It looks like Tim Pawlenty might be the perfect VP match for Mitt Romney. He has had some issues with his financial disclosure forms and he refused to release his tax returns as Governor of Minnesota. From the Guardian:
Democrats have been digging into a web of allegations from nine years ago which involved Pawlenty’s use of a shell corporation to shield $60,000 in payments from a telecommunications group during his election campaign that were not declared to the state’s campaign finance board. The money came from a firm run by a prominent Republican strategist. Pawlenty had until recently been a board member.
Opponents accused Pawlenty of accepting an unethical and possibly illegal salary to campaign. The scandal widened because the telecommunications group making the payments was exposed for scamming customers, many of them elderly.
Pawlenty is touted as a leading candidate to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate in part because his background is seen as a political antidote to Romney’s life of privilege. He is the working class son of a truck driver, who knows adversity after his mother died while he was a boy and his father lost his job.
But if he is on the Republican ticket, a fresh airing of the allegations from 2003 is not only likely to undermine Pawlenty’s attempts to portray himself as the voice of the working man but threatens to draw unwelcome attention to difficult issues for Romney – the pressure to release his own tax returns, the morality of his business practices and the parking of millions of dollars in shell companies.
And if Romney turns Pawlenty down for VP, he (Romney) will look like a hypocrite.
I posted this link on Thursday morning, but I think it bears repeating. This op-ed in the NYT by Michael J. Graetz is the best thing I’ve read so far on what Mitt Romney may be hiding by not releasing his tax returns. Graetz discusses Romney’s huge IRA:
With an I.R.A. account of $20 million to $101 million, the tax savings would be more than a few pennies.
The I.R.A. also allows Mr. Romney to diversify his large holdings tax-free, avoiding the 15 percent tax on capital gains that would otherwise apply. His financial disclosure further reveals that his I.R.A. freed him from paying currently the 35 percent income tax on hundreds of thousands of dollars of interest income each year.
Given the extraordinary size of his I.R.A., we have to presume that Mr. Romney valued the assets he put in his retirement account at far less than he would have sold them for. Otherwise it is quite a trick to turn contributions that are limited to $30,000 to $50,000 a year into the $20 million to $101 million he now has there. But we cannot be certain; his meager disclosure of tax records and financial information does not indicate what kind of assets were put into the I.R.A.
He also addresses Romney’s offshore accounts, and concludes that
Mr. Romney is an Olympic-level athlete at the tax avoidance game. Rich people don’t send their money to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands for the weather.
The part I found most interesting was Graetz’ discussion of Romney’s transfers of funds to his sons. Graetz suggests that Romney may not have paid any gift tax on the $100 million trust fund he established in 1995; because it is well known that the IRS doesn’t generally audit gift tax returns.
Based on his aggressive tax planning, revealed in the 2010 returns he has released and his approval of a notably dicey tax avoidance strategy in 1994 when he headed the audit committee of the board of Marriott International, my bet is that — if Mr. Romney filed a gift tax return for these transfers at all — he put a low or even zero value on the gifts, certainly a small fraction of the price at which he would have sold the transferred assets to an unrelated party….According to a partner at Mr. Romney’s trustee’s law firm, valuing carried interests, such as Mr. Romney’s interests in the private equity company Bain Capital, at zero for gift tax purposes was common advice given to clients like Mr. Romney in the 1990s and early 2000s.
At this point, I’m convinced that there is some really hinky stuff going on in those returns. Otherwise Romney would have released them by now. But he’s dreaming if he thinks the press will stop focusing on this.
Yesterday, Wimpy Willard dodged questions about Michelle Bachmann’s muslim witch hunt and the Chick-fil-A controversy. Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon:
Mitt Romney failed to join other Republican leaders today in condemning Rep. Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government, telling reporters at a campaign stop in Las Vegas that it was not “part of my campaign.” Republicans like Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner, among others, have spoken out publicly against Bachmann’s campaign, but when Romney was asked about it, along with the controversy over Chick-fil-A, he dodged the question. “I’m not going to tell other people what things to talk about. Those are not things that are part of my campaign,” the presumed GOP nominee said at a rare press availability after a campaign stop.
Nothing really new about that–just more evidence of Romney cowardice.
We’ve been talking about how the female Olympic athletes are forced to wear skimpy costumes, presumably to attract the male audience. But at The Daily Beast Tricia Romano has a different take: The Olympics or Soft Porn? Female, Gay Fans Gawking at Male Athletes
Ripped, tanned men seemingly carved out of marble are making women and gay men happy—very happy—during these Olympics, spurring Internet memes and social-media buzz. It’s like the Channing Tatum male-stripper movie Magic Mike got a sequel—a very (thankfully) long sequel—one that’s also preciously short on plot but long on beefcake.
While women have long provided daydream fodder for men and lesbians—say hello to the field hockey team when not checking out the scantily clad ladies taking part in the beach volleyball competition—London’s Games seem to be drumming up a particularly focused interest in celebrating the fine male physique.
American gold-medal swimmers Ryan Lochte and Nathan Adrian might have gained notoriety for winning races, but they became instant sex symbols the second they stepped out of the pool. In the days since their London debut, you can read all about Ryan Lochte’s penchant for one-night stands, and there are entire articles parsing the hot-but-dumb problem posed by Lochte, and conversely how smart and sweet Adrian is and whether or not he has a girlfriend. (He’s single! Ready, set, go!).
I was at the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and I noticed that the National Enquirer had a big splashy story about James Holmes, the “Dark Knight Shooter. I was sorely tempted to buy a copy, but I resisted. It’s just as well, because I discovered the story was on-line. In case you’re interest, here’s the “scoop” in this week’s Enquirer.
There aren’t a lot of revelations. They quote a fellow student who was supposedly freaked out by Holmes:
by the time he got to graduate school, Holmes had grown into a creepy individual who frightened others just by his presence.
“I’d seen him many times, always walking alone,” a fellow student at the University of Colorado Denver told The ENQUIRER. “He was very odd, walking around with a blank stare on his face like he didn’t see anyone else. Sometimes he was talking to himself, in an angry tone. I would cross the street when I saw him coming.
“He may have been a nerd, but he was tall and muscular which can be very intimidating. I felt like he was the kind of guy you didn’t want to be around if he snapped.”
The article also says that Holmes’ admired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.
In emulation of Breivik, Holmes spent the days leading up to his massacre of the innocent by bingeing on Internet sex and real-world drugs. He reportedly took the prescription painkiller Vicodin just before the shootings.
Holmes shared another trait with Breivik – a fascination with the extremely violent video game World of Warcraft.
I’m not sure where they got that. I suppose it could be a law enforcement source–or they could have made it up out of whole cloth.
There are a couple of other sensational stories on Holmes over there–look if you dare.
In other true crime news, the judge in the Drew Peterson case denied the defense’s request for a mistrial, and testimony continued yesterday. Anna Marie Doman, the sister of Peterson’s wife Kathleen Savio, testified that her sister had said that Peterson had threatened to kill her.
“She was afraid,” Doman said. “She said Drew had told her he was going to kill her. She wasn’t going to make it to the divorce settlement, and she wasn’t going to get his pension or the kids.”
After two years of court battles over the issue, it was the first hearsay statement heard by jurors in Peterson’s murder trial, allowing Savio to speak from beyond the grave.
As she described talking with Savio in her Romeoville home in 2004, Doman testified that Savio extracted a promise to take care of her kids, a vow Doman acknowledged she had failed to act upon.
“She made me promise over and over that I was going to take care of the boys,” Doman said. “She said, ‘I want you to say it — you’ll take care of my kids.’”
After a misstep by a defense attorney, Doman also was allowed to testify about a previously excluded statement — that Peterson had told Savio he would kill her and make it look like an accident.
I heard an interesting story on NPR a couple of days ago. It’s an interview with David Niose, a lawyer from Boston who has written a book called Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. Here’s the blurb from the show:
The religious right has been a disaster for this country, according to David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. It has imposed an outsized and overbearing influence on our national politics at the expense of reason, critical thinking, science and ethics. And he goes further, saying the rise of the religious right correlates with an array of social ills — from high rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy to low rates of scientific literacy.
But he says there’s a growing movement to counter the religious right. Secular Americans — non-religious believers who for a long time were marginalized in America — are now emerging as a force to be reckoned with.
While a large majority of Americans say they still believe in God, many are losing faith in organized religion. At the same time, the number of Americans who say they don’t have any religious identity has doubled since 1980.
I hope you’ll give it a listen. There also a link to some excerpts from the book at The Humanist if you’re interested.
I found this interesting piece at Raw Story: Mayans may have used chocolate in cooking 2,500 years ago
When the Spanish conquistadores invaded Mexico 500 years ago, they found the emperor Moctezuma drinking a exotic beverage called xocóatl with his breakfast. Made from ground cacao beans that had been boiled in water, spiced, and beaten to a froth, it was literally the drink of kings, permitted only to rulers and other high aristocrats.
Until now, it has been believed that chocolate was consumed in ancient Mexico only in the form of a beverage and not as a food or condiment. However, that belief has been challenged by the discovery in the Yucatan of a 2,500 year old plate with traces of chocolate residue.
The discovery, which was announced this week by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, suggests that present-day Mexican dishes, like the chocolate-based mole sauce often served over meats, may have ancient roots.
Previous excavations have revealed traces of chocolate on drinking vessels used by the Olmecs and other early Mexican cultures as far back as 2000 BC, but this is the first find involving plates.
Smart people, those Mayans.
Now what are your recommendations for weekend reading?
You’ve probably heard the news that Michele Bachmann is in a statistical dead heat with Mitt Romney in the Iowa Register’s GOP presidential poll.
The Des Moines Register’s poll is the first measure of likely GOP caucus-goers.
So far, Mitt Romney is leading the pack with 23 percent. But Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is just one point behind him with 22 percent.
Hermain Cain finished a distant third with 10 percent. Then its former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, both with 7 percent.
Minnesota’s former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who’s focused so much of his campaigning in Iowa, finished sixth with 6 percent.
Rick Santorum finished with 4 percent and Jon Huntsman is the top choice for 2 percent of the potential caucusgoers.
Nate Silver argues that Pawlenty still has a chance:
…the horse race numbers need to be interpreted cautiously. Instead, I’d pay just as much attention to the impression that voters have of each candidate.
You have to dig down to find those numbers, but they are much better for Mr. Pawlenty: some 58 pecent of voters view him favorably, versus 13 percent unfavorably. The figures for Mr. Romney, by contrast, are 52 percent favorable but 38 percent unfavorable.
Put simply, there is considerable upside in Mr. Pawlenty’s numbers — and some downside for Mr. Romney, who is effectively competing for the votes of perhaps only 50 or 60 percent of the voters in the state because of his relatively moderate positions.
Unfortunately, Pawlenty’s real problem is that he booooorrrrring. Besides, he’s a right-wing “Christian” too.
So basically, unless Sarah Palin jumps into the race, Romney and Bachmann are the only viable candidates for the Republican nomination. I think Bachmann will beat Romney in the Iowa Caucuses for three reasons:
1) Bachmann’s far right evangelical “Christianity” trumps Romney’s Mormonism.
2) Bachmann is a compulsively hard worker and true believer; Romney doesn’t know the meaning of hard work, and he has no moral values or ideology.
3) Michele Bachmann was born in Iowa.
The good news is that Bachmann probably can’t beat Romney in New Hampshire, but you never know.
In an interview today Bachmann explained that
her bid to unseat President Barack Obama shouldn’t be viewed as “anything personal” against the Democrat but says he’s “just wrong” on his policies for America….
[T]he Minnesota congresswoman also said she doesn’t foresee problems moving from frequent naysayer to the country’s proposer-in-chief. She says voters can expect her to propose an economic agenda that includes cuts to corporate taxes and phase-outs of taxes on inheritances and investment earnings.
Bachmann’s nothing-personal message departs from her 2008 comments questioning whether Obama had “anti-American” views. She has said she wishes she framed her criticism differently.
Well, that’s darn sporting of her. I guess Obama can breathe a sigh of relief now.
I’m sick and tired of the Weiner story, and I know most of you are too; but I just want to highlight a few reactions that I found interesting–all G rated.
I love this Lambert post, especially this part:
ZOMG!!!!!!! Offensive behavior online!!!!!!!! [Too tired for the riffs about the pearl clutching and the fainting couch.]
Anyhow, so Weiner’s an asshole. And so what. As William Gibson said:
“Fortunately,” he said, “it isn’t about who’s an asshole. If it were, our work would never be done.”
Love that quote! As Lambert points out, these “ethics” investigations never seem to happen to people who engage in torture, election fraud, or handing over the U.S. treasury to banksters.
Speaking of assholes, Andrew Breitbart claims he still has one more “lewd picture” of Weiner that he hasn’t released–and it’s not the one going around today. Talk about an evil human being. Breitbart is disgusting. If you read to the end of that piece, you’ll find out Breitbart’s notions of female sexuality.
One person who seems to have a little sympathy for Weiner is Charlie Rangel.
“His most serious problem is keeping his wife and family together at this time,” Rangel said in an interview on Fox Business Network set to air Wednesday evening.
Rangel did not suggest that Weiner resign. Here’s what he had to say about “ethics” investigations:
“They may do that, and God knows, I know what people feel they have to do as politicians to protect themselves. It’s totally unbelievable, but it happens,” Rangel said. “They love you, but they love themselves better and they make political decisions not to how it affects you, but to how it affects them and their reelection.”
They are all slime, yet they presume to sit in judgment on others. What Weiner did makes me sick, but the rest of them make me even sicker.
Melanie Sloan of CREW says there is a double-standard operating in the many calls for Weiner to resign.
“This is a massive overreaction and I don’t understand it,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
She points out that Charlie Rangel was censured for serious ethical breaches, yet was not forced to resign.
Sloan explained that the mounting pressure on Weiner may stem in part from the early precedent set by House Speaker John Boehner when, at the first sign of sexual misconduct, he urged Reps. Mark Souder (R, Ind.) and Chris Lee (R, N.Y.) to resign, even though their behavior didn’t appear to involve any abuse of their office.
“A lot of people really hate Weiner, too,” she said, referring to Weiner’s colleagues in the House, some of whom are said to have been rankled by his personality and frequent media appearances.
What about Weiner’s denials before he owned up?
“A politician lying is not that unusual,” Sloan said. “If the new standard is that politicians are out the second they lie to us, then a lot of politicians could be gone.”
As egregious as Weiner’s behavior was, it wasn’t a crime. Here’s an example of truly egregious behavior: U.S. pediatrician on trial for raping toddlers
A Delaware pediatrician went on trial for allegedly raping or sexually exploiting 86 young patients, all girls except one and almost all younger than three.
Earl Bradley has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts against him, and sat quietly in gray prison scrubs as a veteran state trooper spent hours Tuesday describing the doctor’s cache of home videos of the assaults.
They were so “horrible,” testified state police detective Scott Garland, a specialist in forensic computer evidence. “They were beyond anything I had ever witnessed. Nothing prepared me for it.”
And then there’s this: Casey Antony told a fellow inmate that she used chloroform to knock out her daughter Caylee when she (Casey) wanted to party.
Gaddafi bought Viagra-like pills for troops to attack women
Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he may ask for a new charge of mass rape to be made against Gaddafi following the new evidence. The chief International Criminal Court prosecutor is expecting a decision from judges within days on his request for crimes against humanity charges against the Libyan leader.
“Now we are getting some information that Gaddafi himself decided to rape and this is new,” Mr Moreno-Ocampo told reporters.
He said there were reports of hundreds of women attacked in some areas of Libya, which is in the grip of a months-long internal rebellion.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo said there was evidence that the Libyan authorities bought “Viagra-type” medicines and gave them to troops as part of the official rape policy.
“They were buying containers to enhance the possibility to rape women,” he said.
“We had doubts at the beginning but now we are more convinced that he decided to punish using rapes,” the prosecutor said. “It was very bad — beyond the limits, I would say.”
Let’s move on to the horrors of the Republican 2012 presidential field. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, voters aren’t ready for a Mormon president.
Sorry, Mitt. John Huntsman is also a Mormon. I guess voters don’t mind looney religionists as long as they claim to be Christians though. Have you heard about Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan?
Pawlenty calls for sweeping tax cuts dubbed by some as “breathtaking.” He’d cut the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 15 percent, and eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest income, dividends and inheritances. There would be two tiers of personal income taxes — 10 percent and 25 percent.
Pawlenty would require Congress to reauthorize all federal regulations and radically reshape the federal government by privatizing services such as the U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak. He also would support an ill-advised balanced budget amendment. You could almost hear the corporate special interests uttering “check, check and check!” as the South St. Paul truck driver’s son ticked off items on their wish lists and then one-upped them.
Just reading about it makes me want to run out into the street screaming and tearing my hair out.
Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are supposedly feuding now because Ed Rollins said that Bachman is more “serious” than Palin. I had to really look around to find an article that didn’t call it a “cat fight.” Here’s Rollins, quoted by NPR:
“Well I’m going to work for Michele Bachmann if she runs. That’s the one that intrigues me the most at this point and I think to a certain extent she’s articulate, she’s a conservative. She’s got a great story to tell. She’s on the Intelligence Committee. You know, she’s unknown to the national audience, but she’ll become known and that’s the candidacy that I’m going to work for if she runs.
“Sarah has not been serious over the last couple of years. She got the vice-presidential thing handed to her. She didn’t go to work in the sense of trying gain more substance. She gave up her governorship. You know, I think Michele Bachmann and others have worked hard. She has been a leader of the Tea Party, which is a very important element here. She’s an attorney, done extraordinary things with family values and what have you. So I think she will connect. She’s a great, great communicator and I would say in the race today she is probably the best communicator.”
Kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Now check this out: Santorum Calls Abortion Exceptions To Protect Health Of The Mother ‘Phony’
Longshot GOP presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum stomped for votes in Iowa on Tuesday, trumpeting his “culture wars” message. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Santorum is selling himself as the leading social conservative in a crowded field. Yesterday in West Des Moines, he made an appearance at a “crisis pregnancy center” called Informed Choices that tries to talk women out of having abortions. Santorum said that he “separates [himself] from the rest of the pack” and criticized the other candidates for simply “checking the box” on anti-abortion issues.
When discussing his track record as a champion of the partial birth abortion ban, Santorum dismissed exceptions other senators wanted to carve out to protect the life and health of mothers, calling such exceptions “phony”:
SANTORUM: When I was leading the charge on partial birth abortion, several members came forward and said, “Why don’t we just ban all abortions?” Tom Daschle was one of them, if you remember. And Susan Collins, and others. They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective.
In other stupid Republican news, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a painting of poor and homeless children removed from the governor’s mansion. From Mother Jones:
Walker has made headlines again after he removed a painting depicting three Wisconsin children—one had been homeless, one came from low-income family, and a third who had lost family members in a drunk-driving accident. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the painting was one of numerous pieces of art commissioned by the fund that operates the governor’s mansion—works that were intended to remind the governor of the constituents he or she represents.
Here’s the Journal Sentinel on the painting by artist David Lenz:
In an interview, Lenz said he carefully selected the three children portrayed in “Wishes in the Wind.” The African-American girl, featured in a Journal Sentinel column on homelessness, spent three months at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission with her mother. The Hispanic girl is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. And the boy’s father and brother were killed by a drunken driver in 2009.
“The homeless, central city children and victims of drunk drivers normally do not have a voice in politics,” Lenz explained in an email. “This painting was an opportunity for future governors to look these three children in the eye, and I hope, contemplate how their public policies might affect them and other children like them.”
He added: “I guess that was a conversation Governor Walker did not want to have.”
In other news, at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, 77 army cadets were struck by lightening and hospitalized. Let’s hope they’ll all be okay. The weather sure is strange this year!
I’ll end with this interesting story from the LA Times: Autism linked to hundreds of genetic mutations.
Autism is not caused by one or two gene defects but probably by hundreds of different mutations, many of which arise spontaneously, according to research that examined the genetic underpinnings of the disorder in more than 1,000 families.
The findings, reported in three studies published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, cast autism disorders as genetically very complex, involving many potential changes in DNA that may produce, essentially, different forms of autism.
The affected genes, however, appear to be part of a large network involved in controlling the development of synapses, the critical junctions between nerve cells that allow them to communicate, according to one of the three studies.
Although the work will have no immediate value to patients or their families, the insights provide a wealth of targets to pursue in developing treatments for the disorder, scientists said. Understanding the genetic causes of autism spectrum disorders may promote more accurate diagnoses, and research on synapse formation and function could yield treatments that address the flow of signals between nerve cells.
What are you reading and blogging about today? Please share!!
For the past two days, Republican movers and shakers have participated in a conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The Faith and Freedom Coalition is the new face of the religious right, but the same old faces are behind the new organization. It is chaired by evil grifter and former Jack Abramoff crony Ralph Reed, who once led the Christian Coalition and is now supposedly experiencing a “political rebirth.”
Just as a reminder of how utterly slimy Ralph Reed is, here is disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff expressing an opinion about Reed.
This dishonest, repulsive man is one of the kingmakers of the Republican Party.
The Caucus blog at The New York Times had a brief writeup on the Faith and Freedom Conference and what the 2012 Republican hopefuls had to say to them. Here are some samples.
“I do not believe the Republican Party should focus solely on our economic life to the neglect of our human life,” Jon M. Huntsman Jr. told the audience of several hundred after citing antiabortion laws he signed when governor of Utah.
opened and closed his remarks with biblical quotes. He said his top four “common-sense principles” for the nation were to turn toward God, protect the unborn, support traditional marriage and keep Americans secure.
reminded the audience that she home-schooled her five children and ended with a prayer that asked a blessing for President Obama, whom she had sharply criticized moments earlier.
Bachmann also promised to repeal Obamacare.
Mitt Romney tried to convince the audience he believed in the “sanctity of human life” and hated gay marriage, Newt Gingrich didn’t show up, and Ron Paul talked about reinstating the gold standard.
Before you laugh too loudly about this parade of loons, check out what Howard Dean told The Hill today. He’s warning Democrats that the “P” woman could beat Obama in 2012. In face Dean thinks if something isn’t done about the economy and unemployment, anyone who wins the Republican nomination could win the presidency.
Dean says his fellow Democrats should beware of inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom that Obama would crush Palin in a general-election contest next year.
“I think she could win,” Dean told The Hill in an interview Friday. “She wouldn’t be my first choice if I were a Republican but I think she could win.”
Dean warns the sluggish economy could have more of a political impact than many Washington strategists and pundits assume.
“Any time you have a contest — particularly when unemployment is as high as it is — nobody gets a walkover,” Dean said. “Whoever the Republicans nominate, including people like Sarah Palin, whom the inside-the-Beltway crowd dismisses — my view is if you get the nomination of a major party, you can win the presidency, I don’t care what people write about you inside the Beltway,” Dean said.
Personally, I think Michelle Bachmann is scarier than Quitterella. And potential first
lady gentleman Mr. Michelle Bachmann Marcus Bachmann is even scarier than she is. Here he is discussing homosexuality.
This is Marcus Bachmann
swishing arriving at a radio station for an interview.
These are the kinds of people who could be running the country if the Democrats don’t get off their duffs and do something about the economy and jobs instead of playing footsie with Mich McConnell, John Boehner, and the rest of the Republican freakazoids. This is no joke, folks. I realize this isn’t a particularly politically correct post, but I do not want to be at the mercy of a bunch of self-hating closet cases and hypocritical christianists who are obsessed with fetuses and throwing old people to the wolves. Democrats need to wake the f*ck up and smell the unemployment.