The Mystery Deepens . . . Who is Harry Reid’s Secret Source?Posted: August 10, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney, U.S. Politics | Tags: Greg Sargent, Harry Reid, internet rumors, Jon Huntsman Jr., Jon Huntsman Sr., Joseph Cannon, Romney's tax returns, unnamed sources 22 Comments
It’s been ten days since Harry Reid first revealed that an unnamed Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for a decade. Reid has been attacked by all and sundry–called a “dirty liar” by RNC Chair Reince Priebus, awarded four Pinocchios by WaPo “fact checker” Glenn Kessler, and repeatedly denounced by Romney himself.
Others have tried to figure out who Reid’s mysterious source is. Joseph Cannon has been on the case for awhile now. On Sunday, Cannon hypothesized that the source could have been former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. Since then, Cannon has written several more follow-up posts.
Then yesterday, Markos at Dailykos suggested the source could be Jon Huntsman Sr.
Jon Huntsman Sr, is business partners with Robert C. Gay, who also happened to be Bain’s managing director between 1989 and 2004. And if anyone knows the machinations Bain used to evade taxes for itself and its partners, well, it would be the guy in charge of the firm’s finances.
Huntsman is also a Republican and a Mormon (like Harry Reid). As governor of next-door Utah, his son (who also served in the Obama administration as ambassador to China) likely developed a close working relationship on regional issues.
Kos also listed a number of donations from Huntsman family members to the Nevada Democratic Party. In a follow-up post today, Kos argued that Reid could be hoping to tempt his source into going public by dribbling out more hints day by day.
This afternoon, Greg Sargent contacted the elder Huntsman and asked him about all the rumors and speculation that he was Harry Reid’s source. Alas, Huntman denied it.
The internet is alive with speculation that the secret source Harry Reid claims to have on Mitt Romney’s tax returns is Utah industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr. He is the founder of Hunstman Corporation and the father of the former GOP presidential candidate — and the speculation is based on the fact that his profile fits with much of what we publicly know about Reid’s presumed confidante.
But I just got off the phone with Huntsman, and he confirmed to me that he is not Reid’s source.
But Huntsman did go on the record about Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns.
Huntsman forcefully called on Romney to release his tax returns. This matters, because Huntsman is a longtime backer of Romney — he has long been close to Romney; he supported his early campaigns; he was the national finance chairman of Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign; and he has raised a lot of money for him over the years. (He backed his own son in the latest GOP primary.)
“I feel very badly that Mitt won’t release his taxes and won’t be fair with the American people,” Huntsman told me. In a reference to Romney’s father, who pioneered the release of returns as a presidential candidate, Huntsman said: “I loved George. He always said, pay your taxes for at least 10 or 12 years.” (See update below.)
“Mr. Romney ought to square with the American people and release his taxes like any other candidate,” Huntsman said. “I’ve supported Mitt all along. I wish him well. But I do think he should release his income taxes.”
Well, that’s interesting and useful. This should keep the talk about Romney’s taxes alive through another weekend and another round of Sunday shows.
But the question remains: who *is* Reid’s secret source?
And here’s another burning question: Does Mitt Romney have a silly walk?
Thursday Reads: Mitt Romney’s Very Very Bad DayPosted: July 26, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, morning reads, racism, religion, U.S. Politics | Tags: "Anglo-Saxon values", Adolf Hitler, Aurora Shootings, Brigham Young, Guardian UK, gun control, Juan Cole, Mormon church, Nazi references, Romney's tax returns 62 Comments
Poor Mitt Romney. Yesterday was not a good day for his campaign. The big story of the day on both sides of the Atlantic was the one about unnamed Romney foreign policy advisers who talked to the The Telegraph and made “racially-tinged” remarks.
The quotes were so extensive and detailed that it’s hard to believe they weren’t legit. Even after Romney disavowed the remarks, the Telegraph stood by their story and noted that they had not received any requests for retractions or corrections from the Romney campaign.
The quotes that I found most disturbing were the ones about the supposed shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of England and the U.S.
In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.
And later in the article:
Members of the former Massachusetts governor’s foreign policy advisory team claimed that as president, he would reverse Mr Obama’s priority of repairing strained overseas relationships while not spending so much time maintaining traditional alliances such as Britain and Israel.
“In contrast to President Obama, whose first instinct is to reach out to America’s adversaries, the Governor’s first impulse is to consult and co-ordinate and to move closer to our friends and allies overseas so they can rely on American constancy and strength,” one told the Telegraph.
“Obama is a Left-winger,” said another. “He doesn’t value the Nato alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him. He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.”
When I first read this, I was flummoxed. “Anglo-Saxon heritage”? What on earth does that mean? It sounded so incongruous, yet it rang a bell with some things I’ve read about Mormon philosophy. So I googled a bit. It seems that Mormons believe they are descended from one of the “12 lost tribes of Israel,” and Brigham Young specifically claimed that the Mormons were descended from the tribe of Ephraim:
We are now gathering the children of Abraham who have come through the loins of Joseph and his sons, more especially through Ephraim, whose children are mixed among all the nations of the earth. The sons of Ephraim are wild and uncultivated, unruly, ungovernable. The spirit in them is turbulent and resolute; they are the Anglo-Saxon race, and they are upon the face of the whole earth bearing the spirit of rule and dictation, to go forth from conquering to conquer. They search wide creation and scan every nook and corner of this earth to find out what is upon and within it. I see a congregation of them before me today. No hardship will discourage these men; they will penetrate the deepest wilds and overcome almost insurmountable difficulties to develop the treasures of the earth, to further their indomitable spirit for adventure. 10:188.
Obviously, I can’t know whether these Mormon beliefs were behind the quotes given to the Telegraph, but it seems possible.
The “foreign newspapers” that the Romney campaign so disdains had a bit of fun yesterday ridiculing the Anglo-Saxon flub.
From the Guardian: Some good Anglo-Saxon values for Mitt Romney. You should read the whole thing, but here’s the concluding paragraph:
In 1066, Britain’s mongrel nation status became complete, having been officially invaded by the Romans, the Angles and Saxons, the Jutes from Denmark, the Vikings and finally by the Normans who, critically, stopped Anglo-Saxon culture in its tracks. Twenty years after the invasion, the Anglo-Saxon nobility were in exile, or consigned to the peasantry, with only 8% of England under their control. The myth of Anglo-Saxon roots that Romney wants to perpetrate denies the enormous contribution to British culture by, essentially, the French. Without the Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England, our language and culture would obviously be very different – Mitt Romney would be wise not to cast us all back into the Dark Ages.
Also from the Guardian: Dear Mitt Romney: welcome to Britain! We have a few tips for a pleasant stay. Here’s just one paragraph, but please do read the whole thing.
Britain is, legendarily, a nation of animal-lovers, so you can expect people to be significantly more perturbed by the Dog On The Roof Incident than by any other aspect of your record. On the other hand, people will expect you to be unfamiliar with British cuisine, so your bizarre inability to identify common baked goods will actually be less of a handicap than at home. Just try, if at all possible, not to hurl insults at whoever is providing the baked goods. It’s probably fine to eat the baked goods in a strange fashion.
Juan Cole’s reaction to the Anglo-Saxon mess was more serious.
I really dislike Nazi references. They are for the most part a sign of sloppy thinking, and a form of banal hyperbole. But there just is no other way to characterize invoking the Anglo-Saxon race as a basis for a foreign policy relationship, and openly saying that those of a different race cannot understand the need for such ties. It is a Nazi sentiment.
If you would like some evidence for what I say, consider Adolf Hitler’s own point of view:
For a long time yet to come there will be only two Powers in Europe with which it may be possible for Germany to conclude an alliance. These Powers are Great Britain and Italy.”
Of the two possible allies, Hitler much preferred Britain because he considered it higher on his absurd and pernicious racial hierarchy. Indeed, Hitler held Mussolini a bit at arms length while hoping for a British change of heart, a hope only decisively dashed in September, 1939, when Britain declared war.
Hitler complained that colonialism was in danger of diluting Aryan European strength, weighing down the metropole powers. He contrasted this situation with that of the white United States, blessedly possessing its “own continent.” Indeed, it is, he argued (genocidal crackpot that he was), Britain’s special relationship with the Anglo-Saxon-dominated United states that kept it from being overwhelmed by its subhuman colonials:
“we we too easily forget the Anglo-Saxon world as such. The position of England, if only because of her linguistic and cultural bond with the American Union, can be compared to no other state in Europe.”
Yikes! Remember, I didn’t write that. I’m just quoting Professor Juan Cole.
Yesterday Romney also gave an interview to NBC’s Brian Williams. He avoided questions on several topics, including his unreleased tax returns. Romney assured Williams that he was not going to release any more tax returns. Period. End of story. I think he’s hoping that we’ll all be distracted by his trip abroad, but somehow I don’t think the Obama campaign or the media will stop asking him what he’s hiding.
In addition, as JJ reported last night, Romney told Williams that James Holmes shouldn’t have had all that weaponry that he used to murder 12 people, wound more than 50 others, and turn his apartment into a firebomb, because the weapons were all illegal. Oopsie! Another flub.
As Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates explained: “All the weapons that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the clips that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the ammunition that he possessed, he possessed legally.”
Holmes used a handgun, a shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle in his massacre — all legal, thanks to the expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, which had previously prohibited some versions of the AR-15. Holmes also had body armor, tear gas grenades, a gas mask and tactical gear. All are legal and widely available online at minimal cost (one website sells tear gas grenades for just $16 a pop).
The only way it would have been illegal for Holmes to have his guns would be if he had been diagnosed as mentally ill or was a convicted felon, but neither was the case. His only record was a speeding ticket.
The drip drip drip continued in the media’s efforts to discover the truth behind Romney’s exit from Bain Capital. Yesterday the AP released a new “Fact check” article that pokes holes in Romney’s claims that he had no involvement with Bain after he left to head up the 2002 Winter Olympics. Quoting Greg Sargent:
The Associated Press reports this morning that Mitt Romney “stayed in regular contact” with his partners at Bain in the months after the 1999 date that he has given as the time he left the company. The story also claims he “continued to oversee his partnership stakes even as he disengaged from the firm, personally signing or approving a series of corporate and legal documents through the spring of 2001.”
The story doesn’t move the ball too much, but it adds to the information that complicates his case that he bears no responsibility for any of the controversial Bain deals that took place during that period — and that he played “no role whatsoever” with the firm.
Finally, Buzzfeed reports that Democrats Plan To Go Nuclear On Romney “You Didn’t Build This” Attack. In a memo sent to the media, the Obama campaign announces they plan to hit Romney hard on multiple fronts. You can read the whole memo at the link.
That was Romney’s very very bad Wednesday. I wonder what he’ll do today? Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
Major New Boston Globe Article Recounts Circumstances of Romney’s Bain DeparturePosted: July 20, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney, Team Obama, The Bonus Class, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: "pathos of the plutocrat", 13D filings, Bain Capital, Beth Healy, golden parachute, Michael Kranish, Paul Krugman, Roberta Karmel, Romney's tax returns, SEC, The Boston Globe 9 Comments
I know everyone is focused on the Colorado shooting, but I feel as if I need to post this new information about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.
New interviews and public records research by Boston Globe reporters Beth Healy and Michael Kranish make it clearer than ever that Romney was still in control of the company during his “leave of absence” to manage the 1999 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain’s investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm’s future without him, according to his former associates.
Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates.
“The elephant in the room was not whether Mitt was involved in investment decisions but Mitt’s retention of control of the firm and therefore his ability to extract a huge economic benefit by delaying his giving up of that control,” said one former associate, who, like some other Romney associates, spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the company.
Romney originally planned to take a leave of absence, while contributing part-time to Bain. It was agreed that “five managing directors” would be in charge while he was away. Romney was technically no longer involved in investment decisions, but he had legal control of the firm.
Basically, Romney wanted a huge golden parachute, and retaining control of Bain gave him leverage. He was still the boss, even if he had let go of micromanaging every new project and decision. The reporters talked to
James Cox, a professor of corporate and securities law at Duke University, [who] said Bain’s continued reference to Romney as CEO and sole shareholder indicated that Romney was still the final authority. Moreover, Cox said, Romney would likely have been updated regularly about Bain Capital’s profits while he was negotiating his severance package. As a result, Cox said, Romney’s statement that he had no involvement with “any Bain Capital entity” appears “inconsistent” with his actions.
“If he is 100 percent owner, I just find it incredible that what I would call ‘big decisions’ — acquisitions, restructuring, changes in business policy — that they would not have passed on to him on an informational basis, not asking for formal approval but just keeping him in the loop,” Cox said.
Romney’s departure left Bain in a somewhat chaotic state. The remaining partners were worried about their ability to raise funds for takeovers without their former boss. Some of the partners chose to leave Bain and begin their own firms “rather than go through the limbo transition.”
I seems quite clear that Romney has lied on disclosure forms on which he has stated that after February 11, 1999 he “was not involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.”
What I can’t understand is why he didn’t just lay out all these facts and simply deal with any criticisms about investments that Bain made between 1999 and 2002. He benefited financially from those decisions anyway–and is still benefiting from Bain investments. But now he looks dishonest as well as ruthless toward workers who suffered when Bain outsourced their jobs or drove their employers into bankruptcy.
CNN also published an important article about Romney and Bain today. The author is Roberta Karmel, a former SEC commissioner who is now Centennial Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. Karmel has been quoted in the Boston Globe’s previous articles on Romney’s separation from Bain. Karmel explains in detail why Romney can’t avoid responsibility for Bain between February 11, 1999 and early 2002 when he officially resigned as CEO and presumably transferred some of his shares to the new managing partners.
The contradictory representations in the Government Ethics Office and SEC filings are at best evasive and at worst a violation of federal law. A federal statute — 18 U.S.C. § 1001 — provides that anyone who “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully — (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” shall be fined or imprisoned. Violations of federal securities laws, including the making of false statements in a 13D filing, are independently punishable under the securities laws….
Romney is not now claiming his 13D filings were inaccurate or false, but he is claiming that although he was chief executive officer, managing director, chairman and president of Bain Capital, he was not really there, but in Utah managing the Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, he was earning more than $100,000 in salary from Bain. Since he will not release his income tax returns for 1999-2002, we have no idea how high this salary really was.
If Romney was not “involved” in the operations of Bain Capital, why was he being paid? As sole shareholder, why did he keep himself on as CEO? Also, at least with respect to the Stericycle deal, he invested as an individual along with the Bain entities. Why is Romney’s story about his relationship to Bain and its investment activities at odds with the documents his firm filed?
There’s much more, so if you’re interested, be sure to check out the entire article. I assume the Obama campaign will quickly latch onto this new information. Will Romney try to explain, or will he continue to resort to the “pathos of the plutocrat” as described in Paul Krugman’s latest column–whining because he isn’t getting the deference that he feels is his due as one of the super-rich? Krugman:
Like everyone else following the news, I’ve been awe-struck by the way questions about Mr. Romney’s career at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he founded, and his refusal to release tax returns have so obviously caught the Romney campaign off guard. Shouldn’t a very wealthy man running for president — and running specifically on the premise that his business success makes him qualified for office — have expected the nature of that success to become an issue? Shouldn’t it have been obvious that refusing to release tax returns from before 2010 would raise all kinds of suspicions?
By the way, while we don’t know what Mr. Romney is hiding in earlier returns, the fact that he is still stonewalling despite calls by Republicans as well as Democrats to come clean suggests that it could be something seriously damaging.
Anyway, what’s now apparent is that the campaign was completely unprepared for the obvious questions, and it has reacted to the Obama campaign’s decision to ask those questions with a hysteria that surely must be coming from the top. Clearly, Mr. Romney believed that he could run for president while remaining safe inside the plutocratic bubble and is both shocked and angry at the discovery that the rules that apply to others also apply to people like him. Fitzgerald again, about the very rich: “They think, deep down, that they are better than we are.”
Thursday ReadsPosted: July 19, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Homeless, Mitt Romney, morning reads, poverty, Republican presidential politics, SCOTUS, Tea Party activists, Team Obama, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Antonin Scalia, bigotry, birtherism, Bush v. Gore, dog whistles, national military service, Obama and terrorism, Racism, Romney's tax returns, Ronald Reagan, Tea Party 36 Comments
I just spent the last two days kid sitting for my two nephews, ages 7 and 9, and boy am I beat! Am I a great sister and sister-in-law or what? It may take me a day or so to recover. Kids sure do have a lot of energy! It was fun though.
The good news is that late yesterday afternoon, thundershowers moved into the Boston area and began cooling things down a bit. My house is still hot inside though. But we are going to get some relief from the heat for a couple of days–it might even be in the high 70s on Friday! Anyway, enough about my boring life, let’s get to the news.
As we learned yesterday, Mitt Romney has decided to “take the gloves off,” meaning he’s going full-on birther and the dog whistles have been upgraded to overt race baiting.
Mitt is so infuriated about being asked to do what past presidential candidates have done and release several years of his tax returns that he seems to have lost sight of his long-term goal of winning over independent voters and decided to figuratively don one of those hats with tea bags dangling from it. This is going to be an ugly and embarrassing spectacle.
Ed Kilgore asks: “Is Team Romney Becoming Unhinged?” Kilgore concluded yesterday, as I did, that John Sununu’s ugly remarks on Tuesday morning were part of a deliberate strategy by the Romney campaign to follow Donald Trump and the Tea Party in trying to paint President Obama as “foreign” and not a real American.
Did Team Romney really think their candidate could run around the country citing the brilliant job-creating success of Bain Capital as his primary credential for becoming president and not get challenged about it? And did they not expect demands that the richest man ever to win a presidential nomination release his tax returns? I mean, the attacks they are dealing with now are blindingly obvious. Any Romney opponent who didn’t make them would be guilty of extreme political malfeasance. So what gives?
Apparently what really got Romney’s goat was Obama adviser Stephanie Cutter’s statement that if Romney had lied on SEC forms, that would be a felony.
Romney’s aides remain particularly livid about Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter’s suggestion last week that Romney committed a crime by filing apparently conflicting documents to the FEC and SEC.
“[Obama’s] policies have been such utter failures, the only thing he can do is to try to destroy a decent man and his wife,” the adviser said. “So he gets some hack political adviser from Chicago who has nothing to point to in her own life, and tells her to call him a felon… When did our politics get to that point? I mean, it’s Nixonian.”
Try to destroy a decent man and his wife? Nothing to point to in her own life? This is such an over-the-top reaction to a banal comment by Cutter (who didn’t call Romney a “felon,” but simply observed that if he did misstate his role at Bain in a SEC filing, that’s potentially a felony) that you have to believe it’s coming from the candidate himself. Apparently, the mere suggestion he might have possibly committed a crime has sent him and his staff into a real spiral.
Don’t you bet Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich wish they had known about this particular soft spot! Mention the criminal code and watch Mitt melt down!
At Talking Points Memo, Benjy Sarlin and Evan McMorris-Santoro opine: Romney’s New Plan To Go After Obama’s Biography Is A Gamble.
The Romney campaign had previously shot down the idea of revisiting many of the character attacks that first emerged in the 2008 election. Romney strongly repudiated an independent proposal by Republican ad man Fred Davis to run ads reviving the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, for example.
Asked by TPM whether he felt reports of Romney’s new approach “kinda vindicate [sic]” his biography-based ad pitch, Davis e-mailed: “Only kinda?”
The assumption up to this point among strategists on both sides has been that objections to attacking Obama as a teen drug user or as personally corrupt were about keeping the message on the president’s record in office. The biggest conservative outside money groups, like American Crossroads, focus on Americans’ economic struggles, based on research showing it to be the most effective angle.
“Obama is setting a trap, and Romney is not a Chicago street fighter,” unaligned GOP consultant Ford O’Connell told TPM. “If Romney dabbles in this tit-for-tat style of political warfare for too long, he will lose.”
Romney is really playing into Obama’s hands by refusing to just release his tax returns and now embracing Tea Party bigotry. Obama’s advisers must be high fiving each other and grinning ear to ear.
Check this out: Mitt Romney On Tax Return Controversy: ‘It’s Kind Of Amusing’
“It’s kind of amusing,” Romney told Columbus, Ohio, CBS affiliate WBNS. “I’m releasing two years of records as well as all that’s legally required and, for that matter, I’m doing the same thing John McCain did when he ran for president four years ago, which is releasing two years of returns, and we’ll see what time has to say about this.”
Yep, we’ll see. And watching Mitt self-destruct is going to be a lot of fun. Time to stock up on popcorn.
And speaking of right wing bigots, Supreme Court
Joke Justice Antonin Scalia told CNN’s Piers Morgan that anyone who is unhappy about the Bush v. Gore decision should just “get over it.”
“Well, I guess the one that created the most waves of disagreement was Bush v. Gore,” says Scalia, referring to the famed United States Supreme Court decision dealing with the dispute surrounding the 2000 presidential election. “That comes up all the time, and my usual response is ‘get over it.'”
Noting that it was the Democratic candidate who brought the case into the Courts, Scalia says he hasn’t lost any sleep over the result:
“No regrets at all, especially since it’s clear that the thing would have ended up the same way anyway,” recalls the 76-year-old. “The press did extensive research into what would have happened, if what Al Gore wanted done, had been done, county by county, and he would have lost anyway.”
I’ve found a couple of important long reads for you. First, from Alternet: How America Became a Country That Lets Little Kids Go Homeless. If you guessed it goes back to the mean-spirited Reagan administration, you’re correct.
An interesting fact about family homelessness: before the early-1980s, it did not exist in America, at least not as an endemic, multi-generational problem afflicting millions of poverty-stricken adults and kids. Back then, the typical homeless family was a middle-aged woman with teenagers who wound up in a shelter following some sort of catastrophic bad luck like a house fire. They stayed a short time before they got back on their feet.
In the 1980s, family homelessness did not so much begin to grow as it exploded, leaving poverty advocates and city officials stunned as young parents with small children overwhelmed the shelter system and spilled into the streets. In New York City, the rate of homeless people with underage kids went up by 500 percent between 1981 and 1995. Nationally, kids and families made up less than 1 percent of the homeless population in the early 1980s, according to advocate and researcher Dr. Ellen Bassuk. HUD estimates put the number at 35 percent of people sleeping in shelters in 2010….
The reasons behind the jump in family homelessness are not complex, Núñez says. “It was the gutting of the safety net. Reagan cut every social program that helped the poor. Then there’s inflation so their aid checks are shrinking. Where are they going? Into the streets, into the shelters.”
It’s so true. When I first moved to Boston in 1967, the only homeless people you saw were down and out alcoholic hobo types. Then Reagan emptied the state psychiatric hospitals and cut funds for low cost housing, and other safety net programs. Suddenly, the Boston area was filled with homeless people–people who slept in their cars in supermarket parking lots or outside along the Charles River in Harvard Square. It was truly horrifying.
At the New York Review of Books, David Cole reviews two new books on Obama’s terrorism policies and concludes that Obama isn’t exactly Bush III, but he hasn’t restored our constitutional rights either.
While President Obama, unlike his predecessor, has steered clear of the politics of fear, he has also steered clear of the politics of defending our ideals. Like many Democrats, he seems afraid of being painted as soft on terrorism if he advocates for respecting the rights of others. We can only hope that in a second term, with more confidence and an eye on his legacy rather than short-term polls, he will take on the defense of American ideals that he let pressure from the security bureaucracy and political caution stop him from pursuing in the first.
And while you’re at the NYRB, take a look at this piece by William Pfaff: When the Army Was Democratic.
The US had national service from September 1940, just before World War II, until 1971, when the Vietnam War was ending. It was accepted with patriotic resolution at its start, and hated by its end. I am of an age to have put on my country’s uniform in high school ROTC in 1942, when I was fourteen years old. I put it on again for the Korean War, and did not take it off for the last time until 1958, after limited active reserve service. That was a total of sixteen years.
I can’t say that I enjoyed military service, but I learned a lot, about myself and about others—including the young black men who made up a good half of my all-southern, and mostly rural, basic training company (where I was not only the sole college graduate but probably the only high school graduate). This was just two and a half years after President Harry Truman had ordered the army desegregated. The regular army—which has always been essentially a southern institution—hated and feared the consequences of that order, but said “yes, sir” and did it, producing undoubtedly the biggest and most successful program of social engineering the United States had ever experienced. It also created what remains today the most successful route of social and professional ascension for talented young black males from poor communities that the country has ever known.
The army, in my opinion, did more to desegregate the United States than the civil rights movement of the 1960s. From 1948 on, nearly every able-bodied young man in the United States served and lived side by side with Americans of all colors, all in strict alphabetical order, in old-fashioned unpartitioned barracks, sleeping bunk to bunk, sharing shelter-halves on bivouac, in what amounted to brotherly endurance of the cold, heat, discomfort, and misery of military training—and following that, of service.
Just a few more quick links I want to call your attention to. Joseph Cannon has a horrifying post up about connections between Mitt Romney and the teen rehab industry in which kids are abused, tortured, and brainwashed. Also see this article in Salon linked in the Cannon piece.
Dakinikat will be interested to know (if she doesn’t already) that Bobby Jindal’s exorcism history has made it into the corporate media. And Charlie Pierce wrote about it yesterday.