Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I just spent the last two days kid sitting for my two nephews, ages 7 and 9, and boy am I beat!  Am I a great sister and sister-in-law or what?  It may take me a day or so to recover.  Kids sure do have a lot of energy!  It was fun though.  

The good news is that late yesterday afternoon, thundershowers moved into the Boston area and began cooling things down a bit.  My house is still hot inside though.   But we are going to get some relief from the heat for a couple of days–it might even be in the high 70s on Friday!  Anyway, enough about my boring life, let’s get to the news.

As we learned yesterday, Mitt Romney has decided to “take the gloves off,” meaning he’s going full-on birther and the dog whistles have been upgraded to overt race baiting.

Mitt is so infuriated about being asked to do what past presidential candidates have done and release several years of his tax returns that he seems to have lost sight of his long-term goal of winning over independent voters and decided to figuratively don one of those hats with tea bags dangling from it.  This is going to be an ugly and embarrassing spectacle.

Ed Kilgore asks: “Is Team Romney Becoming Unhinged?” Kilgore concluded yesterday, as I did, that John Sununu’s ugly remarks on Tuesday morning were part of a deliberate strategy by the Romney campaign to follow Donald Trump and the Tea Party in trying to paint President Obama as “foreign” and not a real American.

Did Team Romney really think their candidate could run around the country citing the brilliant job-creating success of Bain Capital as his primary credential for becoming president and not get challenged about it? And did they not expect demands that the richest man ever to win a presidential nomination release his tax returns? I mean, the attacks they are dealing with now are blindingly obvious. Any Romney opponent who didn’t make them would be guilty of extreme political malfeasance. So what gives?

Apparently what really got Romney’s goat was Obama adviser Stephanie Cutter’s statement that if Romney had lied on SEC forms, that would be a felony.

Romney’s aides remain particularly livid about Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter’s suggestion last week that Romney committed a crime by filing apparently conflicting documents to the FEC and SEC.

“[Obama’s] policies have been such utter failures, the only thing he can do is to try to destroy a decent man and his wife,” the adviser said. “So he gets some hack political adviser from Chicago who has nothing to point to in her own life, and tells her to call him a felon… When did our politics get to that point? I mean, it’s Nixonian.”

Kilgore writes:

Try to destroy a decent man and his wife? Nothing to point to in her own life? This is such an over-the-top reaction to a banal comment by Cutter (who didn’t call Romney a “felon,” but simply observed that if he did misstate his role at Bain in a SEC filing, that’s potentially a felony) that you have to believe it’s coming from the candidate himself. Apparently, the mere suggestion he might have possibly committed a crime has sent him and his staff into a real spiral.

Don’t you bet Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich wish they had known about this particular soft spot! Mention the criminal code and watch Mitt melt down!

At Talking Points Memo, Benjy Sarlin and Evan McMorris-Santoro opine: Romney’s New Plan To Go After Obama’s Biography Is A Gamble.

The Romney campaign had previously shot down the idea of revisiting many of the character attacks that first emerged in the 2008 election. Romney strongly repudiated an independent proposal by Republican ad man Fred Davis to run ads reviving the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, for example.

Asked by TPM whether he felt reports of Romney’s new approach “kinda vindicate [sic]” his biography-based ad pitch, Davis e-mailed: “Only kinda?”

The assumption up to this point among strategists on both sides has been that objections to attacking Obama as a teen drug user or as personally corrupt were about keeping the message on the president’s record in office. The biggest conservative outside money groups, like American Crossroads, focus on Americans’ economic struggles, based on research showing it to be the most effective angle.

“Obama is setting a trap, and Romney is not a Chicago street fighter,” unaligned GOP consultant Ford O’Connell told TPM. “If Romney dabbles in this tit-for-tat style of political warfare for too long, he will lose.”

Romney is really playing into Obama’s hands by refusing to just release his tax returns and now embracing Tea Party bigotry. Obama’s advisers must be high fiving each other and grinning ear to ear.

Check this out: Mitt Romney On Tax Return Controversy: ‘It’s Kind Of Amusing’

“It’s kind of amusing,” Romney told Columbus, Ohio, CBS affiliate WBNS. “I’m releasing two years of records as well as all that’s legally required and, for that matter, I’m doing the same thing John McCain did when he ran for president four years ago, which is releasing two years of returns, and we’ll see what time has to say about this.”

Yep, we’ll see. And watching Mitt self-destruct is going to be a lot of fun. Time to stock up on popcorn.

And speaking of right wing bigots, Supreme Court Joke Justice Antonin Scalia told CNN’s Piers Morgan that anyone who is unhappy about the Bush v. Gore decision should just “get over it.”

“Well, I guess the one that created the most waves of disagreement was Bush v. Gore,” says Scalia, referring to the famed United States Supreme Court decision dealing with the dispute surrounding the 2000 presidential election. “That comes up all the time, and my usual response is ‘get over it.'”

Noting that it was the Democratic candidate who brought the case into the Courts, Scalia says he hasn’t lost any sleep over the result:

“No regrets at all, especially since it’s clear that the thing would have ended up the same way anyway,” recalls the 76-year-old. “The press did extensive research into what would have happened, if what Al Gore wanted done, had been done, county by county, and he would have lost anyway.”

I’ve found a couple of important long reads for you. First, from Alternet: How America Became a Country That Lets Little Kids Go Homeless. If you guessed it goes back to the mean-spirited Reagan administration, you’re correct.

An interesting fact about family homelessness: before the early-1980s, it did not exist in America, at least not as an endemic, multi-generational problem afflicting millions of poverty-stricken adults and kids. Back then, the typical homeless family was a middle-aged woman with teenagers who wound up in a shelter following some sort of catastrophic bad luck like a house fire. They stayed a short time before they got back on their feet.

In the 1980s, family homelessness did not so much begin to grow as it exploded, leaving poverty advocates and city officials stunned as young parents with small children overwhelmed the shelter system and spilled into the streets. In New York City, the rate of homeless people with underage kids went up by 500 percent between 1981 and 1995. Nationally, kids and families made up less than 1 percent of the homeless population in the early 1980s, according to advocate and researcher Dr. Ellen Bassuk. HUD estimates put the number at 35 percent of people sleeping in shelters in 2010….

The reasons behind the jump in family homelessness are not complex, Núñez says. “It was the gutting of the safety net. Reagan cut every social program that helped the poor. Then there’s inflation so their aid checks are shrinking. Where are they going? Into the streets, into the shelters.”

It’s so true. When I first moved to Boston in 1967, the only homeless people you saw were down and out alcoholic hobo types. Then Reagan emptied the state psychiatric hospitals and cut funds for low cost housing, and other safety net programs. Suddenly, the Boston area was filled with homeless people–people who slept in their cars in supermarket parking lots or outside along the Charles River in Harvard Square. It was truly horrifying.

At the New York Review of Books, David Cole reviews two new books on Obama’s terrorism policies and concludes that Obama isn’t exactly Bush III, but he hasn’t restored our constitutional rights either.

While President Obama, unlike his predecessor, has steered clear of the politics of fear, he has also steered clear of the politics of defending our ideals. Like many Democrats, he seems afraid of being painted as soft on terrorism if he advocates for respecting the rights of others. We can only hope that in a second term, with more confidence and an eye on his legacy rather than short-term polls, he will take on the defense of American ideals that he let pressure from the security bureaucracy and political caution stop him from pursuing in the first.

And while you’re at the NYRB, take a look at this piece by William Pfaff: When the Army Was Democratic.

The US had national service from September 1940, just before World War II, until 1971, when the Vietnam War was ending. It was accepted with patriotic resolution at its start, and hated by its end. I am of an age to have put on my country’s uniform in high school ROTC in 1942, when I was fourteen years old. I put it on again for the Korean War, and did not take it off for the last time until 1958, after limited active reserve service. That was a total of sixteen years.

I can’t say that I enjoyed military service, but I learned a lot, about myself and about others—including the young black men who made up a good half of my all-southern, and mostly rural, basic training company (where I was not only the sole college graduate but probably the only high school graduate). This was just two and a half years after President Harry Truman had ordered the army desegregated. The regular army—which has always been essentially a southern institution—hated and feared the consequences of that order, but said “yes, sir” and did it, producing undoubtedly the biggest and most successful program of social engineering the United States had ever experienced. It also created what remains today the most successful route of social and professional ascension for talented young black males from poor communities that the country has ever known.

The army, in my opinion, did more to desegregate the United States than the civil rights movement of the 1960s. From 1948 on, nearly every able-bodied young man in the United States served and lived side by side with Americans of all colors, all in strict alphabetical order, in old-fashioned unpartitioned barracks, sleeping bunk to bunk, sharing shelter-halves on bivouac, in what amounted to brotherly endurance of the cold, heat, discomfort, and misery of military training—and following that, of service.

Just a few more quick links I want to call your attention to. Joseph Cannon has a horrifying post up about connections between Mitt Romney and the teen rehab industry in which kids are abused, tortured, and brainwashed. Also see this article in Salon linked in the Cannon piece.

Dakinikat will be interested to know (if she doesn’t already) that Bobby Jindal’s exorcism history has made it into the corporate media. And Charlie Pierce wrote about it yesterday.

Those are my suggestions for today. What are you reading and blogging about?

36 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    Good to here there’s hope for a break in your hot weather. I could not live without AC.

    I’m still not convinced that Romney is on a suicide mission. Although I don’t trust polls, they are hard to ignore & they remain almost tied across the board. Throw in the voter suppression efforts and I fear we’re looking at Bush v Gore again. Maybe I’m just turning into a frightened “old lady.” Even if you throw out the obvious “crazy” extremist element, there are seemingly normal, fully functional people who support Romney despite obvious (at least to me) reasons to run far, far away from him and all that he is & stands (or wobbles) for.

    The ongoing chipping away of the social safety net & ethic of care for the people who need help/assistance disturbs me more than most other problems faced by our nation.

    Thanks for another great roundup.

  2. HT says:

    WhooHooo! Just got back from walking the wonder dog. I almost wanted a sweater it was that cool. Mind you it was 72 degrees but after a week of 98 it was absolutley wonderful – and the wonder dog loved it! Now I know it is supposed to go up well over 80 today, but just this morning walk – perfect. Wish you all the same – I can breathe!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m glad you got the cold front too. In fact our cold front is probably coming down here from Canada. To me, 80 degrees is ideal! It’s going to be warmer than that here, but it feels cool after the past couple of weeks of stifling heat.

      • HT says:

        I’m so glad that my country has sent cooling waves to your area. Yeah, 80 degrees is particularly cool in light of what we have all been collectively been subjected to lately. Now if it would only rain for a few days. Heard an interview yesterday which included both Canuck and Merican farmers. If it does not rain mucho soon, then North American crops will wither on the vine, so to speak. We know what that will do to prices for us average schmoes.

      • HT says:

        And P.S. there is no global warming/climate change. I know this for a fact cause Rupurt Murdoch’s many mouthpieces told me so.

      • Seriously says:

        My grandfather was of the opinion that our summers were getting hotter because you Canadians were withholding your cooling jet stream in retaliation for us sending you Cellucci. 😉

      • HT says:

        Hmmm seriously – honestly Celucci was not a problem although he tried really, really hard. I can’t mock him mainly because he has that horrific disease ALS. There have been worse, much worse.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    I’m still staggering under the idea of George Zimmerman being a “victim” and referring to “god’s plan” being the reason for the death of a 17 yr old unarmed kid he stalked through the neighborhood who “threatened” him enough that he had to pull the trigger to “save his life”.

    Sitting for an interview with Sean Hannity who employed the same tactics he uses when “interviewing” Palin which consists of offering the answers as he “drills down” the interviewee to fit the “facts”,

    Zimmerman cast himself as having “no regrets” that he took the life of another human being but admits to “praying daily for the Martin family”. The whole thing was cringe worthy in its presentation as the Right Wing attempts to paint a different picture of what happened one night as this armed loon patroled the area looking for an excuse to shoot someone.

    And what exactly was “god’s plan”? This tragedy is being reduced to “he made me do it” which is egregious in face of what has come to light in this case.

    But you know what, I will not be surprised to see him acquitted as the “stand your ground” law was the linchpin that made this even possible.

    With the NRA a solid backer of the Right Wing, and Fox as their handy tool of exoneration, the outcome will hinge on picking those jurors who follow whatever Roger Ailes deems acceptable.

    • HT says:

      I guess that I’m one of those hippie dippie people that the right wing hates, so I’ll go wih it. So right Pat, so right.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The prosecution will be able to use that Hannity interview to good effect. Zimmerman should shut up or he’ll hang himself. The guy is just plain stupid.

      • Fannie says:

        Just can’t believe his lawyer was sitting next to him………..I hope it gets him into hot water with prosecution. He’s doing it to get more money from the right, he knows they trust him, and will donate. I certainly agreed with Trayvon’s father, my God didn’t want you to kill my son.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Really? I didn’t know the lawyer was there. I didn’t see the interview. That’s amazing.

    • RalphB says:

      True story!

    • dakinikat says:

      He just keeps pandering to the right wing loonies. I can’t imagine that calling Obama a foreigner is going to sell with independents. He’s turning me off more and more each day. AND, you’ll remember I was rather open to him about a year ago … the more you learn, the more you really get disgusted!! The more you hear him, the more you wish he’d take off for one of those offshore havens and stay there!!! His tenure at Bain was successful by his standards as a profiteer, but is the opposite of what you want in an elected official. He just doesn’t get ANY of this.

  4. RalphB says:

    Applefied Ads

    Applying Apple’s advertising formula to other products. Pretty funny and spot on.

  5. RalphB says:

    TBogg: Kansas About To Become 40% More Hellholish

    This is just too screwed up for me. If this spreads, I want outta this country.

  6. Beata says:

    Our Sky Dancers’ commune in Canada. We won’t be bothered by people here; just the elements. I’m game. 😉

    • RalphB says:

      Better than Kansas, even with 1 bathroom 🙂

      • HT says:

        And it’s prettier than Kansas, weather permitting. I’ve been there – beautiful and right on the ocean. Of course as Beata pointed out, it’s a nasty surprise in the winter however with the not climate change situation it looks like it will become a preferred area.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s lovely, but we’ll need more bedrooms. We’ll have to turn it into a compound.

    • bostonboomer says:

      You people? Uh oh….

      • RalphB says:

        Noblesse Oblige Is For You People

        Snooty Horse Princess Ann Romney does not like it when You People expect things of Her Family.

        Stop it, You People:

        Look… the Romneys give and give and give and it is never enough for You People. Sure the Romneys may hide massive amounts of cash in offshore tax havens but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pay the absolute minimum in taxes … and not a dollar more:

        …and that is all You People deserve.

        Now shut up and vote for Mitt, You People.</blockquote

      • northwestrain says:

        Annie sweetie (you don’t mind me calling you sweetie?) Anyway sweetie the battle has just begun and we have learned that you are the lose canon. Calling voters and Americans who you believe to be beneath you — “you people” — is not a smart response.

        If I were into dirty politics . . . . . well target Annie and her horsies — and the Romney’s lack of house cleaners — for all their homes. I’m still saying that there are house cleaners — they are just being paid from a corporate account. This is SOP in many parts of the world. The homes of the rich and famous are cared for by management firms — flat fee paid and no worry.

        “You people” — indeed.

  7. RalphB says:

    The LA Times covers a little Bain. Nothing we don’t know but perhaps to a wider audience.

    Bain Capital started with help of offshore investors

    Mitt Romney’s firm raised more than a third of its first investment fund from wealthy foreigners — who mostly used companies in Panama, then known for tax advantages and banking secrecy.

    • bostonboomer says:

      They “mostly used companies in Panama?” Panama means drug money.

      • RalphB says:

        If I were betting I’d say a ton of it came into the US through them. It has to come in via big banks or Bain like firms. Those $100 bills have to be laundered somewhere.

      • northwestrain says:

        So the “don’t drink tea or coffee or alcohol” gang is fine with drug money?

  8. RalphB says:

    Obama video “you didn’t build that” with Rmoney’s similar statements. h/t TPM

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Romney adviser clueless when asked what his Afghanistan policy is.

    That’s because he doesn’t have an Afghanistan policy.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    A majority of Americans say Romney should release more tax returns.

    A majority of Americans, including almost a third of Republicans, say GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney should release more tax returns than the two years he has promised to disclose, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

  11. northwestrain says:

    When the NAVY was democratic. I don’t know about the Army — but I was born and raised on Navy bases. I absolutely thought nothing of the fact that many of our neighbors were non white. Pretty much an International melting pot in base housing — no racial segregation. Of course the segregation by rank was and will always be part of the military life.

    It wasn’t until my father retired and we moved off base that I learned about the real world. First place we lived after my father retired and began job hunting turned out to be in Berkeley right near UC Berkeley — that place — Free Speech & People’s Park. We were the only white family in a nearly solid black neighborhood. This was just about the time the Black Panther’s were organizing. I managed to be at a coming out PR event for the Black Panthers. They were holding their press conference at the entrance to Oakland’s Junior College. I just happened to be there at that moment in time. Again because I was raised in the Navy where segregation and racist remarks were forbidden by the Commander in Chief — I didn’t yet comprehend what the real America was like. Oh sure sexism was allowed on Navy bases — I got that I was basically hated because I was female. Now hear this — sexism still exists on military bases.


  12. northwestrain says:

    Homeless children — that story was so sad — I read it last night. Raygun was a horrible Governor. He has done so much harm — first to California and then to the nation. His legacy keeps on giving. He certainly did empty the Mental Hospitals — like Napa and all the others. At first this population was housed in group homes and when the money ran out they were homeless. Many had no idea how to care for themselves — then the cops would sweep through the usual gathering places and haul the crazies off to prison. Now jails are housing the former mental patients — where these poor souls get no treatment — just meds shoved down their throats in some cases.

    The only way this can change is to elect — people who care about others — from the county level through the state elected office and the Federal level.