Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Last Call

Mitt Romney is just really, really awful at being a politician.  Every time he opens his mouth, that silver foot keeps getting inserted sideways. Greg Sargent tags this Romney comment from this morning:

“I’m not concerned with the very poor. We have a safety net there,” Romney told CNN. “If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
“The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor,” Romney responded, after repeating that he would fix any holes in the safety net. “It’s not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor . . . My focus is on middle income Americans...
In any political campaign, he said, “you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich — that’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor — that’s not my focus. My focus is on middle-income Americans.”

Pretty much everything I said yesterday about David Brooks being out of touch with Americans goes for Mitt Romney, and by a couple orders of magnitude to boot. Mitt Romney has the all the empathy of a hamster's water bottle.  The fundamental trick to being a politician is being a convincing liar at least a fraction of the time, and Romney has the distinct ability to speak about the 99% in terms of being unruly verge that needs to be trimmed.  In other words, he lacks the skill to get large number of people to vote against their own-self interest because his programming keeps defaulting back to Thurston Howell III mode.  Other Republicans have this ability, but the Marquis de Mittens just can't bring himself to utter such banal chicanery (which his odd because everything else about his campaign is in fact banal chicanery, especially anything involving President Obama).

All this of course comes back to the issue that Mitt Romney's about as approachable as a hedgehog with a migraine, and he can't override his own instincts when it comes to dealing with "the people".  He's never dealt with them outside of spreadsheets and statistics and it shows.  It's all numbers to the guy.  And nobody, nobody believes him when he says he rich aren't his focus.

That's all he cares about.  Everyone knows it.  And yeah, we keep bringing up Mitt's positronic brain and all, but that's who he is, and that's why he's destined to lose.

[UPDATE] What Steve M. said.

See? He keeps repeating it. It's a rehearsed line. It's a talking point he wants to take into the campaign. He wants to divide and conquer; he wants middle-class people who've had the rug pulled out from under them in this recession to feel that their interests are in opposition to the interests of "the very poor." He wants them to think that President Obama is excessively concerned with "the very poor" at their expense.
Will this work? I don't know. But it's no slip-up. It's no gaffe.

Every Republican has been pushing this point.  The difference is Mitt is really, really bad at it.

Home, Home I'm Deranged, Part 29

As expected, President Obama's new plan to allow Americans to refinance their homes will require some Congressional finesse, and I'm wondering what conditions the GOP will attach to it.

The Obama administration on Wednesday detailed its latest plan to help millions of homeowners refinance their mortgages to today's historically-low rates.

The plan, which requires approval by Congress, would allow borrowers who are current on their mortgage to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing into loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The plan is estimated to cost between $5 billion and $10 billion. To pay for it, President Obama said he does not plan to add to the deficit. Instead, he wants to impose a fee on large banks -- a move that may have a hard time making it past members of Congress, who have rejected the notion of taxing the banks in the past.

"May" have a hard time?  I foresee the plan being blocked in the Senate, and then Republicans turning around and presenting a program in the House about 1% as effective at the cost of, say, all Planned Parenthood funding, giving 99% of the program's money to the banks and including a rider that overturns all passed legislation from 2009-2011 plus another clause that gives the GOP complete control of all humanity in perpetuity, and then they'll proceed in calling President Obama an America-hating extremist for not giving them everything they want.

That's how this game works, and it goes triple for an election year.  Meanwhile, homeowners will continue to suffer, and both the rabid left and the rabid right will proclaim that President Obama hasn't put forward any effort to help underwater mortgage owners whatsoever.

Sad, but true.

Florida, Freshly Squeezed

Mitt Romney is winning the battle, but Republicans are losing the war if the turnout numbers in Florida are any indication.

Underneath tonight’s big win for Mitt Romney in the Florida Republican primary, is a statistic that might suggest enthusiasm is flagging among GOP voters in this large and crucial swing state: turnout was actually down significantly from 2008.

In the 2008 Republican primary in Florida, in which John McCain beat Romney by a margin of 36%-31%, a total of nearly 1.95 million votes were cast.

But in tonight’s primary, turnout was actually much lower. At time of writing, with 98% of precincts reporting, the total turnout is only about 1.65 million — a drop-off of 15% in terms of the raw number of voters.

And remember, Florida's primaries are closed.  Only Republicans can vote in the GOP primary, and a 15% drop from 2008 should be setting off serious alarm bells for the GOP. 

Take that as you will.  Charles Pierce sums it up:

Romney won because he had the most money. And because he had the most money, enough of the Tea Party "base," which was supposed to hate him like gum disease, decided thusly: What the hell? The important thing is to get the Muslim Kenyan Usurper Negro out of the White House, so this is the horse we have to ride. There were something like 13,000 commercials aired in Florida over the past couple of weeks. Ninety-two percent of them were negative, the overwhelming number of which said negative things about N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization's Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of the Civilizing Forces, on behalf of the man who told us on Tuesday night that we should follow him into the old America of hope and joy and not bumper stickers. That is how you win the Inevitability Primary. You buy Inevitability. It doesn't come cheaply.

And despite all that money, despite Florida's massive growth, turnout was not just less, but significantly less.  More than half the FOX exit poll respondents cared about one thing: voting for someone who could defeat Barack Obama.  45% of them said that was their top priority.  Of the people who voted for Mittens yesterday, 58% said that was their top priority.  The entire GOP campaign is built on the premise of "beat the darkie."  And Mitt, they figure, has the money to do it.

Only In Riverdale

I love Archie comics.  My mother was a literary snob (sorry, Mom) and she hated the idea of comics.  They were not allowed in the house, and were frowned upon as a lower form of entertainment.  My best friend at the time had Archie comic books by the hundreds, and a childhood rebellion was born.  Her mother bought them everywhere, and we'd hit garage sale buyouts that filled grocery bags.  I know the gang, and I know them pretty well.

As an adult, I look back and realize they made some pretty strong statements, over decades.  The main female characters were both talented and strong, and held their own.  Nobody was perfect, everyone made mistakes.  Drugs, alcohol, driving while intoxicated, dropping out of school, weight problems and body issues have all been topics at one point or another.  There was an effort in the 80s to be more gender and racially sensitive, and their stories demonstrated some good values.  But always fun, at least for me.  Just the other day, my husband couldn't describe a guy and used the name Moose Mason to paint the picture.  I got it immediately.

It really is in line with Archie to have a gay character.  I may or may not still read the occasional Archie, but if I did I would say he wasn't a safe stereotype.  He had his own look, actions, humor and talents.  In other words, he just was.  Like any other character, he was just a person, any old guy.  In doing that, they did kids a favor.  They gave them someone that was a fully developed person who happened to be gay.  After a brief buzz, Kevin was just one of the crowd, not defined by his sexuality but by other things as well.  That he was gay was given perspective, and was not the most important or interesting thing about him.

Although the January issue depicts Kevin Keller -- Riverdale's first openly gay character who is also an active U.S. military officer -- tying the knot with his African-American partner Clay Walker, Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater insisted that creators weren't interested in making a statement about marriage equality or the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so much as simply being current.

"Kevin and Clay getting married really is just a reflection of what's going on in the world today," Goldwater said. "If you get married in Riverdale, Riverdale accepts everybody, so this was more of an acceptance."

I'm out of touch enough that I had no idea a wedding was coming, but spiffy.  I'll end up buying that one for sure.  I mean, if I still did something as silly as read an Archie comic book.

The Exception To The Rule...

Sort of.

Okay, we all know that for every jackass like this there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of teachers who take their job and duties seriously.  But how did this man get away with this?  And how does headline after headline reveal teachers being inappropriate with kids and yet they get through whatever safeguards exist?  These aren't rhetorical questions.  If I had a kid in public school I'd want a damned answer, and I'd want it now.  I want to know how.  I want to know how it happens, and what is being done to prevent it.  Child predators work in the fields that expose them to children.  What is being done to protect them from something as awful as this?

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Authorities say the elementary school teacher told the children that it was a game. Once inside his third-grade classroom, they say, he blindfolded them, gagged them and set cockroaches crawling on their faces.

And then, Mark Berndt photographed them, creating hundreds of images that would eventually lead to his arrest, police say.

On Tuesday, Berndt, 61, was sitting in jail on charges that he committed lewd acts on 23 boys and girls, ages 6 to 10, between 2008 and 2010. None of them complained about Berndt's behavior, authorities said.
None of them complained.  I find that hard to believe, unless they were threatened or intimidated.  But if so, how in the hell did this go on for two years without a whisper of prevention?

Brewer: I Spit On Your Union Grave

If GOP Gov. John Kasich got an ugly bloody nose from public unions last year and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and his GOP pals wanted to leave public unions bleeding in the street (only to now face the wrath of the state's voters), Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is by comparison sending wreaths and dry cleaning her little black dress for the occasion.

With a sweeping series of bills introduced Monday night in the state Senate, Republicans in Arizona hoped to make Wisconsin’s battle against public unions last year look like a lightweight sparring match.

The bills include a total ban on collective bargaining for Arizona’s public employees, including at the city and county levels. The move would outpace even the tough bargaining restrictions enacted in Wisconsin in 2011 that led to massive union protests and a Democratic effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“At first glance, it looks like an all out assault on the right of workers to organize,” Senate Minority Leader David Schapira (D) told TPM on Tuesday. “And to me, that’s a serious problem.”

Not in Arizona it's not.  Not yet, anyway.  It gets worse.

Beyond a ban on collective bargaining, the bills would also prohibit state and local government workers from deducting money from their paychecks to pay union dues.

They would ban state and local governments from paying anyone to spend time doing union work, a practice known as “release time.”

And in another break from the Wisconsin model, the restrictions would affect every type of public union, including police and firefighters.

Arizona is a right-to-work state, which gives unions a much smaller role there than in states like Wisconsin. But laws still currently give labor groups a place at the bargaining table to negotiate pay and other benefits for their members. All of that would change under the proposed rules.

Schapira, who is also running for Congress this year, said he expects the laws to easily pass unless something major happens. Democrats in the Senate are outnumbered 21-9, so he said there isn’t much they can do to stop the bills on their own.

Right about now I'm thinking Arizona's various police and firefighter unions are going to have something to say about this.  As are Arizona's voters.

And I don't think Gov. Brewer and the GOP are going to like it.

Divorced From Reality

It's finally happened:  somebody's managed to penetrate David Brooks's neutronium denial shield and impress upon him that the American economy isn't so hot for the proles at the Applebee's salad bar, and all that manages to come tumbling out is that Both Sides Do It.

Democrats claim America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society’s resources. But that’s a distraction. The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness.
It’s wrong to describe an America in which the salt of the earth common people are preyed upon by this or that nefarious elite. It’s wrong to tell the familiar underdog morality tale in which the problems of the masses are caused by the elites.
The truth is, members of the upper tribe have made themselves phenomenally productive. They may mimic bohemian manners, but they have returned to 1950s traditionalist values and practices. They have low divorce rates, arduous work ethics and strict codes to regulate their kids.
Members of the lower tribe work hard and dream big, but are more removed from traditional bourgeois norms. They live in disorganized, postmodern neighborhoods in which it is much harder to be self-disciplined and productive.
I doubt Murray would agree, but we need a National Service Program. We need a program that would force members of the upper tribe and the lower tribe to live together, if only for a few years. We need a program in which people from both tribes work together to spread out the values, practices and institutions that lead to achievement.
If we could jam the tribes together, we’d have a better elite and a better mass.

It's like Brooks is some sort of Sisyphean device that has one purpose:  to take any possible social paradigm observation, smash it with a sledgehammer, and reconstruct the bits in order to fit his god-awful worldview of bipartisanship, even if the pieces don't fit and had nothing to do with the original observation in the first place, and he has to repeat that until the end of time.  There are people that just don't get it, people that don't get it on purpose as satire, and then there's David Brooks (who should be regularly harvested for the rich oil of contempt for anyone who makes less than six figures that he drips with) who somehow manages to make "not getting it" into an exciting new field of scientific endeavor.  I've got a fiver that says if Brooks was jammed together with any actual American middle-class salt-of-the-earth family for more than 3 hours, there would be blood all over the carport and a Garden Weasel shoved in a very uncomfortable place upon his person.

And he would not get invited to Applebee's.  No sir.  No riblets for him.

[UPDATE]  Seriously, is this blame the victims week at the Village or what?

[UPDATE THE SECONDCharles Pierce in the center square for the win.


Related Posts with Thumbnails