Ann Romney’s “Revealing” Interview With Good Housekeeping Magazine

Good Housekeeping has published interviews with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. The editors call the interview with Romney “revealing,” and I’d have to agree–though probably for different reasons than theirs.

The headline revelation has to be that Ann Romney wants to “throw out the” education “system.”

GH: Can you tell me, what campaign issue is closest to your heart?

AR: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.

Romney doesn’t elaborate on what “answers” the charter schools have provided or which improvements teachers unions are preventing. But a number of studies have found problems with charter schools, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that students’ test scores are better overall in charter schools than public schools.

As for the teachers unions, I realize that Ann’s husband would like to eliminate all unions and reduce workers’ pay as much as possible. Certainly privatizing education through charter schools would be a good way to eliminate teachers unions.

Ann Romney was certainly a lot more explicit about the goal of ending public schools in this interview than her husband has been. Perhaps Mitt isn’t worried about the reactions of readers of Good Housekeeping. He probably thinks they’re just a bunch of silly airheads.

Ann gave several other answers that I found pretty stunning. In response to a question on why her husband should be president, Ann said:

I’d say because of his life experience, starting with the example [his father] George Romney set of being successful in his family and business and then serving in a political sphere. [He showed] what a difference being involved in politics makes. The formula from his perspective was, you never get involved in politics unless you’re financially secure and your children are raised. So when our children were older and Mitt had made a bit of money, there was his father’s example that you find ways to serve and give back.

So I guess anyone who isn’t a millionaire shouldn’t run for office? Or does “a bit of money” mean hundreds of millions to Ann? Clearly Obama shouldn’t have run with those two young daughters! Back to Ann’s pontificating:

That’s also what drew us to the Olympics. Mitt gave up everything, walked away from a very lucrative position [to lead the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics]. It was just a little square inch of light that you walk into saying, “I think this is the right thing to do.” You get that confidence from intuition and prayer…all of those things where no one’s going to give you a blueprint of how life is going to turn out.

“Mitt gave up everything?” WTF?! At this point it should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that Mitt Romney never really left Bain Capital. The Boston Globe reported in July that Romney didn’t resign from Bain in 1999 as he has claimed, but instead took a leave of absence and only negotiated his severance package in 2002 when he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts. The severance package kept him earning money from current Bain investments for ten more years. Romney was even listed as CEO of Bain on the Olympics website and during public appearances at the time. Even now Romney is still profiting from the company he founded.

Ann Romney is every bit as full of shit as her husband is. She says that Mitt would help the economy by “getting rid of regulation,” and “using our natural resources,” (meaning open up national parks to oil drilling) but she acknowledges that in places like China where there is no environmental regulation,

the pollution and the air quality is just abysmal, and people are having to live in that. You understand how important it is, but you also have to recognize that we have to balance those things.

Right. We “have to balance” the rights of the rich to feed their endless greed with the rights of the 99.9% of Americans to clean air and water.

Ann says that as First Lady she would continue to work with at-risk young people. I didn’t realize she had done that, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia,

Ann Romney has been involved in a number of children’s charities, including having been a director of the inner city-oriented Best Friends, which seeks to assist inner-city adolescent girls. She advocated a celibacy-based approach to the prevention of teen pregnancy. She worked extensively with the Ten Point Coalition in Boston and with other groups that promoted better safety and opportunities for urban youths. She was an honorary board member of Families First, a parent education program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.

She has said her interest in helping underprivileged children dates back to when she and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. She began volunteering for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay soon after that, and by 2002 was serving as one of that organization’s board members. She was on the Faith in Action Committee for the United Way, working with local religious establishments to assist at-risk children and helping to found United Way Faith and Action. Earlier, by 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.

Please note that Stand for Children is an organization that has worked to reduce protections for teachers and undermine the power of teachers unions.

A couple more of Ann’s answers really bugged me. There was the one in which she praises Mitt for saying it was OK if Ann couldn’t cook all his meals for him when she was suffering from MS:

You have to find something that’ll pull you away from those scary places. And it was my husband telling me, “I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. I don’t care whether you make dinner; I can eat cold cereal and toast. As long as we’re together, as long as you’re here, we’re going to be OK.”

Why couldn’t Mitt cook his own damn meals? How hard is it to open a cookbook and learn the basics? If he just couldn’t bring himself to do that, he could hire a cook–and other servants as well–to help his sick wife. They were hardly struggling to make ends meet!

But here’s the most annoying statement Ann made in the interview:

GH: Who are your heroes? Your role models? Don’t say your husband, even if it’s true. (Laughing)

AR: I would say Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa…and Hillary Clinton. She has been through so much; she just kept going. Now she’s doing a great job as Secretary of State.

Mother Theresa was a hypocrite just like Ann, I buy that one. But I don’t believe for one minute that she agrees with Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton on anything.


Monday Afternoon Coffee Break

Afternoon Coffee Break, by Merle Keller

I’m having trouble focusing enough to write a real post, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been reading this afternoon. I’ll begin with some very good news from Reuters: Shot Pakistani girl can recover, UK doctors say

A Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban has every chance of making a “good recovery”, British doctors said on Monday as 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai arrived at a hospital in central England for treatment of her severe wounds.

Yousufzai, who was shot for advocating education for girls, was flown from Pakistan to receive specialist treatment at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital at a unit expert in dealing with complex trauma cases that has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

“Doctors…believe she has a chance of making a good recovery on every level,” said Dr Dave Rosser, the hospital’s medical director, adding that her treatment and rehabilitation could take months.

The article says the doctors haven’t actually evaluated Malala yet; but they are nevertheless confidence she can recover because she has made it through “the removal of the bullet and the very critical 48-hour window after surgery.”

Treatment for the schoolgirl is likely to include repairing damaged bones in her skull and complex follow-up neurological treatment.

“Injuries to bones in the skull can be treated very successfully by the neurosurgeons and the plastic surgeons, but it is the damage to the blood supply to the brain that will determine long-term disability,” said Duncan Bew, consultant trauma surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust in London.

Malala’s youth increases her chances for full recovery, because young brains are more plastic than older ones.

Mitt Romney has chickened out on his scheduled appearance with the “sharp-tongued women” of The View

One of the nuggets overshadowed by the 47 percent dis in the secret Mitt Romney fund-raiser video had the candidate telling his wealthy donors how he picked his television appearances, and why he shunned the likes of SNL and Letterman. The View was “high risk,” he said, because “of the five women on it, only one is conservative, and four are sharp-tongued and not conservative. Whoopi Goldberg in particular.” To make amends, the Romney campaign said both Mitt and Ann would come on the show in October, and a summit was planned for this Thursday. But as Barbara Walters announced on today’s program, the appearance has been canceled, and Ann will have to do.

“We were looking forward to it,” explained Walters. “Over the weekend, his people said that he had scheduling problems and would not be coming on with us. Nor at this point did he feel that he could reschedule.” She added, “He can change his mind and we hope he does. It would be our pleasure to have him on the program.” (“It was no longer going to work in the campaign schedule but Mrs. Romney is very excited to join the ladies of The View,” a Romney spokesperson confirmed.)

What a wimp!

There’s a lengthy article at by John Boher at BuzzFeed that explodes a number of myths about George Romney’s political career, and it is well worth the read.

Everyone agrees: Mitt Romney is not like his father.

The late Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate George Romney is remembered as a principled man of spontaneity and candor. His example is regularly invoked by both admirers of his son’s disciplined campaign style and critics of Mitt’s back-and-forth pandering. George, it is said, told the truth about the Vietnam War before it was popular to do so, with an unfortunately worded comment about “brainwashing” by U.S. government officials that cost him the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. “Mitt learned at an impressionable age that in politics, authenticity kills,” historian Rick Perlstein wrote in Rolling Stone earlier this year. “Heeding the lesson of his father’s fall, he became a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician.”

This rejection of his father’s example, the thinking goes, is what has made Mitt a more successful presidential candidate — self-controlled but hard to pin down, flipping from moderate to conservative to moderate once again. It is observed that Mitt would never draw a line in the sand like his father did in 1964, when George dramatically “charged out of the 1964 Republican National Convention over the party’s foot-dragging on civil rights,” as the Boston Globe’s authoritative biography, “The Real Romney,” put it earlier this year. Outlets from the New York Times to the New Republic have recalled this story of the elder Romney’s stand against Goldwater’s hard-line conservatives. Frontline’s documentary “The Choice 2012” reported it as a formative event: “when Goldwater received the nomination, Mitt saw his father angrily storm out.” A Google search for the incident produces hundreds of pages of results. In August, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne cited the episode to write that Mitt “has seemed more a politician who would do whatever it took to close a deal than a leader driven by conviction and commitment. This is a problem George Romney never had.”

Except that none of it is true. George Romney was known by his political peers and by journalists as a flip-flopper with no real ideological core. He never stormed out of the 1964 Convention.

He stayed until the very end, formally seconding Goldwater’s eventual nomination and later standing by while an actual walkout took place. He left the convention holding open the possibility of endorsing Goldwater and then, after a unity summit in Hershey, Pennsylvania, momentarily endorsed the Arizona senator. Then he changed his mind while his top aides polled “all-white and race-conscious” Michigan communities for a “secret” white backlash vote against LBJ’s civil rights advances — a backlash that might have made a Goldwater endorsement palatable at home. Finding the Republican label even more unpopular than civil rights in Michigan, Romney ultimately distanced himself from the entire party, including his own moderate Republican allies

No one knows how that story got started, but it was Mitt who repeatedly spread it around once he began running for office. George Romney never marched with Martin Luther King either. There’s much much more, and it’s really interesting. Mitt may just be a chip off the old block after all.

There a little bit of good news for Obama in today’s polls. Reuters/Ipsos shows Obama leading by two points

President Barack Obama retained a slim lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll on Monday, as he appeared to have stemmed the bleeding from his poor first debate.

Three weeks before the November 6 U.S. election, Obama leads Romney by 2 percentage points, with 47 percent support from likely voters in the national online poll, to 45 percent support for Romney.

The margin was small enough to be a virtual tie, but Obama’s slight edge broadened from Sunday, when he went ahead of Romney by 1 point after falling behind in the wake of Romney’s decisive victory in their first presidential debate on October 3.

“Romney received a bump from that first debate, but the very nature of a bump is it recedes again,” Ipsos vice president Julia Clark said. “We’re now seeing Obama regaining a little bit of a foothold as we go into the second debate. They go into the debate on equal footing.”

The Washington Post-ABC poll released overnight had Obama with a 3 point lead, 49-46 percent. Chris Cillizza has some “deep(ish) thoughts” about the results. For some crazy reason, more people still think Mitt Romney would handle the economy better than Obama, but not by much, and everyone is anxious about the future no matter which candidate gets elected. Obama is still seen as far more likable than Romney, 60-30 among registered voters and 58-32 among likely voters.

The bad news for Obama, if the USA Today/Gallup poll of the swing states can be trusted, is that Romney has made huge gains with women voters.

Mitt Romney leads President Obama by five percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank.

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men.

Why those issues would favor Romney is a mystery, since all the experts say his tax cuts would explode the deficit.

The battle for women, which was apparent in the speakers spotlighted at both political conventions this summer, is likely to help define messages the candidates deliver at the presidential debate Tuesday night and in the TV ads they air during the final 21 days of the campaign. As a group, women tend to start paying attention to election contests later and remain more open to persuasion by the candidates and their ads.

That makes women, especially blue-collar “waitress moms” whose families have been hard-hit by the nation’s economic woes, the quintessential swing voters in 2012’s close race.

Ugh.

Ralph posted a couple of very interesting poll-related links in the previous thread:

Sam Wang: The Passing Storm

In national polls, the race has swung back three points since the Presidential debate to a narrow Obama lead. This return has been steady over time, and so the role of the VP debate is unclear. Combined with state polls, the data suggest that the effect of Mitt Romney’s performance was an instantaneous jump of 5.5 points, which has now subsided back to where polls were in August. The decline in the state poll meta-analysis has been blocked by Ohio. Today, President Obama’s November re-elect probability is 84% – still a Russian-roulette situation for the Democrats.

And and “exclusive” at Democratic Underground: Gravis Marketing exposed as a fraud Part I. Very interesting and creepy too.

Everyone has advice for President Obama for tomorrow night’s debate. Lanny Davis offers some ridiculous suggestions at The Hill

1) Be respectful and gracious to Romney — look at him while he is talking and listen to what he is saying — not because it is better than the appearance of disrespect you conveyed in the first debate by looking down and taking notes, but because he is a good man, a good dad, a good husband and a successful businessman and politician who is deserving of respect.

2) Be firm and strong when you challenge him on his policy positions — but don’t interrupt or raise your voice, and concede him the merits once in a while (since it is neither true nor politically effective to declare that he is 100 percent wrong and you are 100 percent right).

3) Most heretical of all — concede a little when you can when the truth requires that you made some mistakes in your first term — and aver that will make you a better president in the second term.

For example, you could say you regret not making a greater effort to break the logjam of the supercommittee on dealing with the then $15 trillion debt. You could say you wished you had done more to reach out to the Senate and House Republicans on the committee and intend to do so in your next term — and to do a better job seeking the counsel of senior Republicans who are, in fact, interested in achieving solutions and bipartisan consensus, particularly on making real progress on reducing the nation’s unsustainable national debt, such as Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).

I think he’s actually serious too!!

Greg Sargent wants to make sure President Obama reads David Stockman’s smackdown of Romney’s economic policies so he can “unmask” Romney “as an economic sham.”

Howard Fineman has a column on the many “fans” who are now second-guessing the Obama campaign strategies.

What are you hearing? This is an open thread, of course.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Is it over for Mitt Romney? I suppose something could still happen to turn things around for his campaign, but it would have to be something really really big. There are so many bizarre stories out there about the Romney implosion that I barely know where to begin. I’ll just select a few examples.

Republican candidates are already distancing themselves from the top of the ticket.

Usually, congressional candidates stick with their party’s presidential nominee until the last possible minute, when it appears their political fortunes are threatened. But not so with continuing fallout from Mitt Romney’s degrading comments that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes and are overly dependant on federal subsidies.

New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez told reporters that New Mexico has a lot of people living at the poverty level. “They count just as much as anybody else,” she said, adding her state’s anti-poverty programs provide a “safety net [that] is a good thing.”

Then Connecticut’s GOP Senate candidate Linda McMahon said, “I disagree with Governor Romney’s insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care. I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be.”

And then came North Carolina Republicam House candidate Mark Meadows, who told the press, “Mitt Romney didn’t call me before he made those comments.”

But by late afternoon the Romney retreat was still growing. In Nevada’s Senate race, Republican incumbert Sen. Dean Heller told reporters in Washington, “Keep in mind, I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic. My mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world. And as United States senator, I think I represent everyone, and every vote’s important… I don’t write off anybody.”

Even Mich McConnell, one of the most disagreeable, repulsive Republicans ever, doesn’t want to touch Romney with a ten foot pole.

The Senate’s GOP leaders refused to answer any questions at their weekly press conference. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell left in the middle of the event. Majority Whip John Kyl dodged a reporter’s question afterwards and downplayed grousing that reportedly occurred in the Senate lunchroom earlier in the day.

Other Republican office holders are giving Romney unsolicited advice. For example,

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said the nominee should be spending more time campaigning in critical states and leave more of the fundraising to others.

“I think what Romney needs to do is get into Virginia and run for sheriff. This is not rocket science,” Mr. Graham said. “Being in Utah to raise money is necessary, but he doesn’t have to be there, in my view…If I were Mitt Romney, no person in Virginia could go very long without meeting me.”

Several Republicans, including Mr. Graham and Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), said Mr. Romney needs to clearly articulate why the economy is struggling and how he would fix it.

“To me, he needs to outline a clearer vision of where he wants to take America and have a very detailed economic plan that will contrast sharply with the dismal economic record of this president,” Ms. Collins said.

Good luck with that.

So why is Romney spending so much time fund-raising? On Tuesday there was a report that his campaign is in debt.

For the first time in this campaign, Mitt Romney’s campaign is $11 million in debt after borrowing $20 million in August.

The debt and borrowing sums were first reported by the National Review Online and confirmed by ABC News.
The campaign borrowed the money from the Bank of Georgetown, according to the report.

The move came just before the Republican National Convention when aides had complained they had been running out of primary campaign dollars to compete with President Obama’s campaign. At the conclusion of the Republican convention, when Romney officially became the party’s nominee, Romney had access to general election funds it had raised.

While Romney campaign has debt, it also reports having $168.5 million on hand after August.

The New York Times has a piece about Romney’s sparse campaign appearances and limited TV advertising lately.

Despite what appears to be a plump bank account and an in-house production studio that cranks out multiple commercials a day, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been tightfisted with its advertising budget, leaving him at a disadvantage in several crucial states as President Obama blankets them with ads.

One major reason appears to be that Mr. Romney’s campaign finances have been significantly less robust than recent headlines would suggest. Much of the more than $300 million the campaign reported raising this summer is earmarked for the Republican National Committee, state Republican organizations and Congressional races, limiting the money Mr. Romney’s own campaign has to spend.

With polls showing President Obama widening his lead in some of these states and the race a dead heat in others, Mr. Romney’s lack of a full-throttle media campaign is risky, especially as he struggles to get his message out over the din of news about his campaign’s recent setbacks.

In some states the disparity is striking. Mr. Obama and his allies are handily outspending Mr. Romney and the conservative “super PACs” working on his behalf in Colorado, Ohio and New Hampshire.

And in states like Florida, Iowa, Nevada and Virginia, where the Romney and Obama forces are roughly matching their spending dollar for dollar, the super PACs are responsible for nearly half the advertising that is benefiting the Republican nominee.

Interesting, huh? No wonder Romney was in Utah raising money yesterday. He’s desperate–and the big money donors may not stick with him much longer. The Romney campaign did release a couple of ads yesterday though. The ads highlight Romney’s supposed support in the coal industry. Here’s one of them:

Do those coal miners look familiar? I wrote about them awhile back. Those miners were docked a day’s pay because the mine shut down for Romney’s rally–and then the boss made them show up for it instead of having the day off. From the LA Times:

On Wednesday, the Mitt Romney campaign released an ad spotlighting President Obama’s putative “War On Coal,” despite a controversy in Ohio about the coal miners’ rally featured in the spot. In the ad, Romney appears on a stage before rows of hard-hatted miners, their faces smudged with coal dust, as he says, “We have 250 years of coal. Why wouldn’t we use it?”

The rally was held last month in Beallsville, Ohio, thick with miners from the Century coal mine, owned by Murray Energy, a major donor to Republican causes. Within days of the rally, Murray employees contacted a nearby morning talk radio host, David Blomquist, to say they were forced to attend the Aug. 14 event at the mine.

Can you believe it? Romney and his gang can’t do anything right. Arianna Huffington thinks the problem maybe sleep deprivation. Maybe. I think it might be just plain stupidity.

Here in Massachusetts, the right wing Boston Herald reports that

Massachusetts voters have turned against Mitt Romney with a vengeance, leaving the former governor as a political pariah in his own home state, according to a new UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll.

Sixty percent of Bay State voters now have an unfavorable view of Romney, and the GOP nominee is headed for a Bay State drubbing in the November election, the poll of 524 registered voters shows.

Just 35 percent of voters say they plan to vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket, while 60 percent say they are backing President Obama. That margin is roughly the same as the 2008 election, when Obama trounced Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Bwaaaahahahahahahaha!!

I loved this story. Romney was down in Miami at a Univision forum, trying to scrape together a few Latino voters, and Move on.org hired a plane to fly overhead with a banner reading “HEY MITT: WE’RE VOTERS, NOT VICTIMS.”

I do have some non-Romney news for you.

From The Nation: PA Supreme Court Doubts the State Can Comply With Its Own Voter ID Law

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to vacate a lower state court’s ruling that allowed Act 18, the photo voter ID law, to commence as planned. Problem being: the law as planned appears so burdensome that—putting voters aside for a moment—the state itself can’t comply with its own law. As stated in the Court’s order, “the Commonwealth parties have candidly conceded, that the Law is not being implemented according to its terms.”

The Supreme Court ordered per curiam—meaning unsigned by the six justices—that the Commonwealth Court must re-examine the implementation of certain provisions of the law. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who ruled in August in favor of the law, must decide if the way the state presently administers free photo voter ID cards to those who can’t get regular state-issued id cards is in compliance with the law—something the state already conceded in court that it doesn’t, and can’t for good reasons.

Another PA story from The Nation is truly shocking and heartbreaking: Will Pennsylvania Execute a Man Who Killed His Abusers? It’s the story of Terrance Williams, who was horrifically abused in his home from at least age 6 and later by men who were supposed to be helping him. He is now scheduled for execution. I’m not going to post an excerpt. It’s important to read the whole thing.

This is a fun one: The New Republic has a post on The Top Three Heresies in the Gnostic Gospels

Yesterday the world learned of a newly-discovered early Christian text that depicts Jesus as a married man. Jesus’ wife may be big news today, but striking and unusual variations on Christian faith have been around for a very long time. Whether you call them the gnostic gospels, the heretic gospels, the apocrypha, or Dan Brown’s raw material, early Christian texts can make for pretty interesting reading. Here are three particularly surprising heresies from outside the canon.

Check it out!

OK, I can’t resist–one more Romney item. Have you heard the one about Romney’s dad being on the government dole?

George Romney’s family fled from Mexico in 1912 to escape a revolution there, and benefited from a $100,000 fund established by Congress to help refugees who had lost their homes and most of their belongings.

That fund may have been what Lenore Romney, George Romney’s wife and Mitt Romney’s mother, was referring to in a video that was posted online earlier this month but has received renewed attention in the wake of Mitt Romney’s comments.

“[George Romney] was on welfare relief for the first years of his life. But this great country gave him opportunities,” Lenore Romney said in the video, which apparently dates back to George Romney’s 1962 run for governor of Michigan.

What would Lenore Romney think of her son now?

What are you reading and blogging about today?  I look forward to clicking on your links!


Will Mitt Romney Go Down in History as a Joke?

It’s beginning to look that way. Mitt’s dad, George Romney, was ridiculed because of an offhand remark he made about being “brainwashed” by the military on a trip he took to Vietnam. By the time he ran for President in 1968, George had decided the Vietnam war was a mistake. He explained his change on mind on the war by explaining that in hindsight he realized he had fallen for propaganda.

Ironically, George Romney’s change of heart apparently was an honorable one: he had changed his mind and wasn’t afraid to admit that he had made a mistake previously. As we’ve heard endlessly over the past couple of weeks, George Romney also released 12 years of his tax returns, because he believed it was only fair to let the American people see what he had earned and what he had paid in taxes over an extended period of time. But George Romney is mostly remembered for the “brainwashing” comment and the ridicule surrounding it.

Now George’s son Mitt Romney is following his father’s footsteps in running for President. Mitt Romney, too, has become known for changing his mind–not just one issue, but on practically every issue. And after a bruising couple of weeks of damaging articles about his career at Bain Capital, he is facing more and more questions from the Obama campaign and from the media about his personal finances and why he will not release his tax returns. Even Republicans like Bill Kristol, George Will, and Matthew Dowd have called for Mitt to get it over with and release more years of returns.

People are beginning to speculate about why Mitt is being so stubborn about refusing to release any of his tax returns before 2010. George Will suggested on ABC’s This Week that that Romney is fearful that whatever is in his returns will make him look worse than he does in insisting on keeping them secret.

“The cost of not releasing the returns are [sic] clear,” Will said. “Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”

Also on This Week, Matthew Dowd was, if anything, harder on Romney than George Will was.

Political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said “there’s obviously something there” in Romney’s tax returns that he doesn’t want to release publicly, adding that Romney’s refusal to produce his prior returns was a sign of “arrogance.”

“There’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, ‘Have at it,’” Dowd said. “So there’s obviously something there that compromises what he said in the past about something.”

“Many of these politicians think, ‘I can do this. I can get away with this. I don’t need to do this, because I’m going to say something and I don’t have to do this,’” Dowd added. “If he had 20 years of ‘great, clean, everything’s fine,’ it’d all be out there, but it’s arrogance.”

Now it’s the beginning of a new week, and Mitt Romney is still stubbornly refusing to expose his tax records to examination by the press and the public. This is killing his candidacy, and yet he won’t give in. What is he hiding?

At the New Yorker, John Cassidy offers four possible reasons:

1. Romney’s income before 2010 was “extremely high.”
2. “More offshore accounts” beyond the ones we already know about.
3. “Politically explosive investments”
4. “A very, very low tax rate.”

(You can read the details of Cassidy’s speculation at the link.)

Could it be any of those reasons? We already know Romney is very wealthy, and we know about a lot of his offshore accounts. We already know that Bain invested in Stericycle, a company that disposes of aborted fetuses. Might Romney have more embarrassing personal investments? I suppose it’s possible that Romney could have paid no taxes for several years, and that is what he’s hiding. But I think it has to be something more. Why else would Romney and his staff allow him to sustain so much damage his campaign–especially because the questions won’t end until he release the returns. What is it that he doesn’t want us to find out?

Even The New York Times editorial chastised Romney today.

After three days of Mitt Romney complaining about attacks on his record at Bain Capital, it’s clear that President Obama has nothing to apologize for. If Mr. Romney doesn’t want to provide real answers to the questions about his career, he had better develop a thicker skin.

Mr. Romney’s descriptions of when he left Bain have been erratic and self-serving. In 2002, when he needed to show he was still a Massachusetts resident, he denied he had quit in 1999, saying he had taken a leave of absence to run the Olympics committee. A series of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Committee show that Bain certainly didn’t describe him as absent after 1999.

There’s only one way to deal with this.

The right way to respond to Mr. Obama is to release his tax returns from that period, or open up Bain documents. But Mr. Romney told CNN he would not release more than the one year’s return he has already released and the one for 2011 when it is finished. “That’s all that’s necessary for people to understand something about my finances,” he said. It’s not even close.

I think it’s likely that Romney has longed to run for President in order to achieve the goal his father failed to reach. I’m sure that Mitt wanted to avoid the kind of ridicule his father suffered for an offhand comment. But let’s face it. Mitt’s situation is much more embarrassing than what happened to his father. Mitt looks incredibly weak at this point. He’s starting to become a joke. The Obama campaign has successfully painted him as an out-of-touch rich guy, a tax evader who may have committed perjury in SEC filings. As John Marshall wrote on Friday, in a post titled “Weak, weak, weak,”

There’s a meta-politics Obama is playing by slashing at Romney with suggestions he might be a felon. He’s wounding Romney, who is clearly rattled and angry about the charges, but just as clearly can’t defend himself or strike back. As I’ve noted many times, a thick layer of presidential politics (in a way that’s distinct from US politics at really every other level) resides at the brainstem level of cogitation — with gambits to assert power and demonstrate dominance. Obama looked in control of this situation; Romney didn’t….

This is and will remain a low single digit race. But the President’s team is making Romney look shifty and silly and weak. (I half expect them to start goosing surrogates to call him Slick Willard.) And they’re well on their way to defining him in a way that will be difficult to undo.

Romney supporter David Frum responded to Marshall’s column at The Daily Beast:

Marshall’s column is titled “Weak, weak, weak,” and it puts its finger on a core weakness of Romney as a candidate. It’s not just his arguments that are weak. For the past year, we have watched him be pushed around by the radical GOP fringe. He’s been forced to abjure his most important achievement as governor, his healthcare plan. In December, he was compelled to sign onto the Ryan budget plan after months of squirming to avoid it. Last fall he released an elaborate economic plan. On the eve of the Michigan primary, he ripped it up and instead accepted a huge new tax cut – to a top rate of 28% – that has never been costed (and that he now tries to avoid mentioning whenever he can). Romney has acknowledged in interviews that he understands that big rapid cuts in government spending could push the US economy back into recession. Yet he campaigns anyway on the Tea Party’s false promise that it’s the deficit that causes the depression, rather than (as he well knows) the other way around.

Frum originally had high hopes for Romney as someone who could help reverse the descent of the Republican party into ultra-right wing craziness:

A big majority of this country is rightly frightened and appalled by what the congressional Republican party has become over the past four years: a radical cadre willing to push the nation over the cliff into utterly unnecessary national default in order to score a political point.

But Romney has simply capitulated on every issue. Weak.

Late last night, Josh Marshall wrote that Romney is in serious danger of simply turning into a joke.

The Obama campaign is hitting this so hard to take a series of associations and embed them so deeply into voters’ consciousness that they become inseparable from the mention of the phrase ‘Bain Capital’. Those are ‘joke’, ‘liar’, ‘felon’, ‘retroactively retired’, ‘SEC filings’, ‘Caymans’, ‘whiner’, ‘buck stops here’, ‘hiding something’.

You can spin these out forever. But beyond all the specific accusations, they’re painting a picture that makes Romney look ridiculous, like a joke. They’re making Romney look stupid and powerless on the front where he believes he’s one of the standouts of his generation. And that’s plain lethal for a presidential candidate.

Marshall says it they haven’t quite succeeded yet, but they’re getting there. I agree with him. Whatever is in those tax returns must be very bad. The only other alternative I can think of is that Mitt Romney is incredibly stupid and arrogant.

What do you think?


Thursday Reads: The Not-Quite-Humanness of Mitt Romney

Good Morning!!

I had never seen the diagram above before until last night when I was browsing through reactions to Mitt Romney’s latest insensitive remark, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” That’s when I found the above diagram at Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia:

Hypothesized emotional response of human subjects is plotted against anthropomorphism of a robot, following Mori’s statements. The uncanny valley is the region of negative emotional response towards robots that seem “almost human”. Movement amplifies the emotional response.

The idea is you can make an emotional connection to a robot; but a robot that is very close to looking and acting human, but not quite, will elicit disgust. This could explain the reactions of revulsion that many people have toward Mitt Romney. From Wikipedia:

If an entity looks sufficiently nonhuman, its human characteristics will be noticeable, generating empathy. However, if the entity looks almost human, it will elicit our model of a human other and its detailed normative expectations. The nonhuman characteristics will be noticeable, giving the human viewer a sense of strangeness. In other words, a robot stuck inside the uncanny valley is no longer being judged by the standards of a robot doing a passable job at pretending to be human, but is instead being judged by the standards of a human doing a terrible job at acting like a normal person.

Sullivan suggests that Romney is “probing zombie territory.” I found this a very helpful way to think about the way Romney presents himself in public. He is trying very hard to act like a regular human being and he almost succeeds, but not quite–sort of like the fake humans in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.


Mitt Romney is a pod person!

Another behavior I’ve noticed about Romney is his tendency to get almost manic and go way overboard–as he was doing down in Florida in his attack on Newt Gingrich and in his glee at winning the primary (only the second he has won). I mentioned to Dakinikat yesterday that I thought Romney could use some lithium carbonate to bring him back down to earth.

According to Sullivan, others are picking up on this tendency too. Sullivan links to a series of photos by Dan Amira at New York Magazine, with this introduction:

Mitt Romney came into the 2012 presidential race with a reputation as a stiff, humanoid robot. Consequently, he’s been making a concerted effort to seem more warm and friendly when interacting with voters on the campaign trail. But there’s a happy middle ground between “robotic” and “maniac on ecstasy” — a middle ground that seems to elude Romney on a regular basis.

Here’s one of the photos.

I really need to read Andrew Sullivan more often. He writes:

I was chatting with a Mormon friend the other day and asking him what Mormons make of Mitt on this uncanny valley question. The phrase he came up with is “the Mormon mask.” It’s the kind of public presentation that a Mormon with real church authority deploys when dealing with less elevated believers, talking to them, and advising them. The cheery aw-shucks fake niceness in person is a function in part, some believe, of the role he has long played in the church: always a leader.

Because, make no mistake about this: Mitt Romney is a Mormon church leader. I mentioned before that I’ve been reading The Real Romney, by Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman. Here’s a 2008 quote from Mitt that introduces the chapter on the Romney family history:

I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.

Mitt Romney has served his church in official leadership roles since 1977, when he became a counselor (essentially second in command) to the president of the Boston “stake.” Romney was only about 30, much younger than most who ascend to this position. But Romney was seen as special. He later became a Bishop and then stake President. As such he was in charge of “about a dozen congregations with close to 4,000 members all together.”

Romney’s great great grandfather Miles A. Romney heard Joseph Smith speak in England, and soon after emigrated with his family to the U.S. to become one of the 12 original Smith apostles. Romney’s ancesters helped to build the earliest Mormon temples, and they unquestioningly followed orders from Smith, and later Brigham Young, to marry multiple wives and travel to far away places at the whims of these church leaders. Romney’s great grandfather, Miles P. Romney along with his three wives and twenty-one children, started a polygamous Mormon colony in Mexico. That is where Mitt’s dad George was born. George returned to the U.S. at age seven.

Yesterday I read quite a bit of an e-book by Michael D. Moody, who was a classmate of Mitt Romney’s at BYU. Moody’s ancestors were also among the earliest followers of Joseph Smith. Moody’s book is called Mitt, Set Our People Free! A 7th Generation Mormon’s Plea for Truth. It is written in the form of an open letter to Mitt from one who has “left the cult.” The “letter” was actually written in 2008, but Moody believes it is just as relevant today.

As undergraduates, Romney and Moody belonged to a BYU booster club, the Cougar Club (BYU didn’t permit Greek fraternities). The club raised large amounts of money for the church and the university. Moody writes that

…in 1970-71…the Cougar Club buzzed that you planned to run for President someday and it became a fait accompli by 2006. Early and aggressively, you began your long-planned push for the U.S. presidency. After making all the right business moves and a few snazzy dance steps to the political right, you were suddenly a top tier contender for the Republican nomination with significant insider support and a freshly reinvented persona.

Moody was surprised when he heard Romney repeatedly tell interviewers and supporters that he had never intended to run for office–it just happened somehow. In fact Moody can’t understand a lot of the things Romney says that he (Moody) knows to be lies.

Moody had been somewhat rebellious during his early years at BYU and ended up getting suspended and then drafted and sent to Vietnam. It was there the Moody began having contact with non-Mormons and began to learn the history of the religion that had been hidden from the faithful–like the fact that the Book of Mormon had obviously been written by Joseph Smith himself and that the book contained many sections that had been plagarized from the King James Bible.

Still, even when he came home from Vietnam, he returned to BYU, joined the Cougar Club, and gave the religion he had been born into another chance. After he graduated, Moody went into politics specifically to support Romney’s push for the presidency and to be prepared to be one of Romney’s cabinet members when the time came. He writes:

I did my duty to the Mormon Gods and ran for Governor to expand our Kingdom and help you lead the world into the Millenium. Actually…by then I had begun my long journey out of the cult.

Moody is no longer a Mormon, but he says that Mitt Romney is still a true believer. One of the beliefs that many Mormons hold is the “White Horse Prophecy.” Moody writes:

Like previous generations, we were reared to believe the U.S. Constitution needed saving, and the LDS Church would do it. We knew our reward, because of primordial valience, was a chance to play major roles in the ensuing end day events. Jesus and “God the Father” had told the prophets, and our patriarchs had told us personally. We were a special generation.

That the U.S. Constitution is in [immanent] danger and will “hand by a thread as fine as silk fiber” in the latter days before the LDS Church rides to its rescue….The Church priesthood holders (men like Romney and Moody) will sweep in like knights to save the Constitution then set it aside to reestablish the theocratic Kingdom created by Joseph Smith and nearly perfected by Brigham Young. The stated plan is to pave the way for the political Kingdom of God and Joseph Smith’s version Millenial Kingdom on Earth.

A few days ago, Salon published an article by Sally Denton, another former Mormon and author of books on Mormon history, on Mitt Romney and the White Horse Prophecy.

When Mitt Romney received his patriarchal blessing as a Michigan teenager, he was told that the Lord expected great things from him. All young Mormon men — the “worthy males” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is officially known — receive such a blessing as they embark on their requisite journeys as religious missionaries. But at 19 years of age, the youngest son of the most prominent Mormon in American politics — a seventh-generation direct descendant of one of the faith’s founding 12 apostles—Mitt Romney had been singled out as a destined leader.

From the time of his birth — March 13, 1947 — through adolescence and into manhood, the meshing of religion and politics was paramount in Mitt Romney’s life.

In the early 1960s Romney’s father George confided his political ambitions in his youngest son, then a teenager. Mitt actively participated in his father’s campaign for governor of Michigan, and during George’s three terms as governor Mitt was often in his father’s office, privy to major decisions. He attended the Republican convention with his father in 1964, and was kept abreast of his father’s failed campaign for President in 1968 (Mitt was a missionary in France).

Denton writes that [although the official church denies it] the White Horse Prophecy is “ingrained in Mormon culture and passed down through generations by church leaders…” She writes:

In this scenario, Romney’s candidacy is part of the eternal plan and the candidate himself is fulfilling the destiny begun in what the church calls the “pre-existence.”

Several prominent Mormons, including conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck [read more here], have alluded to this apocalyptic prophecy. The controversial myth is not an official church doctrine, but it has also arisen in the national dialogue with the presidential candidacies of Mormons George Romney, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and now Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney himself has dismissed this notion.

“I don’t think the White Horse Prophecy is fair to bring up at all,” Mitt Romney told the Salt Lake Tribune when he was asked about it during his 2008 presidential bid. “It’s been rejected by every church leader that has talked about it. It has nothing to do with anything.”

Maybe not, but I still want to know more about Romney’s religion. What I’ve learned already is pretty strange–that God was once a man living on another planet, that “priests” like Mitt Romney will be masters of their own planets after death and that they will be able to take as many wives as they wish in the afterlife. That Mormon women can’t get into heaven unless they are married and and their husbands help them through. That women must stay married to the same man even after death and must be prepared to make way for his multiple wives and their children in the afterlife. And BTW, did you know that Romney’s family baptized Mitt’s confirmed atheist father-in-law as a Mormon a year after he died? No wonder Romney doesn’t want to talk about his religion!

I suppose it isn’t any more wacky than a lot of the stuff in the Christian old testament, but the fact that all this nonsense was sold to people in the 19th and 20th centuries and is people like Glenn Beck are still buying it and converting in the 21st century is pretty hard for me to accept. I don’t think that’s bigotry–it’s self-preservation. We’ve already seen what can happen when fanatical fundamentalist Christians start getting control of political parties and throwing their weight around in government and the culture as a whole (Susan Kommen, anyone?).

In light of all this, I find this statement by Romney in the CNN Florida debate to be very troubling:

The conviction that the founders, when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, were writing a document that was not just temporary and not just for one small locale but really something which described the relationship between God and man — that’s something which I think a president would carry in his heart.

So when they said, for instance, that the creator had “endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I would seek to assure that those principles and values remain in America and that we help share them with other people in the world, not by conquering them, but by helping them through our trade, through our various forms of soft power, to help bring people the joy and — and — and opportunity that exists in this great land.

Am I crazy to be a little concerned about this guy? This post is getting very long, so I’ll end here. But I doubt if this will be the last time I bring up the Romney/religion issue. So far Romney has been allowed to skate on this. No one wants to ask him about it for fear of being labeled a bigot. I don’t care. I just want to keep another theocratic candidate from sneaking past our useless corporate media.

So… that’s it for me and my Romney obsession. What are you interested in today?


SDB Evening News Reads: SOTU or STFU? Preview of Change and Hope…

That sounds like some kind of Star Wars movie title…

Good Evening!

Tonight is the State of the Union, and I haven’t actually seen one since George W Bush back in 2002. I’ve read them after the fact, I just can’t sit through all the clapping and other showmanship tricks that make the evening much longer than it should be.

Tonight, I just have one hope…and it is a far-fetched one, it is that Obama gets mic checked just as he starts talking!

It would be magnificent.

It would be glorious.

It would be just what he deserves, a reminder of who he is giving that speech to, and what we need to hear. But it isn’t just words that need to be spoken, there has to be an action…blah, blah, blah…I know I am preaching to the choir. So, let’s get on with the nights evening news reads.

For a few preview articles on tonight’s SOTU speech:

State of the Union? More Like State of the Campaign – NYTimes.com

Republicans have good reason to believe that when President Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, his goals are more partisan than presidential.

Cough…cough…more partisan?

Mr. Obama has shifted into full-bore campaigning. He expects little from Congress this year beyond the extension of existing payroll tax cuts. His highest-profile initiatives are designed to enhance his re-election prospects.

Where Republicans stand on shakier ground is in their assessment of Mr. Obama’s ultimate destination. On the principal conflict between the two parties this past year — over paring long-term debt and deficits — the president can still stake a stronger claim to the political center than his Republican antagonists.

Polls show that Mr. Obama’s budget positions are closer to those of most voters than the Republican positions are. His ultimate goal, advisers say, remains a bipartisan deficit deal along the lines of the one he nearly negotiated with Speaker John A. Boehner.

The article continues with statements about Obama being in “full re-election mode.”  More of the usual discussion…please give it a look if you like.

Obama to focus on tax inequality in State of the Union | Reuters

President Barack Obama will frame an election-year State of the Union address on Tuesday in starkly populist terms by calling for tax reform to get rid of inequalities that allow the wealthy to pay a lower rate than middle-class Americans.

His message follows the release of tax records by Mitt Romney, a potential Republican rival and one of the wealthiest men to ever run for the White House. With income mostly from investments, Romney pays an effective tax rate that is much lower than the top tax rates on wages.

“Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same,” Obama said in advance excerpts for his 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT Wednesday) speech to Congress.

“It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

Taxes are the most important thing according to the article…

Taxes are the most divisive issue at the heart of this year’s election campaign. Obama, seeking a second term despite a slow economic recovery and a high jobless rate, hopes to tap into middle-class voters’ resentment against Wall Street while their families are hurting.

What? Have we just given up on getting people jobs?

That is exactly what it seems like.

The GOP’s unemployment trap – F**ked – Salon.com

Romney and Gingrich aren’t talking about unemployment for a reason: Because they don’t have any solutions

No kidding!

The unemployment rate is gradually trending down. That’s the good news. The bad news is that by any civilized standard, the current state of the labor market in the United States is an ongoing atrocity.

As of December 2011, there were 13.1 million unemployed workers in the United States, an increase of more than 5 million since the Great Recession officially began in December 2007. Even worse, 5.6 million of those workers (42.5 percent) fall under the category of “long-term unemployed” — they’ve been jobless for 27 weeks or more. Since the end of World War II, we’ve never seen anything close to such a disaster; the previous high, in the aftermath of the 1981 recession, was only 25 percent.

This link to Salon is a new series they have started on long-term unemployment…it is called F**ked: The United States of Unemployment. Check it out.

The real story of America’s unemployed – F**ked – Salon.com

yvonne_fitzner

In “F**ked: The United States of Unemployment” — a new Salon series that will chronicle this important yet largely untold story — Academy Award-nominated director Immy Humes traces the birth and evolution of the 99ers movement. Over the course of the series, Humes will explore her personal struggle with long-term unemployment, the struggles of her fellow 99ers, and confront the stigma of what it’s like to be jobless in America today.

Love that picture. Only I probably would have written it on the backs of my hands and have the picture taken with me giving the double “bird” salute.

Now a couple of links about the other side, Gingrich was being a spoiled baby today, complaining about the lack of applause at last nights debate.

Well…CNN is giving in to the asshole from Georgia. Gingrich wants to hear his debate fans roar | Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, coming off one of his most subdued debate performances of the campaign, signaled on Tuesday he may skip future debates unless his supporters are given full license to clap, cheer and roar.

Gingrich complained that NBC News moderator Brian Williams had told the crowd to be silent before Monday’s debate in Tampa in an effort to stifle free speech and prevent the audience from turning on the media.

Free speech my ass…

The next debate is scheduled for Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida, and host CNN said it would not instruct the crowd to be silent before the it begins.

“As we have done in the past, CNN will ask the audience to be respectful of the candidates,” the network said in a statement. “We have always said that if audience reaction such as shouting or booing interferes with the debate or with the candidates’ answers, we will ask the audience to refrain.”

However, as we all know: Gingrich: ‘Wrong’ for NBC to Prohibit Audience Clapping at Debate – By Katrina Trinko – The Corner – National Review Online

UPDATE: I called up the Commission on Presidential Debates, which handles the general election debates, and they confirmed that audience participation has not been allowed in the past in debates, and will not be allowed this cycle either. So, if Gingrich is the GOP nominee, he’ll have to face a silent audience during his debates with the President unless the rules are changed.

UPDATE II: Asked if the Gingrich campaign would ask the Commission to change the rule requiring the audience to be silent if Gingrich became the nominee, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond e-mails NRO, “Yes, we would.  If we have learned one thing it is [that] people, not the media-moderators, pick the winner.”

God, I hope the Commission doesn’t give in to him like CNN, and the other moderators did. Last nights subdued audience was nice to see. I have gotten so sick of the “Roman Gladiator Venue” like behavior that we have seen in all the other debates.

And one last link, this was sent to me by Boston Boomer, it seems a bit of a surprise. Mitt Romney’s Father Palled Around With Saul Alinsky

The radical pioneer Saul Alinsky, who helped invent the practice of bottom-up politics through “community organizing” in the middle of the 20th century, has become a key bogeyman for Republican in the Obama era. Obama worked for Alinsky acolytes early in his career, and even contributed to an anthology titled “After Alinsky.”

“Saul Alinsky radicalism is at the heart of Obama,” Gingrich told CNN Sunday.

But Obama isn’t the only candidate with one-degree-of-separation ties to Alinsky. In his biography of Romney’s father, Michigan Governor George Romney, T. George Harris wrote in his book “Romney’s Way” that the elder Romney and Alinsky met after the Detroit riots of 1967:

When slum organizer Saul Alinsky, with the West Side Organization’s militant Negroes and clerics, wanted to meet with the white Detroit rulers, Romney indirectly arranged the meeting, and attended. Democratic Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh avoided the rough company.

“I think you ought to listen to Alinsky,” Romney told his reluctant white friends. ‘It seems to me that we are always talking to the same people. Maybe the time has come to hear new voices.” Said an Episcopal bishop, ‘He made Alinsky sound like a Republican.

And that is what I’ve got for you tonight…see you later on, Dakinikat will be live blogging the State of the Union for us, which is scheduled to start at 9pm EST.