Thursday, January 12, 2012

Last Call

As they say, the sharpest knife is wielded by your own friend, and thanks to Citizens United, the Super PAC backing Newt Gingrich has the cash to put together this little half-hour "documentary" on Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital.

It's a glorious job of a hit piece showing the dark side of Romney's "executive experience" as his company made billions off liquidating companies and firing tens of thousands of American workers. And the worst part is Romney personally made tens of millions doing so.

No matter how much you spin it, there's a fundamental truth here: Mitt Romney made an ungodly amount of money by putting people out of a job. He's exactly the type of guy to have made out like a bandit destroying American jobs by the truckload.

And he's completely unapologetic for it.  Team Obama should be throwing a party for these PAC guys, because they just gave President Obama an unbeatable attack heading into November.

And hey, given how the South Carolina polls have tightened up this week as this ad runs in the Palmetto State and beyond, you have to wonder...maybe Mitt's not so inevitable after all.  That only has to make Team Obama grin all the more.

Buck And A Quarter Back

I suppose the confluence of sports hero worship and Village disappointment with the participants in the 2012 presidential race breeding Matthew Dowd's latest piece was inevitable.

Tebow is the kind of leader for his football team that our country needs at this crucial moment in history.  Yes, the Denver Broncos streak will probably end, and the odds are a team like the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl.  But no matter the outcome, Tebow has shown what faith, and confidence and humility can do for a team of limited skills that was losing consistently before. This is exactly what President Franklin Roosevelt and President Reagan understood about leadership.

This economy, and our country, do not need more programs out of Washington, D.C., or legislation from Congress, or tax cuts for the wealthy, or more spending on government stimulus.  What citizens and businesses need is a leader who can raise us all up to a level we didn’t know we had in us, give us confidence in ourselves, give us a common goal to work toward, and make us believe in and have faith in ourselves again.

It seems this is a leadership lesson we keep having to learn over and over again through our country’s history.  It is so easy to forget how successes were achieved along the way by Kennedy-style exhortations such as “we are going to the moon.” It is so easy to default into failing Washington-style, us-against-them, to try and get short-term political success.

But maybe a quarterback who seems as much boy as man can show us all, including the candidates for president, how to win and how to get our country back on track.  And how to have a little fun along the way.  Now that is a leader I would enthusiastically go in the huddle with.

It's frightening to see that with all the actual problems facing the United States and the world right now, growing poverty and income inequality, the assault on civil liberties and civil rights, climate change threatening tens of millions as weather patterns become more unstable, limited resoiurces prompting growing military tension worldwide, and the specter of war looming over it all, it's nice to know that policy be damned, what the Village really wants is President Shiny Object who can score touchdowns in 11 seconds.

This may in fact be the most insipid and most saccharine dipstick of a "You know who oughtta run for President?" piece I've ever read.  It's actually kind of insulting thinking that a quarterback of an 8-8 team that stumbled into the playoffs just because everyone else in the division is horrific is what America needs right now at the helm.  A nice guy who means well and takes a knee to pray once in a while?  That's leadership?

Look, Tebow's a quarterback.  That's great for him.  I certainly can't play NFL ball.  But comparing the skillsets is just ludicrous.  Utterly.  I bet Dowd would love to cover a Tebow run for the Oval Office, rather than reporting on the people we actually do have trying for the position.  That's much more important.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Now, I'm no criminal defense lawyer, but if you're going to break federal election laws in your fever-bright zealotry efforts to try to justify voted ID laws, it's probably best to leave the part out where you actually break the law off the video evidence.

It was one of the few — if not the only — coordinated efforts to attempt in-person voter fraud, and it was pulled off by affiliates of conservative activist James O’Keefe at polling places in New Hampshire Tuesday night. All of it part of an attempt to prove the need for voter ID laws that voting rights experts say have a unfair impact on minority voters.

Now election law experts tell TPM that O’Keefe’s allies could face criminal charges on both the federal and state level for procuring ballots under false names, and that his undercover sting doesn’t demonstrate a need for voter ID laws at all.

Federal law bans not only the casting of, but the “procurement” of ballots “that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.”

Hamline University law professor David Schultz told TPM that there’s “no doubt” that O’Keefe’s accomplices violated the law.

“In either case, if they were intentionally going in and trying to fraudulently obtain a ballot, they violated the law,” Schultz said. “So right off the bat, what they did violated the law.”

Election law expert Rick Hasen, who writes the Election Law Blog, joked in an email to TPM that O’Keefe’s team should “next show how easy it is to rob a bank with a plastic gun.”

The best part is that O'Keefe failed to prove the need for additional voter ID laws...because his team got caught trying to vote fraudulently, which was the entire point.  And hey, it was really great of Jimbo here to meticulously document his team's own possibly criminal acts on video.  Which makes prosecution under the existing laws quite an interesting exercise.


Transparent Technology: The Future Is Clear

This has been possible for a while, but until recently it wasn't practical.  Samsung has now perfected the technology to use your window as a computer monitor.  You can check your Facebook or work while looking outside.  This has a lot of great applications, including changing how we are forced to stare at a screen all day.  Car windows would have a whole new scope.  Those impressive glass offices would be useful instead of creepy at night.

Check it out.

Follow Up: 85 Witnesses Can't Be Wrong

Back in September, we covered a story about a father who was drinking and arguing with his girlfriend.  In front of 85 witnesses, he smacked his son around multiple times and when the boy didn't stop crying (imagine that!) he threw him overboard into a busy harbor.  The boy was rescued by a boat, and the people on the Queen were so angry the dad allegedly jumped into the water to get away from them.

At the time he denied doing anything wrong.

It was just announced that he was convicted on charges child endangerment, but will not do jail time.  He has pleaded guilty to felony child abuse, and will have to complete a child abuse program and six months of residential treatment program.  Several people are angry, insisting he should do some time for this event. I am appalled that this is how we show we value children.  A seven-year-old boy was thrown off a boat into dangerous waters, and Dad gets a slap on the wrist.

Oh BS, I just added you to my fave five so I don't have to pay to call you anymore.

Iran, So Far Away, Part 5

My first thought upon hearing this story was that someone in the Mossad really likes Jason Bourne.

An Iranian nuclear scientist was blown up in his car by a motorbike hitman on Wednesday, prompting Tehran to blame Israeli and U.S. agents but insist the killing would not derail a nuclear program that has raised fears of war and threatened world oil supplies.

The fifth daylight attack on technical experts in two years, the magnetic bomb delivered a targeted blast to the door of 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan's silver sedan as he was driven down a busy street near a Tehran university during the morning rush hour. The chemical engineer's driver also died, Iranian media said, and a passer-by was slightly hurt.

Israel, whose military chief said on Tuesday that Iran could expect to suffer more mysterious mishaps, declined comment. The White House, struggling for Chinese and Russian help on economic sanctions, denied any U.S. role and condemned the attack.

While Israeli or Western involvement seemed eminently plausible to independent analysts, a role for local Iranian factions or other regional interests engaged in a deadly shadow war of bluff and sabotage could not be ruled out.

Oil's above $100 a barrel, and gas prices here in Cincy have now jumped 60 cents in three weeks, saw $3.59 a gallon on the way home today.  Kind of odd how that works.

Orange You Glad Someone's Protecting You

Republicans are sure to be furious over the FDA temporarily halting shipments and checking all orange juice imports while they are checked for a harmful fungicide banned in the US.  The big culprit:  Brazil.

Brazilian growers expressed frustration with the testing.

“Our main concern is how this move will affect consumption and image of our product,” said Flavio Viegas, head of Brazil’s citrus growers association, known as Associtrus, which represents about 1,300 orange growers.

“Carbendazim is widely accepted for other crops, including apples, which are consumed fresh,” he said by phone from Bebedouro, Brazil. “I don’t understand what’s the deal with frozen concentrated orange juice.”

Carbendazim is used to combat black spot, a fungus that doesn’t affect taste or crop yields, but makes fruits less appealing to consumers, Brazil’s grower-run Fund for Citrus Plant Protection, known as Fundecitrus, said today in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.

The FDA is also screening juice that’s already for sale in the U.S. market, said Siobhan DeLancey, an agency spokeswoman. That’s because products often contain a mixture of imported and domestic juice. Preliminary tests on three Canadian samples were negative, she said. 

But the tests, which turned up positive results on Tuesday, are already causing concern among consumers...and of course jacking up prices, up a whopping 25% since January 1.  Of course, I'm waiting for the GOP to tell us how we should be happy having a big glass of fungicide with our breakfast in the morning.  Should play well in Florida, right?


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