Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a mix of news for you today. Let’s start with the “serious” stuff. Supposedly the CIA has thwarted another potential terrorist attack, conveniently revealed at the end of a week of discussion of Osama bin Laden’s life and death. There have been so many of these–please forgive me for my cynical attitude. The Boston Globe reports:

WASHINGTON—The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said Monday.

The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

Maybe this is the preamble to a rollout of even more ghastly TSA practices–or perhaps more invasive machines?

Few people are paying attention to the primaries anymore, now that Republicans have grudgingly begun to accept Mitt Romney as their standard bearer. But there is a big primary tomorrow in Indiana that could have a big impact on which party controls the Senate next year. Sen. Richard Lugar is facing an ultra-conservative Tea Party challenger with lots of superpac support, and it looks like the six-term Senator could lose tomorrow, and that could possibly mean a Democrat will win Lugar’s seat.

Lugar, 80, will face Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a career politician whose staunch conservatism could make him a more beatable opponent for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Rep. Joe Donnelly.

An independent bipartisan poll, conducted late last week, gave Mourdock a 10-point edge heading into the final days before the primary, and many insiders think that Lugar’s only chance for survival is by generating a large turnout of independent and Democratic voters in the Hoosier State’s open contest.

Mourdock has been painting Lugar as a Washngton insider who is sometimes polite to Democrats and didn’t always vote the party line.

In Indiana, the campaign has turned into a referendum on Lugar’s career as a bipartisan lawmaker at the top of the Foreign Relations and Agriculture committees. His opponent has focused, in part, on trips to overseas hot spots with Barack Obama when he was still in the Senate and served on the committee with Lugar.

“It’s time to retire Richard Lugar,” says the narrator of a Mourdock ad, which ends with a picture of Obama and Lugar acting chummy together at a Senate hearing, with the former fake punching the latter.

For the past few weeks Joe Donnelly has been directing his efforts toward Mourdock, assuming the challenger will win the Republican primary.

You may have heard about this one already: Romney Silent As Woman Says Obama Should Be Tried For Treason. Romney called on a woman at a Euclid, Ohio town hall meeting who

expressed dismay that Obama was “operating outside the Constitution,” then said Obama should be tried for treason for violating separation of powers.

“I do believe he should be tried for treason,” she said to applause from the audience.

Romney responded with some pious remarks about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence being “inspired.” He didn’t say who or what inspired them.

He then allowed her to clarify what specifically she thought Obama had violated, and the woman proceeded to spout references to Executive Orders, including one that she said involved the Secret Service restricting the rights of citizens to protest.

Romney, who is protected by a detail of Secret Service agents, said “I will be happy to look at what he has done about the Secret Service with respect to protests.”

Romney’s failure to say that the President shouldn’t be tried for treason resulted in a barrage of attacks from Obama and his supporters as well as questions from the media and discussions on nightly talk shows. Romney later admitted that he doesn’t think Obama should be tried for treason, but he once again showed himself to be living in cowering fear of the the Republican base. At HuffPo, Mitchell Bard wrote that Romney “blew his chance at a ‘no ma’am moment” like McCain’s in 2008.

On October 10, 2008, less than a month before the presidential election, and with his standing falling in the polls in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, John McCain fielded a question at a town hall meeting in Minnesota from a woman who said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab.”

McCain didn’t hesitate. He politely but firmly took the microphone from the woman and said, shaking his head, “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have
disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign’s all about.”

At that same town hall meeting, another audience member asked him why he pays taxes to foreign governments.

“I don’t think I paid any foreign income taxes, but I’ll look at it,” Romney replied over the boos of the audience for the hostile questioner.

But in fact, Romney has paid over $1.2 million in foreign taxes for “passive category income” since 2000, according to his 2010 income tax return.

Additionally he has paid over $800,000 in foreign taxes for “general category income” according to the same filing.

The income was probably from foreign investments. You’d think Romney would have at least read the tax returns he released!

Buzzfeed had another funny Romney story yesterday–they discovered he had been arrested for disorderly conduct back in 1981.

According to what Romney told the Boston Globe in 1994, he had taken his family off to Wayland, Mass.’s Lake Cochituate, about an hour outside Boston, for a summer excursion. As Romney prepared to put his family boat into the water, a park officer told Romney not to launch because his license appeared to have been painted over. The officer told Romney if he put his boat into the water he would face a $50 fine.

Romney felt that his license was still visible and decided to ignore the order from the officer and pay the fine.

“I figured I was at the state park with my kids. My five kids were in the car wondering why we weren’t going out in the boat, so I said I’d launch and pay the fine,” Romney said in 1994.

So he went ahead and launched the boat, and the cop handcuffed him and took him into town. Book ‘em, Dano! Romney appeared before a judge in a bathing suit and was released on his own recognizance. When he later went to court to defend himself, he threatened the cop with a lawsuit, and the charges were dropped. This guy thinks he can buy his way out of anything, and he probably can.

Yes, Romney’s a cowardly con-man, but according to Bloomberg, senior citizens love him even though he wants to give their Social Security funds to Wall Street.

The master-gardener meeting, the bridge tournament, and a heated match of seven-card draw poker leave little time for politics at the Via Linda senior citizens’ center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Yet ask about President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and it doesn’t take long to determine the preferred candidate.

“He has some very socialistic leanings and believes in big government,” Lu Ittner, 86, a retired surgical nurse, said of Obama. “He is destroying our economy with his policies.”

While Obama so far dominates Romney among many demographic groups — women, younger voters, middle-aged voters, blacks and Hispanics — the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has a solid lead among the nation’s senior citizens. Some of the most reliable voters, those 65 and older represented 16 percent of the electorate in the 2008 election, exit polls show.

A CNN/ORC International poll taken April 13-15 showed Romney led Obama, 54 percent to 39 percent, with seniors. Among those supporting Romney, 58 percent said their vote would be more against Obama than for Romney.

Well, I will officially be a senior on Dec. 1, and I do not like Romney. Not all seniors are stupid or rich and greedy.

Just a couple more links. Actor John Travolta is being sued for sexual battery by a masseur.

According to court documents, the events in question unfolded on Jan. 16, when Travolta allegedly asked the masseur to meet him on a street corner and then fetched Doe in a black SUV. Condoms, as well as scattered chocolate cake wrappers, were said to have littered the car’s center console and floor.

It was back to the Beverly Hills Hotel, to a private bungalow, where Travolta stripped immediately and was “semi-erect,” the suit claims, and Travolta then proceeded to suggestively remove a towel covering his buttocks, touched the masseur’s genitals repeatedly and tried to coax John Doe into a reverse massage.

Then, according to John Doe’s recollection (TMZ has the full suit here (PDF)), when Travolta got the message that no mutual play would go down, he became erratic and verbally abusive, calling Doe a “loser.”

The most troubling nugget in Doe’s account claims that Travolta went on a rant that “Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity” and that his habit of making such trades began in his “Welcome Back Kotter” days.

Of course Travolta denies everything and says he out of the state that day. If so, he probably has proof–like plane tickets or hotel receipts–and the suit will be thrown out. Or maybe all those rumors about Travolta were true. The part about being abused when he was younger, I can believe (not the antisemitic part though).

The Daily Beast has the “13 naughtiest bits from the Masseur Lawsuit Against John Travolta.” I couldn’t bring myself to read it yet–maybe later.

HuffPo has a huge collection of supermoon photos from the weekend. They are gorgeous.

How would you like to live in the “house that Ruth built?” No, not the old Yankee Stadium. The house the Babe lived in when he played for the Red Sox.

Known as “Home Plate Farm,” the spacious antique colonial located at 558 Dutton Road was occupied by famed Boston Red Sox [team stats] and New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth from 1922 to 1926.

The asking price for the property that’s going, going, soon-to-be gone — $1.65 million.

Is that all?

Along with boasting 5,124 square feet on more than two acres of land, five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms, the property also has a 5,000-square-foot barn zoned for residential and commercial use with horse stables, sub-divided office space, working garage bays, and a top-floor apartment with skylights, and full kitchen, bathroom and bedroom….

Though the home has been “meticulously renovated throughout,” Adamson said, touches of the Sultan of Swat can still be found, including burn marks from Ruth’s cigar ashes in the wooden floor of the living room, and a third-floor memorabilia room containing several photographs of the Hall of Fame slugger who played 22 seasons in the Major Leagues.

It probably won’t be on the market long with that history.

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37 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    When this campaign season mercifully comes to an end in November, Romney will have earned the title of “the most unlikable candidate” who ever ran for higher office.

    Regardless of the outcome, there is just something about this man that is so unappealing to most people it almost defies description.

    Setting aside his “flip flopping” positions, his lack of vision, and his inability to connect, I am at a loss to pinpoint just what it is about him that evokes such indifference.

    After running for president for about 15 years he still only manages to send up question marks as to who he really is. That void alone should be enough to alert the average voter that there is something definitely lacking in this man. Even Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain managed to ignite their base because they had some measure of personality. Rick Saintorum managed to come across as at least “personable” on some level regardless of how nuts his positions were.

    “There’s something about Romney” that is has taken hold of the public imagination. What it is so far is undefinable for me but the only way he could “ease out of win” IMHO is the hatred for Obama – real or imagined – that would propel this “bag of nothing” into the White House.

    He is a gutless wonder to be sure and I have great difficulty imagining anyone who feels “inspired” by Mitt Romney when all is said and done. There is nothing there to inspire from where I sit just an empty suit, a cardboard cutout, and a man who just wants to be president. That’s it.

    The tepid endorsement from his prior challengers is a slap in the face to a man who has been running for POTUS since at least 1995 and has yet to actually “seal the deal” from an emotional level.

    Had he not faced the cast of unremarkable challengers this time out, he would have sunk back into the shadows almost as fast as he did in 2008 when the primary voters shrugged him off with alacrity.

  2. When I read about Romney staying silent at that town hall, I remembered that time McCain stood up for Obama. Thanks BB for putting the link here on your post.

    I do have this to share with you all, BB and Pat this is in your neck of the woods.

    Prosecutor: Murder Of Burlington Mother Broadcast On iPad Camera « CBS Boston

    Take a look at the comments…the story is the same, blame the woman…

  3. RalphB says:

    That the elderly can support Romney via hatred of Obama may stem from being the main demographic for Fox news. I’ve been a senior since Jan and have nothing in common with my age cohort it appears. Thanks BB for a great post.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Ralph. You could be right about the Fox News demographic. I still think it’s a bad rap on seniors. There have to be plenty more like us!

      • RalphB says:

        I think there are because I don’t really know anyone who isn’t more like us. That’s saying a lot in my red state and it may be because I live in a little blue spot.

    • NW Luna says:

      I suspect they had to search for pro-Romney seniors.

      I’m really surprised at the retired nurse. Anyone in healthcare these days has seen atrocious changes with so many of our patients not having insurance, not having enough insurance, benefits being cut, jobs lost, and the insurance companies deciding what’s paid for or not.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Luna, if they don’t work in a small office or in the billing department, would they even know?

      • NW Luna says:

        Oh yes, I practice at a big medical center. We see Medicare & Medicaid patients, which some other places don’t, and the organization provides some “charity” care (which any organization which accepts Medicare has to). I practice in an outpatient clinic. Lots of people with less or no coverage. Forgoing needed meds because of the expense, etc. And the paperwork from insurance co’s is insane. They are making almost routine denials for services they didn’t use to.

  4. RalphB says:

    Taking the lying up to eleven: Mitt Romney: ‘I’ll Take A Lot Of Credit’ For Auto Industry Recovery Are people dumb enough to buy this crap?

    During an interview with WEWS-TV in Cleveland following a campaign stop, Romney said his views helped save the [auto] industry.

    “I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy,” Romney said. “And finally, when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back.”

    He pushed the idea that the government should not give any money to the auto industry, which would have led to their liquidation. Instead, General Motors now stands at 5th and Ford 9th on the Forbes Top 100 corporations.

  5. RalphB says:

    I love Charles Pierce’s take on the new underwear bomb plot and FBI sting ops. Fit’s with mine so well.

    Exploding Underpants Do Not Need a Victory Lap

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s really getting old.

    • northwestrain says:

      This story is old and rather impossible to believe. It sounds like the old — find a gullible kid and “help” him find an outlet for his rage (which the super secret informant probably encouraged).

      The timing of this faux heroics of the FBI/CIA story is suspect. I’m looking forward to Emptywheel and others who will do the detective work behind this story.

      During the Vietnam war the war protesters soon learned that the idiots trying to turn peaceful demonstrations violent were ALWAYS the cops or spooks.

      What we do know is that the x-ray porno machines used by the TSA have been proven by the German police to be a vast waste of money and time.

      Security Theater — more of the same — second verse — more of the same.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    An Open Letter to Mitt Romney regarding Indiana tea party candidate Richard Mourdock turning “statesman” into a dirty word in his campaign against Richard Lugar.

    He mocks Lugar for his work to build a bipartisan coalition to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, stating flatly that “The time for being collegial is past — it’s time for confrontation.” Never mind that Lugar’s “collegiality” is what helped protect Americans from weapons of mass destruction for 36 years, or that Lugar actually served in the U.S. military while Mourdock avoided service and now believes that “some branches of the U.S. military might not be necessary in the 21st Century.” In the new Republican party, America’s real enemy isn’t Tehran or Beijing — it’s the Democratic National Committee. We’ve finally reached a point where the Tea Party believes its own bumper stickers….

    Governor, now that you are the presumptive Republican nominee, you face a choice. You can either give in to the ignorance and intolerance of tea party purists like Richard Mourdock, who threaten to make the Know-Nothings of the 1840s look like MENSA members by comparison. Or you can engage in a wider, more intelligent discussion of the U.S. role in the world at this crucial moment in history, the way Republican statesmen have in the past. There is no in-between.

    Mitt Romney is one of the know nothings. Still an interesting read about Lugar.

    • RalphB says:

      Good open letter. Nominating Mourdock probably makes it easier for the Democrat to win that seat though.

  7. RalphB says:

    This is interesting and could help 200K homeowners per the story. Now let’s see how it actually works out.

    Bank of America Starts Mortgage Reduction Effort

    Bank of America has started sending letters to thousands of homeowners in the United States, offering to forgive a portion of the principal balance on their mortgages by an average of $150,000 each.

    The reduction for qualifying homeowners could amount to monthly savings of up to 35 percent on mortgage payments, Bank of America said in a news release on Monday evening.

    The principal reduction offers from Bank of America Home Loans are the result of a $25 billion settlement agreement earlier this year with 49 state attorneys general as well as federal authorities who had been investigating allegations of abuses over the handling of foreclosures.

    • Nothing BOA does will help any of its customers.

    • Check this out: Outcasts of the American dream | World news | Guardian Weekly

      With Bank of America set to auction their dream home for 40% of its purchase price, they are “devastated” at not being able to afford birthday gifts for their two boys and wonder who will ever rent them property.

      • northwestrain says:

        If they are lucky they own a RV — and that’s how thousands are surviving. Some of the foreclosed homeowners are out in the desert of Arizona where they can legally camp on open land. The BLM explains the Arizona law on website about BLM property like Quartzite Arizona.

        We saw hundreds of RVs scattered over the Arizona desert — and those were the ones we could see.

        The the folks who’ve lost their homes but have ties to the community — there are RV parks near and in cities and towns. RV camp owners confirmed my observations.

        It is amazing just how many homes (middle class housing developments) also have an RV sitting next to the home. I’m thinking that the RVs are there because a whole lot of people know that they are a paycheck away from losing that big home.

  8. Just saw this on The Hill: Senate GOP Blocks Student Loan Bill : Roll Call News

    “Today’s vote on student loan rates is a perfect example of this cynical election-year strategy in action,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the vote. “Rather than working with Republicans to help young people in this country weather the effects of the Obama economy, Democrats have sought to distract them from it.”

    Republicans believe that while the bill is intended to help students it would actually make their job prospects even bleaker.

    The Democratic student loan bill would cover the $6 billion cost of preventing the rise in interest rates by eliminating a corporate tax loophole that allows wealthy individuals to pay less in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

    Republicans and business groups oppose the offset, which they believe would make businesses less likely to hire by increasing their tax burden. Senate Republicans prefer the offset used in a House-passed bill, which would eliminate a fund in the 2010 health care overhaul — a law Republicans are eager to repeal — that covers prevention and public health.

    I feel nauseous…news like this is making me sick.

  9. Just OT, but the cost of public transport in the DC area is outrageous. How can the folks on minimum wage do it?

  10. NW Luna says:

    “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have
    disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign’s all about.”

    Agree with MM; thx to BB for putting that quote in. I protest-voted for McCain in 2008. No way will I vote for Romney in 2012.