Ann Romney’s “Revealing” Interview With Good Housekeeping Magazine

Good Housekeeping has published interviews with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. The editors call the interview with Romney “revealing,” and I’d have to agree–though probably for different reasons than theirs.

The headline revelation has to be that Ann Romney wants to “throw out the” education “system.”

GH: Can you tell me, what campaign issue is closest to your heart?

AR: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.

Romney doesn’t elaborate on what “answers” the charter schools have provided or which improvements teachers unions are preventing. But a number of studies have found problems with charter schools, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that students’ test scores are better overall in charter schools than public schools.

As for the teachers unions, I realize that Ann’s husband would like to eliminate all unions and reduce workers’ pay as much as possible. Certainly privatizing education through charter schools would be a good way to eliminate teachers unions.

Ann Romney was certainly a lot more explicit about the goal of ending public schools in this interview than her husband has been. Perhaps Mitt isn’t worried about the reactions of readers of Good Housekeeping. He probably thinks they’re just a bunch of silly airheads.

Ann gave several other answers that I found pretty stunning. In response to a question on why her husband should be president, Ann said:

I’d say because of his life experience, starting with the example [his father] George Romney set of being successful in his family and business and then serving in a political sphere. [He showed] what a difference being involved in politics makes. The formula from his perspective was, you never get involved in politics unless you’re financially secure and your children are raised. So when our children were older and Mitt had made a bit of money, there was his father’s example that you find ways to serve and give back.

So I guess anyone who isn’t a millionaire shouldn’t run for office? Or does “a bit of money” mean hundreds of millions to Ann? Clearly Obama shouldn’t have run with those two young daughters! Back to Ann’s pontificating:

That’s also what drew us to the Olympics. Mitt gave up everything, walked away from a very lucrative position [to lead the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics]. It was just a little square inch of light that you walk into saying, “I think this is the right thing to do.” You get that confidence from intuition and prayer…all of those things where no one’s going to give you a blueprint of how life is going to turn out.

“Mitt gave up everything?” WTF?! At this point it should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that Mitt Romney never really left Bain Capital. The Boston Globe reported in July that Romney didn’t resign from Bain in 1999 as he has claimed, but instead took a leave of absence and only negotiated his severance package in 2002 when he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts. The severance package kept him earning money from current Bain investments for ten more years. Romney was even listed as CEO of Bain on the Olympics website and during public appearances at the time. Even now Romney is still profiting from the company he founded.

Ann Romney is every bit as full of shit as her husband is. She says that Mitt would help the economy by “getting rid of regulation,” and “using our natural resources,” (meaning open up national parks to oil drilling) but she acknowledges that in places like China where there is no environmental regulation,

the pollution and the air quality is just abysmal, and people are having to live in that. You understand how important it is, but you also have to recognize that we have to balance those things.

Right. We “have to balance” the rights of the rich to feed their endless greed with the rights of the 99.9% of Americans to clean air and water.

Ann says that as First Lady she would continue to work with at-risk young people. I didn’t realize she had done that, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia,

Ann Romney has been involved in a number of children’s charities, including having been a director of the inner city-oriented Best Friends, which seeks to assist inner-city adolescent girls. She advocated a celibacy-based approach to the prevention of teen pregnancy. She worked extensively with the Ten Point Coalition in Boston and with other groups that promoted better safety and opportunities for urban youths. She was an honorary board member of Families First, a parent education program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.

She has said her interest in helping underprivileged children dates back to when she and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. She began volunteering for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay soon after that, and by 2002 was serving as one of that organization’s board members. She was on the Faith in Action Committee for the United Way, working with local religious establishments to assist at-risk children and helping to found United Way Faith and Action. Earlier, by 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.

Please note that Stand for Children is an organization that has worked to reduce protections for teachers and undermine the power of teachers unions.

A couple more of Ann’s answers really bugged me. There was the one in which she praises Mitt for saying it was OK if Ann couldn’t cook all his meals for him when she was suffering from MS:

You have to find something that’ll pull you away from those scary places. And it was my husband telling me, “I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. I don’t care whether you make dinner; I can eat cold cereal and toast. As long as we’re together, as long as you’re here, we’re going to be OK.”

Why couldn’t Mitt cook his own damn meals? How hard is it to open a cookbook and learn the basics? If he just couldn’t bring himself to do that, he could hire a cook–and other servants as well–to help his sick wife. They were hardly struggling to make ends meet!

But here’s the most annoying statement Ann made in the interview:

GH: Who are your heroes? Your role models? Don’t say your husband, even if it’s true. (Laughing)

AR: I would say Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa…and Hillary Clinton. She has been through so much; she just kept going. Now she’s doing a great job as Secretary of State.

Mother Theresa was a hypocrite just like Ann, I buy that one. But I don’t believe for one minute that she agrees with Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton on anything.

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Tuesday Reads: Presidential Debate Take Two, The Sociopath Ticket, Warren-Brown, and a Sensata Update

Good Morning!!

I have to admit that I’m a nervous wreck worrying about the debate tonight. I’ve been very anxious about it ever since I read that article by Jonathan Chait that Dakinikat linked to in the Monday morning post. Here’s the part that almost sent me into a full-blown panic attack:

Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor.

Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke. Ryan’s plan has never attracted Democratic support, but it is not designed for bipartisanship. Ryan deliberately built it to circumvent a Senate filibuster, stocking the plan with budget legislation that is allowed, under Senate “budget reconciliation” procedures, to pass with a simple majority. Republicans have been planning the mechanics of the vote for many months, and Republican insiders expect Romney to use reconciliation to pass the bill. Republicans would still need to control 50 votes in the Senate (Ryan, as vice-president, would cast the tiebreaking vote), but if Romney wins the presidency, he’ll likely precipitate a partywide tail wind that would extend to the GOP’s Senate slate.

{{Shiver}} That’s scarier than a slasher movie. It could all depend on President Obama’s performance in tonight’s town hall style debate. Of course we’ll be having a live blog. The debate begins at 9PM Eastern.

There are countless journalists, bloggers, and talking heads advising President Obama what to do tonight. I’m just going to share one that I think goes pretty well with Chait’s predictions about a Romney presidency. It is offered by Jeffrey Feldman, who is somewhat of an expert on “framing.” Feldman suggests that One Word Can Win the Next Debate. The word is “restructuring,” which, according to Feldman is what Romney wants to do to the entire country.

Almost four years after it was published, his New York Times Op-Ed “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” is still the clearest statement of a sociopathic economic ideology that will be unleashed on the American public if Mitt Romney wins the election. President Obama would be wise to hold it up to the viewing audience multiple times in tomorrow’s presidential debate.

Published just after President Obama took office, Romney’s article takes the cavalier position that the U.S. government should not step in and help the auto industry that was at the time teetering on the brink of decline. As GM, Chrysler and Ford each fell to their knees clutching their chest, Romney was saying do not call the EMS unit, do not let anybody near them. Just let them fall to the floor, dead.

Why does Romney insist that GM, Chrysler, and Ford — three of the largest manufacturing firms in the history of the United States — be refused first aid at the very moment they fall to the floor clutching their chests? The answer lies in this Orwellian, bone-chilling phrase:

“Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself.”

I think Feldman has a great point. This would be a great way to frame Romney’s economic policies and explain how dangerous they are for those of us who don’t have offshore banking accounts in the Caymans, Switzerland, and Bermuda.

In contrast to Mitt Romney’s world of forced restructuring, the president bases his economic vision on what we already know about the destructive effects of standing back and letting the sectors of the economy on which a middle class depends go into a stratosphere free-fall.

To present this contrast with Mitt Romney’s sadistic world of forced restructuring, the president needs to do more than say he saved the auto industry or that he believes investing in the middle class is the key to economic recovery.

He needs to say that Mitt Romney looks at past suffering of working people and insists, “We need to repeat this right away” whereas Barack Obama looks at it and asks, “What can we do to make sure this never happens again?”

That would be very effective, I think. I hope President Obama has something like that up his sleeve! The White House must be confident, because they’ve arranged for Joe Biden to appear on all three network morning shows tomorrow.

Biden will appear on CBS This Morning, The Today Show, and Good Morning America, according to a network source.

The pre-booking stands in contrast to the last debate, when the Obama campaign was temporarily shell-shocked by the president’s performance. Aides waited more than 10 minutes to enter the “spin room” in Denver as they formulated a message. The following morning, aides, not high profile surrogates, took to TV.

I hope Biden calls Romney’s lies “a bunch of malarkey” and laughs his ass off!

And here’s a little bit of good news. As of yesterday late afternoon, Nate Silver’s predictive model has Obama’s electoral vote count back above 270, and his chances of reelection at 66%. It appears the Romney bump is really over. We should have a good idea tonight whether Obama will get a debate bump.

More good news, this time in the Massachusetts Senate race: Elizabeth Warren raises $12.1 million, Scott Brown $7.45 million, in latest Senate campaign quarter.

Elizabeth Warren, who has been the nation’s leading congressional fund-raiser this year, today announced raising $12.12 million during the most recent quarter for her bid to unseat Senator Scott Brown, who raised $7.45 million.

The period from July 1 through Sept. 30 was the most lucrative three-month for the Democrat since entered the Senate race last year. Warren’s previous best was the prior quarter, running from April through June, when she raised $8.6 million. Brown, the Republican incumbent, also had his best quarter, topping the $4.97 million he raised from April through June.

Brown’s best quarter and it’s far far less than Warren raised!

Overall, Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and consumer advocate, has raised about $36.3 million for her first bid for elective office. Brown has raised about $27.45 million so far, but was also helped by $7 million left over from his January 2010 special election.

“Tens of thousands of people across Massachusetts have joined this campaign because they know that Elizabeth will fight for them in the US Senate,” said a statement from Michael Pratt, Warren’s campaign finance director. “While Scott Brown has stood with billionaires, Big Oil, and Wall Street – and supports Republican control of the Senate – Elizabeth Warren has been there for middle-class families and small businesses. This strong support will help propel the campaign to victory in November.”

At the Boston Phoenix, David Berstein has an interesting piece on women and the GOP: “G(rand) O(ld) P(ricks).”

For years, I’ve chronicled in the Phoenix the dwindling ranks of Republican women in elected office, and suggested that their absence will ultimately hurt the GOP.
The moment of reckoning may be here. We can see it unfolding in the hotly contested US Senate race between incumbent Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren. The GOP’s female deficit is likely to help Warren win this election — and prevent Republicans from taking control of the Senate.

It’s not a secret that women are the swing voters expected to decide the Brown-Warren race. Warren’s campaign has relentlessly attacked Brown on women’s issues, and Brown has used his mother, wife, and daughters — and tales of himself folding laundry — to counter the onslaught.

Bernstein points out that many of these women voters like Brown, especially those whose families have income of $100,000 or more.

But every time women get wind of the GOP’s latest misogynistic outrage — such as Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s assertion that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant — it pushes them a little further away from Brown.

That might not be the case if female voters saw plenty of prominent women speaking up from within the GOP — but all they see is a party of men.

Check it out. It’s well worth a read.

Paul Ryan pretends to wash pots

I know you’ve probably heard about this already, but I can’t resist including it because it’s so funny and so typical of the Romney campaign. Paul Ryan showed up at a soup kitchen in Youngstown, Ohio run by the St. Vincent De Paul Society, a Catholic charity. By the time Ryan got late Saturday morning, breakfast was over, and the homeless clients were gone and the dishes were washed. So Ryan faked washing some pots for a photo op.

The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group’s Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall.

Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”

He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”

How typical of the sociopath ticket.

Here’s a quick update on the Bain-Sensata story. Bainport is going to have some high profile visitors soon: Bainport to host Durbin, Sharpton.

The encampment of Sensata workers at “Bainport,” now in its 35th day, will play host to several notables this week as they continue to protest the outsourcing of their jobs to China by the end of 2012….

On Tuesday, the Democratic challenger for the Illinois 17th District Congressional seat, Cheri Bustos, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin will visit the workers at their campsite.
“Since day one of her campaign, Cheri Bustos has been standing with workers across Illinois,” said Bustos’ campaign spokesman, Arden Manning. “Bain Capital is actually afforded tax breaks to shut down the Sensata plant. … She’ll fight to end outsourcing by giving tax breaks to companies that bring jobs home.” ….

Also visiting Freeport this week will be activist Reverend Al Sharpton. He is scheduled to appear at the Sensata camp on Saturday at 4 p.m. to speak to the employees.
The appearances this week follow an active summer of rallies that saw the arrival of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond to Freeport.

Power to the people!

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Why Isn’t Mitt Romney Getting Hammered on the Bain-Sensata Story?

I know everyone here has probably heard about the Bain-owned company Sensata Technologies, which is currently in the process of shipping all of its jobs to China. Mitt Romney has significant financial holdings in Sensata and in other Bain-connected Chinese Companies. Sensata workers have reached out to Mitt Romney repeatedly, begging him to use his influence to save their jobs, but he has ignored their pleas. Workers have now set up a tent city they call Bainport (see photo), and today they held a rally with workers who were laid off by a Bain-owned Samsonite plant in France. Here is the Bainport website.

FREEPORT, Ill. — French Samsonite workers who were laid off and robbed of their severance pay by Bain Capital will join Freeport Sensata workers for a rally at “Bainport” in Freeport, Ill., at 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13.

The rally is in protest of Bain’s decision to close the Freeport, Ill., Sensata Technologies plant and outsource 170 jobs to China. The plant is set to close in November.

“We’re coming to Bainport to show our support for American workers fighting against the same economic model that destroys good jobs likes ours in France,” said Samsonite worker Brigitte Petit. “The struggle to save these Sensata jobs from outsourcing is a struggle on behalf of good jobs across the globe.”

Sensata Technologies, 2520 S. Walnut Road, Freeport, which was created by Bain Capital in 2006, develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.
Despite rising profits, the company plans to institute the final layoffs in November. The workers are training their Chinese replacements, who have been flown to Illinois by the company.

During the retraining, the American flag flying over the Freeport, IL plant was removed and replaced by the Chinese flag.

Romney has significant investments in Sensata as well as in other corporations in China; and he has gotten tax breaks from outsourcing  jobs to China–including the Sensata jobs. Yet, during his debate with President Obama on October 3, Romney had the nerve to claim he didn’t know the U.S. gives tax breaks to outsourcers.

I simply can’t understand why the Obama campaign isn’t using this scandal to hammer Romney unmercifully. There has been some coverage of the issue in the corporate media, but not enough to reach all those low information voters out there. Ed Shultz has been talking about the issue over the past couple of days, and perhaps that will have an effect.

Although Romney didn’t make the decisions that led to the crisis in Freeport, he is still closely tied to Bain and does have influence over the company he founded. From the NYT, July 18, 2012:

There’s a plant in Freeport that makes sensors and controls for cars and airplanes. It’s owned by Sensata Technologies, a company that Bain bought in 2006, somewhere between four and seven years after Mr. Romney left the company. Last year, Sensata announced that it was moving the plant to China at the end of 2012 and laying off all 170 workers, and now those workers are asking Mr. Romney to intervene with his colleagues to save their jobs.

“If he wanted to, all he needs to do is call up the management of Bain Capital and say, ‘Look, don’t do this,’ ” one worker, Tom Gaulrapp, told Reuters.

Mr. Romney had nothing to do with that decision…. Nonetheless, Mr. Romney remains deeply tied to business decisions like this. As Bain’s founder, he established its business model, which is to wring the maximum efficiency from a company for the benefit of Bain’s investors, even if that means closing plants, shipping jobs to China, and laying off American workers. That’s how private equity often works, and Bain has done it many times before, sometimes to the benefit of a company’s workers, and sometimes to their detriment.

If Romney is elected president, I expect we’ll see a lot more of these kinds of stories. Jesse Jackson wrote an op-ed about Sensata and the Romney economic model a couple of days ago: A taste of the Mitt Romney economy

Mrs. Dot Turner has worked at what is now Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Ill., for 43 years. The company does sophisticated work creating sensors for automobiles. It enjoyed record profits last year. But not enough for its owner — Bain Capital — which is moving the jobs and the machinery to China….

The Sensata workers called on Mitt Romney — an investor in Sensata through his Bain holdings — to intervene. A group went to Iowa during the primaries to ask him to come to Freeport; they met with no success. Another group went to the Republican convention to ask him to come to Freeport; they had no success, either.

So, with the open support of Freeport’s mayor and City Council, the workers set up a “Bainport” encampment in the Stephenson County Fairgrounds right across the street from the plant. “Welcome to Bainport, a taste of the Romney economy,” reads one sign. “Romney does have a jobs plan; too bad it’s for China,” reads another. And Mrs. Turner and others began to make their voices heard.

“We are suffering from the Bain model of capitalism,” Mrs. Turner said. “This is the way Bain works. They take over good companies, and then ship their jobs to China to make even more money.

“So when I hear Romney talking about creating jobs, he’s saying one thing and we are experiencing another. He’s creating jobs, but the jobs are in China, not here. And now under Bain, Sensata plans to give the managers and the supervisors their golden parachutes, but not the workers. I’ve been here 43 years, and they offer a lump sum payment for 26 weeks of salary. And the lump sum means taxes will take a big part of it.” Probably a bigger part than Romney pays in taxes on his income.

“We’re getting the shaft all the way,” Mrs. Turner continued. “And we’re not going to take it quietly. We can fight for our jobs. We may not win, but we are in their face. You may roll over me, but I’m not going to shut my mouth while you do it.”

The United Steelworkers Union has just released a video about what is happening in Freeport.

A few more resources on the Bain-Sensata story:

Democracy Now covered the story last Wednesday: As Bain Ships Jobs to China, Bainport Protesters Arrested for Blocking Illinois Factory’s Closure

Campaign for America’s Future: Is This Why Romney Won’t Talk To Sensata Workers Whose Jobs Are Being Shipped To China?

Crooks and Liars: ‘When I Hear Mitt Romney Speak it Makes Me Sick to My Stomach’

NY Daily News: Romney’s ‘Bain’ in the Neck

Please spread the word about this in any way you can. I’ll have another post on Romney’s China connections soon. Use the comments to discuss this story or anything else related to the 2012 election campaign. Thank you for reading this post!


Monday Reads

Good Morning!!

Dakinkat is back on-line!  Now if I can just get my internet back, we may have a full complement of writers by the beginning of the Democratic Convention. Now let’s see what’s in the news this morning.

I have to hand it to President Obama. He had to be angry about Clint Eastwood’s disrespectful performance at the RNC last Thursday, but he’s not going to give Mitt Romney the satisfaction of showing it.

USA Today: Obama, a ‘huge’ Clint Eastwood fan, not offended by skit

“He is a great actor, and an even better director,” the president said in an interview with USA TODAY aboard Air Force One, on his way to campaign rallies in Iowa Saturday. “I think the last few movies that he’s made have been terrific.”

….

Was he offended?
“One thing about being president or running for president — if you’re easily offended, you should probably choose another profession.” Obama said with a smile. He said there would be no effort to counter with a similar stunt at the Democratic National Convention, which opens in Charlotte Tuesday.

“I think we’ll be playing this pretty straight,” he said.

The WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart asked DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard about if Eastwood presentation was “disrespectful.” Here’s the response:

“First, Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair and then Mitt Romney gave an empty speech,” Gaspard replied. “So, I’m going to focus on Mitt Romney [and] his lack of clearly delineated plans for middle-class Americans.” But Gaspard, who was Obama’s political director in the first half of the term, had more to say.

This was not Clint Eastwood’s convention. It was Mitt Romney’s. He hired these Hollywood consultants to reinvent himself and all I saw, yet again, was the same guy who was a private-sector outsourcer, a failed governor of Massachusetts and now an extreme right-wing candidate for the presidency. So, I’m going to focus on that.

I guess Romney wasn’t really all that proud of the Eastwood skit after all. According to ABC News Eastwood was left on the cutting room floor during production of the RNC promotional video.

A video mash-up of speakers from last week’s Republican National Convention does not include an appearance from the “mystery RNC speaker,” Clint Eastwood.

The two-and-a-half minute video posted today to the Romney campaign’s YouTube account features former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, VP nominee Paul Ryan and of course, Romney himself, but it leaves out Eastwood’s controversial speech.

Interesting.

Joe Biden went on the attack yesterday.

Campaigning in Pennsylvania, vice president Joe Biden attacked Mr Romney’s international agenda as laid out in last week’s convention address, suggesting that it put him out of step with the US’s priorities overseas.

“He said it was a mistake to end the war in Iraq and bring all of our warriors home. He said it was a mistake to set an end date for our warriors in Afghanistan and bring them home,” Biden told supporters.

He added: “He implies by the speech that he’s ready to go to war in Syria and Iran.”

Biden also ripped Paul Ryan’s speech.

He…noted Ryan had not told the complete story when he talked about a General Motors plant that closed in Janesville, Wis., his hometown.

“What he didn’t tell you was that plant in Janesville actually closed while President Bush was still president,” Biden said.

Later, in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, Biden again challenged Ryan’s criticism of Obama.

“He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing,” Ryan said of Obama during his acceptance speech in Tampa.

Biden was having none of that telling.

“What he didn’t tell you is he sat on that commission,” Biden said to laughter.

“I love these guys. Oh, I love these guys, how they claim to care about the deficit,” Biden went on. “Ladies and gentlemen, the thing I most love about them is about how they discovered the middle class at their convention. Isn’t that amazing? All of a sudden their heart was bleeding for the middle class.”

Rahm Emmanuel was out defending his former boss. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, framed Mitt Romney Sunday as a backward-looking candidate, blistering his acceptance speech as laying “out the policies of Ground Hog Day.”

Emanuel discussed the upcoming Democratic National Convention with David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he was introduced as an “architect” of Obama’s first term policies.

“If people want to know about the first term? Very simple. General Motors is alive and well. And Osama Bin Laden is not. And that’s what got done,” Emanuel said.

Emmanuel also criticized Romney’s acceptance speech as “weak.” From The Hill:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said Mitt Romney’s convention speech was “devoid and vacuous” and allowed for Clint Eastwood’s appearance to claim the spotlight.

President Obama’s former chief of staff said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that there was “nothing memorable about Mitt Romney’s speech” in Tampa.

“Not a memorable line, not a memorable philosophy,” Emanuel said.” “There was nothing there.”

I strongly recommend this piece at HuffPo by Sherman Yellin: Why Mitt Romney IS NOT Like a Bad Haircut. I can’t do it justice with an excerpt. Please click on the link and read it. It’s not very long.

In other news, there’s a story coming out soon in Vanity Fair about how Scientology auditioned women to be Tom Cruise’s next wife–and Katie Holmes wasn’t their first choice.

In the October issue, Vanity Fair special correspondent Maureen Orth reports that in 2004 Scientology embarked on a top-secret project headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige, which involved finding a girlfriend for Tom Cruise. According to several sources, the organization devised an elaborate auditioning process in which actresses who were already Scientology members were called in, told they were auditioning for a new training film, and then asked a series of curious questions including: “What do you think of Tom Cruise?” Marc Headley, a Scientologist from age seven, who says he watched a number of the audition videotapes when he was head of Scientology’s in-house studio, tells Orth, “It’s not like you only have to please your husband—you have to toe the line for Scientology.” Both Nicole Kidman and Penélope Cruz ran afoul of Scientology and David Miscavige, according to another former Scientologist. “You can’t do anything to displease Scientology, because Tom Cruise will freak out,” Headley says.

According to Orth, Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born, London-raised actress and Scientologist, was selected and dated Cruise from November 2004 until January 2005. Initially she was told only that she had been selected for a very important mission. In a month-long preparation in October 2004, she was audited every day, a process in which she told a high-ranking Scientology official her innermost secrets and every detail of her sex life. Boniadi allegedly was told to lose her braces, her red highlights, and her boyfriend. According to a knowledgeable source, she was shown confidential auditing files of her boyfriend to expedite a breakup. (Scientology denies any misuse of confidential material.) The source says Boniadi signed a confidentiality agreement and was told that if she “messed up” in any way she would be declared a Suppressive Person (a pariah and enemy of Scientology).

I’m looking forward to reading the entire gossipy article!

In other Scientology news, there’s a new movie out that is supposedly based on Scientology, The Master.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson acknowledges that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was the inspiration for the title character in `’The Master,” but says the focus of the film is the relationship between a charismatic spiritual leader and his troubled follower, not the movement itself.

The movie, set in the 1950s, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic cult leader who captivates a tortured but sympathetic World War II veteran portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix.

….

Anderson sought to quickly dispel any speculation about the film’s influence on his friendship with Tom Cruise, who starred in Anderson’s 1999 film `’Magnolia” and whose Scientology beliefs are well-documented.

`’We are still friends. I showed him the film, and the rest is between us,” Anderson said.

In other cult news, Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon has died.

The Universal Peace Federation said on its website that Moon died early Monday morning of complications related to pneumonia. He was 92.

“Our True Father passed into the spiritual world at 1:54 AM Monday, September 3rd, Korea time,” a message on a Unification Church English-language website said.

Ahn Ho-yeol, a church spokesman, said Moon’s funeral will be held Thursday, with “individual prayers” planned for the three days until then.

“Rev. Moon died from overwork, from frequent trips aboard, including to the U.S., and from morning prayers which caused respiratory disease,” Ahn said.

I posted this on yesterday’s morning thread, but I think it bears repeating: Private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney under investigation for tax strategy

New York’s attorney general is investigating whether executives at Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, improperly avoided paying $200 million in federal income taxes, according to a report by The New York Times.

More than a dozen firms are under investigation by the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, who has subpoenaed documents that would show whether some fund management fees were converted to fund investments. Profits on investments are taxed at a much lower rate than management fees, which count as earned income.

Hundreds of pages of leaked financial documents from Bain Capital that have been posted online indicate at least $1 billion in executives’ management fees were converted to investments, whose capital gains are taxed at 15 percent, instead of the 35 percent paid on earned income in the top tax bracket.

According to the documents, executives could take money that would have been paid to them for managing investment funds and put the money into the funds, instead. The executives could pick and choose which companies to invest in, within a given fund, and were not required to invest the value of their fees for the entire life of a fund. They could decide whether to convert fees to investments on a quarter-to-quarter basis.

Today’s WaPo also has a story on Bain Capital and Romney’s taxes: Mitt Romney exited Bain Capital with rare tax benefits in retirement

Before Mitt Romney retired from Bain Capital, the enormously profitable investment firm he founded, he made sure to lock in his gains, both realized and expected, for years to come.

He did so, in part, the way millions of other Americans do — with the tax benefits of an individual retirement account. But he was able to turbocharge the impact of those advantages and other tax breaks in his severance package from Bain in a way that few but the country’s super-rich can ever hope to do.

As a result, his IRA could be worth as much as $87 million, according to his estimates, and he can continue to earn tax-advantaged income from Bain more than a decade after he formally left the firm.

If Romney wants to demonstrate his honesty, he can always release those secret tax returns.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Late Afternoon Open Thread: The Romney Bunch

I can’t work myself up to writing a real post today for some reason. I’m kind of in a holding pattern waiting for the Republican Convention to start. I’m expecting it to be a complete disaster along the lines of the one in 1992 when Pat Buchanan gave his “Culture War Speech” and ended George H.W. Bush’s hopes for a second term.

Which one of the “Romney Bunch” will play the Pat Buchanan role? Will it be Rick Santorum? Will it be Mike Huckabee? Or Will it be Mitt Romney himself, the birther-in-chief?

Here are a few interesting links I’ve found this afternoon.

Think Progress: Seven birthers to speak at Republican Convention.

1. Donald Trump. The famed billionaire/birther king Donald Trump has been the most vociferous — and most closely connected to Romney — person alleging that the President wasn’t born in the United States.

2. Actress Janine Turner. The Northern Exposure star who has her own conservative radio show wrote a long screed titled “Reasoning ‘Kenyan Born.’” In it, she complains that anyone who questions the president’s citizenship is deemed a racist: “If this were a legal case in court, [Obama’s] book bio stating that Obama was ‘born in Kenya’ would be taken into consideration.”

3. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. During a town hall captured on video (at 3:5), Olens said, “You know the state of Hawaii says he’s produced a certified birth certificate… so on one hand I have to trust the state of Hawaii follows the laws. On the other hand it would be nice for the President to say, here it is, I have a copy.”

4. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. On one radio appearance during Huckabee’s bid for president, the former governor said, “I would love to know more [about where Obama was born]. What I know is troubling enough.” He later walked back the statement.

5. Florida Gov. Rick Scott. In 2010, the Orlando Sentinel reported than an audience member at one of Scott’s campaign events asked “what he would do about President Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ and whether he could legally appear on the 2012 ballot in Florida.” Scott responded, “I’ll have to look into it.”

6. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). The Vice-Chairman of the House Republican Conference once told reporters “Oh, I’d like to see the documents.”

7. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal was willing to sign a “birther” bill into law. It would have required all presidential candidates to release their birth certificate in order to qualify for a spot on the state’s ballot.

TPM: Birthers plan their own convention next month in Arizona.

Some of the best known birthers in the nation are scheduled to take the stage at a star-studded event in Phoenix, where they plan to call for Congress to investigate whether President Obama’s birth certificate is real.

There will be singing. There will be speeches. Drinks will be available for purchase. The only question is whether the venue, which features seating in the round, will activate its spinning stage. Promoters are calling it “A Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots Event” but you can call it Birtherpalooza.

The star of the gala is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the eccentric Arizona lawman and a Republican who is running for his sixth term in office this year. Arpaio has been trying to find his way into next week’s festivities at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., even scheduling an “invitation only” event for Republicans at a nearby zoo. But he will not be part of the convention itself.

Arpaio has positioned himself as one of the leaders of the birther movement. For almost a year, he has been using a combination of taxpayer money and amateur volunteers to try to bolster the conspiracy theory that Obama’s birth records are elaborate forgeries designed to put a foreigner in the White House.

Pat Boone will be there too!

The Economist seems to think Romney should follow his own advice to “run toward the problem,” and release his tax returns as well us let us in on what he really believes in.

Mitt Romney had an interesting article yesterday in the Wall Street Journal entitled “What I Learned at Bain Capital.” In it, he explains how his business experience taught him how to help companies grow—and what to do when trouble arises. “When you see a problem,” Romney says, “run toward it before the problem gets worse.”

After Gawker’s massive release of Bain documents, Various journalists have begun to pore over the material and find instances in which Romney may have played fast and loose with U.S. laws.

Now that the hunt has begun, tax experts have begun to sniff blood. The more adamant that Mr. Romney is that he will not release his returns, the more energetic the search for answers will become.

The political reality is that Mr. Romney’s taxes create a massive distraction for his candidacy and get in the way of serious discussion of the substantive questions facing the country. So why doesn’t Mr. Romney follow his own excellent leadership advice, that he learned so well at Bain Capital, and run towards the problem, not away from it?

From the Post Partisan blog at WaPo: Romney’s Secret Tithe, in which Rachel Manteuffel discusses Romney’s latest excuse for not releasing his taxes–he doesn’t want to reveal how much he gives to his church. Haven’t he and Ann both said frequently that they give 10 percent? So is he afraid the church will find out he’s been holding out on them or what?

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency. Will the RNC have to be postponed? I hope not.

Scott said the goal was to make sure every local, state and federal agency “has the exact same information” on the storm and preparations in order to make informed decisions. He issued the state of emergency Saturday during a media briefing in Broward County.
The state is also focusing on preparations ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Scott said delegates were being information on how to remain safe during a storm. Officials in the Tampa area were also being kept informed of issues that may occur due to Isaac, such as storm surge and bridge closures.

Tampa airport remained open Saturday.


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is speaking out on America’s declining opinion of the Supreme Court.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggests that declining public approval of the court dates back to the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, which decided the 2000 presidential race.

“That was one that was widely talked about at the time, as you know, and involved the public in a presidential election,” O’Connor said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And that could be something that triggered public reexamination.”

She said she wasn’t sure if people thought the court had become too political.

“But I suppose that’s part of it, yes,” she said. “And of course, anytime you’re deciding a case involving a presidential election, it’s awfully close to politics.”

She cast the deciding vote in the case, but she demurred on taking responsibility.

“I don’t see how you can say anybody was the deciding vote,” she said. “They all counted.”

O’Connor said she has no regrets about her vote.

“No, I mean it was a tough deal; i[t] was a closely fought election; and it’s no fun to be part of a group of decision makers that has to decide which side the ball is going to fall on,” she  said.

I think if I were her that I’d feel a lot of remorse for that decision considering the decline that the Bush administration has brought to this country in every possible, thinkable positive category of national endeavor.

This should make people appreciate Social Security.  A lot of Americans with ” virtually no assets”. What would so many do without it and Medicare?

It is a central worry of many Americans: not having enough money to live comfortably in old age. Now an innovative paper co-authored by an MIT economist shows that a large portion of America’s older population has very little savings in bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and dies “with virtually no financial assets” to their names.

Indeed, about 46 percent of senior citizens in the United States have less than $10,000 in financial assets when they die. Most of these people rely almost totally on Social Security payments as their only formal means of support, according to the newly published study, co-authored by James Poterba of MIT, Steven Venti of Dartmouth College, and David A. Wise of Harvard University.

That means many seniors have almost no independent ability to withstand financial shocks, such as expensive medical treatments that may not be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, or other unexpected, costly events.

“There are substantial groups that have basically no financial cushion as they are reaching their latest years,” says Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics at MIT.

Here’s a great article from AlterNet: “How Mitt Romney Got Rich Destroying American Jobs and Promoting Sweatshop Capitalism”.

Right now, a man whose predatory career has claimed the jobs of countless Americans is trying to wrap himself in the flag and call himself a “job creator” and “wealth creator.”

Does he mean miserable jobs in Chinese factories? Wealth for the 1 percent? Apparently that’s exactly what he means.

Republicans claim that Mitt Romney’s entrepreneurial activities at Bain Capital have been good for Americans. The truth is that Romney has spent his career offshoring and outsourcing American production processes — and associated jobs — to countries like China where human labor is valued in the market at a very low wage rate.

Mitt Romney’s tenure as Bain’s CEO has long linked him to offshoring and outsourcing. Even today, although he is no longer in that position, Romney still makes a nice profit on undertakings done long after he left the day-to-day management of the firm.

Those profits continue to pour in because of Bain’s practice of vulture capitalism.  This isn’t Schumpeter’s creative destruction.  It’s not even what good equity capital companies achieve.  It’s piracy pure and simple.

Here’s a great interview with Graham Nash. According to TD:  “Graham Nash Still Really Gives a S#!*”

Fish: So where are they then? Where are the songwriters who try to remind us that human beings are precious and fragile and deserving of a world that is environmentally sound, just as an example? Where are the poets to make beautiful the notion that we should not be victimized by the shitty foreign and domestic policies of our governments? Such subject matter seems much less apparent in contemporary popular music.

GN: It’s less apparent because it’s not being shown. It’s less apparent because the people who own the world’s media you can count on one hand. It’s less apparent because [corporations] don’t want protest songs on their radios and their TVs and in their movies. They don’t want to stir up the sheep. They want you to fucking lie there and buy another pair of sneakers and another Coca-Cola, shut the fuck up while we rob you blind. That’s what’s going on—“Bread and circuses, Part II.”

Fish: Which, I guess, brings us to the significance of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

GN: Right, it’s important for people to realize that they’re not alone and that they’re not crazy for thinking we’re fucked. [The movement] is about recognizing the division between the haves and the have-mores—it’s not even between the haves and have-nots. It’s between the haves and have-mores. That’s what’s going on here and people recognize that and they’re getting infuriated.

Fish: And it’s so obvious, this victimization of the 99 percent, that the whole thing came about as a mass realization, like you said. It didn’t require the emergence of a leader or a prophet to arrive on the scene and convince people of something they weren’t aware of.

GN: Exactly, there is no leader, which is a good thing. What happens with movements, historically, is there is usually a face, a leader, for the movement, and an enemy, if he’s smart, will attack that leader.

So, here’s something in my continuing legacy of sharing my fascination with really old graves with you. This is from the UK Telegraph: “Skeleton reveals violent life and death of medieval knight ,  620-year-old skeleton discovered under the floor of Stirling Castle has shed new light on the violent life of a medieval knight.”

Archaeologists believe that bones found in an ancient chapel on the site are those of an English knight named Robert Morley who died in a tournament there in 1388.

Radio carbon dating has confirmed that the skeleton is from that period, and detailed analysis suggests that he was in his mid-20s, was heavily muscled and had suffered several serious wounds in earlier contests.

The knight was laid to rest under the stone-flagged floor of a chapel near the castle’s royal apartments and his skeleton was excavated along with 11 others in 1997.

However, it was only recently re-examined following advances in laser scanning techniques that not only revealed the nature of the three wounds, but also showed that the knight had lost teeth, probably from another blow or from falling from his horse.

Gordon Ewart, of Kirkdale Archaeology, which carried out the excavation for Historic Scotland, said: “This is a remarkable and important set of discoveries.

“At first we had thought the arrow wound had been fatal but it now seems he had survived it and may have had his chest bound up.”

Mr Ewart said that Morley was by far the most likely candidate. His skeleton also shows the effects of riding on the ankles and muscle injuries caused by lifting heavy loads.

Talk about your short brutal lives.

So, did you know that scientists have connected a part of the brain to one’s ability to grasp irony? This is from The Atlantic.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, scientists seem to have located a part of the brain centrally involved in grasping irony.

The IronyBrain2.JPGFrench research team that made the latest contribution to this effort presents its findings in the current issue of the journal NeuroImage. Referring to a part of the brain known as the “ToM network,” the researchers write, “We demonstrate that the ToM network becomes active while a participant is understanding verbal irony.”

This isn’t just one of those “shot in the dark” MRI studies, where you see what brain regions happen to light up when people engage in a particular mental activity. The ToM network has been the focus of previous work on irony apprehension, and enough is known about it to give us some ideas about the particular role it could play in that apprehension.

Here’s how the experiment worked. The researchers prepared short written stories, and each story came in two versions. Both versions contained a sentence that could be read either literally or ironically, with the correct reading depending on how the context had been set earlier in the story. In one story, for example, one opera singer says to another, “Tonight we gave a superb performance,” and whether the sentence is ironic or literal depends on whether the performance had been described earlier in the story as a failure or as a success. The researchers had correctly predicted that the ToM network would show more activity when the sentence, read in context, was ironic than when it was literal.

ToM stands for “theory of mind,” which in turn refers to the fact that we naturally attribute beliefs and intentions and emotions to people we interact with. That is, we develop a “theory”–though not necessarily a theory we’re consciously aware of–about what’s going on in their minds. (An inability to do this is thought to play a role in autism.) And this “theory” in turn shapes our interpretation of things people say. The “ToM network” is a brain region–or, really, a network of different brain regions–that seems to play an important role in the construction of these theories.

It makes sense that parts of the brain involved in theorizing about other people’s minds would be involved in grasping irony. After all, detecting irony means departing sharply from the literal meaning of a sentence, something it’s hard to do without having a “theory” about the intent behind the sentence.

I’m sure we’ll begin to hear the horrible news about the murder of Sikhs in Wisconsin today as well as other things.  Hopefully, this little bit of interesting stuff will get your day started out okay!  What’s on you reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Afternoon Open Thread: Is Mitt Romney A Wimp?

Michael Tomasky at Newsweek:

He’s kind of lame, and he’s really … annoying. He keeps saying these … things, these incredibly off-key things. Then he apologizes immediately—with all the sincerity of a hostage. Or maybe he doesn’t: sometimes he whines about the subsequent attacks on him. But the one thing he never does? Man up, double down, take his lumps.

In 1987, this magazine created a famous hubbub by labeling George H.W. Bush a “wimp” on its cover. “The Wimp Factor.” Huge stir. And not entirely fair—the guy had been an aviator in the war, the big war, the good war, and he was even shot down out over the Pacific, cockpit drenched in smoke and fumes, at an age (20) when in most states he couldn’t even legally drink a beer. In hindsight, Poppy looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in—ready?—Paris. Where he learned … French. Up to his eyeballs in deferments. Where Reagan saddled up a horse with the masculine name of El Alamein, Mitt saddles up something called Rafalca—except that he doesn’t even really do that, his wife does (dressage). And speaking of Ann—did you notice that she was the one driving the Jet Ski on their recent vacation, while Mitt rode on the back, hanging on, as Paul Begala put it to me last week, “like a helpless papoose”?

Yes, of course Willard is a wimp. Hey, he doesn’t even have the guts to admit to use his own first name! The only time Mitt feels tough is when he’s beating up on someone weaker than he is–like his opponents in the primaries. He’s still just a prep school bully who’s overcompensating for his own insecurity.

Back to Tomasky:

In some respects, he’s more weenie than wimp—socially inept; at times awkwardy ingratiating, at other times mocking those “below” him, but almost always getting the situation a little wrong, and never in a sympathetic way. The evidence resonates across too many years to deny. What kind of teenager beats up on the misfit, sissy kid, pinning him down and violently cutting his hair with a pair of school scissors—the incident from Romney’s youth that The Washington Post famously reported (and Romney famously didn’t really deny) back in May? The behavior extends, through more sedate means, into adulthood. The Salt Lake Olympics remains his greatest triumph, for which he wins deserved praise. But to many of those in the know, Romney placed a heavy asterisk next to his name by attacking the men he replaced on the Olympic Committee, smearing them in his book, even after a court threw out all the corruption charges against them.

And what kind of presidential candidate whines about a few attacks and demands an apology when the going starts to get rough? And tries to sound tough by accusing the president who killed the world’s most-wanted villain of appeasement? That’s what they call overcompensation, and it’s a dead giveaway; it’s the “tell.” This guy is nervous—terrified—about looking weak. And ironically, being terrified of looking weak makes him look weaker still.

Romney claims the Newsweek cover doesn’t bother him even a tiny little bit. It’s the first time he’s been called a wimp, he says. Really? See here and here.  The meme is catching on.  If Willard weren’t a wimp, he’d release his tax returns tomorrow and dare the media to find anything to be ashamed of. But he can’t, because he’s terrified.

Psychoanalyst Justin Frank, author of the books Bush on the Couch and Obama on the Couch, provided a first pass on Romney’s psychology at Salon. Frank notes the way Romney frequently responds to situations by seemingly speaking without thinking ahead.

When Brian Williams asked him what he thought about the London games, Romney first tried to answer the question directly – something most politicians usually don’t do. He said, “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out.” He then began to talk about his own work running the 2002 SLC winter Olympics in what seemed like a canned response. What strikes me is the confidence with which he spoke and the remarkable lack of thought he exhibited. This has become a pattern for him, and not just on this trip. But it is more noticeable than before because he is largely left to his own devices, without prepared remarks that he could use in informal conversation.

In many cases, Romney ends up having to walk back his initial comments as he did in London with his criticisms of Britain’s preparations for the Olympics. Frank’s assessment of Romney so far (emphasis added):

I think the force behind this behavior is massive anxiety, pure and simple. He is anxious about revealing who he is and about interacting with people he doesn’t know. He appears to have much less experience than Obama in interacting with people from all walks of life. Basically, he is uncomfortable except within his own family and in the presence of those who share his wealthy background and Mormon faith. There are many ways to defend against overwhelming anxiety, one of which is to act certain about every answer given.

What comes out besides this sense of smiling certainty are signs of anxious contempt toward others – whether it is how the British run their Games or saying that kids who can’t afford college should borrow money from their parents. Put together, these and many similar statements – his pleasure at firing people or his belief that corporations are people (is that why he can comfortably bankrupt some?) – are all evidence of a hostility not dissimilar to stories about his bullying of others during his prep school days. At this stage, I suspect Mitt Romney is too anxious to be an effective president.