Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! Let’s get right to the news. Yesterday wasn’t a big political news day here in the U.S. The President appeared on The View and talked about gay marriage and the Kardashians. He also pandered to young women at Barnard.

The Obama campaign released a new ad highlighting Mitt Romney’s career as a corporate “vampire” at Bain Capital.

The Obama campaign ad focuses on Bain Capital’s misadventures with GST steel of Kansas City and features former steelworkers describing what they saw between the time Bain bought the firm in 1993 and filed to put it in bankruptcy in 2001. (Romney left Bain in 1999).

“It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” says one of the men. “What Bain Capital did was not capitalism, it was bad management,” says David Foster, lead negotiator for workers at GST Steel. Former steelworker Joe Soptic accuses Bain of cutting corners on safety, saying “it was like working in the sweatshops of the ’30s,” and that watching the plant close was “like watching an old friend bleed to death.”

The campaign also set up a new website to provide information about “Romney economics.”

Ron Paul announced that he won’t compete in any of the remaining primaries, but he still plans to compete with Mitt Romney for delegates to the Republican convention.

Ron Paul, the congressman from Texas and a favorite of tea partyers, effectively ended his presidential campaign Monday but urged his fervent supporters to continue working at the state party level to cause havoc for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

In an email to supporters, Paul urged his libertarian-leaning backers to remain involved in politics and champion his causes despite the apparent end of his presidential aspirations. Paul has found success in wrecking the selection process for delegates to the party’s late-summer nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., and trumpeted that he has delayed Romney’s expected nomination….

Paul’s supporters have proved successful in winning state GOP conventions in places such as Maine and Nevada. His supporters in Iowa and Nevada were chosen to lead the state central parties.

Over the weekend, Paul’s supporters managed to boo Mitt Romney’s son Josh off the stage at the Arizona state Republican convention.

Hundreds of state GOP members were gathered at Grand Canyon University to elect delegates for the national convention in July in Tampa, Fla., which is expected to select Mitt Romney as the official Republican nominee to challenge President Obama.

“We cannot afford four more years of President Obama,” said Josh Romney, the third of Mitt Romney’s five sons. “We need someone to step in there and turn things around.”

But Josh Romney had to stop repeatedly as people booed and yelled for Paul, who has continued campaigning in the Republican primary.

What is Ron Paul up to? At HuffPo, Stewart J. Lawrence suggests that Paul may be trying to set up his son Rand Paul to become Romney’s vice presidential choice. Or perhaps he just wants a speaking role at the Convention and input into the party platform. In any case, Romney may have to deal with Ron Paul at some point.

So it was a pretty quiet day in the U.S., but not in Europe, where Greece is teetering on the brink of destruction and threatening to pull all of the Eurozone down with it. From the Washington Post: Greek deadlock heightens fears of full European economic crisis.

Political deadlock in Greece rattled world markets Monday, reviving fears that the fractious Mediterranean country could spurn an international bailout, abandon the common European currency and risk a fresh round of world economic turmoil.

European stock indexes fell, with Greece’s market now at a 20-year low, while the euro currency continued a recent decline against the dollar. U.S. stocks also fell.

Coming only days before the leaders of the world’s Group of Eight industrialized nations meet at Camp David, the standoff in Greece over its political direction has thrust Europe’s troubles to the top of the agenda. A downturn in Europe could stagger a fragile recovery in the United States and undermine growth around the world.

Some headlines from The Independent UK:

World braces itself for Greek euro exit.

Financial markets were plunged into fresh turmoil after Greece’s political parties failed once again to agree to form a unity government, and European policymakers warned that Greece’s aid payments would be cut off unless Athens quickly produced an administration prepared to deliver far-reaching economic reforms and budget cuts.

Without those funds from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Greece could run out of cash to meet its national debt interest payments as early as next month. The country would then have no option but to default. Most analysts expect that a default would be a prelude to Greek exit from the single currency altogether.

Panic and violence in the streets as protesters turn against politicians.

Southern Europe is preparing for a summer of discontent as protesters of all ages, and from across the political spectrum, plan demonstrations against greater austerity measures and against those policymakers who say there is no alternative to cuts.

Up to 50,000 “Indignant Ones” gathered in Madrid’s Puerta de Sol area on Saturday, many more than expected, to demonstrate against the Spanish government’s austerity measures. But, as indignant as they might have been, there were fewer on the streets for what was billed as an even bigger rally on Sunday, despite a message of support from the US rocker Bruce Springsteen.

A public holiday in Madrid today is likely to draw another protest, and one group almost certain to be there is the yayoflautas, a collection of people in their sixties and seventies, and who were involved in anti-Franco protests. The group has staged sit-ins in banks, radio stations, hospitals and even the reception area of a ratings agency.


Angela Merkel’s party humiliated by shock election defeat

Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives suffered a humiliating defeat in key elections in Germany’s most populous state yesterday when voters rejected her party’s austerity policies and handed a resounding victory to her pro-growth Social Democratic Party opponents.

Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats were shell-shocked by the devastating result they returned in the poll in North Rhine Westphalia, which has a total population of 18 million. Exit polls showed that they secured a mere 25.5 per cent of the vote – their worst performance ever in the state….

By contrast, the pro-growth Social Democrats and their candidate Hannelore Kraft, 50, romped home with 38 per cent of the vote. They were expected to form a so-called Red-Green coalition with the environmentalist Greens who won around 12 per cent of the vote. The two parties secured enough seats to obtain an absolute majority in the state parliament.

U.S. politicians should be paying attention. Austerity is not a long-term winning policy.

In miscellaneous news, Gizmodo reports that the Kodak company had a nuclear reactor in its basement for many years.

Kodak may be going under, but apparently they could have started their own nuclear war if they wanted, just six years ago. Down in a basement in Rochester, NY, they had a nuclear reactor loaded with 3.5 pounds of enriched uranium—the same kind they use in atomic warheads….

Kodak officials now admit that they never made any public announcement about it. In fact, nobody in the city—officials, police or firemen—or in the state of New York or anywhere else knew about it until it was recently leaked by an ex-employee. Its existence and whereabouts were purposely kept vague and only a few engineers and Federal employees really knew about the project.

The company had a legitimate purpose for having the reactor and radioactive material:

Kodak’s purpose for the reactor wasn’t sinister: they used it to check materials for impurities as well as neutron radiography testing. The reactor, a Californium Neutron Flux multiplier (CFX) was acquired in 1974 and loaded with three and a half pounds of enriched uranium plates placed around a californium-252 core.

But still it’s amazing they were able to get away with the reactor and especially the secrecy. The reactor was dismantled in 2006.

Why would a mafia boss be buried in a Roman basilica? Especially when he was suspected of abducting a 15-year-old girl, the daughter of a Vatican employee.

Forensic teams and marble workers have pried open a mobster’s tomb in the basilica Sant’Apollinare in Rome, searching for clues that might help to solve one of Italy’s greatest mysteries.

Fifteen-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican bank functionary, disappeared in 1983 on her way to a music lesson. Her body has never been found, and the truth about what happened to her has puzzled investigators for nearly 30 years. One of the most prominent conspiracy theories was that Orlandi’s remains would be found in the crypt where the notorious Roman mafioso Enrico “Renatino” De Pedis was eventually laid to rest after he was shot dead in a Rome square in 1990.

On Monday, his tomb was finally opened. His body was there, inside a three-layer sarcophagus, well preserved and wearing a dark blue suit and black tie. Police took fingerprints and confirmed his identity. But also, tucked inside a niche of the ancient crypt – a burial place since before Napoleonic times – were dozens of boxes containing unidentified human bones.

Dozens of boxes of bones?! This should be an interesting story to follow.

Finally, I’d like to call your attention to a profile of Mitt Romney’s top adviser Eric Fernstrom, published in GQ Magazine. It’s long, but well worth reading. Here’s a brief preview:

Fehrnstrom calls himself a “utility player,” and in the press he’s typically identified as a “Romney spokesman” or a “Romney strategist.” But that doesn’t begin to do justice to his place in the high command. Fehrnstrom has been with Romney for a decade, longer than any other political adviser on his 2012 campaign. “Anytime I’ve got questions or I’ve got a doubt, I know I can go to Eric and I’m getting feedback from someone who’s inside Mitt’s brain,” Romney’s senior adviser Kevin Madden told me. Or as Peter Flaherty, another senior Romney adviser, puts it: “Eric has a deeper shelf of institutional knowledge of Mitt Romney than anyone I know whose last name is not Romney.”

Fehrnstrom’s first job for Romney was running the press shop during his successful 2002 run for Massachusetts governor. But his role quickly expanded, and as Romney’s national profile grew, so did his trusted aide’s. (So much so that when Scott Brown was looking for someone to help him win Ted Kennedy’s old Massachusetts Senate seat in 2010, he hired Fehrnstrom, who remains Brown’s top strategist.) Over the course of his decade with Romney, Madden says, Fehrnstrom has become “a Tom Hagen figure. He’s consigliere to the governor.”

But with two slight differences. Whereas Hagen was always trying to cool off the hotheaded Sonny Corleone and keep the peace, Fehrnstrom, 50, is both the wise man and the hothead. He wears the uniform of the modern political consultant—iPad tucked in the crook of his arm, open-collared shirt, rectangular-framed glasses—but his fleshy face and thick New England accent betray a rougher core. And far from reining in Romney, he performs the opposite service for his client: Fehrnstrom toughens him up. “Eric gives Mitt a capability that Mitt doesn’t have,” says Ben Coes, Romney’s campaign manager in 2002. “It’s a streetwise savvy; it’s an on-the-ground Boston-smarts mentality; it’s a back-alley-politics, survival-of-the-fittest point of view. Mitt is not a knife fighter. Eric is a knife fighter.” The best political operatives are the ones who provide their clients with a tangible quality the candidate himself lacks. If Karl Rove was Bush’s brain, then Fehrnstrom is Romney’s balls.

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


Here we go again …

It’s true.  On issue after issue, I pretty  much disagree with Sarah Palin.  I see nothing positive about hunting or fishing unless you have no other way to eat.  I see killing things for fun as a completely immoral action.  I do not consider a gestating protohuman to be ‘ensouled’ and the same as a walking talking human being or even a walking, eating moose.  I’d rather see Nebraska, Kansas, and North Dakota be turned into fan farms than drill in ANWAR.  I’d also rather see Arizona turned into a one big solar panel that do any more drilling off the Florida coast.  I think the death penalty is something right out of the dark ages and has no place in a civilized country.  I don’t care if gay people marry, they have every right to be as miserable and trapped in dead end relationships as straight folks.  I’m definitely a libertarian on the civil rights issues.  My position on anything like this–even those multiple wife holding Mormon men– is it’s not my business and it’s certainly not the government’s business. If you’re not hurting some one and it applies to a person capable of giving reasoned consent (exceptions for minors and the disabled), it shouldn’t be the subject of a law. I don’t even care if folks smoke marijuana or use heroin as long as they stay put where they are and don’t try to drive a car.  I am pro-science and I think Christianity was invented by the Romans to control slaves.  I think folks that believe in it are victim to the biggest on-going sham in history. That pretty much puts me very much at odds with about everything Sarah believes in.  But you know what?  She has a right to say it, believe in it, and run for vice president without being called every nasty, misogynistic, stereotypical, hateful thing you can call a woman.  Senator Obama delivers lectures to us on racism and his campaign accuses every one of using subtle racist code words.  However, he and the rest of his democratic cronies are more than happy to use not so subtle code words or ads against women and the elderly.    Today’s example from the NY Times Op-Ed page.

I have to hand it to Palin, she may be onto something in her batty way: the election is very much about American exceptionalism.

Roger Cohen in Today’s New York Times

When I read “batty”, all I can think of his Archie Bunker calling Edith a ‘dingbat’. It’s the ultimate insult to any woman’s intellgence.

While I’m at it, I’d like to say that any of my gay and lesbian friends and their related activist groups need to start looking (without stars in their eyes) at a candidate that will announce a series of Values Forums and be seen in public over and over again with a homophobic, gay-baiting preacher.  It is also time for Senator Obama to start having a conversation about hating on homosexuals with the black religious community.  He is not holding them to the same standard of supporting civil rights that he expects of white people when it comes to the civil rights of black people. So it’s okay for Obama and this group to hate on gay folks AND it’s okay for Obama and his cronies to hate on women who hold socially conservative positions since racism is the only relevant evil in this race. Is that the deal here?

Also, Senator Obama and his nation of clueless cult members should be more respectful of their elders and stop using ageism in his commercials attacking Senator McCain.  I think portraying the elderly as addled, unable to keep up with technology, and incapable of change is exactly what Obama keeps pulling on Senator McCain.  Any one who spends time teaching at universities, as Senator Obama has, should know that the emeritus professor is the most respected position.  Many, many professors continue teaching and researching way into their nineties.  They may need some additional support from staff, but they continue to be vibrant contributers to their areas way past their retirements.  If Senator Obama thinks that he doesn’t want to be judged on his “funny name” or the color of his skin,  he needs to extend the same level of respect to older Americans.  Not all folks with Hussein in their names are terrorists and not all senior citzens have alzheimer’s disease. The latest mailing I keep getting from the Obama supporters to get McCain to release his ‘real’ medical reports is a thinly veiled whisper campaign made to make folks take notice of McCain’s age.  While there are hate groups out there to remind folks of Obama’s race, there are only Obama supporters out there bringing up McCain’s age and Senator Palin’s sex and fundamentalist beliefs.  Like I said, I disagree on almost every social position possible with the Republican party, but I’ve never seen them say anything blantantly racist about Senator Obama.  However, I see Obama and his supporters spew misogynistic, ageist, and gay-hating terms daily.  I’ve also seen them play the race card at the drop of a hat. This should stop. It’s ugly and it’s un-American.

 UPDATE TODAY:  YET AGAIN …

From Fox New:

Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings on Wednesday warned two minority groups to beware of Sarah Palin because “anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.”

Hastings, who is black and a Democrat, made the comment in Florida at a panel discussion hosted by the National Jewish Democratic Council.

 source: 

 http://http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/09/25/congressman-warns-jews-blacks-to-beware-of-palin/


You Don’t Fool Me: Candidates ARE responsible for the tone of their Campaign

I was working late on a research paper last night when some one from Bitterpoliticz sent me to HireHeels to give a  word of support to Paula Abeles’ response to the threats she’s been receiving from overzealous Obama supporters. Here’s the link:

http://hireheels.com/blog/2008/06/21/paula-abeles-responds-to-daily-kos-racist-attacks/

I wrote an immediate, supportive response because I know how it feels.  Back in the year of the woman, I ran for the Nebraska unicameral.  I was a republican back then and basically had the squeakiest clean of normal lives.  The problem was I was a pro-choice republican woman and the anti-choice side will have none of that.

The seat was held by an anti-choice democratic man at the time I ran.  He was a powerful incumbent.  He choose not to run after I successfully pulled a lot of support away from him by doing basic grass roots work.  No one knew he wasn’t running for re-election until a day before the final filing date expired.  Labor scrambled and came up with a very weak candidate.  A trial lawyer signed up.  All the usual types of special interest candidates were on the ballot.  There were a total of 7 of us during the primary. The anti-choice folks found a beautician who had lived in the state for six months that began the run as a simple housewife.  I won the primary handily.  I continued knocking on doors and talking to people.  I never changed my positions, my image, or my promises.

The general election was a different story. It was the ugliest, nastiest dirty campaign and you’d have thought Rove was running it.  By the time it was over, I was having nightmares and afraid to walk in my own neighborhood.  This candidate not only completely remade herself into a small business person, but an incredibly large number of people with serious personality and emotional disorders were running amok in my kid’s schools, in my church, in my neighborhood.  There were whisper campaigns, hateful things said from evangelical church pulpits, and phone calls every night to my answering machine explaining where my small children had been that day and exactly which abortion procedure would be applied to them if the caller had their way.  I had to deal with the newspaper calling me up and asking me if I’d been fired from a teller job in college for stealing money (complete fabrication on ALL accounts).  My good pictures all disappeared mysteriously from their files and the only one that they had left to run was one  of me when I had just recovered from inoperable cancer and looked exactly like I’d been sick for two years.  The evangelical churches bussed folks into the state from surrounding areas to make my life a living hell.  All because I was a pro-choice woman republican candidate.

After that experience, I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and re-registered democrat.  I had lost the election by a small margin,but the impact it had on my life was not marginal.  Folks that I had gone to school with since I was a kid were no longer speaking to me.

I had tons of donated money and support in that campaign because my opponent was so out of her league and so far to the right that she scared every interest group from the firefighters and policemen to the bankers.  She ran her campaign with her own funds and some support from the Biker anti-helmet crowd, truckers (her husband was one), and the anti-choice movement.  I never ran ONE negative ad.  Believe me, I even had the money to do tv ads and I could’ve done it.  I told my campaigners to stay out of her immediate neighborhood and focus on my message which was basically one of economic development and re-doing the tax structure of Nebraska.  I made it clear I wanted to sit on the expenditures committee and that I had no plans of staying in there once I’d worked on these things because I had a successful consulting firm and wanted to return to it.  I kept waiting for the press to do some research, but all they were interested in was starting a cat fight on the choice issue between two women.  (It was the first time two women had come through the primary in the state, you’d have thought they’d have better things to focus on.)

If a campaign goes hyper negative and acts hyper angry and incensed all the time, it attracts emotionally damaged people and  simply hypes them into a frenzy.  The candidate may get an ego charge from all that worship, but that frenzy will turn on the opposition’s campaign.  Innocent people will experience threats of violence for just doing their thing as an U.S. citizen.  This kind of evil is a DIRECT reflection on the character of the candidate.  A candidate calls the shots and can reel back the attack dogs.  A candidate can be honest about who they are and what they stand for or they can let their campaign remake them and sell them like a can of soup.  A candidate may say they have no control over their minions, but that is NOT true.  The character of the candidate is ALWAYS THE ISSUE and always at the center of ANY decision.  If you see a campaign doing questionable things, it is because that candidate has questionable character.  As an example, the race-baiting started with the Obama campaign.  They have a pattern.  Take an innocent comment, some surrogate blows it out of proportion and labels it racist.  Obama comes out a few days later to say, ah no, maybe not.  But by then, the damage is done.  By then, the angry, whipped up mob has gone into attack mode and the damage is done to innocent people.

Paula, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  It’ll end.  Right now, you’re living a nightmare and that means your children will too.  But just think, if you stop now, your country, OUR country will be living that nightmare for at least 4 years.   You are my hero.

Senator Barrack Obama … YOU DO NOT FOOL ME and you didn’t fool 18 million other voters.  Call off your attack dogs.