Posted tagged ‘Romney’

Mitt Romney, Visionary

March 27, 2012

From his Leno sit-down:

Though Mr. Romney has devoted much of his campaign to promising to get the federal budget in order, he dodged a question about whether he’ll name the federal agencies he’d like to cut. “Depends on whether I have that answer to that,” Mr. Romney said.



I mean, I know that Romney is trying to do everything he can to avoid the career ending disaster of actually detailing the plans behind the impossible claims he’s made about the taxes, budget, and the stuff he’s going to cut that no one beyond the 27% wants to see drowned in the bathtub.  But even with that goal, this with Leno is simply nonsense, vapor, word salad worthy of a Palin. “Depends on whether I have that answer to that” ! ?

Dude:  you do have that answer. It’s your proposal.  Your campaign.  You can say it:  you’re going to put most of us on the rack so that the Nascar owners and your Malibu neighbors can grab a bit more.  Get it off your chest.  You’ll feel so much better…

Instead we get an answer that is composed of equal parts contempt for his fellow citizens and a banality so deep it blows right past Arendt’s evil and catches up to the absurd well before the ringmaster calls the blow off.

This is the man that thinks he’s suited to the presidency.  And in head to head polls dangerously more than 40% of American voters agree with him.

I’m bringing out the heavy artillery. Brandy till bedtime, my friends.*

*It’s all good news for John McCain.

Image:  Henry Justice Ford, The Circus, 1904

And Another Question to Ask Mr. Romney:

March 2, 2012

Do you, sir, agree or repudiate this statement by BYU religion professor Randy Bott:

“God has always been discriminatory.”

(From  a Washington Post piece by Jason Horowitz. via Max Perry Mueller in Slate)

Well, Mr. Romney? Is that your view? The divinity divines consequential differences amongst the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve?

Further: do you, Mr. Romney, agree or repudiate this view:

….The Mormon Church’s own longstanding priesthood ban was, according to Bott, not racist. Rather, it was a “blessing.” Prior to 1978, blacks weren’t spiritually mature enough to be ordained with such authority. Bott compared blacks to “a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car,” and told Horowitz that misusing priesthood authority—like crashing dad’s Oldsmobile—could have put blacks “in the lowest rungs of hell,” reserved for serial killers, child rapists, world-class tyrants, and “people who abuse their priesthood powers.”

Take your time.

Image: Domenichino, Adam and Eve,  between 1625 and 1623.

[OT PS: am I the only one who finds those decapitated kid’s heads with wings to be supremely creepy?]

Just In Case Anyone Was Worried About A Sudden Shortage…

January 13, 2012

…one more thought on Truth-Vigilante-gate.

I certainly agree with what seems like every front pager at my other bloggy home  Balloon Juice (some more than once!)* feels about the ludicrousness of anyone even having to ask whether or not it might make sense to call out lies in print.  But it still seems to me that for all the fun at the expense of the Grey Lady, one key element in the story has been underplayed.

That would be that covering politics today is actually a genuinely different and more difficult task than it was back when folks like me (folks I knew) first got into the business at places like the Times.

The problem is really simple.  The current Republican elite simply has no problem lying.

In this short post I’m not going to retail even a tithe of the examples available, instead outsourcing just a taste of the tsunami of bullshit that constitutes GOPster public argument to Steve Benen, who himself confines his review to the bullshit spewed by the current frontrunner, that 3-dimensional caricture of Eliot’s trope, one Willard Mitt Romney.

He/they lie all the time.  About anything.  But — and this is the key — for all the “politics ain’t beanbag” and “they all do it” reflexes, this really is a new (ish) phenomenon.

Now, I’m not saying that American politics hasn’t included a lot of lying for a very long time.  But the difference now is that it’s not just the agents — John Adams’ rumoristas or the Swift Boat scum — but the principals themselves who are now willing to retail and repeat direct falsehoods into microphone after microphone.

That’s hard to confront, even for experienced hacks:**  most of us don’t think people will flat out lie to our faces — especially when the lie is easily checked.  When I got started as a reporter, I was certainly trained to expect sources to spin, dissemble, shape their accounts.  But the idea that they would default to flat out lying, as opposed to retreating to it when pressed — that really wasn’t the expectation.

The goal was to write a story in which the spin was unwound.  If you could do that — demonstrate through the totality of your reporting how, say, jobs lost to downsizing were either corporate raiding at its worst or the best outcome for what would otherwise be a bankrupt business — then you’d done your job.

So, yes:  to the question of whether the Times or any journalistic operation should become  “truth vigilantes,” the answer is, obviously, yes.  Still, it’s important to remember that the Times  and its reporters face this problem specifically because the Mitt and his merry men have made the gap between what they say and what actually is so deep and so wide.

I’m not trying to absolve anyone here.  But it is important to condemn the greater sin as well as the lesser. It is genuinely difficult for the individual journalists tasked with the job of covering the election this year to do that job well  because a forty+ year campaign to derange our politics has come to full flower in the Romney campaign.  (Not to mention in GOP politicking and governance across the country.  Think Scott, Daniels, Kasich, Walker, Perry, and all the rest.)

Root causes matter.

*Plus, it seems, all those others on ‘branes in the bloggy multiverse.  I’m not even going to bother to link; throw a rock in this quarter of Blogistan and you’ll hit something relevant on every bounce.
**I’m using the word here in its Fleet St. sense, with love.
Image:  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, In the Cafe, 1898

Tell Me Baby…*

January 11, 2012

…but is it only me or does it seem that every time Mitt Romney manages to (a) move into a statistically meaningless “lead” over President Obama in head to head surveys and/or (b) manages to persuade the Villagers that he’s actually a reasonable human being, he blurts out stuff like this (via TPM):

When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent, you have opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.

I’ll leave aside the incoherent “wave of approach” — lapses like this are best taken as the inevitable byproduct of the exhaustion and sheer addling tedium of the campaign trail.  (I assume Romney meant “wave of reproach” or simply “approach.”)

But for the love of pasta, in Romneyland pointing out the competing interests of plutocrats vs. the rest of us cats is a religious sin! There are sins aplenty in the religion of money…

…but I don’t think we can locate them in the tack taken by President Obama.

There’s something so tone-deaf about this, the claim that one can’t argue over, say, trickle-down vs. broad based tax policy, because that would violate God’s plan for a unitary (theocratic?) state. Even folks inside the Village can’t be comfortable with what amounts to the statement that it is impossible in politics to argue about, you know, politics!

In fact, so egregious was Romney’s obtuseness here that even Romney’s interviewer committed an act of journalism, following up this first statement with what most people would think of as a second softball across the middle of the plate:

QUESTIONER: Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?

You’d think someone running for President for the second time, someone who knows his major vulnerability is his wealth and the way he acquired it, would have figure out by now some soft answer to turneth away our wrath.  You know, something like “the issue isn’t any individual’s wealth — it’s the jobs we need to create…” or some such.

But no.  Not the RomneyBot.  Here’s what he actually said:

ROMNEY: I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like.

Quiet rooms? Don’ trouble your pretty little heads, Americans.  Me and the boys will straighten all this out in private.  We’ll have “discussions about tax policy” that will lead to tax hikes on the bottom (based on current tax policy), and yet more cash delivered to my Malibu mansion by the bucket load.

Which, of course, is why Romney went on to complain that

…the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street.

Well, yeah.  Back room deals haven’t worked out so well, and the President is willing to say so…which is why the last thought out of W. Mitt’s mouth is better read as a pious hope than as reasoned expectation:

It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.

Snark aside.  Does anyone outside the Romneyverse think that suggesting that Wall St.’s wise men figure out what to do with the money is not exactly a winning message?  All I can say is that I hope this is the candidate we get for the next ten months.  It’s going to be a brutal campaign, and I, for one, will take every own goal I can get.

(PS:  I note that as I was writing this, Steve Benen got in there first with much the same thought, only more so — not to mention video of the exchange.)

*With apologies for putting such a fine song to so base a use.

Image:  Hans Holbein the Younger, Danse Macabre. XXVIII. The Miser, before 1543.



Popcorn For Everyone

January 9, 2012

I’m “working” on a couple of more substantive posts (look for them sometime in the next Mayan long calendar) and I’m at least trying to work on what they actually pay me for, so blogging is a notional activity right now…

But by every pasta tendril undulating off the blessed FSM, how in the name of strozzapretti can one pass up this (via TPM):

“You have to ask the question, is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of people and then walk off with the money?”

Damn good question, actually, and even better when asked by one Newton Leroy Gingrich of the current GOP frontrunner-by-default, the Hon. (sic!) Willard Mitt Romney.

Combine that with the “documentary” Newt’s people are putting out there (well, a  Super PAC that, of course, has no actual contact with the Gingrich campaign, but sure as hell knows what to do), and  Rick Perry’s quotable quote from the campaign trail South Carolina — and what you have is our friends across the aisle working on their own damn circular firing squad for once.

Popcorn, aged tequila, and Republicans going all “we are the 99%” on each other.  What more could this city boy desire?

Image: Nicolas Colombel Christ Expelling the Money-Changers From the Temple, 1682.

Because Soshalism, That’s Why!

August 31, 2011

Further evidence of the Kenyan Mooslim’s utter failure to grasp the essentials of free market economics.

Bonus flashback [Huffpo link]:

On the auto bailout, despite GM going public last week and sending billions of dollars back to taxpayers, Perry still insisted that it wasn’t successful and said the federal government shouldn’t be involved in private sector growth.

Double bonus flashback:

In 2009, Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama’s plans for rescuing the automobile industry were “tragic” and “a very sad circumstance for this country.”

Of course, this being Romney, he now says that this tragic idea was really his in the first place, which contortion is one of many reasons that Rick Perry is the most likely GOP nominee.

Image:  Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Pulcinella and the Tumblers,  1797.

When Romney Meets Perry

August 29, 2011

Thanks to the wonders of my wayback machine, I gained this glimpse of the likely course of the first Romney-Perry exchange in the GOP Presidential primary debates:

You’re welcome.

A Stranger in a Strange Land

August 22, 2011

I’m not saying Mitt Romney won’t be the Republican nominee next year — though if I were a betting man, I’d lay a small wager (pizza scale, not rent money) that he’ll fall short.

But I do believe that planners at the DOD see Romney’s ear as the US Strategic Tin Reserve — and that can’t be good for either a potentially (faux) populist-dominated primary battle, nor for a general election against someone who has some experience in running against the clueless rich.

The latest gaffe? Romney, like McCain, has a housing fetish:

The San Diego Union-Tribunebroke the story of Romney’s California plans this weekend:

“Romney has filed an application with the city to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, single-story home at 311 Dunemere Dr. and replace it with a two-story, 11,062-square-foot structure. No date has been set to consider the proposed coastal development and site development permits, which must be approved by the city.”

Three years ago, Romney bought the “oceanfront manse in La Jolla” for $12 million. His campaign says the house on the property is too small for Romney’s large extended family…

Oh, and one more thing:  what’s up with a resident (and former governor of) Massachusetts plunking down hogsheads of cash to buy sand in La Jolla in the first place?  Must be that old sailor-down-to-the-sea thing: reports Romney said last year that the oceanfront property stirred up memories of his (also fabulously wealthy) childhood:

At a book signing in nearby University City last year, Romney explained why he bought the house.

“I wanted to be where I could hear the waves,” he said. “As a boy, we spent summers on Lake Huron [in his native Michigan] and I could hear the crashing waves at night. It was one of my favorite things in the world. Being near the water and the waves was something I badly wanted to experience again.'”

Ah.  The soul of a Romney.

One thing, though.  Last time I checked, Massachusetts had a pretty nice coastlineWaves too, and tides, and oysters — and even famous rich people with compounds and all.

The moral of this story: it’s not that Romney has more scratch than you and me and all our friends that makes him suspect.  It’s that he’s rootless, a citizen not of a place but of a class.  His passport is green, issued by the sovereign meta-state of Richistan.

And fine — he’s a wealthy man; it’s a truism that this fact does not as a necessary corollary render him a bad person (though it does amplify his capacity for evil if he swings that way, of course).  But there’s rich and rich, and for some, Romney clearly included, an utterly secure material condition renders the experience of most of those the former one-term governor would seek to govern simply inaccessible. And that’s not good, either for a candidate or the country.

Image:  Titian and workshop, The Vendramin Family, venerating a Relic of the True Cross, before 1576.  Bonus points to those who spot the Romney-specific family reference in the grouping.

Still Not Ready For Prime Time

June 16, 2011

Mistermix already today brought up Mitt Romney’s gift for odd, awkward delusional gaffes.  It’s a kind of community-access-cable talent for saying something that’s not merely weird or wrong, but that actually makes the listener wonder if the speaker isn’t really dropping in from Planet Ten, if  you know what I mean.*

Now we’ve got this, in which the ridiculously wealthy Romney attempts to persuade the common clay that he is just like the least among us:

“I should tell my story,” Romney told a group of unemployed people in Florida. “I’m also unemployed.” (via TPM)


This, from a guy who dropped in the neighborhood of $45 million of his own cash on his last campaign, which still left him with a fortune estimated at around $200 mill.

Best of all, as the TPM snark points out, Romney made this startling confession in the middle of a speech trying to persuade his unemployed audience that he gets their plight better than Obama, whose “bump in the road” malapropism Romney sought to exploit.

Ah, eloquence, thy name is Romney .  As is “sociopathic levels of self obsession,” though that’s a little harder to say when you want to get little Mittens back in the house for dinner.

Image:  Michaelangelo Caravaggio, Narcissus, 1594-1596.

[Update] *I tried to post the linked video here, but it broke the site.  So now you have to head off to Youtube for one of John Lithgow’s finer moments, if you dare.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est — Climate Science edition

June 1, 2011

Among the ritualized horrors of the Great People’s Cultural Revolution in China were the criticism-self-criticism sessions mandated for those insufficiently committed to the program.  These public auto da fé sessions reached the highest level of Chinese governments, up to and including Deng Xiaoping.

I trust I won’t be accused of Godwinization (not that I care, to be sure) if I marvel a little at what amounts to a detectable echo of such formalized self effacement in today’s Republican party.  The overt and paralyzing violence of the Red Guards is not there of course, which makes this not a comparison, but a reference.  But still, it’s hard not to recall those days watching leading members of what used to be a party capable of actual governance abase themselves before the inquisitors who now dominate the Republican Party’s election process.

Case in point:  several of the current candidates for the Republican nomination for President used to be able to hear and process scientific information that led them to the conclusion that human activities are affecting the climate, and that such anthropogenic climate change is a very dangerous thing.

Now, this isn’t new.  The know-nothing (and or bought-and-paid-for-by-Big-Oil) wing of the party has spent years trading in bad science to prevent this realization from becoming a true bi-partisan consensus.  The success of this effort was manifest last year when every GOP Senate candidate in the midterms declared his or her disbelief in the threat posed by climate change. That’s 37 candidates and 37 who think we should just burn up all that dinosaur wine as fast as we can get our hands on it.*

All of which is to repeat the obvious: climate denialism is dogma for the Republican party.

Which is a problem when one wants to be President, is a Republican, and has a history of some sanity on this issue.

Hence the crit/self-crit fandango now shaking out over on the GOP side of the Presidential campaign:

WASHINGTON (AP) — One thing that Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have in common: These GOP presidential contenders all are running away from their past positions on global warming, driven by their party’s loud doubters who question the science and disdain government solutions.

All four have stepped back from previous stances on the issue, either apologizing outright or softening what they said earlier. And those who haven’t fully recanted are under pressure to do so.

It must hurt, somewhere, to be an intelligent person, with a record of diverse experience and some knowledge of how the world actually works. Remember, all of them, even Newt, were able to make sense of this issue up until very recently

And anyway, whether or not I’m right in crediting this crowd with the capacity for sentience — what’s striking is that they can’t help themselves now.  They have nowhere to go if they want to be president.  They have to deny what they know to be true.

It didn’t always used to be this way — and not even that long ago:

Over the last few years, Gallup polling has shown a decline in the share of Americans saying that global warming’s effects have already begun – from a high of 61 percent in 2008 to 49 percent in March. The change is driven almost entirely by conservatives.

In 2008, 50 percent of conservatives said they believed global warming already is having effects; that figure dropped to 30 percent this year. By contrast, among liberals and moderates there’s been relatively little movement, and broad majorities say warming is having an impact now.

Now?  Well let’s just say that “Don’t ask, don’t tell” lives on as a GOPer fratricidal application:

“Republican presidential hopefuls can believe in man-made global warming as long as they never talk about it, and oppose all the so-called solutions,” said Marc Morano, a former aide to Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, one of the most vocal climate skeptics in Congress.

The political significance of all this?  If Palin runs this will be a key line of attack on all of those candidates the party establishment would hope could beat her. Go read the article and see how Pawlenty especially, but also Huntsman and Romney have huge vulnerabilities here. (About Newt, who cares?).

But the politics interest me less here than what the whole miserable farrago tells you about the trouble the country faces.  Facts, data, bodies of evidence are all malleable inconveniences to those who control the crucial levers of Republican primaries and party gate-keeping.  For all that “science” is an abstraction, or at best a house with many mansions — we live in a world and a time in which the tools of science are all we have to make sense of just about any decision we need to make as a society.

But the Republican Party as an institution has decided that it needs no stinking scientific badges, thank you very much.  Climate science has been subjected to the same myth making that harmlessness of tobacco smoke possessed for so long (see the Oreskes and Conway book also linked above); it is succumbing to the same noise machine that tells us over and over again the lie that we have the best health care system in the world; it is falling to the same people who think unobtanium and a perpetual motion machine really could happen in this world, and not merely in Ayn Rand’s fevered brain.

And that’s disastrous in a two party system in which the GOP will always have a share of power, and, every two or four years, has a shot at a most/all of it.

They cannot govern.  Or rather, they can govern, but given the accumulation of willed blindnesses in the face of an ever more complicated reality, they cannot do so in a way that serves the interests of the United States (or the world).

I do know there are Republicans who can read and calculate and think — but their party has left them, and I don’t think it’s coming back.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est**

*And yes, you pedants, I do know that oil does not derive from dinosaur caucuses.  I just recall reading that phrase in Semi-Tough when I was a mere lad, and have always liked it since.  So there.

**Just to jog memories from an old thread:  that’s the best I could come up with (with help from the commentariat) to get to Cato the Elder’s cry:  Carthage The Republican Party Must Be Destroyed.

Images: Francisco de Goya, A Tribunal of the Inquisition, 1812-1814

Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is put in place of the Sun, c. 1766.