Tuesday Reads: Romney and Zingers, Environmental Activism, and A Bit of Schadenfreude

Good Morning!!

I have some interesting links today–some of them a couple of days old, but even if you’ve seen them, they bear repeating.

First up, there’s just one more day until the first presidential debate. I just can’t wait to hear those “zingers” Mitt Romney’s advisers told the NYT he has been practicing for months.

Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy.

Since August? I hope they haven’t gotten stale. Apparently they’re hoping Obama will have another “likable enough” moment. I doubt that will happen, but we’ll see.

Frankly, as Ezra Klein writes at HuffPo, Romney would be better off to forget the zingers and develop more popular policies.

Behind in the polls and facing mounting panic among his donors, Mitt Romney is readying his secret weapon for the debates: Zingers….Pro tip: If your strategy to turn the presidential election around relies on Romney’s sense of comic timing, you might want to prepare a Plan B, as well.

The idea that this election can be reshaped by a zinger speaks to a deeper problem in the Romney campaign’s fundamental view of the race. As they see it, Obama’s record is an obvious disaster and their job entails little more than pointing that out over and over again. That the polls haven’t seemed responsive to this theory hasn’t dissuaded them. The new explanation for Romney’s difficulties is that the media are in the tank for Obama and that’s why the Romney campaign’s message isn’t breaking through.

But, Klein says, Americans know the economy is bad, but they also think it would have been worse if John McCain had been elected, rather than Barack Obama. Check out the chart.

Anna Marie Cox also addressed the “zingers” story at the Guardian.

The Romney campaign, having already proven able to discover impressive new ways for a nomination to blunder (my jaw still involuntarily drops a little when I hear the phrase “47%”), they have now added yet another type of podiatric wound to their catalogue. According to a report in the New York Times on Saturday, Romney’s staff “has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August.”

Already an awkward presence, Romney seems particularly susceptible to the tense stillness and deathless pathos that accompanies a dud punchline. Picturing the forced jocularity around the campaign headquarters has its pleasures, specifically the idea of Mitt trotting out well-worn jokes with the panache of a Catskills stand-up:

“Take my economic policy … please!”

“How lazy is half America? So lazy …”

“Any car-elevator owners in the audience tonight?”

But there’s an awful flipside: my God, what if he actually tries one of them?

Whether you wince or guffaw at the image of Romney attempting and failing to “zing” the president, probably says more about your tolerance for the humiliation of others than your political sensibilities. You’d think covering politics would have inured me to it by now, but in real life, I can’t even watch “American Idol”. I will view the debate on Wednesday through the spaces between my fingers, with a desk nearby to bang my head against.

What I really wish is that Romney would follow Donald Trump’s advice. According to TPM, Trump tweeted that Romney “should ask Obama why autobiography states “born in Kenya, raised in Indonesia.”

Romney will definitely have to watch his tone though, based on the results of a focus group study that TPM reported today. And Republicans will have a hard time saying this one is biased, because it was done by Haley Barbour’s company.

Barbour’s firm Resurgent Republic conducted focus groups of blue collar voters in Ohio and suburban women in Virginia who supported Obama in 2008 but are now undecided. Both are swing demographics that Romney is working to win over in order to flip each state from blue to red.

Their findings? Voters are a lot more willing to believe attacks based around Romney quotes than they are on Obama quotes.

“Whenever we showed direct quotes from President Obama over the last few years, voters consistently say that this is probably taken out of context and they don’t seem to hold that same standard with Governor Romney,” pollster Linda DiVall, who conducted the Virginia focus groups, said in a conference call announcing the findings Monday.

She added that while their reaction struck her as “a little bit unfair,” it was nonetheless “American voters’ right to do that.”

Pollster Ed Goeas said his own Ohio focus groups elicited similar responses, which could make things harder for Romney as he seeks to reverse his comments that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves “victims.”

It sounds like these swing state voters have figured out that Romney is a lying liar who only cares about the needs of the top .01 percent. Voters just aren’t as stupid as the Romney campaign thinks.

Did you see the tough op-ed Harry Reid wrote for the Las Vegas Sun on Sunday? He really ripped Romney a new one.

We learn the most about someone’s character not from what he does when he knows others are watching but from what he does when he thinks they aren’t.

We’ve learned an awful lot of troubling things about Mitt Romney recently. First, his sweeping, closed-door condemnation of President Barack Obama’s supporters revealed the disdain he has for half the population he hopes to serve. Then, the limited tax returns Romney selectively released confirmed that he’s willing to share information about the time he’s been in the public eye and running for president, but not the time he was running the corporation he touts as his sole qualifying credential for the highest office in the land.

When he thought no one was listening, Romney accused 47 percent of Americans of not taking responsibility for their lives, painting them as lounging in government dependency — a conclusion he reached because, for various legitimate reasons, they are exempt from paying federal income taxes.

Romney stands not only on shaky ethical grounds in making that indiscriminate generalization — he’s also on flimsy factual footing. The 47 percent Romney derides as self-pitying “victims” includes seniors who live on a fixed income thanks to the Social Security they paid into and earned over a lifetime of hard work, our troops in combat zones and veterans who have fought for our country. It includes students studying to get the skills that will win them the jobs of the future and decent Americans actively looking for work because their jobs were outsourced by companies such as those Romney specialized in developing. Most of them pay plenty of payroll, property, local and state taxes.

Reid goes on to beat Romney over the head with his secret tax returns one more time. Go read the whole thing if you haven’t already. Reid is turning out to be the Democratic attack dog of the 2012 campaign season.

Just one more Romney link: Romney would put states in charge of federal lands. James Bruggers, a Kentucky reporter who covers environmental issues full-time writes:

Our public lands are a birthright, held in trust for each one of us and managed by a set of laws that were worked out through compromise by Congress and various presidential administrations going back generations.

They provide places for us to hike, ride our mountain bikes, horses, camp, hunt and fish. Many are managed for multiple uses, and they also allow for cattle grazing, timber harvesting, oil and gas development, mining and skiing.

Romney, however, has said he would change all this, putting states in control of lands now under the stewardship of such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, who are charged with making sure all Americans have a say in their management. Often this gets reported simply as an expansion of oil and gas development on public lands, a simplification that fails to acknowledge just how radical of a shift in public policy it would be to turn over federal lands to state control.

From a Romney white paper:

States will be empowered to establish processes to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on federal lands within their borders, excluding only lands specially designated off-limits;
• State regulatory processes and permitting programs for all forms of energy development will be deemed to satisfy all requirements of federal law;
• Federal agencies will certify state processes as adequate, according to established criteria that are sufficiently broad, to afford the states maximum flexibility to ascertain what is
most appropriate.

I still remember how shocked I was when I heard Romney say this in the Nevada primary debate. This is a huge issue as far as I’m concerned. American is still a beautiful country with many unspoiled wilderness areas. It is vital that we protect those public lands–they belong to all Americans, not to individual state governments.

Here’s another environmental story on the attempts to block the Keystone XL pipeline: BREAKING: Blockader Locks to Underground Capsule to Protect a Family Farm. It’s a live blog of the “Tar Sands blockade.” Here’s their Facebook page.

From Firedoglake blogger Kevin Gosztola:

A Tar Sands Blockader, Alejandro de la Torre, locked his body in a concrete capsule buried in the path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to stop a small family farm in East Texas from being destroyed by construction. He blocked demolition for at least six hours before police were able to break off a chunk of concrete is arm was in and arrest him.

Police confiscated cameras of Blockaders that were there to film for Torre’s safety. Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ramsey Sprague reported they wanted to keep cameras on him as long as possible but police intimidated observers and took the cameras.

Last week, TransCanada supervisors encouraged police to use torture tactics on protesters to stop their nonviolent direct action.

Sprague recounted the brutality, which was “astounding.” Shannon “Rain” Beebe and Benjamin Franklin locked themselves to TransCanada machinery to stop clear-cutting. The police hung them with their arms behind their backs. They put pressure on their shoulder with their arms twisted. They pepper sprayed a tube connecting their arms. They twisted a tube cutting off circulation to their hands. (One protester is seeking medical attention for nerve damage.)

The police used tasers and planned to keep using tasers on Beebe and Franklin until they released. Cameras were supposed to be on the scene to film the action, but police were directed by TransCanada supervisors to run off those with cameras so they could commit brutality without people seeing video evidence on the evening news.

Continuing the environmental theme, pioneering environmental activist Barry Commoner died on Sunday.

Scientist and activist Barry Commoner, who raised early concerns about the effects of radioactive fallout and was one of the pioneers of the environmental movement, has died at age 95.
Commoner died Sunday afternoon at a Manhattan hospital, where he had been since Friday, said his wife, Lisa Feiner. He lived in Brooklyn.

Commoner was an outspoken advocate for environmental issues. He was one of the founders of a well-known survey of baby teeth in St. Louis that started in the late 1950s. The survey assessed the levels of strontium-90 in the teeth and showed how children were absorbing radioactive fallout from nuclear bombs that were being tested.

The survey helped persuade government officials to partially ban some kinds of nuclear testing.
Feiner said Commoner had “a very strong belief that scientists had a social responsibility, that the discoveries would be used for social good and that scientists also had an obligation to educate the public about scientific issues so that the public could make informed political decisions.”

Commoner took on that role of educating the public, writing books on environmental issues. Among his works were “Making Peace with the Planet” and “Science and Survival.” He made the cover of Time magazine in early 1970 and ran for president as a third-party candidate in 1980.

Finally, here’s a little bit of schadenfreude for you. Bloomberg reports that New York is “suing JP Morgan for fraud over mortgages securities.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the biggest U.S. bank, was sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over claims that the Bear Stearns business the bank took over in 2008 defrauded mortgage-bond investors.

Investors were deceived about the defective loans backing securities they bought, leading to “monumental losses,” Schneiderman said in a complaint filed today in New York State Supreme Court.

“Defendants systematically failed to fully evaluate the loans, largely ignored the defects that their limited review did uncover, and kept investors in the dark about both the inadequacy of their review procedures and the defects in the underlying loans,” Schneiderman’s office said.

Schneiderman in January was named co-chairman of a state- federal group formed to investigate misconduct in bundling of mortgage loans into securities leading up to the financial crisis. The group includes officials from the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI and other federal and state officials.

Poor Jamie Dimon. Why don’t people respect his “success?”

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

76 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Romney and Zingers, Environmental Activism, and A Bit of Schadenfreude”

  1. It has really been difficult for me to get into the swing of politics lately. I am so disgusted with everything the last few weeks, or maybe even months. At least when we had all those idiots debating each other, there was a thrill for me. A sarcastic thrill, that felt like I was watching a train wreck…but I actually enjoyed it. Since the crazies dropped out, and we were left with the robotic turd in a suit, it hit me. That even with all the fumbles and revolting remarks, Romney could still make it into the White House…(I know it is probably a long shot but it still scares me.) I guess that PAD has made me completely tune out of everything remotely connected with the election.

    I love this post BB, those “zingers” that Cox came up with are funny as hell to me. Thanks for that…

    • bostonboomer says:

      Maybe you’ll get some laughs out of the debate tomorrow night, JJ. I can hardly wait for those zingers to start flying.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Whoa! Obama leading by 15 points in New Hampshire according to new WMUR (NPR) poll of likely voters, 52-37.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Blue Mass Group found a police log report on Mitt Romney’s 1981 arrest for disorderly conduct. Not that exciting, really, but funny.

    A police log report, published in the Natick Sun newspaper in 1981 and obtained by Blue Mass Group, calls into question a portion of Mitt Romney’s account of his arrest in 1981. When news of the arrest emerged during Romney’s 1994 Senate race, Romney told the Boston Globe that he was released after his arrest without having to post bail, but the police log suggests that that may not be true.

    The police log also says that Romney was charged with operating an unregistered motorboat. Previously, the only offense Romney was known to have been charged with was disorderly conduct.

    He’s listed in the newspaper report as Willard M. Romney.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    The HIll has a puff piece on Ann Romney and how “likable” and “relatable” she is. Supposedly….

    • NW Luna says:

      “Ann Romney’s ability to put her foot down — and still be liked — is an asset”

      ROTFLOL! Except to “those people.”

  5. bostonboomer says:

    GOP October surprise?

    According to a highly reliable source, as Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare for the first presidential debate Wednesday night, top Republican operatives are primed to unleash a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.

    The source, who has firsthand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, D.C., last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.

    He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bombshell” that would make Libya and Obama’s foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. “My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence.”

    The source described the Republicans as chortling with glee that the Obama administration “definitely had intel” about the attack before it happened. “Intelligence can be graded in different ways,” he added, “and sometimes A and B don’t get connected. But [the Romney campaign] will try to paint it to look like Obama had advance knowledge of the attack and is weak on terrorism.”

    He said they were jubilant about their new strategy and said they intended to portray Obama as a helpless, Jimmy Carter-like president and to equate the tragedy in Libya with President Carter’s failed attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980. “They are so excited about it,” he said. “Over and over again they talked about how it would be just like Jimmy Carter’s failed raid. They feel it is going to give them a last-minute landslide in the election.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Maybe the zings will be loaded with Jimmy Carter references?

      • Pat Johnson says:

        He’s going to work in some reference to “Honey Boo Boo” just to show the audience he is “up” on his cultural knowledge.

        The man is supremely humorless. It is virtually impossible to insert humor into a psyche anymore than you can insert intelligence into a Kardashian.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It hasn’t worked so far and both Romney and Ryan have been pushing the Carter comparison for months.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Well, if this doesn’t work, they can always blame Obama for killing Vince Foster. Adding to that, he no doubt launched the conspiracy theory that Hillary killed Vince to damage her reputation further. That was necessary because Obama had consulted with a psychic witch doctor who foresaw that Hillary would run for president in 2008 and her past baggage, like the Vince Foster murder theory, would help demonize her enough to keep a majority of Dems from supporting her in the primaries, giving Obama the opening he needed. See, anyone can make this shit up. No creative gene is necessary. (this is full blown snark, folks)

    • RalphB says:

      Only thing we know for certain is they have no problems making shit up to match their story of the moment. The right wing wurlitzer will spin like crazy in an attempt to catapult the propaganda everywhere. I never discount their ability to sell a lie.

    • Fannie says:

      Obama had his own Carter moment when he went after Bin Laden, they are just throwing some read meat out for their followers, cause nobody else will believe their bullshit. Confirmation, confirmation, and back it up, instead of blowing it up and pointing fingers to Arab terrorist. Everybody in the kingdom but Mitt knows that Libya is a new country, with new rules, and that Obama couldn’t send in the FBI because it wasn’t safe, and Mitt thinks he should have sent in the troops and get it on with WWIII, not knowing exactly who to go after.

      They are also going to stoke the fire by adding the part that Obama is giving aid to Egypt in tune of 450 million dollars. Rep Kay Granger of Texas, chairwoman of House appropriations that oversees foreing aid is urging a block of this money going to foreign aid, saying we need it right here in the this. This aid was part of $1 billion Obama pledged months to help in the transititon to democracy.

      Another repulibcans compared the Cole event as likness to Libya. He quotes the 9/11 commission study that said something to the effect that because Cole was no attention was paid to Cole, it led up to 9/11, and a major weakness in our national security.. Frankly, at the time of Cole, the freaking republicans were so damn busy busting their asses to impeach Clinton over the Monica situation, that everything in the country damn near came to a halt.
      Well, that’s what I remember………..I’ll try to find the republican who was tv repeating the need to investigate and fire Susan Rice.

  6. One thing about those practiced “zingers” of Romney. It got me thinking. While reading that he has memorized these things, just waiting for the opportunity to use them…like he was waiting for the opportunity to use the Obama “apology” crap (and uncontrolled smirk) after the attack in Libya? Wasn’t that Mittastrophy a rehearsed meme the Romney campaign came up with long before they used it?

    • RalphB says:

      It seems it was a rehearsed meme to take advantage of any possible chance to scream “Jimmy Carter” loudly.

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    I’m still reeling over the comments of Scott Brown’s hesitant response to his “favorite” SC justice. Scalia and Sotomeyer? Really? How trite.

    The question took him by surprise. You could see the wheels turning trying to remember one name that was familiar then settling for the most divisivie member of the court who is not a popular figure in MA. Throwing in Sotomeyer was a plea for the female votes out here and it fell flat. No comparison. Not by a longshot.

    Scotty’s “true colors” are emerging. For the past two years as a “fill in” senator he has played safe but allowing him a full term is a guarantee of his “lockstep votes” with the GOP agenda of Mitch McConnell.

    Warren was more impressive last night and able to hold her ground a lot better against him since she came prepared whereas he is relying on those just dumb enough to buy into his version of “bipartisanship”.

    My only hope is that there are enough “undecideds” out there who will view him for what he is and it is no longer “Mr. Nice Guy”.

  8. Have you all seen this: Cassidy Goodson, 14-Year-Old, Murders Her Newborn Baby: Cops

    And, they publish her photo? Seems like that should be kept out of the report since she is a minor.

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    I’m hoping those promised “zingers” don’t include: “a priest, a rabbi, and a mullah walked into a bar…..”.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Billionaire Businessman Says Government Assistance For The Poor Makes People Lazy


    • bostonboomer says:

      • HT says:

        Are only boors billionaires? Aren’t there any decent people who have made millions? Seriously, this parade of self entitled, privileged whiners is just too much. Wonder if they have ever heard about Bastille Day?

  11. From Reuters: Breaking News: At least 26 students killed in attack on student residence in northeast Nigeria: college spokesman

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Elizabeth Warren tries not to laugh at Scott Brown’s “model SCOTUS justice” clusterf&ck.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It says the decision can still be appealed.

      • RalphB says:

        Judge actually based his ruling on Supreme Court guidance though.

        The decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

        However, Simpson based his decision on guidelines given to him days ago by the high court justices, and it could easily be the final word on the law just five weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s good. I should have read further.

  13. pdgrey says:

    BB, still reading, thanks for the live blog last night. I feel better this morning I think it just a “small’ cold!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I hope you keep feeling better. I thought I was getting over my cold, but now it has settled in my chest and I’m coughing. I plan to hit the Vitamin C hard today.

      • RalphB says:

        Take care of yourself and get well soon!!!!!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Ralph.

      • HT says:

        Same with me – it’s moved from the head to the chest. Fresh lemons were my first purchase today. Time to squeeze the juice and drink hot lemon.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I wonder if we all have the same bug? Quixote says there’s something going around CA too.

      • HT says:

        Don’t know if it’s the same bug cause North America is a very big continent, however every person I’ve met today are complaining of the same thing, so perhaps ….
        Get well all of you fellow sufferers.

  14. RalphB says:

    Greg Sargent on a new Rmoney ad and lots more.

    The Morning Plum: Mitt Romney, scourge of millionaires

    Mitt Romney’s problem is not simply that the Obama campaign has succeeded in persuading voters that his policies would benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class. It’s that his policies really would benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class, and he doesn’t have any reality-based way of persuading voters otherwise.

    Case in point: The new ad that the Romney campaign rolled out this morning, which is a very good preview of what to expect at the debates:
    The ad claims Obama and the “liberals” would raise middle class taxes, and says: “Mitt Romney and common sense conservatives would cut taxes on the middle class, and they’ll close loopholes for millionaires.”

    The ad shows that the Romney camp recognizes the urgent needs to change perceptions that his policies are skewed towards the wealthy. The problem is that the ad is an almost comically misleading presentation of his own actual proposals, and it is unlikely voters will believe it in the numbers Romney needs.

  15. bostonboomer says:

    Dancin’ Dave gave Scott Brown 5 more minutes than he did Elizabeth Warren.

  16. pdgrey says:

    It’s getting down and dirty in Florida. Since Allen West put out an ad on Murphy for disorderly intoxication when he was 19.

  17. RalphB says:

    If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with crazy.

    Wingnuts Convinced Grover Norquist is Working with the Muslim Brotherhood

    Grover Norquist, the guy who smarmily strong-arms almost every Republican into swearing an oath never to raise taxes, may be an Islamo-fascist Muslim sleeper agent—according to conservative hatemonger and Islamophobe David Horowitz.

    Grover Norquist’s crime? He’s married to a Muslim-American! ::gasp::

  18. RalphB says:

    Paul Ryan disappeared from Romney’s ad?


    You all know the standard structure of a political ad, or at least one kind of political ad: attack your opponent with scary charges and off-putting images, then change the music, show the sun (metaphorically) coming out, and reveal the glorious image of the candidate or team that will lead us to the Promised Land.

    So watch this ad (via Greg Sargent and Mark Halperin). What’s going on?

    Hmmm … Obama and higher taxes, Obama and government-run healthcare, Obama and Evil Nancy Pelosi, Obama and higher taxes, Obama and Evil Nancy Pelosi…

    And then…

    Our saviors! The people who are going to lead us out of the wilderness! Mitt Romney and …

    Rob Portman?

    Where’s Paul Ryan?

    Apparently he’s been disappeared. The script says, “Mitt Romney and common-sense conservatives will cut taxes on the middle class,” but Ryan seems not to be one of those common-sense conservatives

  19. pdgrey says:

    I have to bring this up. If Obama is re-elected and does not realize the people voted for him (stayed with him) because they believe the social contract is not up for grabs, and it IS one of the best things Democrats did for the poor and middle class, that the republicans finally showed their hand; then they will be the losers in elections to come. The truth is, it’s all they have left. They throw it away at their own peril.

  20. ANonOMouse says:

    BB, my daughter sent me this photo today. I thought it might make a good front page for tomorrow nights debate

  21. RalphB says:

    Typical beltway hackery by Mark Halperin…

    Mitt Romney decisively loses the Tom Friedman Primary. Boston will likely say “who cares?” and “big surprise (not),” rather than asking why it happened and what the political (and potential governing) implications are.

    I’m sure this is good news for John McCain 😉