Thursday, May 17, 2012

Last Call

At least one billionaire conservative's pet super-PAC is vowing to go into the depths of hatred, bigotry and racism that even the McCain campaign wouldn't touch, and will do so in October as the presidential election season nears the home stretch.

The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign. 

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics. 

The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.” 

The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” 

Oh please let that be Herman Cain.  That would be the most awesome thing ever.

And if the name Joe Ricketts sounds familiar, he's the guy who bought himself a GOP senate candidate in Nebraska's primary this week, funding Deb Fischer's out-of-nowhere win over state AG Jon Bruning in a last minute victory to take on Bob Kerrey for Ben Nelson's seat.  And Joe Ricketts plays hardball with his billions.

A copy of a detailed advertising plan was obtained by The New York Times through a person not connected to the proposal who was alarmed by its tone. It is titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.” 

The proposal was presented last week in Chicago to associates and family members of Mr. Ricketts, who is also the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs. 

Brian Baker, president and general counsel of a super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund, said Mr. Ricketts had studied several advertising proposals in recent months and had not signed off on a specific approach to taking on Mr. Obama. 

Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential race and Congressional races,” Mr. Baker said in an interview Wednesday. “He is very concerned about the future direction of the country and plans to take a stand.” 

Citizens United means Ricketts and others like him can publicly announce they are spending their fortunes to buy our government and your vote through awful campaign smears, and that doing so is free speech protected by the Constitution.  Isn't America great?

And here's the best part of all.  Turns out Mr. Gubment Spends Too Much here sought a $200 million public finance deal to renovate Wrigley Field.  Frees up a bunch of green so he can spend it on attacking the President, huh?

Can’t make this stuff up, folks.

The Only Card In Orange Julius's Deck

Ezra Klein correctly points out that GOP House Speaker John Boehner is going to threaten to shut down the government over the debt limit.  It's literally the only card in the deck at this point for him.

Of course he will. For one thing, it worked well for him in 2011. Republicans got more than $900 billion in immediate spending cuts, as well as $1.2 trillion in triggered spending cuts -- though they don't much like the $500 billion or so of those cuts scheduled to fall on the Pentagon. They also drove President Obama's approval ratings beneath 40 percent. And while I'm not one who thinks Republicans intentionally tank the economy to undermine Obama, there's little doubt that the effect of the debt-ceiling debacle was to set back the recovery, brightening Republican prospects and darkening Democratic ones. The fact is that it's easier to be sanguine about economic showdowns when you're not the ones in charge.

For another, it's Boehner's only option in 2012. The Democrats, for once, have nothing but fiscal leverage. They've got the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which all Republicans would hate and many Democrats would welcome. They've got the aforementioned spending trigger, which Republicans really have begun to fear for its cuts to defense spending. They can do nothing -- or, more likely, offer Republicans a deal they can't accept -- and the resulting paralysis will swing fiscal policy far, far, far to the left. Threatening to default on the national debt is Boehner's only piece of counter-leverage.

So of course Boehner will try and use the debt ceiling as leverage again. And again. And again. It's pretty clear that, at this point, there's no going back to the time when debt-ceiling increases came smoothly. If I were the market, I'd take the fact that the leader of one of the two parties has publicly said that he "welcomes" debt-ceiling showdowns as evidence that the United States is almost certain to default on its debt -- if only temporarily -- within the next decade or so. 

Let's also give credit where credit is due:  President Obama and the Democrats maneuvered John Boehner into the corner he's in right now, and he went of his own volition like the moron he is.  Nobody, not even his own side, believes Boehner has the upper hand here.  The most likely outcome will be nothing, and in this case nothing means all of the Bush tax cuts expire.  That won't happen until January...after the elections.  Nothing he can do about it either.

So Boehner will fold, just like he has folded so many times before.

Only In America, Part 2

Earlier this week I talked about Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who has renounced his US citizenship presumably to avoid getting dinged with a huge tax bill when his share of Facebook puts him squarely in the billionaire category when the stock goes public.

Here's the problem:  there's laws involving that.  And the law in that case says "You can't return to the US at all if you pull this crap."  Josh Marshall:

Over the last few days I’ve been exchanging emails with TPM Reader PM, who notes that US immigration law does not look kindly on former citizens who renounce their citizenship to avoid US taxes. Specifically, it doesn’t look like Saverin should ever be able again to get a Visa to enter the United States.

Sec. 212. [8 U.S.C. 1182] details general classes of aliens ineligible to gain entrance into the United States. And the law specifically references people in Saverin’s category …
Former citizens who renounced citizenship to avoid taxation.-Any alien who is a former citizen of the United States who officially renounces United States citizenship and who is determined by the Attorney General to have renounced United States citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation by the United States is excludable
The question PM and I have had was whether Saverin realized this was a consequence of his decision. And the latest from his lawyer suggests that he very much does. His lawyer is now attacking the “the false impression that tax was the reason behind Eduardo’s decision.”

In other words, if the AG (in this case Eric Holder) determines this is the case, Eduardo here is persona non grata if the Justics Department goes that route.  It'll be very interesting to see how this plays out if all this really does apply to the Saverin case.

I won't shed a tear for the guy.

Show Me Stopped Clock Syndrome

Even Jay Nixon can't get it wrong all the time:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s elder abuse law could soon be expanded to protect older citizens from financial exploitation.
The House voted 147-2 in favor of legislation that makes it a crime for those with authority over an elderly person to take advantage of that person’s state of mind for financial gain.
The provision would apply to people who have guardianship, power of attorney or some other financial management role for seniors.
This must be done, and the sooner the better.

Not to get too personal, but I had to rescue a relative from predatory relatives.  This relative has Alzheimer's, and before we knew folks were stealing from her all of our family heirlooms were gone.  She was the youngest surviving of eleven siblings.  Over $25,000 in cash disappeared from her bank.  My grandfather's old fiddle was never seen again (my heart still breaks!).  Anything of value was stolen and she forgot they had been there before an hour had passed.

This happens far too often, and the state makes it pretty difficult to step in and protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.  When people become more desperate, they prey on the weak and the easily confused.  Missouri's system is sorely lacking in resources and enforcement.

We Knew It Could Get Worse

Risking blinding a waitress for less than three dollars, this week has been a leader for silly and useless crimes.  I said then it could have been worse, and lo and behold we have a winner.  I wasn't even trying, I just stumbled upon such stupidity that I could not refuse to share it with you.

A feud between neighbors that escalated from egging each other's apartments to a friend of one resident getting fatally stabbed in the back with a kitchen knife has resulted in a guilty plea for murder.
Juan Antonio Rivera, 32, thwarted his jury trial Monday with a last-minute agreement that included a promise from prosecutors to ask for no more than 33 years in prison. State District Judge Raymond Angelini is set to determine his sentence next month.
Yup.  From egging apartments to a fatal stabbing. One could make an argument that in the old days, this would be written off as a feud.  I disagree, however.  In the past, this would have been known as "so stupid it's finer than frog hair" and dismissed as too dumb to be true.

It's surely wrong to wonder, but I'd love to read an account of the escalation path that led to this.  Or what excuse the defense may try to use to make this look like anything other than murder, and someone who should be separated from the public for the safety of the public.

Chris Bag O' Failure

Turns out Gov. Chris Bag 'O Donuts Christie couldn't even help Mitt Romney win New Jersey if he was on the ticket.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) would not be able to deliver the Garden State if he were chosen as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick, a new survey shows.

Without running mates, Romney gets 39 percent to the president’s 49 percent in New Jersey, according to a Wednesday Quinnipiac University poll.

With Christie on the ticket, Romney bumps up to 42 percent, compared with the president’s 50 percent.

“Color New Jersey blue. President Barack Obama beats Gov. Mitt Romney and Christie’s presence on the Republican ticket doesn’t help Romney,” says Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Fail.  Absolute fail.  Christie can't even deliver his own state if he were Romney's veep, it looks like Romney would still lose by double digits.

I never expected Christie to be Romney's selection (my money's still on Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman, the Most Boring Man On Earth) but this has to seal it.

StupidiVid: So Easy A Canadian 12-Year-Old Can Do It

Meet Victoria Grant, who apparently is a lot smarter than a lot of people you and I know.

Smart kid.

If 12-year old Victoria Grant can explain how banks that print our nation's currency and their puppet global banks are the most immoral criminal institutions on our planet responsible for oppression, mass suffering, and misery, shame on anyone else that is too lazy and/or too misanthropic to take the time or effort to watch this six minute video to understand this essential truth that is probably the most important misunderstood truth in the entire world. No humanitarian efforts will ever make a sustainable impact in this world if we first don't tackle the fact that our modern banking system is criminal and must be destroyed, the truth of which 12-year old Victoria already understands.

Yep.  Worth a watch, at least.


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