When Lunatics Run the Asylum

Tea Party nutjob
There are, by any real measure, no moderates in the Republican Party. Not because there aren't any center-right members, but because there are no center-right actions. There are still a few willing to put nation before party, to value facts above ideology, but the fact is that the far right extremists who have taken over their party have made them irrelevant. There are no moderates in the Republican Party because moderation has been banned.


According to Republicans, moderate members of the House GOP conference feel that Boehner, who has struggled with an often raucous and openly defiant right wing, has forced them to go along with conservative demands but has provided them little in return.

One Republican familiar with the dynamics within the GOP argued part of the difficulty for Boehner has been the fact that conservatives -- and not moderates -- have been the "squeaky wheel" within the conference, which has forced him to focus on them for much of the 112th Congress.

Rather than work with his entire conference Boehner has had to "prove to conservatives constantly that he's advocating for them and not screwing them behind their backs," the Republican said.

Boehner remains deeply popular within his conference, and despite the frustration of moderates he faces virtually no chance of an effort oust him as Speaker.

Boehner's Funhouse has gotten so useless that Ohio Rep. Steven LaTourette has decided to call it quits -- out of the blue -- leaving the state party scrambling to find someone to run to replace him (the state's primary has already come and gone). According to The Hill, "LaTourette had also grown increasingly disenchanted with the GOP’s position on revenue increases that Democrats have demanded as part of any grand bargain on the deficit. The Ohio Republican disavowed the pledge against tax increases that he and most other House Republicans signed, and he has sharply criticized its author, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. LaTourette also led an ill-fated effort to pass a budget alternative modeled on the Simpson-Bowles deficit plan. It garnered just 38 votes in the House after LaTourette had said he hoped for more than 100."

New York's Rep. Richard Hanna, a fellow moderate, told his local newspaper yesterday, "I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history."

"We render ourselves incapable of governing when all we do is take severe sides..." he said. "If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something that looks very similar to the shirts and the skins, there’s not a lot of value there."

And whose fault is all this? The GOP's, he said. "I would say that the friends I have in the Democratic Party I find... much more congenial — a little less anger," Hanna said.

As a result of this lack of moderation, we have -- by default -- a "Tea Party" federal government. How are you liking it so far?

Oh, it's not the Tea Party government that the 'baggers would like to see. They're interested in fundamentally changing America into an insane asylum. Vote after vote to repeal "Obamacare," to unconstitutionally outlaw abortion, to reaffirm that the nation's motto is "In God We Trust," yet nothing that would improve the economy or boost employment. They're too busy freaking out over a non-existent Islamic terrorist sleeper cell in the state department.

No, we have a Tea Party government in the sense that the Tea Party is responsible for the state of this nation. In the Senate the filibuster is grossly abused and the House wastes its time with BS bills that have no hope of ever going anywhere and solve no real-world problems anyway. This is the real Tea Party rule; a government in stasis, trapped in the amber of their own frivolity and obstructionism. A government that will not respond to the needs of its people, because it's too busy catering to the whims of corporations, religious nutjobs, bigots, and the least sane voices in conservative media.

Government isn't working. And remember, when a conservative sees that something's not working, they think it means they need to do more of it.

[Associated Press:]

Frustrated by their inability to achieve some policy goals, conservatives in Republican states are turning against moderate members of their own party, trying to drive them out of state legislatures to clear the way for reshaping government across a wide swath of mid-America controlled by the GOP.

Political groups are helping finance the efforts by supporting primary election challenges targeting several dozen moderate Republicans in the Midwest and South, especially prominent lawmakers who run key state committees.

Two years after Republicans swept into power in many state capitols, the challengers say it’s time to adopt more conservative policies.

If government is broken, the GOP remedy seems to be to break it worse.


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Global Warming 'Skepticism' or Willful Ignorance?

Blindfolded man
In 2009, Pew put out what should have been a wake up call for anyone confused by the politicization of science. In a study of the scientific community, Pew found that a whopping 6% of all scientists were Republican. And no serious person wondered why. Republicans had been anti-science for years; from evolution to global warming to Reagan's missile defense fantasy, conservatives have most always gotten reality dead wrong. For years, it was the argument of many on the right that there should no federal funding for HIV/AIDS research. Why? Because there has never been a "cure" found for a virus. This "we ought to just give up before we even start" attitude wasn't just proven wrong in the long run (AIDS isn't cured, but is not a treatable disease and not a death sentence), but it was deeply unscientific. At a certain point in history, there was no cure for rabies -- to name one of literally thousands of diseases. If we followed the right's line of thinking, no disease in history would ever have been cured, because no one would even have tried. "It's never been done, therefore it's impossible" is what passes for logic among conservatives, not scientists.

But there's still that 6% of scientists who are Republican. There seems to be one main difference between your average Republican and your Republican scientist -- a scientist is, by definition, willing to change their mind. For the rest of the GOP hive-mind, sticking to an argument long after it's been proven wrong is considered a good thing. And so it is that when a conservative scientist changes his mind, it's a case of giving in to reality's liberal bias.

[Richard Muller, New York Times:]

Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

Bonus fun; the Berkley study was partly funded by the Koch brothers.

All of this leads The Guardian's Leo Hickman to ask, "What evidence will it take to convince climate sceptics?" and finds that the answer is that they probably can't be persuaded.

Rather than join Muller on his road to Damascus, many climate sceptics have predictably been tempted by the neon signs directing them to turn back instead. Muller, as a result of his "conversion", is now being painted as a figure of distrust and scorn, in much the same way that they have viewed many climate scientists over the years. His research methodologies and results are being mocked and slammed for being simplistic and "agenda driven".

For climate "skeptics," evidence is irrelevant. Ask any creationist -- you can always poke the tiniest whole in a finding and use that tiny hole to convince the non-scientist that the whole idea is deeply, deeply flawed. But the fact that the flatearthers can't be persuaded is all the proof you need that they aren't practicing science -- they're preaching dogma.

And they can't be persuaded. Already, they're taking an almost irrelevant finding from the Berkley study out of context and using it to attack the study as a whole. This isn't science, it's religion.

The worst thing about conservative boneheadedness on science is that their thinking leads to global disaster. But the second worst thing is how smugly proud they are of how wrong they are. Imagine them during Isaac Newton's day; "Gravity? LIBTARD! Birds fly, smoke rises -- so-called 'gravity' is obviously a hoax, you mental midget! HAHAHAHAHA!" They're insufferably certain that the completely idiotic things they say are true and that anyone who disagrees is an idiot. It's like watching someone mock you for believing skulls aren't bullet-proof -- while putting pistols to both your foreheads.

So, "What evidence will it take to convince climate sceptics?" It's pointless to even try. They're idiots and they're intent on remaining idiots, in the face of whatever evidence you might have. They put all their effort into justifying their willful ignorance. There is no convincing, there is only finding ways to work around them.

They are, quite literally, "stuck on stupid" -- because they choose to be.


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Scott Brown, Mitt Romney, and Expelling Truth from Politics

Since the comments and ratings have been disabled, we have no way of knowing whether Scott Brown's new reelection ad has gone viral in a good way or a bad way. I suspect it's probably six of one and half a dozen of the other. It doesn't have the absurdity that other viral ads bring to mind, but that doesn't mean it's not ridiculous.

The big problem with Brown's ad is that it hitches a ride on Mitt Romney's "you didn't build that" smear. And undermines that same smear.

"Just as Romney’s Web video does, the audio is edited to remove the chunk of the speech in which Obama talks about our 'great American system' and 'roads and bridges,' misleading listeners into believing that the 'didn’t build that' line was an insult to business owners," writes Greg Sargent. "Any listener would reasonably conclude that the language quoted above is exactly as Obama delivered it."

But then Brown includes the words of the woman vying for his Massachusetts Senate seat, Elizabeth Warren -- and Warren supplies the context that Romney's smear cuts out. In fact, it was that speech by Warren that Obama borrowed from in his own speech. The lie only works if the context is removed, which means that Brown is presenting the absolute, 100%, undeniable truth that goods travel by road as an attack on free enterprise.

And this is pretty disturbing. The Republican Party began moving into its present post-truth phase when Rush Limbaugh whipped up Clinton Derangement Syndrome. This post-truth attitude cemented itself into the base with charlatans like Glenn Beck. It's moved into the political system with fringe nuts like Michele Bachmann -- and now it's infected moderates like Brown.

What's happened is that we've reached a stage of taboo truths. Yes, goods do travel on roads. And yes, people who get rich selling goods do get rich using public tax dollars in the form of those roads. But no, you aren't allowed to say that. It's heresy to the myth of the Self-Made Man and must never, ever be uttered. Romney and Brown can't answer Warren's and Obama's argument, so Brown takes Romney a step further -- don't change the context, but censor the argument. Talking about the commons is something no Patriotic American should ever, ever do and that little bit of truth is now politically taboo -- like pointing out that burning a flag is a celebration of freedom in the form of free speech, not a condemnation of it.

When you get people into this post-truth mindset, you can get them to believe (or insist they believe) anything. Sure, argument X sure sounds convincing, but no Good American Patriot would ever think such a thing. It may be true, but you aren't allowed to think or say it. This is a frame of mind more suited to North Korea than a free nation.

And this frame of mind explains this:

Pew finds that despite being as constantly debunked as birtherism, the "Obama's a secret Muslim" conspiracy theory is not only strong among Republican voters, but grows stronger the more often it's debunked. Why?

"I suppose it’s possible that if Pew asked these folk if Obama was a Zoroastrian, an Animist, or a devil-worshiper, the numbers would be similar. Anything that sounds vaguely bad sounds vaguely good as a description for Barack Obama," explains Ed Kilgore.

In other words, if it's something that sounds like it'd hurt Barack Obama politically, then it's politically correct to believe it -- or, at least, espouse it. So, Obama's a Christian? That belief is taboo to conservatives. Employers, not consumers, are "job creators?" Well, the math doesn't really work but if Reagan said so... Businesses use roads that taxpayers provide? You take that back!

I'd almost prefer that conservatives were actually brainwashed cultists -- then all this selective believing wouldn't be their own fault. Giving up independent thought and even the acceptance of truth isn't what free people do. And as much as they wave around the flag and use words like "liberty" as buzzwords, it's becoming clearer and clearer that conservatives don't want to be free people.

Of course, I'm probably not allowed to say that.



Before Starry Eyes

The SUN sets
Too much, too soon
No, not yet
Feeling so new
Yet so familiar
Scared… why
You’re here
Before my eyes

How the MOON does know
Perhaps before I ever did
So how it does glow
Knowing who I’m with
As if a dream
Side by side
Or so it seems
Before my eyes

STARS shine down
Light in the black
Beats and breaths the only sound
I don’t know how to act
But love
To surmise
Should be enough
Before my eyes

A whole new WORLD breathes
My first time
Am I still me
Are you still mine
Does passion now expire?
You I still desire
Before my eyes

Here comes the sun
New day dawns
Looking for the one
Is loving you wrong?
One night, one love, one girl
Angel from the skies
With you I have the world
Before my very eyes

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Let Me Lie Next To Your Fire

Is love so dire?
Does the heart not tire?
Beating and entreating
Alone am I dreaming?
That someday I might
Be touched by Heaven’s Light
A day, a month, another year
You appear

Why men learn to fly
And I cry
This thirst of desire
Quenched so much higher
Than I have ever been
Such is my sin
I run and I chase
For such a taste

Want of a kiss
How I yearn for such bliss
Heaven I find
Lost in your eyes
I’m freed from the mire
Can’t I admire?
Paradise divine
Could you be mine?

Love is without reason
Dreaming of a season
In the dark of night
Would you be that light
Beside me, to guide me
Whoever could I be?
Boy made Sire
You do inspire

As the dragon and phoenix
To be blessed so I attest
Love will find a way
Tonight, tomorrow, someday
On Cupid’s lips “No”
Yet this moment could be so
Like Hendrix I do
Let me lie next to your fire

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Whisper Love

Whisper to me
This is not a dream
I want to believe
For once in the dark
Before the lark
The beating of my heart

First words
Words I’ve never heard
From such a beautiful girl
How I long to hear
To just be here
If you’re real…

Whisper to me
Can we be?
A moment maybe
One more night
Until the morning light
Lover like

What could I say?
Here and now, another day
Love will find a way
Yet I hope
And so

Whisper to me
Sunlight we see
Did I sleep?
In love’s wakefulness
Sealed with a kiss
Such quiet bliss

Oh brave new world
Without the girl
Hush, no goodbye…

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.


Bain Attacks Erode Mitt's Favorables

Mitt Romney
Yesterday, I touched briefly on two contradictory polls on the issue of Team Obama's Bain attacks and whether they were hurting Mitt Romney. A USA Today/Gallup poll found that "By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, those surveyed say Romney's background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation's economic problems over the next four years." So, despite the Obama attacks on his Bain record, Gallup found most thought Romney's Bain years were a positive.

But a Reuters/Ipsos poll released the very next day found that over a third of respondents said "that what they had heard about Romney's taxes and his time at Bain Capital private equity firm had given them a less favorable impression of the Republican candidate."

My take on all of this was that it was Reuters' finding that was probably truest, since Team Obama wasn't changing their strategy. Based on their behavior, I deduced that their own tracking was showing it working. And today Greg Sargent points to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll [pdf] that suggests the same thing. It finds that Obama leads Romney 49%-43%, that Romney's favorables are underwater at 35% favorable to 40% unfavorable, that 52% say they don’t identify with Romney’s "background and set of values," and "43 percent say they’ve seen, heard, or read something in the past few weeks that gives them a more negative impression of Romney."

Meanwhile, the same poll finds that only 23% of respondents have a negative view of Bain. To explain this, Sargent turns to Steve Kornacki, who explained that it's "possible that Bain will mean nothing to most voters and still end up succeeding as a strategy."

"What Kornacki means is that the broader Obama strategy of attacking Romney over the offshoring and layoffs -- combined with the attacks on Romney’s own offshore accounts and refusal to release his tax returns -- could end up eroding Romney’s image, even if voters don’t necessarily reach a firm conclusion about the meaning of the Bain years," Sargent writes. "This is certainly how Dem strategists view the purpose of the Bain attacks."

It may be that it's not the attacks themselves that sink Romney, but his reaction to them. He's been dodgy and secretive about everything, constantly trying to change the subject and constantly being caught in a lie. As a result, voters may be getting the (absolutely correct) impression of Romney as a shady and slippery character. And talk about Swiss Bank accounts and exotic tax dodges sets Romney apart from the average voter. That 52% who don't identify with Romney's "background and set of values?" Where do you think that impression comes from?

And Sargent notes that, while Romney seems to benefit from the "presumption of economic competence," more identify Obama as the guy on their side economically.

The NBC/WSJ poll also finds that Romney holds the edge on who has good ideas for improving the economy, 43-36. But 80 percent say they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who will fight for fairness and encourage investments to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class, versus 68 percent who lean towards restoring “economic freedom” and “small government.” And Obama leads on who would fight for the middle class, 49-33.

So a better question than "Are the Bain attacks working?" might be "Are voters seeing Romney as representing someone other than themselves?"

And the answer to that question seems to be yes.


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GOP's Brand of Fiscal Restraint is Really Expensive

Burning money
House Republicans are all about saving taxpayers' money, right? Right? Well, actually not so much. It would be more accurate to say House Republicans are all about talking about saving taxpayers' money, while doing nothing but collecting it in the form of congressional paychecks. And what they don't pocket themselves, they blow on boneheaded fiscal ideas.

There is a cost to a do-nothing congress. And this is definitely a do-nothing congress. Oh sure, they pretend to accomplish things, but mostly they just dick around with PR stunts that even they know are doomed. And they don't pay for their own PR -- you do.

Take for example the repeated votes to repeal Obamacare. Those bills go nowhere in the Senate -- they aren't even brought up for a vote -- yet John Boehner has wasted 80 hours worth of taxpayer money on these election year stunts. That ain't free and that ain't hay.

[Huffington Post:]

According to a report by CBS News, these efforts, widely viewed as symbolic political maneuvers, come with a high price tag.

CBS' Nancy Cordes reported Wednesday that Republicans' many fruitless attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act have taken up at least 80 hours of time on the House floor since 2010, amounting to two full work weeks. As the House, according to the Congressional Research Service, costs taxpayers $24 million a week to operate, those two weeks amounted to a total cost of approximately $48 million.

It's not hard to work out the hourly burn rate for tax money by the House of Representatives. Every time someone bangs that stupid, oversized gavel of Boehner's, tax money starts getting shoveled into a furnace at a rate of $600,000/hour. So votes to defund Planned Parenthood, PBS, NPR, and what-have-you -- all widely acknowledged doomed efforts to excite the base -- cost $600,000/hour. Up in smoke, with nothing to show for it, because Republicans are such wise stewards of taxpayer money.

But that's not the worst of it. Not by a long shot. The Huffington Post again:

...The 2011 argument about the debt ceiling--the most recent battle--cost the U.S. government about $1.3 billion in extra borrowing costs, according to a new study by the Government Accountability Office [pdf], the nonpartisan congressional watchdog.

And that's just the costs that the GAO bothered to count. There are also probably extra borrowing costs that the government is still paying this year and in future years because of the debt-ceiling debacle, but the GAO's computer was too tired and/or depressed to try to figure those out.

"Many of the Treasury securities issued during the 2011 debt limit event period will remain outstanding for years to come," the GAO said. "Accordingly, the multiyear increase in borrowing costs arising from the event is greater than the additional borrowing costs during fiscal 2011 alone."

So, in a political hissy-fit over spending costs more than the spending for the entire year in which that hissy-fit was held. Good thinkin' there, 'baggers. No one will ever accuse you of being good at math. And those costs aren't the only ones -- other costs aren't so easily calculated.

"[T]here's no price tag you can put, really, on Congress's debt-ceiling idiocy," writes HuffPo's financial reporter Mark Gongloff. "Treasury rates plunged because everybody got worried all the sudden that the debt downgrade, along with Europe's monetary pyromania, would lead to another recession. It didn't, but another debt-ceiling fight that pushes the economy right to the brink of disaster won't help matters. Regardless of the cost, we can't afford another mistake like that one."

So the loss of non-tax dollars will never be known, but is certainly substantial. All because John Boehner and some insane teabagger types don't want Barack Obama to be president.

Congress will be going into another summer recess in August. That will be the only time that House Republicans will be saving taxpayer money -- by not showing up to do nothing. They'll be doing all their nothing from the comfort of their own homes, where it's a lot less expensive.


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Fake Take

Another mistake
I’ll find a way
Make it to someday
Girl spreads her legs
Lust is less fake
So I create
No longer wait

For power
But at what cost
To be the boss
Say it louder
My life I won’t fake
Whatever it takes

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Enough To Shudder

As here comes the thunder
Surely I dream a blunder
To come from under the covers
In fact seems so much tougher
Than I think anything else
Because outside I see Hell
Just listen to all the voices
If these are my only choices

How can I let myself, be torn asunder?
There is no need to wonder
Throw the covers over me
Yet how will I sleep?
For I want only the big
Could death bring bliss?
Believe me, I have tried
It started out with a kiss

I have dreamed of a lover
Did she make my heart flutter?
The reason for a trashcan
A laptop in my hands
See the world from my bed
Should I have her instead?
Between the sheets
Was a fool’s dream

I’m only another brother
Hood didn’t take me under
This child of the suburbs
Haven’t you heard?
Because when I make my noise
All you girls and boys
Could be, should be, will be…
We will just have to see

I’ll be something other
No longer will I shudder
One eye sees all
Having my Babydoll
My name in lights
I’ve got the world in my pocket
And nothing’s gonna stop it
Who wants the love?
When it won’t be enough

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

The Reach

The taking… of that reach
Dare it be a wide expanse?
For I want more than victory
So I will take this chance

How can one find happiness?
Without one’s own desire
These years I’ve lived with nothingness
And still walk through the fire
Living with the consequence
Sentenced to the pyre
Never was I on the list
Yet subject to the ire
When all I want is bliss

Bliss alone from angel fair
Moments in the past
Gave my heart, I put you there
You treated it like trash
Even now I do declare
Love will never last
Thoughts of this I cannot bear
Let me have, some cash
And this I surely dare

To dream a dream impossible
Now reality
Could I be unstoppable?
Maybe I’m crazy
Say again not possible
I’ll point to lovely lady
Like and love unsolvable
Because they see
Not probable

No one man
Should have all that power
Still don’t understand
I’m screaming louder
Or will that be the fans.
Beautiful delicate flowers
Unable to stand
In this land
Just one more hour

Wanting the more
Everything in-between
Cause at the core
Nothing and everything
It is the reason for…

The Reach

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Lesson 131 ~ACROSS From Calvary~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

~Lesson 131 ~ACROSS From Calvary~

Hey Lady Lu...
Mad World” I know when I get religious but we all have to believe in something like guy said in “Nightmare on Elm Street” and apparently that something has to be a lot stronger than us. In this world for me that’s everything judging by how tired I have been lately and it’s only getting worse.

Luna you know I have “Faith” in plenty just that faith always is wrong as suggested by the song; I believe in women hell I believe in jailbait and what I should believe in is love. When I got arrested that one time “Son of Father Time” didn’t I tell the cop I believed in me; yeah I’m suppose to have faith in a zombie isn’t that right. What about everything I see on TV, the truths I know, and the things I have chosen, if I really did choose them; at the end of the day it always comes back to “Power

Be careful what you wish for hmm… take work for example, I’ve been trying to get stuck in receiving but it’s more like I’m “Stuck In The Moment” do I really want to be out in the store around people? Do you remember where I was this time last year, Entry 072 ~The Act Of Waiting~ and the thing is I’m going this year; suppose I should count my blessings but I’m a fool counting my problems. “All I Want Is You” Lady Lu to hold me and tell me everything is going to be okay because you know what is truly greater than me… fear and the “Possibility” of hope.

What have I learned today… as if I didn’t no already, that I’m lost and so is everybody else and I simply refuse to be lost to conformity that’s not “The Cure”. As for my final thought Luna you say something is “Heavy In Your Arms” a cross, a book, my very own heart but I’m ACROSS From Calvary.

~ACROSS From Calvary~

Across from Calvary
People watch and moan
Oh No
Bieber just might be…
The next dancer to see…
X factor known
An idol unknown
As Jesus maybe

Second in the coming
Zombie apocalypse
Proof I insist
But there is nothing
Heavy is the cross
Following the last episode of LOST

Copyright © 2011, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

5 things Republicans Think are More Dangerous Than High-Capacity Assault Rifles

Shooter with assault rifle
What are Republican priorities for America? Let's put them in the context of the theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado -- what do Republicans believe is more important than keeping an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round clip out of the hands of lunatics?

Not child porn, just everyday, run-of-the-mill porn. Just days ago, the Huffington Post reported that Mitt Romney is assuring religious conservatives behind the scenes that he would "vigorously" crack down on porn. "[Romney foreign and legal policy director Alex Wong] assured us that Romney is very concerned with this, and that if he’s elected these laws will be enforced," one religious right leader said. "They promised to vigorously enforce federal adult obscenity laws."

So porn, more dangerous and in need of regulation that an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round magazine.

Independent thought
The 2012 platform of the Texas Republican Party includes the statement, "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority." The Texas GOP says the language was "an oversight on the subcommittee's part," but did not deny that they opposed critical thinking -- suggesting that, yeah they don't like kids who think for themselves, but they wouldn't have put it so blatantly if they'd known people were paying attention.

Critical thinking skills; more dangerous and in need of regulation that an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round magazine.

While Republicans would argue that it's the God-Given Right of every American to own as many guns of as many varieties with as many cases of ammo as they see fit, they seem to believe that voting is a super-dangerous activity that should -- as far as possible -- be restricted to responsible people who can be counted on to vote Republican. A recent Brennan Center study found that voter ID laws would disenfranchise nearly 11 million legal voters, to fight nearly nonexistent voter fraud.

Voting; more dangerous and in need of regulation that an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round magazine.

Birth control
I'm not talking about insurance coverage for birth control -- although clearly that's a deadly danger to the American populace too. I'm talking about just birth control. Republicans are big fans of state level "personhood" amendments which define life as beginning "from the moment of fertilization." According to Rachel Maddow, "Hormonal contraceptives generally prevent an egg from being fertilized in the first place, but the at-least-theoretical possibility that they might also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus was enough to raise the specter of birth control pills being viewed as an instrument of homicide" -- therefore, "personhood" amendments would necessarily ban The Pill.

Birth control; more dangerous and in need of regulation that an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round magazine.

There are a lot of examples of this, but (in my opinion), there's no better example than the clearest case of scientific censorship out there. Recently, "North Carolina GOP legislators have circulated a bill to outlaw use of science-based projections in planning for future sea level rise." That's right, it's extremely important that coastal North Carolina not prepare for rising sea levels because that would mean admitting that climate change exists. So any mention of climate change must be made illegal.

Science; more dangerous and in need of regulation that an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round magazine.

So the next time some nut shoots up some public place (and there will be a next time), go ahead and write your legislators to congratulate them. Because God forbid that same nutjob vote, use porn or birth control. Chasing victims down through pools of blood is one thing, but telling them about global warming is another entirely.

And this isn't even comprehensive. It' just the first five that occurred to me. There's marijuana or transparency laws for political donors, for example. You'll be able to think of a few yourself. But high-capacity assault rifles?

There are, after all, certain priorities.


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News Roundup for 7/18/12

Marsha Blackburn
Rep. Marsha Blackburn thinks you're really nosey

-Headline of the Day-
"RNC Finds One Republican Who Doesn’t Believe Romney Should Release Tax Returns."

Mitt Romney's released about five minutes worth of tax records and that's enough! My God, what does it take to sate your blood lust? Ten minutes? Fifteen? Can't you see the poor man's done enough? For the love of God, all he wants to do is run your entire country! How much do you really have to know about him?

That's the way the Republican National Committee wishes people would talk about Romney's tax returns. The problem is, that's the way no one's talking about Romney's tax returns. Even Republicans are going on the teevee and wondering aloud what the heck the deal is. They have to get everyone off this tax return kick and back to hating President Obama -- so they got Rep. Marsha Blackburn to talk about Romney's taxes. Because they're smart like that.

"[W]hen it comes to tax returns, it’s my understanding that the governor has released the same amount of tax returns as Sen. McCain had released," Marsha said on a conference call with reporters. "And quite frankly, what the American people are talking about is not tax returns, what they’re talking about is jobs and the economy"

A couple of problems here. One, the American people most definitely are talking about Romney's tax returns -- if they weren't, you wouldn't be talking on this here conference call -- and two, McCain kind of didn't really so much win. Using McCain as your yardstick for what people expect from their candidates isn't really all that wise. The report points out that "John Kerry, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, and Michael Dukakis all released many years of tax returns" and some of those guys won. There is no list of winners as chintzy with their returns as McCain and Romney.

Sorry. (Talking Points Memo)

-Who is Willard Mitt Romney?-

Wouldn't you like to know? (Truthdig)

-Bonus HotD-
"Report: Voter ID Laws Put Undue Burden On 10 Million Voters."

Let me translate that for you conservatives out there -- "Voter ID laws work exactly as intended." (Talking Points Memo)

The Robotic Candidate Blows a Gasket

Mitt Romney's worried
Yesterday, the rightwing National Review made what was probably (from their perspective, at least) a bad call. They bought the Romney line that the only reason Team Obama wants more tax returns released is so they can find stuff to make a big deal over. "The Obama people keep on wanting more and more and more," Romney has explained. "More things to pick through, more things for their opposition research to try make a mountain out of and to distort and to be dishonest about."

"Let them go fish," said the editorial board, ignoring the very obvious.

And the very obvious is that the argument's basically Romney admitting that there's stuff in there to make a big deal over. It's not like Mitt's completely in the dark over what's in his tax returns; when Romney says the Obama campaign just wants dirt, he's basically admitting that he's not releasing his tax returns because there's dirt in there.

Which is why Team Romney is desperate to change the subject -- and why they're failing to do just that. The very obvious is just as very obvious to the press as it is to me. Romney's hiding something and they want to know what it is. In fact, they want to know so very badly that they're finally giving the "veepstakes" the attention it deserves -- i.e., not a whole lot. And this while Romney's chumming the waters with running mate rumors. When that shiny bauble can't get the media's attention, your messaging apparatus is spiraling wildly out of control.

In National Review's defense, there aren't a lot of options here. Romney can keep his tax returns under wraps and deal with the damage his secrecy is causing him. Or he can release his tax returns and deal with the damage that causes him. The second has merit, since it's better if Romney admits it than if Obama discovers it. But that's the only advantage -- the situation is probably damned if you do and damned if you don't.

This has put Team Romney into what I called yesterday "panic mode." If they can't get the media to talk about the veepstakes, they'll keep throwing crap out there until they find something they will talk about. Obama is a socialist and a crony capitalist at once, according to Team Romney. He's a pot smoking corrupt Chicago politician from Indonesia.


[F]acing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney's finances and business record, the Republican's campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston's pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a "liar" — very little will be off-limits, from the president's youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.

The problem here is that the entire GOP messaging operation from Fox News to Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh has been trying for the past four years -- plus the presidential campaign before then -- to get people worked up over this stuff. And the only ones they've managed to convince are the gullible and easily-panicked base who'll get worked up over anything. Poll after poll after poll shows that, no matter where his job approval numbers are, his personal approvals are high. People like Barack Obama and personal attacks will probably backfire. If Romney wants to get back on track, this is so not the way to do it.

But those personal attacks may also be inevitable. It turns out that Mitt Romney's a little thin-skinned on one subject. Ed Kilgore looked over that BuzzFeed piece and noticed Mitt completely overreacting to one thing -- Obama spokesperson Stephanie Cutter suggesting that Romney may have committed a felony by lying to the SEC about when he left Bain Capital.

"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," Kilgore writes. "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!"

It's never a good idea to let your opponent push your buttons, but you really want to keep that panic button especially well hidden. Instead, he's practically labeled it. So if Romney releases his tax returns and there's even something that might possibly be illegal in there, the candidate would go on a bull elephant charge in exactly the wrong direction when the Obama campaign pointed it out.


[image credit]


Some... Body

Anybody… a world of no
How can one so low
Dream of perfection, not so, so
I stay up and dream of you
Today, tomorrow, a few
And I am surrounded

Everybody… if they only knew
You too
This feeling so new
Warmer and warmer
Who I was former
Once so wild now tamer
Beautiful stranger

Somebody… please
Still, a dream
My new reality
Soft and warm
As if reborn
Boy to man
But I am…

Nobody… but I believe
Love is the answer… probably
Though I see
The only exception
Is a moment’s reflection?
In your eyes

A body
An end to monotony
To be and not be
For who am I
Tonight to lie and lie
What this is
Will always miss

Life, death, and breath
Love not kept
Lust… what’s left?
Lonely, little me
Looking to use Some… Body

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Blush Rush

This rush to blush… the heat
Turning red
We meet
Why such dread
Was is something you said
Or was it your touch
How we met
This rush to blush

Can it be?
Best thing since sliced bread
Take your lead
And so I am led
In you I trust
My heart mislead?
This rush to blush

I want and need
Because I’m not dead
Just you and me
My clothes are shed
Falling… to the bed
The nature of lust
Book of love… read
This rush to blush

No longer fret
Heart wonders, I hush
Is this love yet?
This rush to blush

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.


Such is my desire
Though love I fear
Because to be so near
I have to climb higher
You light my fire
To have you dear
The smoke clears
This feeling dire

Don’t say nope
As I learn to fly
I can’t deny
This hope
To you I’m climbing
What’s rising?

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Believing Healthcare Reality, Instead of Rightwing Spin

Rising health costs
Sometimes, polling shows just how wide of reality people's perceptions are. For example, in 2003 the Program on International Policy at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks found that Americans were poorly informed about the facts of the Iraq war, with Fox News viewers knowing the least. Basically, they called people up and asked them if they believed three false statements; that evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda had been found, that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, and that world public opinion favored the US invasion of Iraq. 80% of Fox viewers agreed with at least one of those statements. In fact, the more you watched Fox, the more likely you were to get the facts wrong. In other words, Fox News was obviously misinforming their audience to support the network's pro-war bias.

Yesterday, Gallup put out a poll that showed a similarly misinformed public. And while they didn't track which news source they relied on, they did track the respondents political affiliation.

A majority of Americans say the U.S. healthcare law that the Supreme Court recently upheld as constitutional will make things better for those who do not have health insurance and for those who get sick. At the same time, Americans say the law will make things worse rather than better for taxpayers, businesses, doctors, and those who currently have health insurance. Americans are about evenly divided on the impact of the law on hospitals and on themselves personally.

Americans' views of the implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), measured in a July 9-12 Gallup poll, are nuanced. Although Americans are fairly evenly split in their views of how the law will affect them personally, they have widely differentiated views of its impact on various other groups and entities in society. The results thus provide support for both proponents of the law, who argue that it will help those in need, and for opponents, who argue that it will place a burden of cost and more bureaucracy on taxpayers and businesses.

What I'm seeing here is that ACA is perceived as a sort of welfare for sick poor people. 59% believe it'll help people without insurance and 55% think it'll help people who get sick in general, but 51% believe it will hurt doctors, 57% say it will hurt businesses, and 60% say it will hurt taxpayers. All of which suggests that the majority of Americans don't even understand the most basic fact about the reform -- that it's market-based. And people's misperceptions are colored by their ideology, with Republicans taking the least informed view and Democrats taking the most. Unfortunately, Independents seem to be getting their info from Republicans.

But there's bad news in the pipe for Republicans here -- these misperceptions aren't sustainable. As more of the features of the reforms kick in, it becomes harder and harder to believe weird things about them, since reality contradicts GOP gloom and doom. For example:

[Huffington Post:]

When Laird Le found a check for $70.02 in the mail, he wasn't quite sure why. Turns out, he's one of the estimated 13 million Americans that will receive a rebate on their health insurance premiums as a result of the health care reform law recently upheld by the Supreme Court.

Look inside your mailbox: By the end of the month, you could be getting one of these refunds, which are are expected to total $1.1 billion this year. Health insurance companies have begun sending letters to customers informing them of a new rule requiring them to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they receive on actual medical care, not on overhead, advertising, profits or other costs. Health insurers must cite the health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act, in the letter.

Le, a 35-year-old self-employed information technology consultant in Chicago, didn't know about the new rules until he got the check from UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Golden Rule Insurance Company. "I was pretty surprised," Le said. At first, he was afraid the company was canceling his plan, which costs about $160 a month. Once he realized what it was, getting a check like that was "powerful," he said. "I wouldn't have gotten a penny if it wasn't for the law."

So, if the insurer spends less than 80% of their premiums on coverage, the insured get a check for the difference. I'm guessing that Le is not part of the 46% who incorrectly think ACA will make things worse for people who have insurance. He has the most solid evidence in the world -- cold, hard cash in his pocket. Of course, he's not the only one.

"How many checks are we talking about? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 16 million Americans will get rebates before the legal due date, which is Aug. 1," explains Steve Benen. "As a result, many of the checks -- some of which will be small, some may be worth over $500 -- will hit mailboxes this week."

A lot of Americans are about to learn that -- as with so many things -- healthcare reality has a liberal bias.


[image source]


Lesson 130 ~Rock Bottom~

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lesson 130 ~Rock Bottom~

Hey Lady Lu...
Do you remember when I could afford “Pumped Up Kicks” well I never could but my parents bought them for me and now the thought of them getting me anything almost kills me. I guess you call this existence up to now rock bottom but I still have so much further to fall; how I would love to finally stop falling, maybe I wouldn’t be scared anymore.

So what am I afraid of this week… still thinking about the car, what I could’ve done, should’ve done and didn’t but the good news is I didn’t have to spend that money I told you about in “With Life’s Sojourn”. What about the expo coming up, remember all that talk last year and I didn’t get in; I think I’m in this year and how I’m actually hoping I’m not. Where am I getting the money to pay for all this; I’m still working at Kohl’s but that had a meeting a few days back about how “people” are dressing and so I’ve been dressing up like that will save me and I need all the cash I can get.

Luna, one of these days The Abomination is going to ask what happened to my taillight, maybe someone actually saw and will talk, hell I might get fired tomorrow and then what huh? If only life could be as we are; you know how I am constantly seeking out fame and fortune and it seems the more I do the more it appears I only “Burn My Shadow” remember the whole truth thing that I am a virgin, like anyone does. Haven’t I told you before fame or infamy doesn’t matter but I suppose I would always be stronger when it came to infamy; I am so afraid of being found out about… everything.

What have I learned today… that I’m a “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” at the end of the day I’m still a scared little thing and what about people at work, Braxton, Chrissy, and that little dog Greta, I’m falling for, falling through, and falling to nothing. Luna for my final thought I’ve got nothing new except that I’m afraid, I need “Power” or an end to this, Rock Bottom.


Rock Bottom

Your feet never touched the ground
So there was never the sound

Of a chance taking
Mistake making
Orgasm faking
Cookies baking
Heart breaking

The end of the world
Not a bang but a whimper

* * *

My chance was but a byte
Before I went into the light
I dared you to move
Because I loved you
But you didn’t fall
No not at all

A mistake to be sure
Fell in love with a girl
An accident
Maybe a consequence
Road not taken
We never made it

On your back
You made that a fact
Like all the others
Yet my heart did flutter
It was only just a dream
To lie here and be

For you were so young
Tip of my tongue
Someday you would know
Over love’s threshold

Smitten and fallen
How I was callin’
This heart fell
Already burning
And I’m still yearning

* * *

Never touched the ground
Angel, I bow

Alone again
It never ends
Love led
Please the end
Thoughts of dead

Girls and angels
Heart was mangled
I live without them
Feet hit Rock Bottom

Copyright © 2011, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Lesson 129 ~With Life's Sojourn~

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lesson 129 ~With Life's Sojourn~

Hey Lady Lu…
What is existence to continue existence; I suppose there’s no better metaphor that a car spinning backwards and crashing into a tree, well there is but let’s stick to what I lived through. I know it’s my own fault; I’ve been broken for so long how can I expect something else to go through the fire with me or someone else, alas I am alone.

I have dreamed a dream and now that dream has gone from me, or something to that effect; how I dared to dream not to existence but a life. A day when I would know what “Viva La Vida” was not a mystery to me… because I would have a laptop to look up such a thing; I was so close Luna do you hear me I was so close. Do you hear me isn’t that such a joke now my love, hell I’m not even that infamous even more, if I ever was in the first place but honestly did I get caught, do I want to be?

Long story short my brakes failed and I ended up crashing backwards into a tree and had to pay $435.51 to get it repaired and probably more tomorrow. I blame me but I also blame The Abomination; now before you judge me remember what happened the last time I had to get the car fixed, remember all the shit he buried me in about it, no one gives a shit about me and so I don’t give a shit about me, he doesn’t give a shit about the car and so I didn’t and why is it that I’m believing what that monster believes? Let me say this though, I take my own lumps; is this what it feels like to be an adult, to be responsible, having lost everything I held once dear at the very least I can say as Antwone Fisher did “I’m still standing, I’m still strong” but again Lady Lu I am alone.

So what have I learned… I wish I could tell you that “Everything Is Different Now” but it’s not and while it seems I still exist only to continue my pathetic existence the someday I dream about it’s not even to win, I wasn’t sacred to die Tuesday, November 1, 2011 but what I want is to “Live To Win” My final thought… like I told Facebook yesterday lovely Luna, Don’t say that later will be better, “Stuck In the Moment” I sure was but this is With Life’s Sojourn.


With Life's Sojourn

Starting to learn
I’ve always been cursed
With life’s sojourn

Backwards I turn
So I’m never first
To win, I’m always spurned

Stopped dead sir
Not nursed
Is no one concerned?

As I go to earn
In this shell that’s so much worse
Yet doesn’t burn

Ashes to an urn
Another day on this earth
Can’t even “Grr”

Was it different, the way we were?
What am I even worth?
Starting to learn
With life’s sojourn

Copyright © 2011, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Cupid's Miss

But when a kiss insist
To open that door
Does it bring bliss?

Such was my wish
For I did adore
But when a kiss insist

Was a sinner’s trick?
Some whore
Does it bring bliss?

I thought what if
Maybe what for
But when a kiss insist

How love was miffed
Cupid warred
Does it bring bliss?

He missed
Is the folklore
But when a kiss insist
Does it bring bliss?

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Love Her Less

She’s mine
But don’t call her love
The sun will shine
After a time
And it will be too much
Or not enough
I can never find

My heart
That girl wasn’t either
Give me her heart not her beaver
Suppose cupid isn’t smart
Lust is a little less
Love is a big mess

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

Between Nuts

What is left between… us?
How I have longed to fill
Will you just shut up?
Because even now I still feel…
Ok here’s the deal
As your echoes die down
Did you have to repeat no
Even now
You won’t let me go
I Want You Around
Here is what I’ve found

Only things
Like your photograph
Happiness and misery
Of course there is the bad
Will I go mad?
With Nothing

But empty space
For love is what I read
The look on your face
Am I Better Off Dead
What a waste
That’s what she said
Foundation with no base

Remember The Time
Did I think it was love?
Imagine she was mine
Could I ever be enough?
Myself I have yet to find
And I ain’t much
Angelic and divine…

Then we smash it
We Bump and Grind
Though nothing gets fixed
You could only be so kind
A sinner’s wish
What am I?

Copyright © 2012, Will A. Bradford Jr. All rights reserved.

News Roundup for 7/16/12

The truth is, Mitt's just forgotten where he put his tax returns

-Headline of the Day-
"Romney comes up with a tax-return spin."

Mittens is really having an awful time right now. He's being forced to distance himself from Bain Capital -- which is pretty much his only case for being elected president -- and then there's this whole thing with his tax returns. He's keeping like 90% of them secret, which even conservatives say is dumb. And when asked why his finances are such a big freakin' secret, the best answer Romney can come up with is "because."

Or, that used to be his answer. But he went to Fox News to test pilot his new answer. "The Obama people keep on wanting more and more and more," he told the nitwits at Fox & Friends. "More things to pick through, more things for their opposition research to try make a mountain out of and to distort and to be dishonest about."

"I'm delighted Romney is now saying something in response to the question, but I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around this one," writes Steve Benen. "He's going to keep his tax returns secret and hidden from public view because... Obama might find stuff?"

So basically, Mitt's argument is that he can't release all his tax returns because there's bad stuff in there. Which -- not coincidentally -- is Team Obama's argument for why he should.

Maybe he'd be better off going back to "because." (Maddow Blog, with video)

-Wait, who's the 'freeloader' again?-

If 'baggers understood their own arguments, they wouldn't make them. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"TSA frisks man with 'world's largest penis.'"

What, you want a punchline too? (Raw Story, with video)

Budget Politics and Chicken Game Theory

Night car accident
Think of budget politics as a game of chicken. In chicken, the player most willing to accept the consequence of not veering off is the player who will win -- every time. In other words, the one most willing to destroy themselves is the one most certain to win. In budget politics, this has been Republicans. They've been willing to drive the nation off a cliff rather than accept compromise, while Democrats have been unwilling to let disaster happen. So dems caved to Republicans every time.

The problem for Republicans is that this strategy has burned them once. They have destroyed themselves. Crack up like they did with the debt ceiling and you start to lose your nerve. "All or nothing" doesn't seem as smart after you've learned that the alternative to all is nothing plus a busted nose. Party discipline begins to fray and those who question the wisdom of kamikaze politics begin to break ranks. Meanwhile, the other player becomes emboldened.

[Washington Post:]

Democrats are making increasingly explicit threats about their willingness to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher taxes for the nation’s wealthiest households.

Emboldened by signs that GOP resistance to new taxes may be weakening, senior Democrats say they are prepared to weather a fiscal event that could plunge the nation back into recession if the new year arrives without an acceptable compromise.

In a speech Monday, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the Senate’s No. 4 Democrat and the leader of the caucus’s campaign arm, plans to make the clearest case yet for going over what some have called the “fiscal cliff.”

“If we can’t get a good deal, a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013,” Murray plans to say, according to excerpts of the speech provided to
The Washington Post.

"The speech comes less than a week after Obama assured Hill Democrats during a White House meeting that he would veto any attempt to maintain the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000 a year, according to several people present," the report goes on. "It also echoes the dismissive response by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to Republicans seeking to undo scheduled reductions in Pentagon spending that even Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said would be “devastating” to national security."

It also comes after President Obama basically threw in the towel on his efforts to bridge the partisan divide in Washington. "Washington feels as broken as it did four years ago," he told CBS This Morning. When I saw the story yesterday, I took it as a minor gaffe -- now I see it as a declaration that bipartisan efforts have ended. "You can work with me or you can fight me," the President might as well have said. "And trust me, you don't want to fight me."

The result of this messaging and wrangling:

Given the stakes, some Republicans are rethinking their opposition to higher taxes. In recent days, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other GOP defense hawks have been talking with Democrats about raising cash by “closing loopholes” to replace scheduled military cuts.

“If you said ‘John McCain, are you for increasing taxes?’ the answer is still no,” McCain said, pointing to federal subsidies for ethanol as an example of a loophole that could be closed without “raising taxes.” He added, “We get into such semantics.”

Democrats have shown little interest in a deal, however, preferring to keep the spending cuts in place as an additional point of leverage for the post-election fight.

Keep both hands on the wheel, eyes dead ahead, and do not swerve.


[image credit: from a photo by SpecMode, via Flickr]


News Roundup for 7/13/12

Romney with Olympic torch
Mitt Romney, managing to avoid burning down an Olympic stadium

-Headline of the Day-
"Let’s Have A Country As Good As the Olympics!"

Mittens Romney buttkisser Bob McDonnell hoped to get on the shortlist for running mate (no, it's not going to be Condi in a bazillion years) but using his Constitutional powers as Governor of Virginia to declare Romney's time at Bain Capital off limits. You may no longer think about Bain when considering your presidential options -- so sayeth Gov. Bob.

Buzzfeed reports, "Asked during a press conference here whether he thought Romney’s experience at Bain should be part of his 'record,' McDonnell shook his head and said 'No. No.'"

Which is weird, because Bain used to be the whole reason we were supposed to vote for Romney. "He hardly ever mentions his tenure as governor of Massachusetts," writes Ed Kilgore, "since some evil genie stole into the State Capital and signed health care legislation while Romney was presumably off creating a job or stopping an abortion or something. So if we’re not looking at Bain, what are we supposed to look at?"

The Olympics, Gov. Bob answers. Only the Olympics -- as if Mitt's the only person every to run one of those before.

"I gotta ask, has any candidate for president ever had a resume that shrinks during the campaign instead of expanding?" asks Kilgore. "If so, I can’t much remember it."

Romney better hope nothing comes out about his brief Olympic career. It's really the only thing he's got left. (Political Animal)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, you've heard about the "God particle," but what about the "Godawful particle?"

Click for animation

I don't know... Seems to me we've known that money is the root of all evil for a while now. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Son of liberal financier George Soros launches anti-super PAC super PAC."

At which point the universe collapses in on itself. (Washington Post)

Romney Finally Being Vetted

Mitt Romney
You wouldn't have gone wrong predicting that, in the presidential race, someone would be in trouble this week. With congress settling back in from recess, the American political world is in what would be a newsless period -- and newsless periods cannot be allowed in a 24/7 news world. Someone was going to be in trouble this week, because the news cycle demands it.

Not that this makes it impossible that any political story coming out this week is a "real" story. If you had some substantial opposition research, now would be an excellent time to bring it out -- which means that both campaigns should have expected something from the other. And it's clear, in this week, that one side did not. Now Mitt Romney is on the defensive against accusations of shipping jobs overseas -- accusations that hinge on the timing of his departure from Bain Capital. And, with the Boston Globe reporting that Mitt was CEO of Bain during a critical period, the Romney campaign is in damage control mode.

Now Harry Reid is saying that Romney wouldn't survive a senate confirmation hearing for any position, because of his Bain record, combined with his secrecy about his tax records. "He not only couldn’t be confirmed as a Cabinet secretary, he couldn’t be confirmed as a dog catcher, because a dog catcher — you’re at least going to want to look at his income tax returns," Reid said yesterday. "And the long report that we have in the Boston Globe today indicates that, as one of his own employees said, it doesn’t make sense. He said he left Bain to go to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and stopped any association with Bain. But his SEC filings indicated that he was chief executive officer, sole stockholder, and ran the corporation for at least 3 more years. And that’s why people who say there’s been advertisements where businesses were closed, people laid off — and he says oh I wasn’t there, I left in 1999. As his own operative said, it doesn’t make sense. And it doesn’t."

Friday the 13th came early for Team Romney -- why didn't they see it coming?

Jonathan Bernstein takes a look at that question and finds a sort of anti-intuitive answer; Mitt never had a serious opponent during the Republican primaries.

Here's how it normally works: Several fully funded, fully staffed campaigns vie for the presidential nomination over a period of some two years, sometimes a little more. Some of those full-service campaigns may come to an end shortly after the Iowa caucuses, but only after having basically run serious races — think, for example, John Edwards in 2008 or Steve Forbes in 2000. One of the consequences is in opposition research: By the time a candidate secures the nomination, odds are that the most obvious personal attacks have been exposed. It doesn't mean they won't still be used in the general election, or that exposing them early necessarily neutralizes them, but it does mean that party actors should get a general sense of what they're dealing with.

But that's not the way it worked this time around. Yes, Mitt faced a series of not-Romneys during the Republican primaries, but those opponents were never serious. They were the result of an unconvinced base searching for someone they believed they could trust to be as ideologically pure as they were. As a result, the not-Romneys were mostly Tea Party frootloops, religious extremists, and talk radio darlings. As Steve Benen puts it, Romney "had challengers, but they were clownish, underfunded, and understaffed candidates who struggled badly to put Romney through his paces, and never even tried to assemble opposition-research teams. The former Massachusetts governor lost a lot of primaries and caucuses, but that was far more a symptom of his unpopularity and off-putting personality than his rivals' strengths."

The closest thing to real vetting Team Romney had to deal with was a mini-documentary from a pro-Gingrich super PAC that almost no one watched.

No, as much as they didn't look like one, the Republican primaries were a coronation and any vetting that's happened has been cursory. Meanwhile, the lunatic birthers have never stopped vetting Obama -- he may be the most open book of any candidate in modern history. So, if someone was going to be in trouble during this news drought -- and someone was -- it was pretty much guaranteed to be Mitt Romney.

That he couldn't see it coming says a lot.


[image credit: DonkeyHotey via Flickr]


Poll: Romney's Wealth Not an Asset

Mitt Romney at Bain Capital
Mitt Romney's got a little bit of a problem -- he's crazy-rich. Normally, this would be the opposite of a problem, but this is an election year. In fact, this election year -- where Americans are still struggling to recover from rich people driving the economy off a cliff -- it's even more of a problem. In fact, polling shows that almost no one sees Romney's wealth as a positive.


Three-quarters of registered voters say the fact that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is worth more than $200 million makes no difference to their likelihood of voting for him. However, 20% of voters, mostly Democrats and independents, say Romney's wealth makes them less likely to vote for him, while 4% say it makes them more likely...

The Obama campaign has targeted Romney's wealth in recent weeks, stressing his net worth and how he earned it as head of Bain Capital, where he has invested it, and the fact that he has not released all of his tax returns from the last decade. Obama's campaign is apparently using Romney's wealth in its efforts to convince voters that Romney is not as well-equipped as Obama to understand the problems and needs of middle- and lower-class Americans. The Romney campaign has pushed back, stressing that voters are more interested in fixing the economy than in the candidates' personal financial situations.

Gallup's July 9-10 results show that most Americans say Romney's wealth does not matter. Those who say it does make a difference tilt five to one toward saying it makes them less likely, rather than more likely, to vote for him for president.

Since only 4% see it as a positive and 20% see it as a negative, the fact that most don't care either way is pretty much irrelevant, math-wise. Romney loses vastly more votes than he gains when his wealth is brought up (in fact, he gains almost none) and, in what's expected to be a tight election, that may be enough to cost him the presidency right there.

Which is what makes the President's attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital so smart. It's a double-duty message -- Mitt's record as a private sector "job creator" is awful and, by the way, the guy's richer than Scrooge McDuck because of it. Sure, Romney's hitting back, but the facts speak for themselves. And the Gallup poll shows Romney's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't; if he doesn't answer Obama's charges, it makes them seem as true as they are. If he does, he verifies the fact that he's fabulously well-to-do, hopelessly out-of-touch, and biased toward families not at all like your own.

"The Obama campaign is focusing on Romney's wealth in an attempt to position him as the candidate whose policies will benefit the wealthy and increase the gap between rich and poor -- juxtaposed against Obama's positioning as the candidate who will do more for the middle class," Gallup reports. "Most Americans claim Romney's wealth will not affect their vote, perhaps reflecting Gallup research showing that the majority of Americans believe the U.S. benefits from having a rich class and would themselves like to be rich. Still, enough Americans generally and independents specifically say Romney's wealth makes them less likely to vote for him that it could in theory make a difference at the margins in some key swing states."

There really is no bright side to this for Romney, as he's forced to keep talking about how rich he is. This was supposed to be an asset -- Americans confuse business sense with economic competence -- but it's not. It's most definitely not.

It's an anchor. And Team Obama's tying him to it.