack of curiosity, because for the most part they were star struck by the “sexy librarian” image she was pushing.  He considered journalists and media outlets had a vested interest in keeping her front and centre because of the revenue she generated for them.  Palin was the cash cow that everyone wanted to hang on to.  His opinion is that the media in the US, is celebrity driven, as opposed to exposing what is happening in reality.

The second (and last) question had several parts, one part asking whether he thought Murdoch would go down in the US but sadly he didn’t have time to answer that one.  However he did answer another part of the question, asking his thoughts on the election and he said he felt Obama would win the election this year, to loud cheers and clapping from the audience.

As I said before, I was pleasantly surprised with how much the audience knew about Palin (but it shouldn’t really surprise me actually, seeing we have had her shoved down our throats on television and newspapers now for the last four years) and the demographics represented.  There was a huge cross section of young to older members of society and everything in between – an eclectic crowd you could say, but all of them filing out with smiles on their faces at the end of the session.  McGinniss charmed the crowd with his wit, intellect, openness and honesty.  He didn’t come across as pompous or show any signs of being affected at all which was very refreshing.

I stuck around waiting for McGinniss to go into the book signing room, but by the time I went to line up, the queue was so very long and not moving.  So I made a decision to go and make my way to the railway station to take the train home (an hour and a half journey) to my sick bed instead, sorry everyone.  It was an opportunity missed I know, but at that moment getting home was more important to me.



Joe McGinniss was interviewed in Sydney by the "Sydney Writers' Centre":

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekly Roundup, May 15-21, 2012

by BlueberryT

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Patrick shows the example of Frankfurt, where OWS-inspired protests have occurred in a peaceful manner.  This is in sharp contrast to the shocking and illegal police brutality that has occurred in numerous American cities over the past 6-8 months, as shown in this video.  The post also highlights concerns that Occupy’s efforts to remain peaceful may be thwarted by other groups that build on Occupy’s work but may not share their commitment to non-violent protest, thus potentially tarnishing Occupy’s reputation.  Here is a report on the protests by "Blockupy" in Frankfurt this week (after Patrick's post); here is the NYT on the subject.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Nick Hanauer is a billionaire entrepreneuer and investor.  He gave a talk at the TED conference on why the wealthy should pay higher taxes.  In it, he called out the much-repeated lie that the wealthy are the “job creators.”  Instead, he shows that it is middle class demand that is the driver of the economy, including job creation.  The graphs are particularly excellent, showing how reducing taxes on the wealthiest is associated with rising unemployment – exactly the opposite of the “trickle down/wealthy are job creators” false dogma.  Equally interesting to the talk itself is the fact that the TED conference didn’t want to release the video, claiming that the talk was too partisan and “unconvincing.”  (Perhaps they can’t read or interpret graphs?)  Interestingly, the fact that the conference didn’t release the video of his remarks became the bigger story, with coverage (pro and con) by numerous MSM outlets.  Hopefully, this will have the effect of even more people seeing his talk than would have if they had released it in the first place.  Nice job highlighting this, Patrick.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Patrick had an incredibly productive week blogging – this post highlights two documentaries by Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune.  Jamie’s first film is “Born Rich,” highlighting the lives of heirs and heiresses of über-wealth.  Personally, I couldn’t relate to them all that much – I guess that was the point!  One of the messages is that inheriting a lot of money can really f*ck people up, and that they live in a bubble unlike anything most of us can really fathom.  It ends with Johnson’s own comment, which seems to reflect the paths of those in the group who are most balanced:  “It’s my job to build a meaningful life apart from all this privilege I’ve inherited…”  The second film, “The One Percent,” delves into income inequality issues that the OWS movement has publicized.  The film was made 5-6 years ago, and displays not only Johnson’s prescience but also excellent documentary skills, including a wide range of interviews with a fascinating array of people.  Definitely a MUST SEE film.  Johnson wraps the film up with a great comment by a taxi driver (who has just learned of Johnson’s family):  “You might think I’m an idiot…My family is one of the richest families in the world, but not with money; with love, kindness, tolerance and patience, qualities that are worth more than money…and you can’t buy that.  They taught me how to love people for who they are, not what I want them to be.  They taught me how to get along with people.  They taught me how to treat people the way I want to be treated…”   

Some Comments and Links:

JCos:  If you are alright with people being gay, but oppose gay marriage, and you think people should abstain until they're married, when are gay people supposed to have sex?  It's just so confusing!

AKRNC:  Mitt Romney scares the shit out of me, the thought of him becoming President is such a threat to the way we currently live.  He will be devastating for our economy, taking us back to the Bush era policies, not to mention what it does to us on a social level.  His policies are demeaning to women, to children, to the disabled and the poor, yet he either doesn't know or doesn't give a damn.  His behavior indicates more of the latter, unfortunately.  He's definitely of the "I've got mine, don't give a damn if you get yours or not" style of politics.  When I heard he and his wife claiming that it was their turn to be in the White House, it wasn't that he felt that he worked hard for years, worked for the people, and in turn felt like he could do more for those same people by being President.  It was the, "I've campaigned for several years now and damn it, I've spent more than enough money so I should be President" type of attitude that came across.  He believes he's entitled to whatever he wants simply because of his background and bank account.  It's evident in his past so-called "pranks" in high school, his belittling of others through some of the most ridiculously self-absorbed comments to ever come out of a candidates mouth and that's saying a lot when you think of all the stupidity we've heard over the years.  He lies without a second thought and when called on it, he doubles down on the same.  I think that President Obama most certainly deserves a second term as he's made what can be considered excellent progress in some areas with half of Congress refusing to work with him.  Imagine if we truly had a bipartisan Congress and where we would be if they had worked together as they are supposed to do, to reach common goals, to compromise when necessary and to put aside their ill feelings towards one another and work for the people who elected them...  

Laprofesora952:   [Bristol’s] thoughtless comment is offensive to those families who have DS kids with severe medical and/or behavioral problems. DS kids do not all have the same level of abilities and it is insensitive of her to suggest so. Some of these kids have complex issues. She makes it sound like Trig is a toy, a cute little plaything instead of a person with unique strengths and weaknesses. But god forbid a Paylin would try to educate him or herself about anything like DS. It's so much easier to spout nonsense that suits her agenda.

Yknott:  I just finished getting caught up with all my go-to political blogs, watched Rachel, and peeked at some RWNJ blogs. Omg.  The Republicans are completely nutz!  They have gone off the rails.  I also got one of those awful emails from one of my conservative relatives stating that Obama doesn't respect our flag and wants to change our national anthem to "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing".  Seriously!  I. need. a. drink.

diz:  Is there no end to the insanity?   If I didn't know a couple of these types personally I'd never believe that a person could be so gullible and ill-informed in this century. 

Brilliant from Caligirl:   I have a new word for the GOP oil machine: #Petrosexuals   

Older_Wiser:  I've never seen such evil in politics since the 1930s.  And we had a World War over that.

Lillibird pointed out this on bullying and I found this about bullying on Twitter: must read (all the way to the end).  

Older_Wiser linked to this fromcrooksandliars on ALEC 
and she pointed out this photo: 

LizH and KAO pointed out this image.  

And then there’s this great Doonesbury on the “job creators” myth.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Born Rich" and "The One Percent" - Two thought-provoking documentaries by Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune

By Patrick

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 
Mark 10:25

"There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. That is the misery of being poor.
Oscar Wilde, 1891

"We think the most potent and short-term threat would be societies demanding a more ‘equitable’ share of wealth."
Third "Citigroup Plutonomy Memo", 2006

"If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs."
Nick Hanauer, "TED-speech", 2012

Only recently Kathleen and I discovered the two documentaries made by Jamie Johnston, who was born in 1979 and is one of the great-grandsons of Robert Wood Johnson I, the co-founder of Johnson & Johnson. On his 21st birthday, Jamie Johnston inherited a large, undisclosed sum of money, but fortunately for all of us, he was not content with just being rich and enjoying his money and his status - quite on the contrary. He created two unique, fascinating and incredibly important documentaries: "Born Rich" (2003) and "The One Percent" (2006), in which Jamie Johnston examined his "class", the super-rich, from within - which in the end did not go down very well with some of the subjects he portrayed in the documentaries, including his own father.

The Occupy-movement made the term "the one percent" a "household name", and the issues of income inequality, the role of the rich and their influence on politics are now hotly debated topics everywhere, and will most likely remain the most important subjects especially in the USA for years to come. So I guess that Jamie Johnston was ahead of his time with making these documentaries. Which might also explain why Kathleen and I got to know of these documentaries only at such a late point. I am sure though that many of you have heard of them before.

These documentaries are an absolute "must-see", and once you start watching, it is very hard to stop. I do not know of any other documentaries about the "super-rich" which are so gripping, such an eye-opener, which raise so many important questions and which show so much ignorance and arrogance on part of these people who, according to Republican propaganda, are meant to provide jobs, prosperity and growth in the USA. These are truly thought-provoking documentaries, which need to be "re-visited."

"Born Rich" is available on Hulu for US-citizens, and it also has been uploaded to youtube:

"The One Percent":

The "New York Times" published a very interesting report about "Born Rich" - excerpt:
At the age of 20, while studying medieval history at New York University, Mr. Johnson decided to make a movie. During a series of conversations with his uncle, Dirk Wittenborn, a novelist and screenwriter, he came up with the idea for ''Born Rich,'' which he describes as a sort of inoculation against the fate that befalls many wealthy people. ''There were so many stories I had heard of,'' Mr. Johnson said, ''even in my own family, of people that had turned to drugs and blown a lot of money. I thought, what an irresponsible way to live.''

More than 50 members of the country's junior elite rejected Mr. Johnson before he was able to secure his cast of 11. A Campbell's soup heir initially said yes but then backed out, saying his parents disapproved. Others seem to wish their own parents had been as cautious.

Luke Weil, the 22-year-old son of Lorne Weil, the chairman and chief executive of the Scientific Games Corporation, which owns Autotote, the off-track betting company, is seen in the film mouthing off about taking LSD ''between the summer of sixth and seventh grade'' and having ''an incredibly precocious drug habit.'' He also brags about how little he had to do in college at Brown, claiming that the university wouldn't kick him out because of his family's fortune.

''In my entire first year,'' he said, ''I think I attended less than eight academic commitments.''

After hearing early reports about the film, Mr. Weil filed a lawsuit against Mr. Johnson and the filmmakers demanding that his scenes be cut. For his part, Mr. Johnson retaliated by featuring the lawsuit in the film as an example of what happens when rich people talk about money. Last fall, a New York State Supreme Court justice ruled in favor of Mr. Johnson in the case.

Carlo von Zeitschel, the long-haired great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm, who is seen in the film smoking cigarettes and saying if he ever manages to be faithful to a woman he'll be sure to have a ''prenup,'' also threatened a lawsuit but never filed.

''I'm definitely not as close with some of the people as a result of the film,'' Mr. Johnson admitted on a recent afternoon at one of his favorite haunts, the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village.

Some of the people who participated in the film said they were invited to do so under false pretenses, saying that Mr. Johnson claimed it was a student film.

''They know that I didn't trick them,'' Mr. Johnson said. ''They all signed releases that a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer drew up. It was fully explained to them.''

A friend of Mr. Johnson who declined to be in the movie and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: ''He didn't betray his class, he betrayed his friends. He could have cut the scenes differently to save them from looking like a fool.''

But not everyone felt burned. S. I. Newhouse IV, 23, the grandson of the Condé Nast chairman, S. I. Newhouse Jr., said that if people come off badly in the film they have mainly themselves to blame. ''I was pretty shocked by what some of the other kids had to say,'' said Mr. Newhouse, who met Mr. Johnson at Pingry, a private school in Martinsville, N.J.

Sometimes I have the feeling that the USA is sliding back into some "19th century society", with the "one percent" being the new aristocracy.  They have the money, they can "buy" politics and whatever else they want, so they are in charge. They view for example a more pronounced progressive tax as socialism, and therefore as an evil concept, and they also control much of the mainstream media.

Nobody has to feel guilty for being rich. But it's not just about about playing golf and having fun. I would like to illustrate this with a quote from the German constitution, Article 14: "Ownership has its responsibilities. The use (of assets, property etc.) should be for the benefit of the public good."

Sometimes it can also be necessary to force the "rich" to give to the "poor" in order to serve the public good - but right now, it seems that hell would rather freeze over before such a thing could ever happen in the USA.