Thursday, August 23, 2012

Last Call

And the giant pile-on on Mitt Romney's really awful month continues as John Cook over at Gawker has gotten his hands on nearly 1,000 pages of Bain Capital documents, detailing Mitt's mysterious quarter-billion dollar fortune.

Today, we are publishing more than 950 pages of internal audits, financial statements, and private investor letters for 21 cryptically named entities in which Romney had invested—at minimum—more than $10 million as of 2011 (that number is based on the low end of ranges he has disclosed—the true number is almost certainly significantly higher). Almost all of them are affiliated with Bain Capital, the secretive private equity firm Romney co-founded in 1984 and ran until his departure in 1999 (or 2002, depending on whom you ask). Many of them are offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands. Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that benefit him, the unlikely (for a right-wing religious Mormon) places that his money has ended up, and the deeply hypocritical distance between his own criticisms of Obama's fiscal approach and his money managers' embrace of those same policies. They also show that some of the investments that Romney has always described as part of his retirement package at Bain weren't made until years after he left the company.

Fortune magazine's Dan Primack is already calling the documents "worthless" (really, they read all 950 pages, they promise!)  but as the New Yorker's Amy Davidson points out:

Here is reason number one thousand and forty for releasing your tax returns if you’re running for President of the United States: if you don’t, someone will try to reverse engineer them, using whatever scraps of paper are available, until they have built some sort of structure that may, in your mind, look like a clumsy papier-mâché version of your well-ordered financial house—and you will have no cause to complain; they will be performing a public service.

Mitt Romney took too long to define himself on his own terms because he couldn't do so, as the whole Todd Akin meltdown proves.  Details destroy Romney.  He counted on being an unknown, a Rorschach test to everyone, so that everyone would see what they wanted to in him.  That's what makes the Obama team counterattack so powerful:  it doesn't have to be the absolute truth, just enough of it to be politically useful to Obama.  The only thing Romney can do at this point is release more details...and the devil in those details are far worse than anything that his opponent can come up with.
His opponent and the media have now done so for him.  It only gets worse for him here.  All he can do is continue to lie about Obama weakening welfare requirements and supporting infanticide.

That's literally all he has left with 75 days to go.

The Faker Street Irregularities

The plan to destroy an Obama second term (and let's be honest, the goal here is to wreck the political system so thoroughly as the Disloyal Opposition that a Democrat will never be elected again) requires the basis of illegitimacy.  Americans have to be convinced that even though Barack Obama was elected, that he cheated in order to win.  The campaign to establish such "cheating", that is "allowing certain groups in certain districts to vote without treating them like criminals", begins with the odious True The Vote movement.

Their goal in 2012 is to train observers to "document voter irregularities" in precincts across the country, in an effort to establish that strict national laws must be put in place in order to limit how you can vote, when you can vote, and most importantly, who is allowed to vote.  Brentin Mock at Colorlines takes a closer look at the group's emergence on the national stage.

True the Vote’s emergence wasn’t an isolated event. Its rapid rise occurred in harmony with hundreds of other Tea Party groups across the nation, dozens of which exist in Texas alone and many of which have been “empowered” by True the Vote for “election integrity” kibitzing. It has plugged itself into an existing infrastructure of influential far right organizations hellbent on criminalizing abortion, banishing gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act—and now, on intimidating would-be voters.

These alliances have helped expand True the Vote’s range of influence over election activities. Today it boasts having trainees in 35 states, people who’ll spot “irregularities” and chalk them up as “fraud” and then use that tally to justify new voting restrictions. As one strategy, the group buys voter rolls from states and counties, then disseminates the lists to thousands of largely unsupervised volunteers, who are urged to submit to election officials names from the rolls that may be improperly registered.

The group has involved itself in every high-stakes electoral drama this year, from the Wisconsin governor recall election to Florida’s controversial “non-citizen” purging. True the Vote now turns its attention to the main event this fall, gearing up for an Election Day showdown that its leaders hope will establish voter fraud, rather than voter suppression as a dire threat to democracy.

And that's the key, using contacts provided by the heavy conservative hitters on the right:  the Heritage Foundation, the Koch Brothers, right-to-life groups, and more in order to get in touch with and train sympathetic election officials to "stop fraud".

These relationships with elected officials are perhaps the most troubling ones in the impressive national network that True the Vote has since built. The group claims non-partisanship, which is an important assertion to avoid legal entanglement. But that’s dubious given its affiliations and activities.

True the Vote encourages recruits to “build relationships with election administrators” because “they control the access to the vote,” as [True The Vote elections coordinator Bill] Ouren told a gathering in Houston. In 2010, the group was able to get a list of voter registration data from Republican Harris County registrar Leo Vasquez, who reportedly refused the same to the Democratic Party, for which the party sued. When the King Street Patriots submitted to him their list of fraudulent actions they claimed to see at the polls, Vasquez accepted them without verification and held a press conference with [True The Vote Founder Catherine] Engelbrecht asserting Harris County polls were “under a systemic and organized attack.” 

Control who counts the votes, control the election.   Best case scenario, they manage to help manufacture a Romney win.  Worst case, they set up the narrative to render an Obama term illegitimate with the cry of "voter fraud!" and tighten the laws to make it easier next time.  They're playing the long game, and there's nothing on the Democratic side that comes close.

These guys are the real threat to our democracy, period.

Doctor, Doctor, Can't You See I'm Burning, Burning

And now we know why the Romney campaign was so very eager to bury the Todd Akin story:  the trail from what the distinguished doucheknocker from Missouri believes leads right to Willard's front door.  The Guardian's Jon Swaine:

Mitt Romney met John Willke, the doctor credited with popularising Todd Akin’s controversial views on rape and abortion, during the current election campaign and told him they agreed on “almost everything,” Dr Willke said. 


Dr Willke, a prominent anti-abortion campaigner, claims to be an authority on the theory espoused by Mr Akin that victims of what the Republican congressman called “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant because their bodies “shut down” due to the trauma.
The 87-year-old endorsed Mr Romney’s bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and was one of his official campaign surrogates. ”I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement,” Mr Romney said at the time.
Mr Romney and Paul Ryan, his running mate, have denounced Mr Akin's remarks. Dr Willke has been given no role in Mr Romney’s 2012 campaign and aides stress that the candidate disagrees with his theory on rape.
However, Dr Willke told The Daily Telegraph that he did meet Mr Romney during a presidential primary campaign stop in the doctor's home city of Cincinnati, Ohio, in October last year. Local news reports at the time noted that the candidate held “private meetings” during the visit. 
“He told me ‘thank you for your support – we agree on almost everything, and if I am elected President I will make some major pro-life pronouncements’,” Dr Willke said in a telephone interview on Tuesday

I've never been more proud of crazy-ass Jack Willke since I moved here.   What's Willard going to do, call him a liar?

Not a whole lot of daylight between the Akins and the Romneys in the party, folks.  Besides, has Mitt shown even the slightest tendency to stand against the Tea Party at any point this year?  What makes centrists who believe Mitt will govern from the middle believe that he'll have any choice but to sign insane, anti-choice, anti-woman legislation into law?

The latest Rasmussen poll has McCaskill up by ten.  Considering Akin was up 3 in the same poll at the end of July, that's a bunker buster dropped on the GOP chances to win the Senate.

And oh's not helping Mitt much, either.

In Which Bon Screams And Runs Like A Little Girl

I've been working my way into caves, trying to overcome my claustrophobia.  And yeah, sure, my fear of spiders because it has to take back burner to everything else going on.

Until I read this article.  About a spider.  In a cave.  With something called "sickle claws" that is every bit as scary as it sounds.

Scouring the caves of Southwest Oregon, scientists have made the incredible discovery of a fearsome apex predator with massive, sickle claws. No, it's not the Velociraptor fromJurassic Park: it's a large spider that is so unique scientists were forced to create a new taxonomic family for it.

"This is something completely new," lead author of a paper on the species, Charles Griswold with the California Academy of Sciences, told SFGate. "It's a historic event."

Perhaps it's time to take up cross-stitching after all.

Well Now, I Think I Have Found Part Of The Problem

Dear Abby: Wouldn’t it make sense if grade school teachers set aside time, weekly or monthly, to go over some very generic information that kids need to learn? I’m talking about things like how important it is to have pets neutered and why, how to manage money, and show them what the average dad earns and what it costs to run a household and support a family. It might help kids to grow up understanding that money isn’t free and get them past the “gimmes." 
There are so many topics that ought to be introduced to youngsters at an early age — how to groom themselves properly, be exposed to a variety of music genres, teach them how grandparents can use help even from small children. They could be taught to be aware of their surroundings, to realize that foul language isn’t an attribute and why it’s important to be pleasant.

Please click here to read Abby's answer.

I hear this all the time.  I have several friends who are teachers.  Not only are they too busy trying to cram aggressive curriculum into their student's minds, they are restricted by what they can (or should!) do to help students.

I also hear frequently how parents try to shove their responsibility off on teachers, and make their jobs harder.  Parents who are cool and lenient about homework make teachers work extra hard to pick up their slack.  Parents who don't discipline their kids or teach them about manners and respect drag down an already struggling system.  People who think teachers should raise the kids they are charged with, kids from a multitude of backgrounds, beliefs and cultures, should do that job for two weeks.

And now I'll climb off my soapbox and let you get back to your day.

Swiss Cheesed Off

Our neutral friends in Switzerland apparently aren't too happy with President Obama using Swiss bank accounts to attack Mitt Romney.

A spokesman for Switzerland's embassy tells Politico that his country "has communicated with the Obama campaign headquarters to object to the ads giving the impression that simply having a Swiss bank account means that the account holder is trying to hide money from the IRS."

Obama himself raised the issue Monday in calling on Romney to release more of his tax returns.

"The first disclosure, the one year of tax returns that he disclosed, indicated that he used Swiss bank accounts," Obama said.

"Well, that may be perfectly legal," the president added, "but I suspect if you ask the average American, do you have one and is that part of how you manage your tax obligations, they would say no."

I'm going to say the Swiss might want to be a bit more worried about the European banking crisis and their own involvement in the Libor scandal before they go popping off at POTUS, ya dig?

Just some free advice.

Praying For Rain

As Isaac churns westward in the Atlantic towards the Gulf Coast, the storm track puts Tampa and the GOP Convention right in the crosshairs.  Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the convention could be called off in case of a serious storm.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told CNN the city is prepared for severe weather if it hits during the Republican National Convention next week. Tropical Storm Isaac is forecast to head toward the Florida by early Monday.

"We're prepared for it, we've trained for it, we have contingency plan after contingency plan," Buckhorn said. But in the event of dangerous weather, "human safety, human life trumps politics," he said.

Here's your latest storm track:

Interpret that as you will.

PS, El Rushbo says NOAA is faking the forecast on purpose under the direction of the Obama Administration in order to close the convention down.  Remember, Republicans want to get rid of the National Weather Service and NOAA altogether and replace it with private for-profit weather forecast systems.  Which get nearly all of their data from...the National Weather Service.


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