Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a potpourri of great reads for you this morning, so let’s get started.

First up, people in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy have barely begun to recover. CBS News/AP report that: The scale of post-Sandy challenge in NY, NJ is unprecedented.

Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days aftersuperstorm Sandy struck.

For the first time since the storm slammed the Northeast, killing at least 63 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation’s largest city — a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind. The light gave officials and residents a true glimpse of destruction on a scale that the region has never seen before.

At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.

New York’s subway system was still down, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said parts of it will begin running again on Thursday. And he said some commuter rail service between the city and its suburbs would resume on Wednesday afternoon.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and his new BFF Barack Obama toured the devastation. From The New York Times: An Unlikely Political Pair, United by a Disaster.

President Obama toured the storm-tossed boardwalks of New Jersey’s ravaged coastline on Wednesday, in a vivid display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony that confronted Mitt Romney with a vexing challenge just as he returned to the campaign trail in Florida.

The scene of Mr. Obama greeting his onetime political antagonist Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City was a striking departure from what has become an increasingly bitter campaign, marked by sharp divisions between Mr. Romney’s more limited view of the federal role and Mr. Obama’s more expansive vision. The president placed a hand on Mr. Christie’s back and guided him to Marine One, where the two men shared a grim flight over shattered sea walls, burning houses and a submerged roller coaster.

Speaking to storm victims at a community center in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, Mr. Obama said, “We are going to be here for the long haul.” Mr. Christie thanked the president for his visit, saying, “It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey.”

The tableau of bipartisan cooperation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s highly visible role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has put Mr. Romney in an awkward position…

As for Mitt Romney, he was getting hammered by the media in Ohio for two ads in which he falsely implied that Chrysler and GM were planning to ship American jobs to China. It looks to me as if Romney has given up the ghost in Ohio, because he headed to Florida yesterday, where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading by one point.

And last night the NYT editorial board slammed Romney for “cross[ing] a red line.”

When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.

Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.

I think Romney may have finally sunk his campaign with those lying ads about the auto bailout. I wonder if that has contributed to polls that show Obama widening his leads in Michigan and Wisconsin?

In the Nebraska Senate Race, Bob Kerrey has been moving up in the polls, and last night Omaha.com broke some exciting news that could put him over the top: Chuck Hagel to endorse Bob Kerrey.

A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.

Hagel’s endorsement comes as polls have shown the race between Kerrey and Fischer tightening down the home stretch.

Hagel’s backing could go a long way with independents. And, it clearly underscores Kerrey’s contention that he is the person in the race who can win Republican and Democratic support.

If Kerry, Claire McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren, and perhaps Joe Donnelly can win their races, the Democrats should at least hold their majority in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, Liz Warren began making her final arguments.

As both Massachusetts Senate candidates deliver their final messages to voters, Warren is drawing on one major advantage she has in the state: demographics. According to the Secretary of State, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Massachusetts by a more than a three to one margin. As the race remains close, Warren and her supporters are using a partisan argument to rally the Democratic base, and encourage activists to turn out the vote on Warren’s behalf. Elect Brown, Warren and her supporters argue, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate.

Introducing Warren to a crowd of volunteers and activists at Warren’s Haverhill field office on Wednesday, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he came from a Halloween party. “Everyone was dressed up in really scary costumes, so I was going to dress up as (Republican Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” he said, to laughter. “Because can you think of anything scarier than (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner in the House of Representatives or Mitch McConnell in the Senate?”

“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the vote about which party is going to control the United States Senate,” Fiorentini continued. “We know which way Scott Brown is going to vote.”

Warren also released a great new ad that may serve as a closing argument: For All Our Families.

Right now in Indiana Joe Donnelly is leading Richard Mourdock by 7 percentage points.

I’ll end with a couple of powerful long reads.

From Truthout: What Does Romney’s Campaign of Lies Say About Our Country? Here’s the first paragraph:

Last week Mitt Romney delivered possibly the most dishonest presidential campaign speech in American history. It contains lie after lie, distortion after distortion, and trick after trick. The fact that a person capable of giving such a speech has reached this level suggests that it may be too late to salvage the country. Our institutions may be corrupted beyond repair.

Please check it out.

At Alternet, Matthew Fleisher writes: Why I Infiltrated One of the Most Secretive and Powerful Republican Organizations in the Country. This one is really long, but well worth reading. Here’s the teaser:

The Lincoln Club is the real deal. And if they have their way, Citizens United is just the beginning of their political ambitions for the country.

That’s it for me. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?

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Mitt Romney Treats Media to Delusional Pity Party

Mitt Romney with Rob Portman, speaking to reporters on flight to Denver, 9/23/12. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Yesterday, on the way from Los Angeles to Denver aboard his private campaign plane, Mitt Romney commiserated with reporters about the way his presidential run is going.

Recently fellow Republicans have been critical of him for spending so much time fund-raising when he should be campaigning in swing states. Yesterday, Romney explained to reporters on his campaign plane why he has had to spend so much time raising money–it’s all President Obama’s fault. According to NBC News, Romney

addressed his languid public campaign schedule of late, which has focused largely on fundraising and debate prep, by again blaming the president for disregarding federal campaign matching funds in 2008 and again this presidential cycle, forcing him to do the same.

“He’s doing it again this time, so to be competitive it means a lot more fundraising than I think I would like,” Romney said. “I’d far rather be spending my time out in the key swing states campaigning, door-to-door if necessary, but in rallies and various meetings, but fundraising is a part of politics when you’re opponent decides not to live by the federal spending limits.”

See, if poor Mitt had had his druthers, he’d have taken federal matching funds instead of raising unlimited campaign money from millionaires and billionaires. But that mean old Barack Obama forced him to turn to mega-rich donors. It wasn’t what Mitt really wanted.

Frankly, I think Romney must be so anxious about the situation he’s in that he is getting slightly delusional. He’s clearly in deep denial about his standing against Obama in the polls. He told Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes that his campaign “doesn’t need a turnaround” because “We’ve got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent President to the United States.”

Really? When you’re behind by about 3 points nationally and trailing in every swing state, I don’t call that tied.

Back to the pity party. Romney told reporters that

“I don’t pay a lot of attention to the day-to-day polls. They change a great deal,” Romney said. “I know in the coming six weeks they’re very unlikely to remain where they are today. I’ll either go up or I’ll go down. It’s unlikely that we’ll just stay the same.”

But when he was asked why he’s behind in swing states, Romney again blamed President Obama. The New York Times Caucus Blog has details on Romney’s complaints about the Obama campaign’s ads:

“I think that the president’s campaign has focused its advertising in many cases on very inaccurate portrayals of my positions,” he said. “They’ve been very aggressive in their attacks both on a personal basis and on a policy basis. I think as time goes on, people will realize that those attacks are not accurate and we’ll be able to have a choice which is based upon each other’s accurate views for the future of country” ….

“When he says I was in favor of liquidating the automobile industry, nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr. Romney said. “My plan was to rebuild the auto industry and take it through bankruptcy so that could happen, and by the way he doesn’t mention he took them through bankruptcy.”

Mr. Romney did oppose the auto industry bailout, instead lobbying for a process of “managed bankruptcy,” which he said would have allowed the car companies to restructure and emerge stronger than before. Though Mr. Obama did ultimately take General Motors and Chrysler through managed bankruptcies, the president argues that the process would not have been possible without his decision to inject the companies with billions in taxpayer money — an intervention Mr. Romney opposed.

Romney also expressed dismay that the Obama campaign has claimed that he is against abortion “even in cases of rape and incest and the life of the mother….That’s wrong.” It’s true that Romney has said he believes that rape and incest victims and mothers whose physical health is threatened should be excepted from abortion bans;  but at the same time he chose Paul Ryan–who doesn’t support any exceptions–as his running mate and before that he told Mike Huckabee that he supports state constitutional amendments to establish “personhood” for fertilized eggs. So why should voters trust him?

On his tax plan, according to The National Journal, Romney

accused his rival of inaccurately saying he favors lowering taxes on the wealthy while raising them on middle-income people. He was apparently referring to Democrats’ use of a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that found Romney’s tax plan would require households with incomes under $200,000 to pay higher taxes, on average, to help finance tax cuts for the rich. Romney has dismissed the study’s assumptions as “garbage.”

Back to the Caucus Blog:

Standing in the back of his plane, and pressed by reporters to explain his lagging position in many polls, Mr. Romney — whose campaign recently said that they would not allow fact-checkers to dictate their campaign — found himself calling for fact-checkers.

“I understand that politics is politics but in the past, when you’ve had an ad which has been roundly pointed out to be wrong, you take it out and you correct it and you put something back on,” Mr. Romney said.

“He keeps running these things even though he knows they’re wrong and saying them in rallies even though he knows they’re wrong.”

Talk about projection. I’d even call it delusional projection. This is from the guy whose top pollster Neil Newhouse famously said “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” In fact, (via Americablog) a recent study by

the self-proclaimed non-partisan “Center for Media and Public Affairs” – which has been accused of conservative ties in the past – finds that media fact-checkers found Mitt Romney and the GOP lied twice as much as Democrats. It’s some coincidence that the study came out just a few weeks after the Republican party collectively decided that it’s time to start tearing down fact-checkers.

Note that (see above) in the midst of his many complaints, Romney even indulged in the somewhat delusional fantasy that voters would somehow suddenly wake up and recognize President Obama’s despicable treachery:

I think as time goes on, people will realize that those attacks are not accurate and we’ll be able to have a choice which is based upon each other’s accurate views for the future of country.

It’s difficult to see how that could happen as long as Romney himself keeps repeating lies about President Obama and shifting his own positions at the drop of a hat. But Romney apparently believes the voters’ epiphany will come during the debates, when he will magically be able to express himself clearly at last. From The National Journal:

“I think the president will not be able to continue to mischaracterize my pathway, and so I’ll continue to describe mine, he will describe his, and people will make a choice,” he said. “That’s the great thing about democracy. I’m not going to try to fool people into thinking he believes things he doesn’t. He’s trying to fool people into thinking that I think things that I don’t. And that ends at the debates.”

But he said that he couldn’t guarantee a debate win. “I can’t tell you winning and losing,” he said. “I mean, he’s president of the United States, he’s a very effective speaker. I hope I’ll be able to describe my positions in a way that is accurate and the people will make a choice as to which path they want to choose. I happen to believe that if we each do our job relatively well, I will be able to convince people that our pathway forward will be more prosperous and more secure and more confident if we choose the path I describe.”

I really think Mitt Romney is so anxious and stressed that he’s losing it–he seems completely unaware of how his own behavior looks to others. He has begun deluding himself in order to hide his failures from himself.  I don’t think he has ever faced such a difficult challenge in his life until now. He has always been the guy on top–the one who could get away with anything.

In high school, Romney could pin down a classmate and cut his hair without being charged with assault; he could lead an elderly professor into a glass door an not be disciplined, he could make fun of a classmate’s speech patterns and get away with it. He could even pose as a highway patrolman and stop a car on the highway as a “prank” with no repercussions whatsoever. As a young man, his father helped him obtain four draft deferrals so he could be protected from being sent to Vietnam like so many others his age. As an adult, he was a CEO whose every order must be obeyed and whose whims were catered to.

Finally at age 65, Romney is facing a real test of character, and I don’t think he’s up to it. He’s self-destructing in a very public way. It will be very interesting to watch his behavior in the debates and his other appearances during the last few weeks of the campaign.


Billionaire Who Cleaned Up on Subprime Mortgage Foreclosures Hosts Secret Romney Fund Raiser

I just came across this in The Daily Beast and had to share.

Mitt Romney held a high-dollar fundraiser Thursday night at the home of John Paulson, the controversial hedge-fund billionaire who made a fortune shorting the housing market and subprime mortgages in 2007.

New York grocery billionaire John Catsimatidis told The Daily Beast the fundraiser, at Paulson’s posh townhouse at 9 East 86th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, was a “big-dollar event” for wealthy donors like himself “fighting for the soul of America.” The Romney campaign did not return requests for information about the fundraiser—which was not listed on the candidate’s public schedule. Paulson’s publicist, Armel Leslie, also did not return calls seeking comment.

A neighbor who witnessed the event from across the street described it to The Daily Beast as a large crowd of “older white people, mostly men,” who started showing up around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Around 8 p.m., sirens started blaring as more and more people started to show. There was security at the door as well as a police car on the street.

Then things became quiet until the sirens started up at 9:30 p.m. An SUV tried to block 86th Street, but New York drivers characteristically went around it. Then, as the security stood in the street, Romney emerged from the townhouse, “looking tall and neat.” He took off his suit jacket and climbed into the SUV.

The Daily Beast says this is a departure for Romney, since Paulson is one of the people who caused the economic crisis and who made obscene profits from it–Paulson made 3.7 billion on foreclosures. But I googled and found that Paulson also hosted a ritzy fundraiser for Romney at his (Paulson’s) Southhampton home last summer.

Interestingly, Paulson and fellow hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer (another big Romney donor) also made big bucks from the auto industry bailout, according to a February article by Greg Palast.

Gov. Romney…asserted that the Obama Administration’s support for General Motors was a, “payoff for the auto workers union.” However, union workers in GM’s former auto parts division, Delphi, the unit taken over by Romney’s funders, did not fare so well. The speculators eliminated every single union job from the parts factories once manned by 25,200 UAW members.

The two hedge fund operators turned a breathtaking three-thousand percent profit on a relatively negligible investment by using hardball tactics against the US Treasury and their own employees.

Under the control of the speculators, Delphi, which had 45 plants in the US and Canada, is now reduced to just four factories with only 1,500 hourly workers, none of them UAW members, despite the union agreeing to cut contract wages by two thirds.

It wasn’t supposed to be quite so bad. The Obama Administration and GM had arranged for a private equity investor to provide half a billion dollars in new capital for Delphi, but that would have cut the pay-out to Singer and Paulson. The speculators blocked the Obama-GM plan, taking the entire government bail-out hostage. Even the Wall Street Journal’s Dealmaker column was outraged, accusing Paul Singer of treating the auto company, “like a third world country.”

Romney and Paulson both graduated from Harvard Business School and each went to work for The Boston Consulting Group soon after. I don’t know if they were at Harvard and BCG at the same time, but it seems possible. Wikipedia has a list of famous people who came out of BCG, including Jeffrey Immelt and Benjamin Netanyahu. These are truly Romney’s people.

As I’ve written a number of times, Barack Obama was Wall Street’s candidate in 2008, but Mitt Romney IS Wall Street. Just reading about these guys scares the sh%t out of me!


Open Thread: Republicans don’t *have* to be Mean-Spirited like Karl Rove

I admit I didn’t watch a single Superbowl ad. I didn’t watch the halftime show either. I just can’t stand to. I did hear that there was an ad with Clint Eastwood in it, and I decided to watch it after I heard that Karl Rove was “offended” by it. From Raw Story:

Fox News host Jon Scott on Monday told Rove that Democrats were celebrating the ad as evidence of the effectiveness of President Barack Obama’s bold decision to bailout the auto companies instead of letting them go under.

“This is a sign of what happens when you have government getting in bed with big business like the bailout of the auto companies,” Rove complained. “The leadership of the auto companies feel they need to do something to repay their political patrons.”

“I was, frankly, offended by it,” he added. “I’m a huge fan of Clint Eastwood. I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics. And the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”

As the article points out, Rove’s old boss Dubya provided General Motors with $17.4 billion in government loans before Obama was President. Was he offended by that?

We’ve actually reached the point where Republicans are “offended” by improvement in the U.S. economy and are doing everything in their power to bring it down again. As for Clint Eastwood, who is a registered Republican, I thank him for not only doing the ad but also for standing up for LGBT rights.