Saturday Reads: Petraeus and Broadwell, Romney’s “Concession,” and the Race-Based Campaign

Good Morning!!

I guess the biggest story of the day is the resignation of General David Petraeus as head of the CIA, although the aftermath of the election is still my main focus–yes, I’m still wallowing in it! Anyway, on Petraeus, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that:

CIA Director David H. Petraeus, the retired four-star general widely commended for his oversight of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned after an FBI investigation uncovered evidence of an extramarital affair.

The affair was discovered during an unrelated Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether one of Petraeus’s computers was compromised by someone else using his e-mail account, according to three U.S. officials who asked not to be named because the matter involves classified information.

Like Petraeus, the woman in question, Paula Broadwell (am I the only one who can’t help smirking a little at that name?), is married–to Scott Broadwell,

For the record, Petraeus has been married to a woman named Holly Petraeus for over three decades, while Broadwell is married and has two kids with Scott Broadwell. He’s a specialist in interventional radiology in Charlotte, N.C. The couple has two sons, Lucien and Landon. They met in Germany while training to become ski patrollers and are “adventure junkies,” according to Paula.

Newsweek/The Daily Beast published a piece by Broadwell just last week called General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living. There isn’t anything on the list specifically about cheating on your spouse, but there is this:

5. We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear­ view mirrors—drive on and avoid making them again.

In today’s The Daily Beast, Isabel Wilkinson called the book “glowing” and “fawning.”

Broadwell is the author, with Vernon Loeb, of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, a glowing 400-page biography of Petraeus, for which she was granted almost total access. After it was published in January, some said it read more like a love letter to the general than a biography. In a review for Rolling Stone, Michael Hastings called the book “a work of fan fiction so fawning that not even Max Boot—a Petraeus buddy and Pentagon sock puppet—could bring himself to rave about it.”

Ugh. She also provides more background on Broadwell.

Broadwell, 40, is a research associate at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership–as well as a PhD. candidate in the department of war studies at King’s College in London. She is married to Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist. They live in the upper middle class Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C., with their two sons, Landon and Lucien. She grew up in North Dakota, and attended West Point, the general’s alma mater, where she graduated with honors. She has worked for the U.S. Special Operations Command and an FBI joint terrorism task force. Beyond that, her list of accomplishments is long: she earned an MA from The University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies; an MPA from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and served as the deputy director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts.

Physically, Broadwell is tall and stunning, with long dark hair and green eyes. According to her biography, she has been a “sponsored ½ Ironman triathlete” as well as a “female model/ demonstrator” for KRISS, a manufacturer of .45-caliber machine guns. (On LinkedIn, she lists her current employer as Equipe Broadwell, LLC, seemingly a part of the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, a veteran’s organization in Charlotte.

Broadwell first crossed paths with Petraeus in 2006, when he gave a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she was pursuing her master’s degree. According to the preface of All In, she introduced herself after that lecture and told him about her academic research. He gave her his business card and offered to help. “I took full advantage of his open-door policy to seek insight and share perspectives,” she writes in the book. And so began an alleged relationship, which, if sources are to be believed, eventually led to the general’s resignation from the CIA on Friday.

Petraeus is 60. I guess that’s enough about the tawdry affair. We’ll probably find out a lot more than we ever wanted to know in the days in weeks to come. This will all be tied in with the right wing nutters’ endless Beghazi conspiracy theories too. Sigh…

According to Politico, acting CIA chief Michael J. Morrell will testify in place of Petraeus next week.

The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus came less than a week before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

A spokesman for the committee said acting CIA Director Mike Morell would testify Thursday in place of Petraeus, who resigned Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair.

Now I’d like to return to something that has been bothering me post election: Mitt Romney’s pathetic concession speech. I thought it was utterly classless. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, since Romney’s entire campaign was awful–filled with lies, race-baiting, and embarrassing gaffes from beginning to end.

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone in my reaction to the brief speech that Romney hadn’t even bothered to write until after the election was declared for President Obama. Mary Elizabeth Williams’ piece about it at Salon speaks for me: Romney’s concession speech was not gracious. No, it was not at all gracious, but many writers said it was anyway. Williams:

It is a venerable tradition in American politics that no matter how ugly a bloodbath the campaign that preceded it may have been, on election night, the defeated candidate steps up and gives an elegant concession speech, thanking his supporters and pledging his loyalty to the victor. In return, the winning side politely vows to reach across the aisle, and lauds the loser’s “graciousness,” thereby assuring that no one can accuse the victorious side of anything resembling gloating.

Sure enough, after Mitt Romney’s five-minute parting words Tuesday evening – which actually came in the early hours of Wednesday morning – the governor was perfunctorily summed up in the punditsphere by the adjective of choice: The “Today” show declared that Romney’s speech was a “short but gracious” end to his six-year quest for the White House. Our own Salon staff called it a “gracious” speech. Even BuzzFeed called it “gracious,” pointing out its most “conciliatory and statesmanlike moments.” New York magazine, meanwhile, said that Romney “concedes with class.” Now, it may seem nitpicky to mention this while the door is still hitting the guy’s ass on his way out, but are you kidding me?

Here’s a bit of Williams’ reaction to the “speech” itself:

It’s true that when Romney took to the stage at last in Boston, right before 1 a.m., he didn’t kick over the podium, rip off his shirt and throw a chair into the audience. He didn’t spend the long minutes between victory being called for Obama and his acquiescence of the race hopping on a plane to Chicago so he could bum-rush the president’s victory speech. And he may not have spent that time holed up in a bunker with his advisers, making women cry.

Instead, he came out before the nation, put on his game face, and expressed his gratitude. He said, “We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.” Good for him. He also sighed that his wife, Ann, “would have been a wonderful first lady,” and, in a statement that would not have been out of place coming from a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, thanked his “sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and … their wives and children for taking up their slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.” Seriously.

She then contrasts Romney’s concession to Obama with McCain’s graceful one in 2008. Please go read the whole thing.

The Washington Post’s David Beard talked to historian and author Scott Farris about Romney’s concession. Farris, the author of Almost President: The Men Who Lost The Race But Changed The Nation, said it barely “cleared the bar.”

Farris said Romney’s speech didn’t reflect the urgency of healing a divided nation: “While he congratulated Obama, he never really validated the result by saying ‘the people have spoken’ … Praying for the president is nice, but it is not the same as validating the election.”

Farris added that Romney did not expressly address unity. “He talked about putting aside partisanship, but he also said he had hoped to lead the nation in a different direction and remained concerned about the nation’s future. He also did not define what his campaign was about, except for a vague reference to “principles,” though he didn’t fully identify what those were. The reflections on the importance of teachers, pastors and parents hinted at something, but it was all implied, not explicitly stated.

“It was a speech that sounded as if he did not emerge from the election with much respect, let alone affection, for the president. He sounded as if he really expected to win and was immensely disappointed in the result — even more so than usual.”

And that’s exactly the case. Romney expected to win, despite the hundreds of polls that showed he was losing to a man that he sees as just one of “the help.”

I want to end with the most horrifying part of this election for me: the return of blatant, overt, up-front, out-in-the-open racism to the political sphere. Has it been there all along, and I just didn’t notice it? In 2008 I was shocked by the open misogyny that was unleashed against Hillary Clinton. This year, we’ve had both the Republican war on women and blatant race-baiting from the Republican nominee and his surrogates–most of all the detestable and repulsive John Sununu.

At DailyKos, David Atkins (AKA thereisnospoon) wrote a wonderful post about the racism, titled “Did they really think only old white men would hear the dogwhistles?”

Atkins suggests that racism is exactly the reason why Mitt Romney and his advisers didn’t believe that Barack Obama would win reelection, why they didn’t believe Democratic voters would be enthusiastic about going to the polls or that African Americans and young people would vote in the numbers they did in 2008. And I would add–the reason Romney didn’t bother to write a decent concession speech or show any respect for the man who soundly beat him. Atkins writes:

The question is, why did they believe this?

Despite the craziness of Sarah Palin, it’s important to remember that John McCain and most of the GOP establishment didn’t go hard after the Nixonland race card in 2008. Sure, there was some of that. But they knew that if they pushed it too hard, it would backfire on them.

In the intervening four years, the Republican message against Obama has been nothing but one long racist tirade.

Muslim. Kenyan. Foreign. Hussein. Doesn’t share our values. Not Christian. Wants to cut the work requirement in welfare. Obamaphones. “Holder’s People.” Black Panthers. “Moochelle Chewbacca Obama.” “The White Hut.” “Entitlement society.” “Makers versus takers.” Recovery, not dependency. Parasites….

Did they think African-Americans wouldn’t notice? Did they think only white people could hear those dogwhistles and outright racist primal screams?

Did they think Latinos wouldn’t hear the last four years of vitriol thrown at them and their families by Fox News and the fever swamps on the AM dial? That they could celebrate Jan Brewer’s and Joe Arpaio’s sick sadism and that Latinos wouldn’t take heed?

He includes visual aids too. I hope you’ll click the link to see and read the whole thing.

I want to end on a happier note, so I’ll return to Mary Elizabeth Williams’ blog at Salon: Let the post-Sandy election gloating continue!

Yes, you’re right, we’re gloating. You caught us. Maybe you’ve noticed it from our unstoppably gleeful tweets about what Christopher Hayes calls “overdosing on Schadenfreude” or the way we might have let it slip that, as Lindy West admits, “I am just 99 percent completely fucking delighted by every single weepy right-wing temper tantrum.” Perhaps you find it unseemly – you, the defeated but dignified Republican, or you, the Democrat who thinks this kind of whoop-whooping is beneath our kind. Bur bear with us. You see, some of us recently had a hurricane blow through our lives.

This election was nail-biting enough when it was just about Obama vs. Romney. But then it became more than just a big fat “Oh, phew!” regarding having a president who won’t actively try to sabotage our reproductive rights or marriage equality or the middle class. It became about not getting a guy who was pretty gung-ho on cutting federal funding for disaster relief. It became about simply not being able to bear another blow.

Again, Williams speaks for me. I intend to keep gloating as long as I possibly can.

Now it’s your turn. What are you reading on this fine Saturday morning?


Romney Campaign, Spoiled Billionaire Donors Actually Believed They Would Win

Mitt Romney with billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson

I’ve been reading some of post-election articles in which the Village pundits try to explain why Mitt Romney lost the election. Apparently Romney and his campaign staff really did think they were going to win. They were even planning an 8-minute fireworks display over Boston Harbor after Romney won!

While the rest of us were absorbing Nate Silver’s predictions and his logical, math-based explanations of the polls, Republicans were making fun of Silver and convincing themselves that Romney voters were more enthusiastic than Obama voters, that polls were sampling the wrong kinds of voters, and that some magical “Romney wave” would sweep them into power.

At the same time, they didn’t understand that their constant race-baiting, their campaign to suppress Democratic voters, and their war on women’s reproductive rights might arouse some anger among the groups they disrespected–anger that could turn into a steely determination to get out and vote no matter how difficult it turned out to be.

In Politico’s summing up, “Romneyworld reckoning begins,” I read these striking paragraphs:

Multiple Romney sources buzzed about one number in particular: 15 percent. According to exit polls, that’s the share of African-Americans who voted in Ohio this year. In 2008, the black percentage of the electorate was 11 percent. In Virginia and Florida, exit polls showed the same share of African-Americans turned out as four years ago, something that GOP turnout models did not anticipate.

“We didn’t think they’d turn out more of their base vote than they did in 2008, but they smoked us,” said one Romney operative. “It’s unbelievable that that they turned out more from the African-American community than in 2008. Somehow they got ‘em to vote.

Gee, maybe African Americans aren’t as dumb, lazy, and shiftless as John Sununu thinks! Maybe they didn’t appreciate Mitt Romney’s repeated dog whistles and his disrespect toward President Obama.

Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic thinks the voter suppression campaign is the main reason Romney lost. Cohen writes:

May I suggest instead a simple, elegant overriding theory on why we won’t have a Romney Administration in 2013? No serious political party in America — no legitimate party in any viable democracy — can win an election by suppressing votes. So long as the Republican Party endorses (and enacts) voting laws designed to make it harder for registered voters to vote, so long as Republican officials like Ohio’s Jon Husted contort themselves to interpret those laws in a restrictive fashion, the Republicans will continue to play a loser’s game.

That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. Having covered for the past two years the voting rights front in this epic election cycle, I have come to believe that the Republicans will begin to win presidential elections again only when they start competing for votes with the substance of their ideas.

At Balloon Juice, Dennis G. reacted to the same section of the Politico article that struck me as so stupid; and he offers anecdotal evidence to support voter suppression reaction argument:

Here is the thing that Team Mitt and Team Wingnut failed to understand: that when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.

Mitt and the Wingnuts have run a four-year campaign that is only a blond hair’s width away from calling the President a nigger every single day. They are focused like a laser beam on promoting white rage and using every dog whistle they can think of to get the message across. White folks heard them and so did people of color. Team Mitt is surprised that African-American turnout increased over 2008, but that is only because they are incapable of thinking of these folks as people.

As I knocked on door after door in a black neighborhood in Columbus, it was clear that folks heard the Mitt/wingnut code-talking and that it pissed them off. They heard the endless disrespect of the President and the general contempt for anybody who is not white that has become the core message of the modern conservative movement. They heard it and they decided to kick Mitt’s ass in the voting booth.

Hey, I’m an old white woman and I was so angered by the race baiting that I was determined to vote against the guy who did it and encouraged it!

 Take a look at what happened in Philadelphia:

In a city where President Obama received more than 85 percent of the votes, in some places he received almost every one. In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.

Those wards, many with large African American populations, also swung heavily for Obama over John McCain in 2008. But the difficult economy seemed destined to dampen that enthusiasm four years later.

Not to worry. Ward leaders and voters said they were just as motivated this time.

“In this election, you had to point out to the people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man,” said Edgar “Sonny” Campbell.

No kidding. But I’d be shocked if a lot of the motivation didn’t come from the poorly disguised racism emanating from Romney and Ryan and their surrogates.

And now let’s turn to those whiny billionaires who thought they could buy the White House and failed miserably. Kevin Roose writes at New York Magazine about a conversation he overheard:

Two months ago, in a dimly lit corner banquette at an exclusive club in the meatpacking district, two well-known billionaires sat down — at a table well within earshot of mine — to have a good bitch about the state of the union.

“The last four years have been a disaster,” said one man, a hedge fund manager who supported President Obama’s 2008 campaign but decided to sit this election out. The primary reason for his disillusionment, he said, was that the country under Obama had grown hostile to wealth, and to those who had accumulated vast amounts of it.

“People work their asses off to get where they are, and they get punished,” he said. “I wanted to fly my friend to Davos this year, and people were like, you’re not going to fly the jet to Davos, are you? How will that look to the Occupy people? I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? I worked hard for this!”

“It’s a scary reality,” said the other billionaire, once a prominent Democratic donor.

Of course President Obama was extremely friendly to Wall Street during his first term, and the banksters did extremely well while most Americans bore the brunt of the Great Recession that Wall Street caused. But the banksters’ tender feelings were hurt when the President referred to them as “fat cats” and held them responsible for hurting middle- and working-class people.

According to Roose,

Wall Street turned very quickly against Obama, and it made a massive bet that they could put a private equity guy in the White House. The bet turned out to be risky and unhedged — the equivalent of wagering a billion dollars on an exotic derivative that would either triple in value or become totally worthless, with no possible results in the middle….

Backing Romney was a tactical decision, but it was also a psychological one. Under a Romney administration, these donors believed, no longer would they need to hang their heads, hide their jets, and apologize for their success. The social order would be restored, and they could walk proud once more.

What could be more pathetic? These Wall Street titans gambled billions on Romney and got absolutely nothing back. In fact they’ve now lost their leverage over Obama, leaving him free to be even more dismissive of their concerns. Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!!

Do you ever wonder what effect these self-pitying and self-involved billionaires have on their ultra-privileged offspring? One of them, Peter Brandt II, put on quite a display on election night. The Grio reports that Brandt,

the 18-year-old son of billionaire publisher Peter Brant Sr. and former Victoria’s Secret supermodel Stephanie Seymour [reacted to Obama's reelection by threatening to kill President Obama].

In a series of text messages to his friend Andrew Warren, which were reprinted by Jezebel, Warren whined about how a second Obama term would make him “poor.” Brant II then claimed, “I have a contingency plan. Kill Obama hahaha.”

Brandt was so proud of his “joke,” that he posted the entire text exchange on Instagram.

Here’s a little more of Brandt’s brand [pun intended] of humor, including this delightful tweet:

Harry & Peter Brant@HarryPeterBrant
H:yay Obama and all, but am i the only person who is DYING for Hill DOG to run in 2016! that stylish mullet needs to be in the oval office.
7 Nov 12

Thank goodness the assholes lost this time.


Election Day Reads: Four More Years!

Good Morning!!

The big day is finally here. I voted In Massachusetts by absentee ballot shortly after I got to Indiana. I voted for Barack Obama and Joe Biden for President and Vice President, and for Elizabeth Warren for Senator. I voted for my long-time Representative Ed Markey. I also voted in favor of ballot questions on legalizing physician assisted suicide and medical marijuana in Massachusetts.

In 2008, I didn’t care much for Barack Obama, because I didn’t think he had any real ideology and I didn’t trust him to stand up to the Republicans. But I have to admit that he accomplished some good things in his first term.

I still have plenty of problems with President Obama’s policies. I think he should have fought harder for a bigger stimulus and for a public health care option. I think the President should have made a much more serious effort to deal with the foreclosure crisis, prosecute the banksters who brought down our economy, and create jobs through government investment.

I strongly disapprove of Obama’s support for the Patriot Act and for his use of drones to assassinate suspected “terrorists”–along with many innocent civilians–in several foreign countries. I’m glad he found Osama bin Laden, but I think he should have been arrested and put on trial instead of being summarily executed.

On the other hand, the stimulus–though not large enough–did help state and local governments save and create jobs. I think the auto bailout was absolutely necessary and it seems to have saved and created jobs for many U.S. workers. I appreciate that President Obama reversed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and came out in support of same-sex marriage. I believe that this president has grown in office and that he now recognizes that the Republicans in Congress are never going to compromise with him.

I also think President Obama did a very smart thing in appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and giving full control over the State Department. Many of Obama’s advisers didn’t want him to appoint Hillary, but he did it anyway. I respect that Obama has asked for Bill Clinton’s help during the past couple of years and has wholeheartedly thanked him for his efforts.

We now face a choice between a President who kept us out of another Great Depression, managed to pass a health care law that is at least a step in the right direction, and appears to have grown in office, and a man who is a pathological liar and race baiter who represents the top 1%–the people who got us into the financial crisis in the first place; who conceals his highly suspect finances and potential conflicts of interest; who refuses to spell out what he would do if elected, who treats the electorate with utter disrespect, and who clearly has no understanding of or interest in what it is like to be poor, or even middle class. We do know that, if elected, Mitt Romney would appoint Supreme Court Justices who would very likely overturn Roe v. Wade, the Voting Rights Act, and other important progressive court decisions.

Obama must be reelected or our country will be be in deep deep trouble.

If Obama wins reelection, I think we must continue to be eternally vigilant. I strongly suspect that he will push for what he calls a “grand bargain,” which is really a “great betrayal.” We cannot let his desire to “reach across the aisle” lead him to accede to the Republicans’ austerity agenda and trade away the social safety net that allows so many elderly, disabled, and poor people to live with some kind of dignity.

Just in my lifetime, the American people have lived through many difficult times politically. Our rights were threatened and curtailed in the McCarthy era, we faced the murder of President John F. Kennedy, and later the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. We dealt with Watergate, Iran Contra, and 9/11. For the past thirty years we’ve faced increasing income inequality and reduced opportunities for upward mobility. Our rights have been threatened anew by fundamentalist crazies and by Bush’s “war on terror.”

Democracy isn’t easy. It’s very hard, as we have seen in the past week watching people in Ohio and Florida struggling to exercise their rights to vote and over the past couple of years as we watched Republican legislatures try restrict voting rights and take away women’s control over their own bodies and their health care choices.

But we can’t quit. We must fight on to make this country a place we can be proud of and a place where our children and grandchildren can have decent lives. We have to try. If Obama is reelected, we have a chance. If Romney wins, we go back to the Bush years–on steroids.

I’ve gone on a rant now and taken up a lot of space in this post, but I wanted to express how I feel about this election. Over the past four years, I’ve realized that we really can’t have perfection–only progress, if we work at it. President Obama has made some progress, and in a second term, he can be pushed to make more. I’m glad I decided to vote for him.

I do have some news items for you.

Unfortunately, the areas that were hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy last week are facing a nor’easter this week.

Storm-savaged New Yorkers still drying out and rebuilding their lives after the fury of Hurricane Sandy face another nightmare barreling up the East Coast — an angry nor’easter packing winds of 55 mph hour that’s expected to pummel the area on Wednesday.

Forecasters say the latest assault from Mother Nature — while not nearly as ferocious or crippling as the Oct. 29 superstorm — is expected to bring renewed coastal flooding to parts of the city and the New Jersey shore, where Sandy obliterated protective sand dunes and age-old natural beach defenses.

New power outages could strike still-ravaged swaths of Staten Island, the Bronx and Westchester — and possibly “undo” some of the repairs Con Ed has made to its battered system, said John Miksad, the utility’s senior vice president of electric operations….

Meteorologists expect howling winds whipping up to 3 inches of rain along the Northeastern shoreline late Wednesday afternoon. Then it may get worse: Forecasters also fear a bone-chilling cold by Thursday morning that could bring several inches of snow to New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

Dana Millbank says that a new Romney has suddenly emerged in the final days of the campaign. What number incarnation is this?

As he made his closing appeal to voters on the final day before the election, Mitt Romney sounded as though, at any moment, he might burst into a song from the musical “Annie.”

“Tomorrow’s a moment to look into the future and imagine what we can do,” he said.

“Tomorrow, we get to work rebuilding our country, restoring our confidence and renewing our conviction.”

“Tomorrow, on November 6th, we come together for a better future.”

“Tomorrow is a new beginning. Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow.”

As usual, Romney is talking ragtime–making no sense whatsoever. Either he really believes he’ll win the election, or he’s just blabbering aimlessly waiting for his dream to die. The death stench must be unbearable for anyone who gets close to him.

Still, despite Millbank’s claims, the mean Romney still lives on. His campaign is making robocalls calling President Obama a ‘Threat To Our Religious Freedom.’ Here’s the transcript of the call:

Christians who are thinking about voting for Obama should remember what he said about people of faith: “They … cling to guns or religion.” And remember when Obama forced Christian organizations to provide insurance coverage that was contrary to their religious beliefs?
That’s the real Barack Obama. That’s the real threat to our religious freedom. Mitt Romney understands the importance of faith and family. That’s why so many leaders of the Christian community are supporting Romney.

They know we can’t underestimate the threat Barack Obama poses to our faith, our values, our freedom.

So once again, Romney is playing the race card, suggesting that Obama is not a real American and that he’s lying about his religious beliefs.

Paul Ryan expressed something similar on a conference call with members of Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition:

Representative Paul D. Ryan accused President Obama on Sunday of taking the country down a path that compromised Judeo-Christian values and the traditions of Western civilization….

“It’s a dangerous path,” Mr. Ryan said, describing Mr. Obama’s policies. “It’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place.”’

A spokesman for Mr. Ryan, Michael Steel, said, “He was talking about issues like religious liberty and Obamacare – topics he has mentioned frequently during the campaign.”

Sigh… if only we could be rid of Ryan tomorrow, but I suppose he’ll be back in Congress if Romney loses.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused to appear at a campaign event with Mitt Romney on Sunday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was effusive in his praise of President Barack Obama when the two leaders toured damage from Hurricane Sandy last week, turned down a request by Mitt Romney to appear with him at a rally on Sunday night in Pennsylvania, The Huffington Post has learned.

Christie’s decision will only add to questions among Republicans about what the governor — who is up for reelection a year from now — is thinking, and why he went out of his way to heap praise on the president, and then refused to appear with Romney.

The Romney rally was held at a farm in Morrisville, Pa., not more than 20 minutes from Trenton, the New Jersey capital. The physical proximity of the event to New Jersey only added to questions in the Romney campaign about why Christie chose not to come.

“You can’t tell me he couldn’t have gone over there for a night rally,” a Romney campaign source told HuffPost.

Meanwhile Christie’s new BFF Barack Obama made Christie’s dream come true: Chris Christie moved to tears by hug from Bruce Springsteen.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Monday that he was moved to tears by recent interactions with singer Bruce Springsteen, who hugged the governor at a benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Sandy on Friday and spoke with Christie by phone on Monday while flying aboard Air Force One with President Obama.

Christie, a Republican, is an ardent fan of Springsteen, a noted liberal who was traveling with the president to Columbus, Ohio, after playing at an Obama rally in Madison, Wis. Christie said during a press briefing that Obama called during the flight to discuss New Jersey’s recovery from Sandy and then handed the phone to Springsteen.

“[Obama] told me in times of real difficulty, he thought that the only thing better than one Jersey guy were two Jersey guys, and he put Bruce Springsteen on the phone,” Christie said.

“Bruce said to me how proud he was of his state and how proud he was of the people of this state and how tough they are,” Christie added. “And he’ll be back to the Jersey Shore soon.”

I can’t help but be happy for the guy. Will he be running against Hillary Clinton in 2016? Who knows? I just hope that sometime tonight we’ll know whether we’ll have an Obama second term or two pathological liars running the country back into the ditch.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Scott Brown Shows His True Colors and They’re Not Pretty

Today Blue Mass Group posted this video (filmed on Saturday) of Scott Brown staffers letting out “war whoops” and doing the “tomahawk chop” at Elizabeth Warren supporters.

 

 

9/22/2012, nearby Eire Pub in Boston, at a rally for Scott Brown including former Mayor Ray Flynn. Some supporters of Elizabeth Warren were also gathered around with signs. Here you can see Brown’s staffers making “war whoops” and “tomahawk chops”, presumably in reference to Warren’s Cherokee heritage. Identified in video making the chop are Brown’s Constituent Service Counsel Jack Richard (camoflage shirt) and — we believe — Massachusetts GOP operative Brad Garrett Garnett, front and center with tan baseball cap and gray hoodie, leading the whoops and chops. (Garrett is known for having recently delivered a cake to Warren for the anniversary of the Occupy movement.)

(Also present, though apparently not participating in the whoops and chops, are Greg Casey, Deputy Chief of Staff, (black polo near end of video), Jerry McDermott, State Director, (blue fleece and shades on head), and Jennifer Franks, special assistant, (plaid shirt, beginning).

According to The Boston Globe:

On Tuesday, Brown said he had not seen the video but “if you’re saying that, certainly that’s not something I condone. It’s certainly something that, if I’m aware of it, I will tell that [staff] member never to do that again.”

Still, he struck a defiant tone when asked if he would apologize for his staffers’ behavior.

“The apologies that need to be made and the offensiveness here is the fact that professor Warren took advantage of a claim, to be somebody – a Native American — and using that for an advantage, a tactical advantage,” Brown said.

The state Democratic Party said Brown bears responsibility for his staff’s conduct.

“Scott Brown and his staff are launching outrageous and offensive personal attacks to distract from the issues that matter,” said Matt House, Massachusetts Democratic Party spokesman. “The behavior of his staff is completely inappropriate, but the tone of the campaign is set by the candidate.”

Right. Brown doesn’t condone this disgusting race baiting. That’s probably why he never attacked Warren’s Native American ancestry in the recent Senate debate. Oh wait….

Brown has also been attacking Warren over her work with Travelers Insurance on an asbestos case in which she advocated for a settlement that would benefit victims. Travelers later got the settlement reversed, and Brown is twisting what happened to call Warren an advocate for corporations against the little guys.

Brown said Warren’s advocacy on behalf of the insurance giant flies in the face of her reputation for sticking up for “little guys” and working people.

“Now, I don’t know anybody who’s hired by an insurance company that was actually working for the victims,” Brown said. “Huge insurance corporations don’t hire big-time attorneys from Harvard to fight against their interests for their opponents, which would be the victims.”

Here’s the real story:

In the asbestos case, Warren did represent Travelers but, at the time, the company was seeking to unlock a $500 million settlement account for victims, a step many asbestos victims supported. After Warren left the case, however, Travelers won a separate court ruling that allowed the company to avoid paying out the settlement. That ruling is under appeal.

“Elizabeth Warren got involved to protect the settlement,” against a challenge from another insurance company, said David J. McMorris, a lawyer at Thornton & Naumes in Boston, who represented victims in the case.

McMorris and several officials from an asbestos workers’ union stood outside Brown’s headquarters after the senator’s press conference and defended Warren’s role in the lawsuit.

“It should be very, very clear the victims would have no chance to get paid by Travelers were it not for the work of Elizabeth Warren,” McMorris said. “She’s been with the victims then, and she’s with the victims now.”

The Asbestos Union has endorsed Warren. It seems that Brown has taken his cue from the Romney campaign’s use of lies and distortions against President Obama. Coincidentally well-known Republican ratfucker Erik Fernstrom works for both candidates, even though Brown pretends he’s an “independent” barely knows Romney.

Josh Marshall has a great post up today about the fallacies behind Brown’s assumptions that anyone with Native American ancestry could not have white skin. I borrowed the photo below from Marshall’s post. I wonder if Brown would dismiss this man on the basis of his skin color?

 

Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation (h/t Talking Points Memo)

 

I’ll end with this pithy paragraph from Charles Pierce:

There’s only one reason to pound the issue about Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry and that is to race-bait, to gin up the lizard-brained anger at “quotas” and “affirmative action.” Brown already tippy-toed down that line last week in the debate, when he explained that he can tell an Injun jes’ by lookin’ at one. You talk about her like she gamed the system and you’re not merely casting aspersions on her career, but you’re giving a nudge-nudge, wink-wink to all the usual suspects out there who know somebody who knew somebody who was related to somebody who knew somebody who didn’t get the job they should have had. This is also what they do. This is also what they’ve always done. This is also why you hired people because this is what they do.

The moral of this story: Scott Brown is not a “nice guy.”

This is an open thread.


Whatever Your Preferred Metaphor, Romney’s Campaign is Imploding

Buzzards circling overhead…

 Sharks smelling blood in the water…

Whatever metaphor you use to describe it, the Romney campaign is searching for answers and playing the blame game.

Last night, based on unnamed sources within the campaign, Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei posted a long analysis of “how Mitt Romney stumbled,” and named the designated the scapegoat for Romney’s failures, top campaign strategist and ad man, Stuart Stevens.  Stevens has been picked to shoulder the blame for Romney’s lackluster convention speech and his failure to even mention the ongoing war in Afghanistan or the American servicepeople who are fighting and dying far from home. According to Allen and Vandehei, Stevens:

knew his candidate’s convention speech needed a memorable mix of loft and grace if he was going to bound out of Tampa with an authentic chance to win the presidency. So Stevens, bypassing the speechwriting staff at the campaign’s Boston headquarters, assigned the sensitive task of drafting it to Peter Wehner, a veteran of the last three Republican White Houses and one of the party’s smarter wordsmiths.

Stevens junked the entire thing, setting off a chaotic, eight-day scramble that would produce an hour of prime-time problems for Romney, including Clint Eastwood’s meandering monologue to an empty chair.
Romney’s convention stumbles have provoked weeks of public griping and internal sniping about not only Romney but also his mercurial campaign muse, Stevens. Viewed warily by conservatives, known for his impulsiveness and described by a colleague as a “tortured artist,” Stevens has become the leading staff scapegoat for a campaign that suddenly is behind in a race that had been expected to stay neck and neck through Nov. 6.

Designated scapegoat Stuart Stevens

Allen and Vandehei write that, although campaign insiders are throwing Stevens to the wolves, so to speak, Mitt Romney himself deserves a great deal of the blame too. Stevens is his guy, and Romney is likely to stick with him. But back to the convention speech snafu:

As the Tampa convention drew near, Wehner, now a “senior adviser” and blogger for the campaign, was laboring under an unusual constraint for the author of a high-stakes political speech. He was not invited to spend time with Romney, making it impossible to channel him fluently.
Nevertheless, Wehner came up with a draft he found pleasing, including the memorable line: “The incumbent president is trying to lower the expectations of our nation to the sorry level of his own achievement. He only wins if you settle.” It also included a reference to Afghanistan, which was jettisoned with the rest of his work.

Instead, eight days before the convention, at a time when a campaign usually would be done drafting and focused instead on practicing such a high-stakes speech, Stevens frantically contacted John McConnell and Matthew Scully, a speechwriting duo that had worked in George W. Bush’s campaign and White House. Stevens told them they would have to start from scratch on a new acceptance speech. Not only would they have only a few days to write it, but Romney would have little time to practice it.

The speech McConnell and Scully came up with was also largely scrapped, and Stevens and Romney “cobbled together” the final unimpressive acceptance speech that failed to even mention the war in Afghanistan or the Americans fighting and dying overseas.

The entire Politico article is well worth reading, since the Romney campaign frequently uses Politico to disseminate their desired campaign narratives, one of which is that Stevens is not a committed conservative, but an ivy-league educated, “creative,” “eclectic,” “artist” type who isn’t particularly ideological and maybe just doesn’t understand the Republican base. And besides, he’s disorganized and undisciplined. But Allen and Vandehei say that “Romney associates” are “baffled” that Romney himself hasn’t gotten a grip on the campaign, since he was such a successful corporate CEO.

This morning both Politico and Buzzfeed posted more insider revelations about the Romney campaign’s latest strategies. Politico’s quotes Stuart Stevens on the supposed new emphasis on “status quo vs. change.”

Stevens said the economy is likely to remain “the dominant focus” of the campaign. But ads and speeches will focus on a wider array of issues, including foreign policy, the threat from China, debt and the tone in Washington.

Stevens said the big, unifying question will be: “Can we do better on every front?”

On Monday, Romney unveiled a new ad, “The Romney Plan,” that punches back at Obama’s consistent emphasis on growing the economy for the middle class, and emphasizes what the Republican would do.

“My plan is to help the middle class,” Romney says in the ad. “Trade has to work for America. That means crack down on cheaters like China. It means open up new markets.”

A second Romney ad out Monday, “Failing American Families,” is harsher, with a male narrator saying: “Barack Obama: More spending. More debt. Failing American families.”

One of the new policies Romney will go with is an appeal to Latino voters on increasing “legal immigration.” Stevens also argues that the chaos in the middle east and the Fed’s decision to roll out QE3 demonstrate President Obama’s lack of leadership. He believes that Romney’s middle east policies will be more appealing to voters in the long run.

At Buzzfeed, McKay Coppins characterizes the new Romney strategy as a move to the far right, with “more God, less economy.”

Mitt Romney’s campaign has concluded that the 2012 election will not be decided by elusive, much-targeted undecided voters — but by the motivated partisans of the Republican base.
This shifting campaign calculus has produced a split in Romney’s message. His talk show interviews and big ad buys continue to offer a straightforward economic focus aimed at traditional undecided voters. But out stumping day to day is a candidate who wants to talk about patriotism and God, and who is increasingly looking to connect with the right’s intense, personal dislike for President Barack Obama.

Three Romney advisers told BuzzFeed the campaign’s top priority now is to rally conservative Republicans, in hopes that they’ll show up on Election Day, and drag their less politically-engaged friends with them. The earliest, ambiguous signal of this turn toward the party’s right was the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate, a top Romney aide said.

“This is going to be a base election, and we need them to come out to vote,” the aide said, explaining the pick.

The Buzzfeed report sounds a lot more reality-based to me than Politico’s. Romney will undoubtedly step up the race-baiting, not-so-subtly encourage the birthers, and hope he can tear Obama down with barrages of negative ads funding by his billionaire superpac donors. No doubt it’s going to get really ugly as we approach the debates and then move on to election day, especially if they follow the advice of Focus on the Family’s Bryan Fischer to turn Paul Ryan loose to fire up the base on social issues:

Fischer said he believed Romney would be leading national polls by double digits at this point if he had followed Paul Ryan’s lead and offered more detailed conservative positions on the budget and social issues.

“The biggest mistake is they put a bag over Paul Ryan’s head,” he said. Fischer said he was “deeply disturbed” that Ryan didn’t mention the campaign’s opposition to gay marriage in his speech to the summit on Friday.

“I got to believe that there was some kind of directive from the top of the campaign: We don’t want you to deal with this issue,” he said.

Will any of this help Romney recover from his lousy convention and his disastrous foreign policy missteps? Somehow, I doubt it, but only time will tell.

Here’s one of the new Romney ads.

It’s just more of the same, as far as I can see. Where are the specifics of what Romney would do differently? Here’s the other ad–I guess this supposedly provides specifics (but it doesn’t).

Meanwhile the vultures continue to circle. The New York Daily News is out with a piece by Mike Lupica, calling the Romney campaign a “band of clowns” and “one of the worst campaigns of recent memory.”

There was a lot of talk about Libya last week, because Mitt Romney didn’t know when to shut up about dead Americans, including Chris Stevens, a good man who was our ambassador there.

Somehow, in a terrible moment like that, Romney was boneheaded enough to hand political advantage over to the other side, despite the fact that the President went ahead with a scheduled campaign stop in Las Vegas the next day, as if delaying his appearance by an hour was a suitable mourning period.

But it is not just Libya. It is everything that has happened lately as Romney and the amateurs around him continue to run one of the worst campaigns of recent memory, even against one of the worst economies any sitting President has ever tried to defend.

The people around Romney don’t just look like amateurs, they look like clowns sometimes. Romney was never going to be a great candidate; he doesn’t have it in him, he too often comes across like some stiff poster boy for all the one-percenters who want him elected. But you thought he would do better than this, with the whole thing sitting right there for him, because of this President’s record on the economy and on jobs. Only Mitt Romney has taken an election that should have been his to win and made it something for Barack Obama to lose.

And so on. The media sharks smell blood, and I doubt if they’re going to back off.   Soon the rats will be deserting the sinking ship.  So many metaphors, so little time.