Monday Reads

Good Morning

I still can’t get over Mitten’s 47% comment.  Neither can Simon Johnson who is a former chief economist of the IMF and  a professor at MIT Sloan. He wrote an article for Project Syndicate that is just filled with wonky goodness called “Mitt and the Moochers”.

Romney is apparently taken with the idea that many Americans, the so-called 47%, do not pay federal income tax. He believes that they view themselves as “victims” and have become “dependent” on the government.But this misses two obvious points. First, most of the 47% pay a great deal of tax on their earnings, property, and goods purchased. They also work hard to make a living in a country where median household income has declined to a level last seen in the mid-1990’s.

Second, the really big subsidies in modern America flow to a part of its financial elite – the privileged few who are in charge of the biggest firms on Wall Street.

Seen in broad historical perspective, this is not such an unusual situation. In their recent bestselling economic history, Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson cite many past and current cases in which powerful individuals attain control over the state and use this power to enrich themselves.

This is representative the new whine of the newly rich. They all appear to be caught in the throes of a Charlie Brown Syndrome. Where on earth did they get they idea that they are the victims in this society?  Why are they so quick to say they are ‘self-made’ and put upon?  Are their lives this dull that they have to invent problems?

Why do the mega rich in the United States feel so put upon? Their incomes are rising, after all, and the taxes they pay have never been lower since the 1920s.

In fact, even if lawmakers in Congress passed 100 percent of President Obama’s tax plan, America’s rich would still be paying taxes at less than half the top rate that America’s richest faced back in the 1950s.

America’s wealthiest, given this ever so friendly political lay of the land, ought to be kicking back and living care-free. But that’s not happening. This election cycle appears to have America’s super rich in a feverish frenzy. They’re pouring money into the 2012 elections at all-time record rates.

What’s behind this deluge of campaign cash? A few frenzied super-rich political donors have apparently gulped the Kool-Aid of America’s delusional right wing. President Obama, these crazed deep pockets almost seem to believe, has tumbrils waiting to cart them off to the guillotines once he wins a second term.

Even David Frum finds it unnerving.  Well, to use his words, he finds it “sinister”.

The background to so much of the politics of the past four years is the mood of apocalyptic terror that has gripped so much of the American upper class.

Hucksters of all kinds have battened on this terror. They tell them that free enterprise is under attack; that Obama is a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, an anti-colonialist. Only by donating to my think tank, buying my book, watching my network, going to my movie, can you – can we – stop him before he seizes everything to give to his base of “bums,” as Charles Murray memorably called them.

And what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout. No Coxey’s army is marching on Washington, no sit-down strikes are paralyzing factories, no squatters are moving onto farmer’s fields. Occupy Wall Street immediately fizzled, there is no protest party of the political left.

The only radical mass movement in this country is the Tea Party, a movement to defend the interests of elderly incumbent beneficiaries of the existing welfare state. Against that movement is a government of liberal technocrats dependent on campaign donations from a different faction of the American super-rich than that which backs Mitt Romney himself.

That last paragraph should be read carefully.  Huhn?

But, back to the topic, WTF makes the Romneys act so resentful? Why the persecution complex?  Is it some hangover from the Mormon history of being run out of places after you and your followers try to assassinate the local political leaders? (See Ohio, See Missouri, See Iowa, See Illinois , oh, you get the picture …)

“My question is, why don’t you stick up for yourself?” a man who had paid fifty thousand dollars to attend a dinner with Mitt Romney asked. “To me, you should be so proud that you’re wealthy.” That remark was recorded in a video of the dinner, at a hedge-fund manager’s home in Boca Raton, which was released by Mother Jones. In it, Romney complains that just under half of all Americans had come to see themselves as “victims,” when they were actually, as he sees it, entitled and demanding dependents. But there is a character who he and everyone else in the room seem to agree most certainly is a true victim: Mitt Romney, martyr to the envy of the masses.

Romney has been running a campaign centered on resentment, in many forms: the resentment directed at the “successful” that he imagines is driving his critics; the resentment he is trying to fan in his base voters; and, increasingly and most strangely, his own. Romney’s resentment has become a matter of temperament, of policy, and of politics. He and his wife, Ann, have made it clear that they take offense when his good will is questioned. Fixated on what he sees as the jealous motives of his critics, he misses the important truths about our economy and the reality of people’s lives that might have informed his agenda. He also reveals a great deal about himself.

This is not a new theme for Romney. In January, after winning the New Hampshire primary, he spoke in his victory speech about “the bitter politics of envy…. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.” The next morning, he spoke to Matt Lauer

Lauer: I’m curious about the word ‘envy.’ Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?

Romney: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare.

Somehow, asking whether our economy might ever have victims is itself an act of victimizing Mitt. Resentment based in a sense of under-appreciation can be unattractive.

They seem to be in complete denial about why we find them unattractive.  So, I guess I’ll leave the analysis to BB.  I’ll just say that I”m not the only one that’s noticed this because look at the links I dug up with the google.

Speaking of rich, Mike Allen of politico has written an article on Sheldon Adelson. He’s the very rich man behind any one that promises to go to war with Iran and has a series of really nasty casinos and other related sin businesses in Macao.

So why does he do it? For the first time, Adelson talked in detail about his top five reasons:

1) Self-defense: Adelson said that a second Obama term would bring government “vilification of people that were against him.” He thinks he would be at the top of that list, and contends that he already has been targeted for his political activity.

Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. is being scrutinized by federal investigators looking into possible money-laundering in Vegas, and possible violation of bribery laws by the company’s ventures in China, including four casinos in the gambling mecca of Macau. (Amazingly, 90 percent of the corporation’s revenue is now from Asia, including properties in Macau and Singapore.)

The country’s leading mega-donor is irritated by the leaks.“When I see what’s happening to me and this company, about accusations that are unfounded, that kind of behavior … has to stop,” he said.

Adelson gave the interview in part to signal that he intends to fight back in increasingly visible ways. Articles about the investigations appeared last month on the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He maintains that after his family became heavily involved in the election, the government began leaking information about federal inquiries that involve old events, and with which the company has been cooperating.

The aim of the leaks, he argued, is “making me toxic so that they can make the argument to the Republicans, ‘This guy is toxic. Don’t do business with him. Don’t take his money.’ Not all government employees are leakers, but most of the leakers are government employees.”

Asked to respond to Adelson’s comments, the Justice Department said it does not comment on, or confirm, investigations.

Oh, sheesh, try to change the  subject and what do I find?  Another rich dude with a persecution complex.  (sigh)

A treat for you :  Linda Rondstadt Sings Poor Poor Pitful Me for President and First Lady Clinton in 1996.  I’m suggesting this for Mitt’s New Campaign Song.  I think Ann could do it justice.

Maybe it should be your turn!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


62 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    “Victimization” sells. Tell enough people they are being taken advantage of and they come to believe it.

    How many accept that Christianity is under attack because Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingram say so?

    How many believe that the nation is flooded with “welfare queens” living the lives of luxury that make up the 47%?

    How many swallow the accusation that the government is infested with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and that Obama is about to confiscate all their weapons?

    How many trust that global warming is a “hoax” because learned scientists are about to “make a killing” for their efforts to persuade?

    Fox News has been quite successful in instilling their viewers with the sense of “victimization” with their “us vs them” mentality that suggests that white Christian people are constantly under attack.

    Say it often enough and it works. Listening to the GOP pols reinforces the belief that we are all “victims” of the government that must be dismantled and Mitt was merely echoing that view.

    I prefer to accept that I too am a “victim” of some of the stupidest, most radical “thinkers” to have ever emerged on the national stage.

  2. Beata says:

    Great post, Dak, and comment, Pat. As usual.

    Don’t expect me to write anything brilliant. I’m too busy playing the victim ( catch me in the Catskills the weekend of October 6th ). I can troll YouTube for vids though.

  3. Barbara says:

    There’s an old story. A sexton, cleaning up the church after a service, finds the pastor’s sermon lying in the pulpit. There are notes in the margins. “Pause here.” “Take a drink of water here.” About two-thirds through the pages, a note appears in capital letters with a double vertical line for emphasis: “Argument weak – yell like hell”

  4. bostonboomer says:

    The poor, poor, pitiful rich. They are so persecuted and put upon. We heard it from Jamie Dimon. They are suffering terribly because President Obama said a few unkind things about them in order to pacify the angry masses. Never mind that the government handed over the U.S. treasury to them. Their feelings are hurt because Obama didn’t come out and praise them to the skies too.

    Now they have a new candidate, Mitt Romney. But Mitt just can’t understand why the press keeps calling him on his lies. Don’t they understand that it’s his right to lie, cheat, and steal because he’s rich? Don’t they understand that it’s his turn to be president? It’s just not fair that they’re not making it easy for him.

    Barack and Michelle Obama should be busy packing right now so they can vacate the White House ASAP. Instead they are fight back. WTF? That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The Democrats are supposed to roll over and play dead because they weren’t nice enough to the Wall Street wizards, and it’s Mitt’s turn to serve them now.

  5. RalphB says:

    Voting rights is becoming a bigger story in the MSM finally.

    Reuters: Voting laws may disenfranchise 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens: study

    (Reuters) – New voting laws in 23 of the 50 states could keep more than 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens from registering and voting, a new study said on Sunday, a number so large it could affect the outcome of the November 6 election.

    The Latino community accounts for more than 10 percent of eligible voters nationally. But the share in some states is high enough that keeping Hispanic voters away from the polls could shift some hard-fought states from support for Democratic President Barack Obama and help his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

    The new laws include purges of people suspected of not being citizens in 16 states that unfairly target Latinos, the civil rights group Advancement Project said in the study to be formally released on Monday.

  6. Pilgrim says:

    I’m curious if there are any thoughts here re the Politico piece showing Romney in very strong position with middle class and other voter sectors.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Link please? BTW, why don’t you share your opinion of the article if you want to discuss it? Let us know why it should interest us.

      One preliminary question I would have, since this is Politico, is what definition of “middle class” did the pollsters use?

    • RalphB says:

      If it’s this “GOP Analysis: Mitt winning in the middle”, I think it’s partisan turd polishing.

      http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81584.html

      • bostonboomer says:

        I located it and read it, but I couldn’t find their definition of “middle class.” They say the middle class represents 54% of the country though. That sounds pretty high to me. But if Mitt is leading by 14 points among 54% of voters, why is he running behind Obama? I’m horrible at math but that doesn’t make sense to me.

      • RalphB says:

        It really didn’t make sense to me either. Several points were just repeated so I wouldn’t take it seriously.

  7. RalphB says:

    Who could have predicted that putting a zombie eyed granny starver on the ticket might hurt with older voters?

    Reuters: Analysis: For Romney, some troubling signs among older voters

    (Reuters) – Even before his running mate was booed by a lobbying group for older Americans on Friday, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was losing support among such voters, whose backing is crucial to his hopes of winning the November 6 election.

    New polling by Reuters/Ipsos indicates that during the past two weeks – since just after the Democratic National Convention – support for Romney among Americans age 60 and older has crumbled, from a 20-point lead over Democratic President Barack Obama to less than 4 points.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I keep asking myself if Romney is unconsciously sabotaging his own campaign. I don’t think he really wants to be President anymore than he wanted to be governor. It’s just something to add to his resume.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      “support for Romney among Americans age 60 and older has crumbled, from a 20-point lead over Democratic President Barack Obama to less than 4 points.”

      That’s what they get for trampling all over the 3rd rail and acting as if we’re too fucking geriatric to notice.

      You know when they go to the AARP and deliberately talk down Medicare and SS, as Paul Ryan did, the jig is up. We might be a little bit slower physically, but we’re old enough to remember that undoing the Social Compacts has been on the GOP radar for generations. My advice to Mitt and Paul would be “Don’t tug on superman’s cape”. Touch Medicare/Medicaid or SS and see if we don’t fight back, not only for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. Don’t make us go all geriatric on you, fools!!!!!

  8. pdgrey says:

    Someone else in Texas, besides the chair lynching guy.
    http://bluechickredbarn.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/hatred-hits-home-literally/

    Update (12:15 p.m. ET): Cassy Zobel told Raw Story that her Obama yard sign was stolen on Sunday night. But this time, the suspect, who appears to be a white male in his 40s, was caught on video, she said.

  9. RalphB says:

    This takes whining to a new and unseemly level.

    NYT: Romney Blames Obama for His Campaign Challenges

  10. bostonboomer says:

    At a high dollar fundraiser in CA yesterday, Mitt Romney talked about his concern for his wife Ann when she was a on a plane that caught fire.

    Romney’s wife, Ann, was in attendance, and the candidate spoke of the concern he had for her when her plane had to make an emergency landing Friday en route to Santa Monica because of an electrical malfunction.

    “I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”

    I’m no expert on air travel, but would it really be a good idea for passengers to be able to open windows when a plane is in flight? How much oxygen is in the air at those altitudes anyway? And wouldn’t letting in oxygen feed the fire?

    • RalphB says:

      The explosive decompression from an open window would be a real ride 😉

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Yes, not much & yes! How can someone who is hailed as a business wunderkind be this amazingly stupid? W was a dim bulb, but Mittens makes W appear to be of above average intelligence. Seriously, those comments by Mittens have flabbergasted me. I think I’ll be shaking my head for days.

    • dakinikat says:

      Depends on the altitude and the plane. I used to leave the windows open on the bug smasher I flew back in the 1980s. (Cessna 150)

    • NW Luna says:

      Isn’t Mitt against mandated safety inspections (for planes or anything else), on the grounds of stifling competition and nanny-state government?

      Double-talking entitled whiner!

    • Fannie says:

      Good Gawd get someone normal like Sully (Chesley Sullenberger) to explain those oxygen mast and emergency exist doors to Mittie.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      LOL!!!! At 20,000 feet that rolldown would be very, very interesting. It makes me wonder which part of Mitt Romney’s body would be sucked out of the aircraft first? I’m hearing the James Bond theme song just thinking about it.

    • What an idiot!

      Here is emptywheel’s take on it:

      An Airplane Window on Mitt’s Thinking | emptywheel

      Never mind the obvious reasons you can’t have windows that open on jets, never mind the additional problems introduced if you tried to have open windows in the cockpit, where the fire and smoke–and therefore the greatest risk–broke out.

      I’m more interested in what this says about Mitt’s problem solving.

      If it were my spouse on the plane, I’d want to know the cause of the fire–preliminarily they say electrical problems–and more importantly why it wasn’t prevented. On a commercial jet, a pilot would have to follow a pre-flight protocol to try to identify any failures; did this charter? On a commercial jet, you’d have the maintenance schedules to track whether someone overlooked an electrical problem; did this charter jet?

      The charter company Mitt uses most–Air Charter Team–is a broker. It doesn’t operate or staff the planes involved. They contract our to other operators. They ensure the safety of the planes they deal with by contracting with a research company to grade the teams they use.

      Air Charter Team has contracted with Aviation Research Group (ARG/US) to provide our customers with comprehensive safety information on the charter operators and pilots we utilize on your behalf. The report our company receives on each air charter operator and pilot gives us the background and safety information we need to make a sensible decision on who to use for your private jet charters.

      [snip]

      The CHEQ report (Charter Evaluation and Qualification report) has three major components that air charter companies use: historical safety ratings, current aircraft and pilot background checks, and on-site safety audits. Analysis of these components results in four potential levels of safety rating: DNQ, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each level reflects analysis and ranking based on increasing amounts of detailed information on the charter operator.

      If it were my spouse who had had an emergency landing on a charter my campaign was using (and presumably would use for the next six weeks), I’d want to double check this assurance. Was Ann on a Platinum graded plane? Were the reports in the plane’s historical aircraft checks accurate?

      That is, I’d want to know if the subcontractors my contracted service was using were fulfilling my needs. But not Mitt. This guy–a guy with a a JD/MBA–thinks first of a way to minimize the damage from a fire that would be dangerous under any circumstances, rather than ensuring very obviously procedural means to try to avoid a fire were in place.

      Such a method of problem solving–even a problem that affects him personally–doesn’t say much about what kind of problem solving he’d do as a President.

  11. Pilgrim says:

    There are good reasons (which you suggest) for windows on planes not being openable. Here, I suppose, will be another remark which Chris Matthews et al can put alongside trees that are the “right height” with which to pillory Mr. Romney.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Poor, poor Mr. Romney. He’s treated so unfairly.

      • janicen says:

        Seriously, both Romneys and apparently their supporters are the whiniest of the whiners. “Leave Mitt and Ann alone!!!”. From Mitt and his campaign staff whining about Obama’s negative TV ads to Ann whining about “This is hard…” you’d think these people had never paid attention to a presidential election before. Yeah folks, this is politics, this is a contest where the winner gets to be the most powerful person on the planet. If you think that low blows aren’t going to be launched you’re either incredibly naive, willfully ignorant, or both.

        • dakinikat says:

          They’ve spent all their lives having 95% of anything done for them before they see it. Name it and they’ve had the majority of anything done for them before it gets to them. They’ve never had to work a process before.

    • dakinikat says:

      Nobody needs to pillory Romney … all he has to do is open his mouth and he pillories himself

  12. ecocatwoman says:

    Not only are the voter ID laws disenfranchising voters, but redistricting has already had a seriously damaging effect on state races, along with federal congressional ones. Robert Draper was interviewed on Fresh Air today. Here’s a link to his current article in the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/10/the-league-of/309084/

  13. dakinikat says:

    There’s a peer reviewed study that came out that is getting some popular press play that could be pretty explosive:

    C.E.O.’s and the Pay-’Em-or-Lose-’Em Myth

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/business/ceos-and-the-pay-em-or-lose-em-myth-fair-game.html?ref=todayspaper

    New research by Charles M. Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, and Craig K. Ferrere, one of its Edgar S. Woolard fellows, begins by attacking this conventional wisdom. Mr. Elson and Mr. Ferrere conclude, contrary to the prevailing line, that chief executives can’t readily transfer their skills from one company to another. In other words, the argument that C.E.O.’s will leave if they aren’t compensated well, perhaps even lavishly, is bogus. Using the peer-group benchmark only pushes pay up and up.

    “It’s a false paradox,” Mr. Elson said in an interview last week. “The peer group is based on the theory of transferability of talent. But we found that C.E.O. skills are very firm-specific. C.E.O.’s don’t move very often, but when they do, they’re flops.”

  14. NW Luna says:

    From Counterpunch, Gail Dines’ no-holds-barred critique of The New York Times’ take on
    “A Woman’s Place.”

    The New York Times book review cover page last Sunday looked a lot like Cosmopolitan, with its pink graphic of a high heeled shoe overpowering a man’s dress shoe. The catchy headline read “A Woman’s Place.” Underneath the picture were two reviews, one of Hanna Rosin’s new book “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women,” and the other of Naomi Wolf’s new book – on her Vagina. Taken together, these two books suggest that what is ending is not so much male power, but feminism as a movement for radical change. At a time when women all over the world are getting poorer thanks to the global capitalist predators, North American feminists are busy celebrating women’s supposed economic gains, and their vaginas. ….

    One answer is that the women who have access to corporate-owned publishers are the ones who did indeed get the most out of feminism. …. Their individual gain means very little for those women struggling to survive in a shrinking economy. ….

    A recent report by the Economic Policy institute found that in 2011 nearly one-third of women in the USA earned a wage at poverty level or below, and that 40.7 percent of single mother lived in poverty in 2010. When life is bleak for women, it is awful for children; from 2009 to 2010, more than 1 million additional children also fell into poverty, and the numbers continue to grow.

  15. pdgrey says:

    Paul Ryan’s done this amend trick before.

    “So all of that seems very expected – except for this little nugget. Last month, USA Today reported that, while being vetted by the Romney campaign, Ryan amended two years of his financial disclosure statements to include the same trust.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2012/09/23/ryans-amended-returns-offer-more-questions-than-answers/

  16. RalphB says:

    Yes, some wingers actually take these seriously 🙂

    wonkette: Don’t Worry, Republicans, We Have Found These Awesome Made-Up Polls For You

  17. pdgrey says:

    If any one here lives in Florida, this is really good news, we have rid ourselves of a crazy state rep.
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/09/24/republican-lawmaker-quits-after-being-named-as-brothel-client-in-racketeering-case/

  18. RalphB says:

    From political wire, today’s swing state polls as of now.

    Colorado: Obama 51%, Romney 45% (Public Policy Polling)

    Florida: Obama 50%, Romney 45% (American Research Group)

    Iowa: Obama 51%, Romney 44% (American Research Group)

    Michigan: Obama 54%, Romney 42% (Rasmussen)

    North Carolina: Obama 49%, Romney 45% (Civitas)

    Nevada: Obama 51%, Romney 44% (American Research Group)

    Wisconsin: Obama 53%, Romney 41% (We Ask America)

    • ANonOMouse says:

      OMG, Ralph. Obama is 50 or over in all those swings except NC? The magic number 50 usually rings the campaign death knell. The better get their debate bullshit on message and that message better try to get back to the middle, if not Mitt might as well take Rainbow Brite and her Little Pony on back to the Maiibu Barbie Beach house! 🙂