Monday, July 30, 2012

Countdown to Election 2012: Week Fifteen in Review

by Sunnyjane

Wipe that daft grin off your face and take note:  London -- busy, active, bustling city.   Salt Lake City -- middle of nowhere.  Now  just bugger off, Yank.

We've been callously hoodwinked, dear readers.  This was supposed to be a period of lazy summer days and it has instead turned into crazy political days.   Enough of the preamble, however; we'd best get on with what happened during Week Fifteen, warts and all.

Yankee Dimwit Went to London -- And Failed to Mind the Gaffe

If there were a competition for Boorish Ignorance at this year's Summer Olympics, Mitt Romney has already won the Gold. The British press has gleefully used tons of ink to skewer the Republican candidate for president.  Rupert Murdoch, who has recently tweeted his displeasure with the Republican presidential candidate,    joined in the onslaught when The Sun published on the front page of its tabloid, Mitt the Twit.   Personally, I believe that is far too kind a description; Mitt the Git would be a more  appropriate description of the Republican candidate who stumbled his way onto British soil: Git -- British: a silly, incompetent, stupid, or annoying person.  

The Queen is laughing
at me, isn't she?
Romney's pathetic efforts to bolster his somewhat dubious international policy creds hit an all-time low for self-induced social and political blundering.  The Daily Mail effectively summed up for its UK readers what most Americans already know: Speaking anonymously behind the scenes, officials were even more scathing in their verdicts, describing Mr Romney's second day in London as a 'total car crash' and saying he was 'worse than Sarah Palin'. Another official who met with the former Governor of Massachusetts said he was 'apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity'.  

In an interview with  Hugh Robertson, a Conservative member of Parliament and minister for Sport and the Olympics, the BBC2 Newsnight interviewer asked Robertson if Mitt would perhaps participate in carrying the torch ahead of Friday night's ceremony.  Robertson burst into laughter and said, Certainly not after today!

Why did Michelle have to show up?
In a recent post, the Politicalgates blogspot asked,  Who is the better ambassador for the USA at the 2012 London Olympics, Michelle Obama or Mitt Romney?

The answer is a definite no-brainer when comparing the two. While Mitt Romney began this disastrous little trip by insulting his host country's ability to adequately stage the 2012 Summer Olympics, the First Lady of the United States schooled him on the art of diplomacy, saying:  The United Kingdom has had a phenomenal year.  They have pulled off a major wedding, a Diamond Jubilee, and now the Olympics.  They know what they’re doing.

To paraphrase the amusing British lament when the American Army was assigned to the UK during World War II, There's nothing wrong with Mitt Romney except that he's overpaid, overbearing, and over here.

Hey Mitt, how did that special Anglo Saxon heritage relationship go for you across the pond? Tagg will have to revise his prediction to Now The Whole World Thinks You're a Laughing Stock.

And from a Distant Galaxy Far, Far Away

As hard as it is to believe, there were actually other Republicans who continued to behave badly while Romney was making a fool of himself in the UK. 

*In a getting-desperate letter to supporters begging for money, Scott Brown (R-MA) wildly praised an ad from a conservative blog that claims President Obama is a Muslim, while Michelle Bachmann (R-Planet of Wacko) was being condemned by Catholic bishops and forty-one other other groups for her Muslim Brotherhood claims.  Good timing there, Scott.   

*Jon Kyl, the less-than-astute senator from Arizona, got his boxers in a bunch because President Obama is focusing on middle-income Americans.  How dare the President actually want to help the ninety-nine percent!

*Mike Huckabee (R-Nobody) is incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick Fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld, and wants everyone to eat one of the franchise's awful chicken sandwiches on August 1 to show their support for Cathy's backward views.   Old Huck may be disappointed with the effort, since reports show that Chick Fil-A is loosing customers nationwide.  

*Before he flew off to insult the British, Mitt Romney made a horse's ass of himself here at home by erroneously saying that the shooter in Aurora, Colorado had obtained his weapons illegally.  Well, he said in an NBC interview, this person shouldn't have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already. But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won’t. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential, to improve the lots of the American people.  Um, Mitt?...oh, forget it.

*Karen Handle, the far-right-wing slug who singlehandedly ruined the Susan G. Komen Foundation by insisting that it cut all funding to Planned Parenthood, has been chosen to co-chair a GOP organization's new Right Women, Right Now effort.  Fine; I'm sure they'll benefit from her row backwards beliefs.

I love these outfits!  The hoods
are just the right height.
*Add one more chapter to the Romney's dishonest revisionist history campaign staff.  They have edited his speech to the NAACP to make it appear that the candidate was applauded instead of booed.

Romney fools no one, of course.  He's as bigoted as his right-wing followers, to whom, among other dog whistles, he assures that he wants to Keep America America.  Sound familiar?  Yes, the KKK wants to Keep America American.  

Come on, Mitt.  You might as well stand in front of your all-white audiences and declare, I am severely racist!  

*From the No Shit, Sherlock file, comes verification that Florida was passing new voter ID laws and purging voter files just  to suppress blacks citizens from voting.  Sounds like the scheme Mike Turzai and the GOP came up with in Pennsylvania, eh?

*Eric Cantor got caught out for trying to revise the STOCK Act exceptions to favor, well, Eric Cantor and his ilk.  After he was exposed, he announced that new information has come to light, or some such crap.

While Back on Planet Earth

*In a recent interview with CNN, Adm. Bill McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations command, gave glowing praise to President Obama for his handling of the Osama bin Laden raid:  The president of the United States is fantastic...This isn't about politics. This is about a Commander in Chief who I have the opportunity to engage with on a routine basis. 

*President Obama is teaming with health insurers to help eliminate fraud in the industry.

*General Motors and Walgreen have cut ties with ALEC.

*Florida Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is challenging Sarah Palin's pick for Republican vice presidential candidate Allen West, has put up a delicious website called WhatWestSaid.  The website will collect all the contemptible utterances and outrageous statements that West makes.  Of course, since Palin is even too stupid to know how to use a Smartphone, she most likely won't get the point.

*On the Show Us Your Tax Returns front, Forbes asks one-hundred-and-one questions Romney needs to answer before his PR horror goes away.  One of my particular favorites is Number 4: How many years of tax returns will you be asking for from your vice presidential nominee? 
*A Bloomberg Report calls out the Mormon church for its online gun sales business.  What kind of church actually does that sort of thing?  Now we know.

*John Boehner finds himself between a rock and a hard place because the GOP caucus wants to shut down the government over the Affordable Healthcare Act.  This will be interesting to watch!   

*President Obama put a kink in Mitt Romney's colon when he signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act the day before Romney escaped the United Kingdom disaster and flew off to Israel.  [Heh]

End Note

        But that's not all!  Then he said he could
        see the Olympic site out my arse!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mitt Romney in Israel: More gaffes, more confusion, and a huge dose of fearmongering: "Iran is five years closer to a nucelar weapon", "Iran's nuclearization is the greatest single security threat America faces", "A nuclear Iran is a dramatic and devastating potential threat to the world and to America"

By Patrick

New issue of Newsweek (read article here)
First "Mitt the Twit", now "Mitt the Whimp"

Mitt Romney is in Israel, and if you need somebody to start WWIII, you don't need to look any further. Although there were more gaffes, like declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and also more confusion by "re-allowing" reporters to cover the fundraiser with Casino-mogul and activist-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, there is one issue that stood out for me: Iran.

No topic is more useful to scare the American voter shitless. On various occasions during the trip, Mitt Romney made strong and potentially dangerous statements. First in a speech, as reported by Huffington Post:
JERUSALEM — On Israeli soil, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States has "a solemn duty and a moral imperative" to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.

"Make no mistake, the ayatollahs in Iran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object and who will look the other way," he said. "We will not look away nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."

The presidential election hovered over the speech, with the Old City forming a made-for-television backdrop behind Romney, while some of his campaign donors listened in the audience.

In his remarks, Romney steered clear of overt criticism of President Barack Obama, even though he has taken on the present administration in the past for not doing enough to prevent Iran from potentially developing nuclear weapons.

The former Massachusetts governor also stepped back from a comment a senior aide made a short while before the speech.

"We recognize Israel's right to defend itself," he told his audience. Earlier, the aide, Dan Senor, previewed the speech for reporters, saying that "if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision."

Mitt Romney also explained America should not "join in" if others criticize Israel (who "seek to undermine Israel"), as this would only "embolden Israel's adversaries." Pandering for American right-wing votes, especially from Jewish voters, has never been easier.

Mitt Romney's full warmongering speech:

But what I found even more striking were Mitt Romney's comments which he made today on CBS in an extensive interview with "Face the Nation", while visiting Israel. In this interview Mitt Romney said for example that "Iran's nuclearization is the greatest single security threat America faces" and also said that "a nuclear Iran is a dramatic and devastating potential threat to the world and to America." Also, "Iran is five years closer to a nuclear weapon, than it was when I spoke here at Herzliya five years ago" (read the CBS-transcript).

Watch the complete CBS-interview (with these remarks about Iran starting at about 10:15):

It also caused a stir that ahead of the Republican presidential candidate's remarks in Jerusalem's Old City, campaign adviser Dan Senor told reporters that Romney would back an Israeli military strike against Iran if necessary to thwart the company's nuclear weapons development.

Of course it has become incredibly popular to engage in fearmongering or even warmongering, as far as Iran is concerned, and many American voters will ultimately believe such statements. However, nothing would be more dangerous to see an attack on Iran as inevitable - and I get the impression that this is the direction where Mitt Romney is heading.

First, it is not certain at all that an Iranian state with nuclear weapons would be "the greatest single security threat America (or Israel) faces. Second, all the proponents of military action against Iran quickly forget that Iran has strong allies: China and Russia. Military action against Iran could very well cause a new "cold war" - or even a "hot" one, if zealous right-wing hawks, religious extremists or "tea-hadists" are sitting in the White House. 

It is not even necessary to quote ultra-liberal or progressive experts to strengthen this view. The voice of reason in this matter is nobody else than Pat Buchanan, a man who is conservative to the core. He surely is conservative, but apparently no fool. He gave an astounding TV-interview in February this year, in which he made remarks which no Democrat could afford to make in the current climate: "Iran doesn’t frighten me and I don’t think it should frighten the American people."

Pat Buchanan said:
“There are people that want a war,” he said. “I mean, do not think no one wants a war. You don’t have wars unless someone wants it. And quite clearly the Israeli government would like to see the United States smash Iran’s nuclear program, which they think is creating the additions where Iran could, with one leap forward, get a bomb.”

“The Israeli lobby would like to see a war. They support the Israeli government. Neoconservatives do. Many Republicans do. There are many Americans who genuinely believe that if Iran — they believe Iran is moving toward a weapon; and if it is, they would favor military action to prevent it.

There are a number of people who want a war.” Buchanan explained what it was like to live under the threat of a Soviet nuclear attack, and suggested that it was a far greater threat than anything the Iranians could produce. And Israel, he said, with an estimated 300 nuclear weapons, could be a bigger threat than Iran.

“During the Cold War, with due respect, the Soviet Union had thousands of weapons that could have destroyed us in an afternoon,” he cautioned. “And we could have done the same thing.”

“I was around during the Cuban missile crisis. I was genuinely terrified. But Iran doesn’t frighten me and I don’t think it should frighten the American people. They don’t have a bomb. They haven’t made a decision to build one. They didn’t have the means to deliver one, and the Israelis have 300 atomic bombs. I mean, who presents the existential threat to whom?”

Watch the complete interview:

Does Israel need protection? Of course it does! The Western nations provide massive military and financial assistance to Israel, and rightfully so. For example, speaking about my Germany, my country: The German magazine "Der Spiegel" revealed just recently in a major story (click here for the complete English translation) that Germany not only supplied Israel with several high-tech submarines which are now being used by Israel to carry nuclear weapons, but that Germany also has a decade-long history of generously delivering stockpiles of weapons to Israel.

This long-standing German policy was summed up by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2002 like this: "I want to be very clear: Israel receives what it needs to maintain its security." 

The "Spiegel" reported:
Research SPIEGEL has conducted in Germany, Israel and the United States, among current and past government ministers, military officials, defense engineers and intelligence agents, no longer leaves any room for doubt: With the help of German maritime technology, Israel has managed to create for itself a floating nuclear weapon arsenal: submarines equipped with nuclear capability.


But now, former top German officials have admitted to the nuclear dimension for the first time. "I assumed from the very beginning that the submarines were supposed to be nuclear-capable," says Hans Rühle, the head of the planning staff at the German Defense Ministry in the late 1980s. Lothar Rühl, a former state secretary in the Defense Ministry, says that he never doubted that "Israel stationed nuclear weapons on the ships." And Wolfgang Ruppelt, the director of arms procurement at the Defense Ministry during the key phase, admits that it was immediately clear to him that the Israelis wanted the ships "as carriers for weapons of the sort that a small country like Israel cannot station on land." Top German officials speaking under the protection of anonymity were even more forthcoming. "From the beginning, the boats were primarily used for the purposes of nuclear capability," says one ministry official with knowledge of the matter.

Insiders say that the Israeli defense technology company Rafael built the missiles for the nuclear weapons option. Apparently it involves a further development of cruise missiles of the Popeye Turbo SLCM type, which are supposed to have a range of around 1,500 kilometers (940 miles) and which could reach Iran with a warhead weighing up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds). The nuclear payload comes from the Negev Desert, where Israel has operated a reactor and an underground plutonium separation plant in Dimona since the 1960s. The question of how developed the Israeli cruise missiles are is a matter of debate. Their development is a complex project, and the missiles' only public manifestation was a single test that the Israelis conducted off the coast of Sri Lanka.

The submarines are the military response to the threat in a region "where there is no mercy for the weak," Defense Minister Ehud Barak says. They are an insurance policy against the Israelis' fundamental fear that "the Arabs could slaughter us tomorrow," as David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the State of Israel, once said. "We shall never again be led as lambs to the slaughter," was the lesson Ben-Gurion and others drew from Auschwitz.

Armed with nuclear weapons, the submarines are a signal to any enemy that the Jewish state itself would not be totally defenseless in the event of a nuclear attack, but could strike back with the ultimate weapon of retaliation. The submarines are "a way of guaranteeing that the enemy will not be tempted to strike pre-emptively with non-conventional weapons and get away scot-free," as Israeli Admiral Avraham Botzer puts it.


In August 2009, Netanyahu, who had recently been re-elected as prime minister as head of the conservative Likud party, came to Berlin. Netanyahu explained to Merkel how important the submarines were for Israel; that wherever an Israeli looks, to the north, south, or east, there is no strategic hinterland to work with, and only airspace and sea to serve as buffer zones. "We need this sixth boat," participants in the meeting say Netanyahu told Merkel during his Berlin visit, coupling the statement with a request that Germany donate this submarine, as it had the previous ones.

Merkel's response included three specific requests in exchange. First, Israel should halt its policy of settlement expansion, and second, the government should release tax assets it had frozen, which belong to the Palestinian National Authority. Third, Israel must allow construction of a sewage treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, funded by Germany, to continue. The critical factor, the chancellor added, was absolute discretion. If details leaked out, the deal would be off, because resistance from the Bundestag would be too much to overcome. The two leaders agreed that German diplomat Christoph Heusgen and Netanyahu's security advisor Uzi Arad would work out the details.

Arad is known as an impulsive and hotheaded individual who has no problem with verbally attacking the Germans. When Merkel criticized Israel's settlement policy in a July 2009 address to the Bundestag, Arad called the Chancellery and fired off a volley of angry complaints at Heusgen. Arad ended the call with the demand that Merkel should not only apologize, but also retract her statements.

The fact that Arad was supposed to be leading the negotiations delayed the talks over the sixth submarine once again. In the end, Netanyahu asked Yoram Ben-Zeev, Israel's ambassador to Germany, to help out.

Ben-Zeev returned to Israel when his term as ambassador ended on November 28, 2011. He was standing outside his house in Tzahala, a suburb of Tel Aviv, when his cell phone rang. It was Jaakov Amidror, Netanyahu's new security adviser.

"Are you sitting down?" Amidror asked.

"I'm standing in my neglected garden," Ben-Zeev replied.

"Netanyahu has one more request," Amidror told him. "Germany is ready to sign the submarine deal. You need to get on the next flight to Berlin."

Ultimately, Ben-Zeev and Heusgen agreed on the final details over the phone, and the contract was signed on March 20, 2012, at the Israeli ambassador's residence in Berlin. Defense Minister Barak flew in especially for the meeting and Rüdiger Wolf, a state secretary in the Federal Defense Ministry, signed on behalf of the German government. Since the Israeli government had financial problems once again, Germany made further concessions, agreeing to pay €135 million ($170 million), a third of the submarine's cost, and to allow Israel to defer payment of its part until 2015. Netanyahu dutifully expressed his thanks with a hand-written letter.


The chancellor has missed an opportunity to use one of the few sources of leverage the German government has at its disposal to exercise influence on the Israeli government, which behaves like an occupying power on Palestinian territory. The fourth submarine, known as Tannin, was first launched in early May and its delivery is set for early 2013. Submarine number five will follow in 2014 and number six by 2017.

These latest submarines are especially important for Israel, because they come equipped with a technological revolution: fuel cell propulsion that allows the ships to work even more quietly and for longer periods of time. Earlier Dolphin class submarines had to surface every couple days to start up the diesel engine and power their batteries for continued underwater travel. The new propulsion system, which doesn't require these surface breaks, vastly improves the submarines' possible applications. They will be able to travel underwater at least four times as long as the previous Dolphins, their fuel cells allowing them to stay below the surface at least 18 days at a time. The Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran is no longer out of the operating range of the Israeli fleet, all thanks to quality engineering from Germany.

In the Haifa harbor, the Tekumah's diesel engines growl loudly enough that conversation is just barely possible. Out at sea, though, when the submarine is in true operation and all systems are functioning cleanly, "you can barely hear the motors at all," says the naval officer in charge of the boat. The Tekumah can plow through the water at speeds of 20 knots and above, a sleek and powerful predator. But the real skill, says the officer, comes in the low-speed operations carried out near enemy coasts, places where the Israeli Navy works covertly, where the Tekumah and the other submarines have to approach their targets with great care, moving as if on tiptoe.

'Everything Possible'

The naval officer sees his submarine as "one of the places where Israel is being defended" and his determined tone leaves no doubt he will take whatever action necessary if he considers his homeland to be under attack. "The Israeli Navy needed this boat," he says.

He also says he followed the controversy over Günter Grass' poem and was surprised by the intensity of the debate. His own family originally came from Germany -- his grandparents managed to escape before the Holocaust, fleeing their Munich suburb in 1934 and later becoming part of Israel's founding generation. "We can never forget the past," he says, "but we can do everything possible to prevent a new Holocaust."

This naval officer will likely be needed to serve onboard submarines for some time to come. In Israel, Berlin and Kiel, they are already talking about the fact that the Israelis will soon want to order their 7th, 8th and 9th submarines.

The "inconvenient" truth (for Mitt Romney) - Israel is not defenseless at all, but has supreme protection. See the following graphics, courtesy of "Der Spiegel" (click on pictures to enlarge):

What Mitt Romney and other right-wing fearmongers do not tell the American public is the fact that Israel is well protected and does not need to fear Iranian nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran could have catastrophic consequences for world peace. That is one of many reasons why Mitt Romney should never become the next US President. But facts are not welcome in a world full of propaganda - the world of the American voter.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Who is the better ambassador for the USA at the 2012 London Olympics, Michelle Obama or Mitt Romney? - Romney blunder Update! - BONUS: Levi and Sunny say "Thank you" to our readers! - Mitt Romney UPDATE - "Mitt the Twit"

By Patrick

Just found the following picture on twitter! I am not sure who created this awesome picture! If it was one of our readers, please raise your hand! :-)

Our incredibly talented reader Azure Ghost had another idea:

Now to the main post:

Who is the better ambassador for the USA at the London Olympics?

Is it the First Lady Michelle Obama?

Some of the following pictures courtesy of "The Obama Diary":

Watch the clips about Michelle Obama's visit in London:

Or is it Mitt Romney, the guy who thinks that he and his super-rich friends can buy the Presidency?

I love the last picture! Mitt Romney is not the man with whom the guy in the background would go to the pub for a pint! I think he wants him to "eff off!" ;-)

Watch the clip by ABC News about Mitt Romney's various blunders in London:

Here is the clip of Mitt Romney calling Ed Miliband "Mr Leader":


Bob Cesca just reported that Mitt Romney's "Embarrassment Tour continues" (quoting the Wall Street Journal):

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney attacked President Barack Obama’s administration this week for abandoning Poland and the Czech Republic by altering plans for an American missile defense system in Europe.

But the Slovak foreign minister, in Washington this week for meetings with U.S. officials, said Thursday that Europe has fully embraced the new approach to missile defense and said Mr. Romney was dredging up settled debates.

“People have moved on,” said Miroslav Lajcak, the minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We are in a different situation now. We are discussing a different project. I see no reason to revisit discussions from three years back.”

Mr. Romney, in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday, said the Obama administration had failed to “nurture” America’s alliances, specifically citing Poland and the Czech Republic. Mr. Romney is due to visit Poland on Monday.

“It began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic,” Mr. Romney said. “They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off.”

During the Bush administration some Slovakian political leaders were critical of the missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying it was a bilateral, not a multilateral approach. But the Slovakian government has embraced the Obama administration’s missile defense plan, which relies on ship-based, not land-based, interceptors and is being developed under the umbrella of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Mitt Romney, look:  Money cannot buy you intelligence, knowledge, good manners and tact. Just ask Sarah Palin! She knows all about that.


BONUS: Sunny and Levi say "Thank You" to our readers!

Our brilliant readers contributed to Sunny's baby shower, and Sunny and Levi are happy:

On behalf of us all, one of our generous readers sent Sunny a huge baby gift basket! In front of the baby basket in the following picture is the camouflage baby outfit which Kathleen and I sent Sunny and Levi:

Sunny did not hesitate to unpack the basket (which made Kathleen smile):

Sunny sent Kathleen the following message (shown here with her permission):

More pictures from Sunny's baby shower, of course also shown here with her permission:

Mercede created amazing "diaper cakes":



Britain's best selling tabloid, Rupert Murdoch's "Sun", slammed Mitt Romney as "MITT THE TWIT":

That happens if you insult the Brits...even the Murdoch-people will turn against you. Another lesson learned for "blunderman" Mitt Romney!

The tweeters are also busy with the highly entertaining hashtag #romneyshambles - the Huffington Post has a collection of the best tweets. The credit for creating this hashtag belongs to Simon Mason from the UK Spectator.


Tweet by @leenie909: 

 Tweet by @TheNewDeal: 

 Tweet by @jonberrydesign:

Finally, more pictures from Michelle Obama who made America proud with her impeccable performance in London and who displayed true Olympic spirit - new large slideshow at Huffington Post:


I have to to make another update!

Look at Michelle Obama, watching the tennis - sitting together with the regular folks! 

However, we now believe that this tweeter got it wrong and that this is not Sasha. In any case, Michelle Obama makes America proud again, showing that she has a real interest in the Olympic Games.

This was just tweeted:



What the heck? I was just searching for a clip with the James Bond & Queen Elizabeth sequence from the Olympic opening ceremony, and it is just impossible to find one on youtube, although the ceremony was shown world wide. Well, then I found the reason - the International Olympic Committee blacked out youtube! Just great! A very harsh reminder that the Olympics are just a huge commercial event.

I finally found the amazing clip with Queen Elizabeth and "James Bond" Daniel Craig on LiveLeak - hopefully it will stay there:

Another uploaded clip with the Queen and James Bond on Vimeo has a slightly worse picture and sound, but runs smoother (h/t Linda1961).


Also, enjoy Mr. Bean at the Opening Ceremony, until the clip gets taken down:

UPDATE: The clip has now been indeed taken down, a few hours after I posted it here. I find this disgraceful. After all, it is standard practice these days that short news clips are not being taken down any more on youtube, but that the television company instead for example places adverts next to them - thus receiving money even from "illegal" uploads. The IOC could have easily done the same.

The hilarious clip with Mr. Bean is still available over at the Daily Beast! Watch it until it disappears! (h/t sleuth)

Or watch it here:


Another addition to the post:


The following picture is just being tweeted around - some people are clearly inspired by Mitt Romney and his European trainwreck tour (as well as the cool #romneyshambles hashtag).

Here we have a great new cartoon:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When Mitt Romney Went Off to Save the Olympics

Guest Post by Ebbtide

 Mighty Mitt

Now that Romney has pretty much disavowed his experience as Governor of Massachusetts, and is finding it more and more painful each time he hears the name Bain mentioned, what is left for him to fall back on as a measure of his competence?

Apparently his only remaining hole card is the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, which, at first glance, appears to be a pretty strong card. But let’s take a closer look at that whole enterprise, shall we?

To recap the period BEFORE Mighty Mitt came on the scene, there was a huge scandal wherein the Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC) was found to have been going way over the edge in bribing people in the IOC in order to secure Salt Lake as the Olympic venue. Salt Lake had tried to get the Olympics before, with the usual gifts and trinkets, but in the mid-1990s, they went overboard with bribes such as college educations and jobs for IOC families etc.

The scandal led to a huge shakeup with the SLOC, criminal indictments for some of its members, and problems galore, from budget shortfalls to terrible image problems that were threatening to make a complete bust of the upcoming Games. Thus the call went out to find someone to take over the organizational leadership, and thus began the "Romney Went Off to the Olympics" era.

Even as Romney was being named to head the games, there were some who questioned how the decision was made.

And, although Romney presented his decision to go to Utah as “a time to give something back to his country,” there were other more self-serving reasons as well.

According to a Boston Globe article, “Having been defeated in his Senate race against Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 1994, Romney knew his political future hung on the fate of the Games…’If this doesn’t work, I can come back to private life, but I won’t be anything anymore in public life,’ he confided to [Mutual Life Insurance’s president, David] D’Alessandro.”

Even before Romney got to Utah, the Games and the organizers had raised some eyebrows due to their majority Mormon control. Bringing in another Mormon, Romney, only continued the talk.

This was compounded when one of the first things Romney did when he got to Utah was appoint a fellow Mormon as his second in command. This did not sit well with Jon Huntsman, Sr., a fellow Mormon and, at the time one of Utah’s most prominent citizens, who said,

“We’ve got a chairman [Garff] who is active LDS, now we’ve got a present
CEO who is active LDS. They claim they’re going out and really scouring
the world to find the best person, so Mitt brings in one of his cronies to be the
COO. Another broken promise. Because we’ve got three LDS folks who are all cronies. Cronyism at its peak. They told the world and told Salt Lake that we’re going to go out and find the most professional, the best, and to have some diversity--spiritual and ethnic. Diversity in the Olympic Games is what it’s all about. These are not the Mormon

The report also revealed:

"After criticizing the Mormon influence on SLOC following the appointment of Mitt Romney as CEO in early 1999, wealthy Mormon industrialist Jon Huntsman, an early critic of SLOC and Olympic finances, met with Romney and never again publicly criticized any aspect of the Games."

Kind of makes you wonder what kind of a truce was struck between the Huntsman and Romney clans. And wonder what the Huntsmans, Senior AND Junior now think about Romney deep down.


There’s no denying that Romney was instrumental in making the 2002 Games a successful enterprise. He had many admirers:

Through an extraordinary effort by Mitt Romney and the staff he put together, they not only avoided a very difficult time for the Olympics, but put on the greatest Winter Games I have ever seen,” said William Hybl, then the president of the US Olympic Committee.


“Fan boi” Dick Ebersol, who was chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, who said, “Mitt Romney was single-handedly responsible for those Games being the immense success they were.”

He also had detractors.

Ken Bullock, who was on the organizing committee and was executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns said, “He tried very hard to build an image of himself as a savior, the great white hope. He was very good at characterizing and castigating people and putting himself on a pedestal.

Sydney Fonnesbeck, who was a former Salt Lake City councilor said, “What turned me sour was his demand to get all the credit and ignore everybody who put in thousands and thousands of hours before he arrived.”

Even Garff, a Romney supporter, saw an underlying self-interest aspect to Romney and the Games, This was the thing he could do to propel himself into the national spotlight which I believe was all part of his overarching plan of his life.”

Although there were definitely problems when Romney arrived, his characterization conflicted with the views of others. Romney described it as “The tsunami of financial, banking, legal, government, morale, and sponsorship problems,” while others, like Garff said, “Yes, we were out of balance…but in my mind, there was no sense of panic.”

Being the face of the Olympics even extended to Romney having his image used on a series of promotional buttons with slogans including “Hey, Mitt, we love you!” and even one with Romney as a superhero wrapped in the American flag.


According to the Globe’s 2007 article:

Romney trimmed the budget to $1.32 billion, launched marketing campaigns, and established an austerity program…

While Romney’s moves energized the committee, some people familiar with the budget insist his dire forecasts were overstated. A Globe review of archived records showed the organizing committee already had secured commitments of nearly $1 billion in revenues…before Romney arrived.

State and federal money had also been secured prior to Romney’s arrival. Senator Bob Bennett, who served as point man for the federal funding confirmed that and said, “The Clinton administration was completely supportive in saying these are America’s games, we will do whatever we can to make sure they are successful.”

How much money are we talking about here? The ”official” amount—direct federal aid for the Games was $382 million.

But according to a Sports Illustrated article from December 2001 if you added up all the various entities that tapped into federal money for everything from road development by Olympic venues to tax dollars per athlete, it was more like $1.5 billion. YES, billion. More than the total amount spent by lawmakers to support all seven Olympic Games held in the U.S. since 1904—combined. In inflation-adjusted dollars.

These games set some dubious records as far as government spending. Per the article:

Most government entities tapped for cash. With all the skill, grace and precision of a hockey team on a power play, Utah's five-member congressional delegation has used the Olympics to drain money from an unprecedented number of federal departments, agencies and offices—some three dozen in all, from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Agriculture Department.

Most U.S. tax dollars per athlete. Federal spending for the Salt Lake City Games will average $625,000 for each of the 2,400 athletes who will compete. (Not a penny of it will go to the athletes.) That's a 996% increase from the $57,000 average for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It's a staggering 5,582% jump from the $11,000 average for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Again, these are inflation-adjusted dollars.

What, exactly, are your tax dollars buying? Here's a sampling.

·       Parking lots are costing you $30 million. Some $12 million of that is paying for two 80-acre fields to be graded and paved for use as two temporary lots, then returned to meadows after the flame is extinguished.

·        Housing for the media and new sewers are each costing you $2 million.

·        Repaved highways, new roads and bridges, enlarged interchanges and an electronic highway-information system are costing you $500 million.

·        Buses, many brought in from other states, to carry spectators to venues are costing you $25 million.

·        Fencing and other security measures at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in northeast Salt Lake City—to protect patients and staff from the Olympic hordes—are costing you $3 million.

·        A light-rail transit system that will ferry Olympic visitors around Salt Lake City is costing you $326 million.

·        Improvements at Salt Lake City-area airports are costing you $16 million.

·        Infectious-disease monitoring, food inspection and mobile medical response teams—aside from those specifically related to bioterrorism threats—are costing you $11 million.

·        Testing programs to try to assure a drug-free Olympics are costing you $3 million.

·        Increased services provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Postal Service, the Interior Department and the State Department are costing you $16 million.

·        Recycling and composting are costing you $1 million, and public education programs for air, water and waste management are costing you another $1 million.

·        A weather-forecasting system being set up for SLOC is costing you $1 million.

·        New lives planted in Salt Lake City and other communities "impacted," as the funding legislation put it, by the Olympics are costing you $500,000. Said Utah senator Robert Bennett, who arranged for the money, "We do the Olympics because it gets us together doing things like planting trees."

·        Security is costing you about $240 million. Given the events of Sept. 11, few people would quibble with so large an outlay even though it's a 150% increase over the federal tab for safeguarding the Atlanta Games, which had twice as many venues and four times as many athletes to protect. What's surprising is that $200 million of this was approved before Sept. 11. Less than 24 hours before the attacks, in fact, Romney was in Washington seeking $12.7 million to cover a portion of salaries and expenses for Utah police who will be involved in Games security.

So yeah, Romney might have saved the Olympics, but he pretty much did a lot of that with OUR money. (NOTE—I highly recommend this article, brought to my attention by Katie Annie Oakley. It covers all of the shady deals that were part and parcel of the Salt Lake Games, not just the Romney period. It’s a real eye-opener.)


To listen to the Romney’s, you’d think Mitt “went off to save the Olympics” out of the goodness of his heart, with no ulterior or monetary motives. He originally pledged that he would not exploit the position for political gain, and would not accept any severance pay. (Romney accepted $922,980 in total salary and also took a severance package.) 
He and Ann reportedly donated $1 million to the organizing committee, so his motives were not monetary, but again, Mitt’s stories don’t match his actions. He told the Salt Lake City Tribute that one of his “absolutes” was that he would not accept any severance pay.”

Romney not only accepted a $476,000 severance package from the SLOC…but he helped to lobby the committee for similarly large pacts for his 25 senior managers, 17 of whom contributed to his 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign or the state Republican Party soon after the Winter Games.

Romney supposedly donated his Olympic salary and severance to charity (does charity begin with the Mormon church? Anybody?)

Again, from the Globe article:

All told, Romney reaped more than $1.5 million in campaign funds during his governorship from individuals and families with ties to the Olympics. Many of his Olympic-related donors have since joined a massive fund-raising movement for Romney’s presidential campaign. (NOTE: This article is talking about his 2008 campaign—who knows what has happened during his current run)

And as far as his pledge to not exploit his Olympic position for political gain?

On March 17, 2002, Mitt and Ann arrived back in Massachusetts, wearing matching leather jackets with Olympic logos. On March 19, he announced his candidacy for Governor.


There are many other questionable aspects to Romney’s Olympic story. There is some talk about him naming companies as sponsors in which Bain he had a stake, even though there was an agreement to avoid any conflicts of interest. Others, I’m sure are exploring those issues.)

And then, there is the “elephant in the room” which was the Mormon Church’s involvement in the Salt Lake Games. Some even referred to the Games as the “Mormon Games” or “Molympics.”

At the opening of a SLOC-arranged media “familiarization”
tour in February 2001, reporters met with LDS public affairs officials, but not representatives from any other church. Candus Thomson of the Baltimore Sun remarked:
“If they’re trying desperately to say these are not the ‘Molympics,’ that was not the
thing to do on the first night. They made us uncomfortable.”

And, of particular interest, given Romney’s current meme about the Obama campaign’s rhetoric—when he staged a press conference to tamp down the talk about Mormon involvement in the Games, these were his words:

He said he was tired of fielding questions about the church’s
influence in the Olympics, and found such talk “divisive and demeaning” – divisive by creating conflict when the Olympics were supposed “to be a uniter, not a divider” and demeaning by failing to recognize the contributions of all peoples to the Games.

Pointing out that its affiliated corporations, not the church itself, had made contributions to support the Games, Romney peevishly snapped: “I was brought up to thank
people for gifts, not to criticize them.”

So, if Romney plans to rest upon the laurels of his Olympic feats, he’s going to have some “splainin” to do.”


Ebbtide has asked me to include the following youtube video. Hat-tip to honestyingov.