Cutting Through The Crap

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween



It's an MRI of a pumpkin.

More veggies here.

The Point



This is what I've said, too. I've tried to point it out to a wealthy family member who says he's voting for Romney because he doesn't want to pay higher taxes. (He voted for Obama last time.) But, I pleaded, in voting for Mitt Romney you're empowering the anti-science theocrats in Congress that'd turn this into a bible-based, science-denying, woman-suppressing, environmentally-polluted backwater. He doesn't care. For him, it's about taxes.

You?


Decoding



I'm trying to decipher the message god sent us on the wind and rain of Sandy the Superstorm. Predictably, evangelical preachers are convinced it's god's punishment to all of us for tolerating certain sexual preferences among our brethren. Following biblical precedent, he's smiting people whose involvement in such tolerance is indeterminate; and rather than spelling it out clearly, he's wantonly destroying waterfront homes, dropping trees on heads, and rendering public transportation inoperative; sparing the casinos and wiping out poor neighborhoods. I'd take the good reverend's word for it if I were a little more convinced it made sense. Ham-handed, is the expression that comes to mind when contemplating the claim that god uses monster weather effects to make his point about sexual behavior. Not that I can entirely discount it.

The evidence suggests otherwise. Look at the reality of it. You don't have to get all symbolic to recognize that a frankenstorm is a very particular message. It's a storm, for gods sakes. It has both origins and consequences. If god is using it as his instrument, there are more obvious inferences to be drawn. For one thing, if it isn't crystal clear from the teachings of Jesus, god is a Democrat. As a criticism of the "homosexual agenda" Sandy is sort of tangential. What it is, one might conclude, is a clear commentary about ignoring the implications of climate change. If I wanted to point out climate change, I'd do something dramatic about the climate. (As opposed to making a point about homosexual behavior, where, given the obtuseness of the human mind I'd created and, being a little embarrassed about it, would do something pretty unequivocally unmistakable; something not subject to a lot of interpretation. Like making the dicks fall off of all gay men. Simultaneously. All around the world. With hidden cameras. For a guy who can do anything, that would not only be easy, but would provide zero confusion as to the point being made.)

If there's a divine message from an unprecedented storm, it's that it's an unprecedented storm. You're screwing up my planet, he's saying. Cut it out.

Not only that: he's saying something else pretty clearly, because he can't be unaware that the result of the storm would be a massive government response, at the controls of which would be the chief executive of the country most affected. That would be Barack Hussein Obama. Look, god must be saying; stop all this nonsense about ignoring the needs of the needy. Government is a good thing I created. It's there to help people. Watch how it works when the people in charge know what they're doing and are committed to doing it. Compare that to the response of the last guy on whose shoulder I tapped, to wake him the fuck up. He blew it; he made it clear what happens when government is incompetent and doesn't care. And the people you're about to put in charge? They want to cut funds for FEMA or eliminate it entirely. You think they blew my Katrina message? You ain't seen nothing yet. (Or, maybe: lo, forsooth, for thou hast not yet with thine eyes seen the works of those who wouldst ignore my me; nor hast thou felt the full wrath of a mighty and vengeful god met upon those who chose to ignore the teachings of his only begotten son, who, might I point out to you knuckleheaded imbeciles, chose not to waste his breath on the behavior of my children of the homosexual variety whom I've chosen to create across the sands of time.)

You want metaphor? god must be asking. Check out this storm and see what I think of a government that doesn't help people. You are having a problem understanding the obvious? Here it is: you screweth up my favorite planet and pretendeth not. In order to keep your ill-gotten gold, you acteth as if you oweth nothing to your fellow citizens, your country, your god. And you would rejecteth the one guy I sent you who gets it. Waketh ye up, ye headless and heartless heathens. Now. Before I smite your asses even harder.

As heaven-sent messages go, there's no degrees of separation between the storm and those conclusions. Gay people? Really? What kind of god is that obtuse?

[Image source]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Warning To A Former Friend



Trust me for once, former friend: for your physical and mental well-being, don't look at the pictures here. The one above is just a tiny sampling. It's about early voting in Florida.

[Update: good news for you: the storm, sent by god because of gays and lesbians, as I assume you believe, has halted early voting for now.]

[Image source from the link. Duh.]

Lies As Truth



This is worth a read, not that it's saying anything I haven't pointed out a million times. The RWS™ and Mitt Romney version of President Obama has never existed. Blaming the failure of bipartisanship on him is like blaming floods on the land instead of the storm. This is why the election is so depressing. Lies win. Especially when repeated over and over by a cynical media complex, devoid of any desire for truth, believing they can't win on truth, committed to keeping the electorate as misinformed and fearful as possible. It makes me want to jump off a roof. (Mine, as it turns out, is only two stories high, and the ground is pretty soft right now. Probably just re-break my ankle.)
...Funny how the first group of non-pols that Obama sat down with were leading conservative writers, like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer (the liberals came second); that he asked Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration; that his stimulus was a third tax cuts (the only big tax cuts Republicans have ever voted against in my memory); that his healthcare reform was not single-payer, but one modeled on Mitt Romney's moderate version in Massachusetts; that he has given Israel more military and technological support than any previous president... 
...Instead, they set out from Day One to destroy him, because they knew that if his moderation and modern cultural identity succeeded, their reactionary radicalism would be sidelined for good. And Rove's method is always to see what your party's own worst flaw is among the public and, with a straight face, accuse your opponent of it.You know what we're fighting in this election? That cumulative, snow-balling, post-modern, cynical faction of deceit and partisan amnesia. If we are to get past the Cold Civil War we are in, the defeat of the rigidly ideological and theological GOP is vital.
The writer is a conservative, by the way; and the article is a response to a right-wing hackette who blames Obama for not reaching out at the beginning, a view entirely untrue but, per usual, swallowed whole by the teabagging electorate. George Orwell, where are you when we need you??

[Image source]

Decision Points


Here's a pretty good rundown, point by point, of the several of the significant choices between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, in the form of ten questions. Whatever decision a person makes, they're pretty starkly worded, so coming up with a personal response ought not be hard (with the exception, perhaps, of question #10.) The article includes useful discussion of each. The questions, without the commentary, are:

1. How full is the economic glass?
2. Who will be tougher on China? .
3. Should tax rates be cut for the wealthiest and for capital gains?
4. Should responsibility for Medicaid and other programs be turned over entirely to the states?
5. Should Medicare offer a voucher option?
6. Should Obamacare be abolished?
7. Should Social Security be converted into a private-investment program?
8. Who is best (for you) on the social issues of abortion, contraception and gay rights?
9. Was the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler a good idea?
10. Who can end the gridlock in Washington? 

The commentary within is worth consideration, too. If I thought people addressed these questions with open minds and made their decisions based on the effort (which is not to say it's a comprehensive list), I'd be okayer with what increasingly appears to be a Foxorovian outcome. (I have a couple of friends who seem worried that I've lost my mind in thinking The Rominee will win; and I admit that paying too much attention to polls is unhealthy. But trends are trends, and they're all telling me people are, increasingly, buying the deliberate deceptions and shameless lies.)

When, as I wrote, the Des Moines Register endorses Romney, choosing a Republican for the first time in forty years, and does so for economic reasons (while expressing fears of social regression!), I find myself wondering whether I've stringed and quantummed my way into another universe. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm just seeing everything wrong, my sense of being able to apprehend reality and to evaluate data is no more than self-deception. Maybe Mitt Romney isn't a liar, hasn't changed positions on every one of the most important issues of the day. Could it be that he really acted in a bipartisan way in Massachusetts?

Would he have saved the auto industry like Obama did, as he now claims? Maybe his budget plans do add up, and can be accomplished while maintaining the infrastructure necessary to a functioning society. Perhaps it'd be fine if we became a theocratic plutocracy, where moneyed interests pull all the strings and keep the rest of us happy by letting us (and by "us" I mean "them") enact biblical law on all things other than whatever it is that lets megacorporations keep their money and run the show. Or maybe there's actually no one in Congress trying to make it happen.

Being open-minded, I have to consider the possibility that I've been wrong about everything, and that Fox "news" and RWS™distortions and dissembling aren't outright Bolshevik-like propagandizing at all, but sources of truth and reason. The view of Barack Obama they've created -- the Communist Socialist Nazi America-hating gay Kenyan Muslim terrorist-enabler -- is the accurate one; and my view of him -- a moderate, left-wing-disappointing compromiser, a rescuer (if a little slowly) of the economy and of the auto industry, a promise-keeping ender of a bad war and initiator of very middle-of-the-road (conservative, actually) health-care reform, a believer in women's rights and same-sex equality as moral issues -- is just plain wrong.

Or, at least, I have to get used to the idea that it doesn't matter one way or the other whether I'm right or not. Because the other view is winning the argument.

[Image source]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tough Choices



Andy Borowitz is a funny guy, mainly because his humor only slightly exaggerates rather than distorts the truth. Here are links to two of his recent observations.

The first one concerns the difficult choice facing Rs heading down the stretch to election day: whether to emphasize misogyny or racism. It ends with this:


Hoping to heal a possible rift with so little time left until Election Day, the R.N.C. chairman Reince Priebus said today that there is room for both views in today’s Republican Party: “Our ‘big tent’ message to voters should be this: come for the misogyny, stay for the racism.”

The other addresses the possible difficulties that Frankenstorm might engender:

But even as the Romney campaign expressed outward confidence about its ability to maintain an uninterrupted flow of whoppers, some Republicans privately feared that a major power outage could disrupt its ability to lie, distort, and exaggerate in the crucial days ahead.
“If Fox News gets knocked off the air in some of these states, we’re certainly going to be down a quart in terms of falsehoods,” one insider said.

I'd laugh harder if they weren't so close to the bone.

[Image source]

The Truth Shall Set You Free



On his way to the nomination, Mitt Romney made a career of lying, and he's doing it still. Presumably, he always will. What lies will he tell us as president? Willing to say anything to advance his self-interest, and doing so all his political life (I say "political" because I don't know about the rest, although he's told some whoppers about his status with Bain), Mitt Romney, one would have to assume, could make LBJs Vietnam lie and George Bush's Iraq lie look like words from the mount. That would, so you'd think, scare the crap out of anyone.

Doubled the deficit. Fifty percent of green investments failed. Apologizes for America. We need more teachers, we need fewer. Time for talk with Iran is over, time for talk. War, peace. War is peace. Peace is war.

It's usual that candidates run to the extremes to get their party's nomination, and then to the center if they get it. But Mitt Romney has been unique. He's run on lies, continuously. And, while doing so, appealed to the furthest right, right up to the debates when, suddenly, he materialized as someone else entirely. I assume his calculus is that, having nailed the teabaggers to his wall of lies, they'd never leave.  Information, to them, is like garlic to vampires. And he -- correctly, evidently -- figured that people who saw the debates as a way to decide for whom to vote (i.e. people who simply weren't paying attention till then) would buy whatever he chose to sell, no matter how opposite from what he'd been saying mere moments before.

And guess what: he's right. He and Fox "news" treat voters like the sheep they actually are. Because it's true, and it works. Surrounded, in my life, by people who think and who pay attention, to whom politics is a topic of conversation all the time, not just once every four years, for a minute or two, I've gotten a very skewed idea of how Americans think. Or that they think at all. This election, if nothing else, has proved that you can win by banking on stupidity and inattention. And by "banking" I mean billionaires bankrolling the effort.

Speaking of which, right on cue, some Rs are now talking about limiting money in elections.* Once they get what they want, ie a Supreme Court for decades, as far right and politically active as Antonin Scalia, they'll wrap it up and make sure rich Ds can't do the same.

Buh bye democracy. Buh bye education. Been nice knowing you.
________________________________
* I read that somewhere recently and now I can't find a link. Maybe I'm starting to hallucinate. Next thing you know, I'll be claiming Romney told the truth about something.


Romney's Economic Guru



It's a guy named Glenn Hubbard, George Bush's key adviser as well. Famous for getting everything entirely wrong, economy-wise. Or unwise.

 On August 22, 2001, he published anarticle in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Tax Cuts Won't Hurt the Surplus." Oops. In the article, also, Hubbard predicts that his tax cuts would preserve the Clinton budget surpluses by causing GNP to grow 0.3 percent per year faster.
[...]
... Hubbard wrote that "The ascendancy of the U.S. capital markets" had yielded "enhanced stability of the U.S. banking system... more jobs and higher wages... less frequent and milder [recessions}... a revolution in housing finance." Later in the article: "The capital markets have helped make the housing market less volatile... " Next, "Credit crunches... are a thing of the past... " and my personal favorite, "The revolution in housing finance has also... been important in making the economy less cyclical." In other parts of the article, Hubbard and Dudley specifically praise credit default swaps for their role in reducing and spreading risk. (emphasis mine, in case anyone missed the significance!)

There've been conflict-of-interest issues, too:

... On his CV, Hubbard lists The Analysis Group as a consulting client. That is misleading at best. The Analysis Group is one of a half dozen major firms that specializes in matching private companies and lobbying groups, who are the real clients, with professors who they pay to support their positions in regulatory, policy, Congressional, and legal disputes. It was The Analysis Group, for example, that arranged for Hubbard to testify on behalf of two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers who were prosecuted for securities fraud in 2009. Hubbard was paid $100,000 for his testimony.
Oh, yeah, and here's a bit on another of Mitt's economic powerhouses, dubbed "the world's worst economist." (Among Romney's guri, that's gotta be some competition.)

Prior even to “Dow 36000″ Hassett had co-authored a paper exploring the question of what to do with Clinton’s budget surplus making the implied case that the best option was to use it to pay for tax cuts. There wasn’t enough to fix Social Security for good, he argued, and Clinton’s proposals to invest at least half the surplus in initiatives in “health, education, childcare, transportation, school construction and the environment do not appear to contain meaningful cost-benefit analysis.” 
Excerpts from Hassett’s 2001 testimony make for amusing reading today. President Bush’s “relatively cautious” plan would dedicate about half of the surplus to tax relief. But no worries about damaging the fiscal integrity of the U.S. government — according to Hassett, the surplus was likely to grow even faster than currently predicted, even if a recession came to pass. 


How is it that anyone (much less that Iowa newspaper) could claim Romney would be better for the economy? The economy which is clearly, if slowly, recovering under Obama, and the plans for which espoused by Romney 1) don't add up by any known math and 2) are exactly those that caused the crash in the first place and 3) if enacted would devastate domestic spending. Really? On what planet? (Oh yeah, the one of which Mitt will be king when he dies.)

Phew. Got that out there just in time. With facts like these...


[Image source]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Sermon



Life, death, the universe, meaning. All of it. Good stuff. Too hard and too easy. But wouldn't it be nice....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nope, No Racists Here. Move Along











This is in reference to The Rominee's main surrogate, the greasy ooze named John Sununu (a horrible sleazeball person the choice of whom says much about Mitt Romney) claiming Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama because they share a skin color. The speaker is a Republican (or, shall I say, a conservative: there's a difference nowadays), Powell's former chief of staff.

It came on the same day, I believe, that Mr Romney corralled the most important endorsement of them all. Has anyone said it came because of dermatologic similarities? (Not that it didn't, of course.)


Hypocrisy


No comment needed.

[Image source]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Your Lying Eyes






They simply are incapable of being truthful about anything. If only the rest of their lies were as obvious as this crappy photoshop of a Romney rally. Oh, right. They are (and those are just the latest!) But who cares, right? Not, obviously, the people whose votes they seek by treating them like idiots.

Oh, and how about hypocrisy? Let's not forget that. Here's what he said about today's economic growth numbers, and what he said about his, when he was governor, which were worse. (Save yourself some time, if you want, and don't read the link. You already know what it says.)

I've asked before, and still don't know the answer: who's more deserving of scorn? Of whom should we be most afraid? Mitt Romney, or the people who buy his blatant, pandering, flip-flopping, lying bullshit?

[Image source is obvious]

Big Spender



As RWS™ and teabaggers scream about out of control spending by our president, it's worth noting the cuts he and Ds in Congress have already made. Because it's factual, it'll be ignored. But it happens to be true:

[A combination of tax increase and spending cuts] is common sense which I hear from pretty much everyone who hasn’t come under the spell of Grover Norquist.  Unfortunately, it’s a spell that’s been cast on almost every Republican in the Congress as well as Gov. Romney. 
... When writing about a balanced approach to fiscal policy, one that involves both spending cuts and new revenues, it should be noted that Congress and the President have actually already cut $1.5 trillion ($1.7t including interest savings) in discretionary spending, not including war costs, over the next decade. 
That’s 70% of the Simpson-Bowles discretionary spending cuts!  Without that point, I suspect many readers will think we need to start with spending cuts and then we’ll talk taxes.  In fact, Grover himself is cited in the piece as follows:
“When bipartisan deals are struck promising to cut spending and raise taxes, the spending cuts don’t materialize but the tax hikes do.” 
But Grover–dude!–a big start on the spending cuts has already materialized…so it’s tax revenue time, right?  Grover?…anyone…?
So Romney will win based on lying about both himself and President Obama; people too dumb or disinterested to figure it out will have bought the falsehoods at both ends. Heck, if Barack Obama were the president Mitt Romney and teabaggRs say he's been, I'd vote against him, too. That that version of him is a different from reality as debate-Mitt is from pre-debate Mitt makes no difference. The truth-defense shield around teabaggers and those that love them has been too carefully crafted for too long for anything but Foxorovian bullshit to penetrate it.

I guess the best we can hope for at this point is for Ds to keep the Senate; or, if they lose it, that they'd take a lesson from Rs and do what they've done to every D proposal. That kind of unified opposition would be uncharacteristic; but it'd be fun to see what Mitch McConnell would say of it. Suddenly his views on filibuster would change like Mitt Romney's on everything.

[Image source]

Still Doesn't Work


Allow me to be among the last to mention the latest nonpartisan study of The Rominee's tax proposals. Short version: it still doesn't work:

Eliminating all itemized deductions would yield about $2 trillion of additional revenue over ten years if we cut all rates by 20 percent and eliminate the AMT. Capping deductions would generate less additional revenue, and the higher the cap, the smaller the gain. Limiting deductions to $17,000 would increase revenues by nearly $1.7 trillion over ten years. A $25,000 cap would yield roughly $1.3 trillion and a $50,000 cap would raise only about $760 billion...
...Suggesting limits on deductions was Governor Romney’s first public statement about how he might offset the revenue lost by cutting tax rates. Without more specifics, we can’t say how much revenue such limits would actually raise. But these new estimates suggest that Romney will need to do much more than capping itemized deductions to pay for the roughly $5 trillion in rate cuts and other tax benefits he has proposed.
The study does state an obvious point: the higher the cap on deductions the more it costs the wealthy. But it falls far short of the revenue "neutrality" Romney claims. If he means to achieve a twenty percent across the board tax cut as he says (today, anyway. What time is it?), and increases defense spending as promised as well, there'll need to be really drastic cuts in domestic spending. Which ones? Where? Other than PBS and Planned Parenthood, he remains silent.

[Image source]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Angry Black Man


Or maybe that should be Angry AT Black Man. Whatever. The point is that the right wing nutosphere has characterized President Obama's performance at the final debate as "angry black man." So I thought I'd show a picture to prove the point.

Speaking of getting everything wrong, the screamers are screaming about Obama's bayonet and horses comment. Doesn't he know the military still has them? Shocking. Insulting to bayonets and horses (not kidding.) So here's the thing: our president said we have fewer of them. Fewer. Not none. Fewer.

I guess, in politics, perception is everything; at least to teabaggers, to whom substance is nothing. But really: isn't this getting to the point of being laughable, even given the stakes? Is the Fox audience really as stupid as Fox thinks they are?

[Image from Reuters]

Who Is This Guy?



For months, years, Mitt Romney has campaigned as someone else entirely. Then the debates roll around and suddenly it's -- what to call it? -- Etch-a-Sketch. And, by golly, people are just peachy fine with it. I'd call it cynicism except that it's obviously the right call regarding the American voter. Don't care. Don't give a shit. Don't stop and think, not for a moment. Not the ones he's aiming at, anyway.

That he could well win the election having so blatantly lied about himself and his opponent, so obviously considered the electorate stupid, so selfishly said whatever he thought would get him elected, no matter how it contradicted what he'd just said, so clearly abandoned any pretense of moral center .... well, it's so far beyond depressing that I have no more words.

If he wins, who deserves more scorn? Mitt Romney, or those who, seeing what he's done, voted for him anyway?


Rape Babies



These are the guys itching for full control over our government: the men who say rape babies are gifts from god, that it's all part of god's plan.

Much as he tried, you can't walk that back. If the pregnancy is god's plan, then so is the rape. Because god doesn't say, oops, sorry, wasn't paying attention. If all life is precious, right from the zygote stage, then why is it that god is, by FAR, the most prolific abortionist of all? You can't reconcile that sort of absolutist belief in any way other than that rape is part of god's plan. So, do you think he likes to watch? He didn't stop it; in fact, he made it happen. People who believe in the kind of god that allows rape and babies that come from it need to answer a few questions.

Mitt Romney, true to form, because he has no backbone and an absent core, refuses to withdraw support from the idiot; on the other hand, teabaggRs are rushing to defend the guy. (Credit John McCain for regaining a modicum of self-respect and not joining in.)* And so it is, and always will be. A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote to empower the most extremist among us, those that seek to make biblical law the law of the land, in no way different from those they (insanely) claim plan a Sharia takeover. And whereas the latter is impossible by any calculation, the former is already underway.

Elected to national office, in increasing numbers (while claiming Christianity is under attack.) Because Mitt Romney has no standards, and won't stand up to anyone who might vote for him, if he's elected this is our future. If it didn't signal the end of our democracy, I suppose it could be considered fascinating on some level.

[Added: well, well. That lasted all of, what, twelve hours?]

[Image source]



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Romnesia



Really, truly: it's beyond belief that we're lining up to do this yet again. Half the country, buying the lie once more, that tax cuts will fix everything. There isn't a word big enough to describe how dumb our country has become, how easily duped by blatant lies and constant right-wing propaganda. Mystifying. Depressing. Unbelievable. Unimaginable. Suicidal.

There was a time when the US truly was exceptional: generous, inventive, leading the world in nearly all things positive. Now, it's exceptionally stupid, lazy-thinking, resorting to mysticism when reality is most difficult. And it's been deliberate: cynically manipulating the public for personal power, today's Republican party, aided and abetted by an entirely dishonest news source and media mendacity, has specifically aimed to create a critical mass of mis-educated, fact-averse, magical-thinking people, eager to be led to vote against their own interests in order to promote those of the very wealthy. Like a charm, is how it's worked.

Yeah, I sound like some left-wing crazy radical. But where am I wrong? It's only radical because it's against the tide that's washing us away. I happen to believe in democracy, and two good strong parties, and the power of capitalism (when it has a remnant of a conscience). What's going on is the opposite of that. To point it out (not me: I'm a grain of sand; but those whose voices can be heard) is to try -- desperately, probably foolishly at this late date -- to get people to notice.


Sometimes Things Make Sense



I've said many times that (along with pretty much everything else about support of Romney by anyone not a wealthy white male Christian) it's puzzling that any veteran or military person could vote for Mitt Romney. Unless you like the idea of endless and unpaid-for wars, and cutting funding for vets. Somewhat surprisingly, it seems a lot of military people get it:

Based on reporting from the Center for Responsive Politics, including September fundraising, Obama has received $678,611 from military donors, far more than Romney's total of $398,450. As it turns out, Romney figure also narrowly trails Ron Paul's $399,274 in contributions from the military. 
It's worth clarifying that "military donors" include contributions from members of the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, National Guard, Coast Guard, Department of Defense, National Defense University, Defense Acquisition University, and Americans in NATO. The most campaign donations have come from the Department of Defense itself, which heavily favors Obama over Romney. 
... "Military personnel overwhelmingly support Obama over Romney despite the pending cuts to defense. That could be because Obama has kept his promise to bring the wars to an end and because to Mitt Romney, the troops aren't anything more than an item on a laundry list."
Along those same lines, I was sent an article a while back, about Larry Pressler, Vietnam vet, former Republican senator, and his endorsement of Barack Obama. He said, in part:

As a Vietnam vet, one of the reasons I support President Obama is because he has consistently shown he understands that our commitment to our servicemen and women may begin when they put on their uniform, but that it must never end. 
This decision is not easy for any lifelong Republican. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, the first time I ever voted for a Democrat, because the Republican Party was drifting toward a dangerous path that put extreme party ideology above national interest. Mitt Romney heads a party remaining on that dangerous path, proving the emptiness of their praise as they abandon our service members, veterans and military families along the way. 
What really set me off was Romney's reference to 47% of Americans to be written off -- including any veteran collecting disability like myself, as a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) veteran...

Per usual, in the final debate The Rominee shifted positions once again, on everything he'd said up to that point, including suddenly being all in favor of negotiations with Iran, setting a deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, and being, like, all in favor of peace. Peace. All things to all people. So who the hell knows anymore what Mitt Romney thinks about anything? Not Mitt, that's for sure. On the other hand, we do know what President Obama has been doing for vets, and what more he'd have done had Rs not blocked it.

[Image source]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dragnet



I wonder who on his staff came up with the idea that The Rominee laid on us in the final debate, the one in which he solves world peace by having the International Court (not sure which one, because his handlers changed the plan within an hour) simply arrest Ahmadinejad after charging him with inciting genocide (or something else, as later clarified.) Talk about empty air.

Among the many problems with it is that, according to them as seem to know stuff, Mahmoud isn't really guy with the power in Iran. It's the managing mullahs. Not only that: how does he see the arrest playing out? Never mind the fact that, as I understand it, for the World Court to act the Security Council would have to okay it, which ain't gonna happen. Ignore the massive flip-flop in turning US policy over to the UN or any other world body. (Where are the RWS™ on that one?? Can you imaging Sean Hannity's response if Obama had suggested it? Hypocrisy much?) Just tell us, Mr Romney, how the bust is gonna take place. Knock on his door? "Open up!! Police!!! We have a warrant!!!!!" Maybe get him while he's catching a movie, having a brew with his buddies. Do cops sneak across the border, or do the Iranians let them in? Yessir, Mr Arrestor. Paperwork seems in order. Right this way...

Who's dumber? The guy who suggested the idea to Mitt, or Mitt for putting it out there? Or the American voter who, in Mitt's view, would nod and say, yep, that feller got him a damn good idee.

[Okay, he only said "indict," not "arrest." But what's the point of an indictment if you can't bring the indictee to court?]

[Image source]

Insider


From someone who should know:

A longtime aide to George W. Romney issued a harshly worded critique of Mitt Romney, accusing him of shifting political positions in “erratic and startling ways” and failing to live up to the distinguished record of his father, the former governor of Michigan. 
Walter De Vries, who worked for the senior Mr. Romney throughout the 1960s, wrote that Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House was “a far cry from the kind of campaign and conduct, as a public servant, I saw during the seven years I worked in George Romney’s campaigns and served him as governor.”
“While it seems that Mitt would say and do anything to close a deal – or an election,” he wrote, “George Romney’s strength as a politician and public officeholder was his ability and determination to develop and hold consistent policy positions over his life."
 
[...] 
In a telephone interview, he said he was motivated to write the essay by “an accumulation” of Mr. Romney’s actions, like his comment about 47 percent of Americans and his decision to campaign with Donald Trump. 
Mr. De Vries said he was annoyed by Mr. Romney’s repeated references recently to his father as inspiration and influence on him. 
“I just don’t see it,” he said. “Where is it? Is it on issues, no? On the way he campaigns? No." 
Mr. De Vries continued, “George would never have been seen with the likes of Sheldon Adelson or Donald Trump.”
I don't know whether or when it'll occur -- before or after it's too late. But if the Republican party doesn't regain its senses and once again not only include, but be represented by people like George Romney, while relegating to the sidelines such avatars of insanity as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin and Todd Akin and Rick Santorum and Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich and... all of them; and until it produces leaders who, unlike Mitt Romney who stands for nothing and will say anything (credit the preceding list for standing for something and being consistent, even if the common thread is ignorance and insanity and hatred), we're on the way to ruin.

More importantly, until the Republican party stops deliberately endumbing its partisans by non-stop propagandizing and media falsehoods akin to the Soviet Union at its apogee, and until those partisans start waking up and electing representatives willing to work within the expectations of a functioning democracy, demanding more of themselves and of their leaders (and information sources), it'll never ever happen.

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Someone Who Knows



Like all the other lies Rs like to tell about President Obama, the one about his ignoring of Israel is simply and fully contradicted by facts. Mitt Romney, in pan-pander mode, likes to suggest that he's the real and only friend of Israel currently running for president. In that light, here's a very interesting and wide-ranging interview with the former head of Mossad (Israel's CIA equivalent.) Among the highlights:
[Politicians often prefer to have] a clear sound bite rather than a policy. "Axis of evil." Three words. Solved the problem. It would be fine if we could go in and overturn the [government, but we can’t]. The US is trapped by the way it treated Iran in the past and it is limiting its options. 
[...] 
Obama has placed emphasis on negotiations. In this current election for the US presidency, his hands are tied. He cannot proceed, because he cannot appear soft on Israel’s security. Negotiating with Iran is perceived as a sign of beginning to forsake Israel. That is where I think the basic difference is between Romney and Obama. What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war. Therefore when [he recently] said, he doesn’t think there should be a war with Iran, this does not ring true. It is not consistent with other things he has said. Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere. 
In the end, this is what I think: Making foreign policy on Iran a serious issue in the US elections — what Romney has done, in itself — is a heavy blow to the ultimate interests of the United States and Israel. [...] It is not a question of opposing a strike on Iran. I don’t oppose a strike. I said, a strike should be the last resort, and we should mean it. We have not reached a point where there is no other way to resolve this. We have not behaved, or gone through the other steps. 
The Iranians, in their heart of hearts, would like to get out of their conundrum. The sanctions have been very effective. They are beginning to really hurt.
[...]
Romney has been very costly on Russia. If you want to create a situation, where the only way to go about things is to go back to the Cold War, that is what is being done here. It’s very dangerous.
I don’t think the US public wants to go to another world war over values in this way. If it persists, it will be a slide down a very slippery slope.
It’s a question of concept. Where are we going in the 21st century? Are we going to try to propagate policies on the battlefields?
[...]
Romney has said, Anybody could have decided to finish bin Laden. Even [Jimmy] Carter. This again was a mistaken concept. President Obama didn’t just decide [one day to kill bin Laden]. The operation to end the life of bin Laden necessitated multiple points of decision by him. I know from operations I have been involved with on a smaller scale.They are very intricate. You don’t just give the order and wait in your office for commanders to come three months later and say it’s done. No. This kind of operation, which is accident prone, hands on operation, one has to make one decision after the other. […] It took courage and cool headedness and leadership. Anyone who says it was an easy thing to decide, doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. [Such comments] show a total lack of understanding of what this kind of operation means.
Just one guy's opinion, I suppose; but not exactly a naif. Mitt Romney has loaded his foreign policy team with Bush-era neocons. As with economic policy, he seems poised to make the same mistakes as before in foreign policy. But Americans like easy answers. Tax cuts at home and war abroad. Support our troops. These colors don't run. When the going gets hard, right-wingers get hard-ons. Look around for someone to invade, and go for it: as long as it's someone else's kid doing the invading, and no one has to pay for it.

If Mitt Romney wins and we repeat, as he wants to do, the mistakes made only a decade ago and already forgotten, I don't think there's enough margin of error, enough vitality left in the economy to make up for it yet again. It won't be the falsely implanted RWS™ fears of Obama that get us; it'll be the real plans of Mitt Romney and the people telling what to think, paying for him to say what they think.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Wedgie



Once again I've been watching baseball and football and not the debate. (Go Giants.) But I did wedge some online observation between channels, flipping around among about four live-blogs, read several quotes; and it sounds like Romney did what he did in the first debate: namely, disavowed pretty much everything he ever said. Like deadlines for leaving Afghanistan. Talks with Iran. I await the walk-backs from his campaign.

Unlike the first one, though, I infer Obama made it clear who knew what he was talking about, and who didn't. The one who did was our president. I did see a clip of the bayonets and horses riposte. Excellent. And by now, I've also seen several other clips.

A well-known conservative blogger said he'd never seen a candidate lie so much in a single debate. He was referring to The Rominee.

I don't doubt teabaggers will see it very differently. But once again we're left with the fundamental question: if Mitt Romney changes positions like he changes underwear, and if he disavows and denies what he'd said previously, how can anyone think they know what he'd do if president? In the debates he's one guy; on the campaign trail, someone else entirely. But on both stages, a complete and continual liar.

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Speaking Of Racism...



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Romney Supporter



And not just a Romney supporter: one to whom The Rominee kowtows and panders, as only he can. Well, people might say, you can't be responsible for those who support you. Okay, you can't. But you don't have to enact perianal osculation, either. Who knows where Romney stands on this, or anything? But a vote for him is an incremental act of empowering those who'd make this country a fundamentalist Christian theocracy, not, in its treatment of women, public education, freedom of the press, not all that different from the theocracies with which we are engaged in war, or war-lite. And since they're the ones pulling the stings to which Romney has willingly attached himself, the most reasonable prediction is that in a Romney presidency, such a theocracy will become measurably closer.

And while it's happening, maybe a little behind the scenes for now, it's pretty clear some of the trappings -- particularly those regarding limiting the rights of women -- are well under way.

A vote for Mitt Romney, if you're not a white, Christian, native-born and quite wealthy male, is simply inexplicable, unless you hate yourself even more than you hate Barack Obama.


Home Field



In my next column for my local newspaper I'll be writing about Mitt Romney; how there's a Mitt for everyone. Turns out, his spiritual home town paper wrote the same thing, in endorsing Barack Obama for president. Salt Lake City, that is, saying pretty much exactly what I've said about The Rominee here, many, many times:


Nowhere has Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the presidency been more warmly welcomed or closely followed than here in Utah. The Republican nominee’s political and religious pedigrees, his adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state, and his head for business and the bottom line all inspire admiration and hope in our largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state. 
But it was Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record, that make him the Beehive State’s favorite adopted son. ...
In short, this is the Mitt Romney we knew, or thought we knew, as one of us.
Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: "Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?" 
... Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear...
"Shameless." "Servile." "Shape-shifting." It's as if they read this blog.

For anyone with half a brain, there is simply no reason to vote for Mitt Romney. Other than mindless teabaggers, who don't seem to understand anything, the only justification to do so is to vote against Barack Obama. I'd be okay with that if I thought such a vote was based on what he actually has and hasn't done. The fact is, those with the strongest reality-based arguments against the president are hard-core liberals: his maintaining of Bush's questionable anti-terror policies, his abandoning of climate change legislation, disinterest in gun control, his failure to support single payer health care reform. And more. All this, and still the RWS™ would have you believe he's soft on terror, gonna take your guns, and is a far-left socialist gay Marxist Kenyan Nazi communist anti-capitalist America-hater.

What galls me to my core (unlike Mitt, I have one) is that those who'll be voting for Mitt are doing so despite his lying and pandering, his changing of every position he's ever held. They'll be voting for a guy whose policies are impossible to know, other than the fact that based on what he's said about his budget plans, the math simply doesn't add up. They're voting for not-Obama. And in doing that, it seems most of them are doing it based on a version of Barack Obama that has never existed. Ignoring reality, they mouth the crap they've been fed by their favorite right-wing screamer, believe the latest conspiracy theory, accept the views they ingest without chewing, from Fox "news." I wonder why.

Sure, since Mitt Romney has taken every possible position on every possible issue, there's at least one statement on everything to which supporters can point. But can they honestly say they have a clue which position is the one he'd abide if elected? Based on comments here, before I kiboshed them, his supporters are able to repeat the talking points they've been fed, but have no clue what Obama really has or hasn't done, and are unwilling to specify what it is to which they object, beyond vague generalities.

I don't think newspaper endorsements mean much. When Judy, my wife, ran for the school board here, the paper for which I now write endorsed her opponent. Then, after receiving tons of pushback from people who knew what they were talking about, perhaps for the first time in the history of endorsements, they reversed themselves after actually committing journalism. She won, but I don't think voters paid much attention to the paper either way.

But Salt Lake City? Rejecting their most favored of favorite sons? For the very reasons I've been writing about for months? Allow me to consider that significant. Influential? Probably not: teabaggers are teabaggers, after all. But significant. Add to that the fact that he trails in the state he governed by nearly twenty points! Those who know Mitt Romney best like and trust him the least. Very, very, significant....


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

We Have Another Winner!




The lies are so commonplace that it's almost becoming mere background noise; which is no coincidence, I'd say. It's the plan. But what's really so incredible is what's at the center of it all: the fact that, yet again, Americans are rallying to the biggest lie of all. That no one has to do anything except pay less in taxes and everything will be fine. Climate change will go away; deficits, too. We'll have everything we want, won't have to alter a thing. Reagan said it, Bush said it, Romney is saying it yet again. They're Lucy, trickle down is the football, and the American public is Charlie Brown.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and Karl Rove and Fox "news" and all the RWS™ have had it figured out for years: Americans want easy answers. They swallow like Linda Lovelace. The harder the problems, the more they'll gravitate to the one who says not to worry about a thing; who tells them nothing is required of them.

Now I'll admit President Obama and the Ds aren't being entirely square: raising taxes on the wealthy isn't a magic solution, either. But at least they're saying we need to figure out a way toward fiscal balance while preserving the fundamental needs of our society. Barack Obama has shown willingness to go against his base (whoever that is), and I predict that if he's reelected he'll do so again, by addressing Social Security and Medicare in ways they won't entirely like.

Romney, on the other hand, has shown only the ability to pander; and on those occasion where he lets something half-way reasonable slip out, his handlers shut it down like comments on this blog. And whereas Obama's party has, over and over, tried to find ways to appeal to the other side, ain't no way in hell Mitt's would let him move an inch toward Ds, his pretense of bipartisanship notwithstanding.

A guy who lies and flips like Mitt Romney isn't interested in the common good (he let it slip with his 47% comments). A guy who has no principles he won't reverse at a moment's notice has no reason to stick his neck out to do what's right. He got Democrats in Massachusetts to agree to a Republican plan for health care. Let's see him get teabaggRs to agree to the inevitable need to raise some taxes. Or cut their loopholes.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Good Rant, Rachel


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About the insane bubble in which teabaggers live nowadays, she's absolutely right. I used to have a friend who, while he didn't much like President Obama, was once able to see the good things he's done.  For reasons unknown but which, for a while anyway, made me actually worry about him, he descended into non-stop paranoid birther-level babble; or at least he had until I cut him off from communication. For all I know, he's in a rubber room somewhere by now. But there are plenty like him who aren't. Who are running for (and elected to!) office or being courted by those who are. Who are given credence (and rides!) by potential presidents.

But here's the point: no matter how right Rachel Maddow is on this subject, it makes zero difference. That Mitt Romney has chosen to ferry Mr Corsi around says nothing about either of them that we didn't already know: Corsi is insane and Mitt will pander to anyone. And there's nothing, no amount of facts to the contrary, no new information, no out-pointing of their falsehoods, that will change the minds of these people. By definition. If facts made any difference to these people, we wouldn't have these people. Those who need wild conspiracies to keep their heads from exploding, those to whom the real world is just too hard to face, will never change. I feel bad for them, as a fellow human being. But as someone who lives in this country and would like to see it survive, I feel worse for the rest of us, if that sort of thinking is enough to swing elections.


What Mitt Doesn't Want You To Know




Steadily, the economy is getting better. Measurably. You won't hear it on Fox "news," or on right-wing radio, or from teabaggRs; that's not a winning message for the Rs (especially after they've dedicated the last four years to making sure it didn't happen), and Mitt will continue to say the opposite ("we don't have to live like this"), just like he says Obama doubled the deficit, hasn't signed trade agreements, apologizes for America. He has a narrative on which he thinks he can fool enough people into voting for him, and the facts have nothing to do with it. Not to Mitt; not to those who'll vote for him.

It's not as if the economy is great. But there's no credible argument that it hasn't been improving since Obama took over. Plenty of unanswerable what-ifs: more or less stimulus, more or less of it related to tax cuts; if the auto bailout hadn't happened; if Rs hadn't voted no on every single recovery-related measure; had they not, from day one, decided their number one priority, specifically stated, was to wreck Obama's presidency. But facts are facts. Things are getting better.

If Mitt wins, he'll ride that trajectory and claim it has something to do with him. Annoying.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

When The Truth Is Just Another Lie



At Debate Part Deux, Mitt Romney made a point of saying that when he was governor there was a program that allowed kids who'd graduated in the top quarter of their high schools to go to state colleges tuition free. It's true, and it sounds pretty great. Except for one little detail.

In Massachusetts, so that the good governor could claim he kept taxes and tuition down, they have fees coming out of their asses. Unlike most states, college tuition in MA is only a fraction of the cost of attending, a fraction that keeps getting smaller. Since Romney took office, "tuition" has remained unchanged, while fees and other costs, like room and board (which isn't part of "fees") have skyrocketed, making college increasingly unaffordable, tuition grants notwithstanding:




So. Mitt Romney actually told the truth in one case, and it's still a lie. Knock me over with an offshore account.


Bossy


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Lots of meat in this (including, unfortunately, a commercial at the front.) Romney's demeanor in the latest debate says a lot about him; none of it good. He's a guy used to getting his way, to having his ass kissed, to treating everyone around him like a doormat. Even, evidently, the President of the United States; the one with god's curse. (I assume teabaggers and RWS™ loved it. I don't have the stomach to find out.)

And Mr Lipton is entirely correct: if the roles had been reversed and Obama was the contender and had behaved that way toward the president, while being, you know, of color, the screams would have shattered your ears. Uppity, is what it'd have been.

The more I see of Mitt Romney, the more it becomes clear: he's a shameless liar, and an undeserving narcissist with an indelible sense of entitlement. He should be ridden out of the public square on a rail. Tar and feathers gets a bad rap.


Horrible People, Version ∞



Disregarding the fundamental tenets of democracy as usual, and worried that their voter suppression laws might not be enough to steal the election (courts having declared most of them illegal, donchaknow), Rs are resorting (as usual, in every election of the last decades) to trickery. Assholes:

Some African American, Spanish-speaking and elderly voters in Florida and Virginia are apparently being targeted by anonymous voter-suppression groups trying to trick them or intimidate them into not voting in the November presidential election, according to election officials and voter protection organizations. 
The Virginia State Board of Elections is warning residents that "some Virginia voters, particularly older Virginians, are receiving phone calls from unidentified individuals informing voters that they can vote over the phone. This information is false."
Par for the course. Lying about or refusing to disclose their plans, voter suppression, destroying registration forms, coordinated disinformation, intimidation, trickery: if they didn't have that, we'd have been rid of them long since. The last thing they want in their version of America is democracy.

How does a person not hate these guys? I'm trying. I really am. If only they'd help me a little.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Metaphor




Pretense and phoniness:

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Paul Ryan visited a soup kitchen here Saturday on his way to the airport, but by the time the GOP vice presidential nominee and his family had arrived shortly before noon, the grits, sausage and doughnuts had been served, the hall was empty of patrons and the volunteers appeared to have already cleaned up. [...]
Ryan stood at the sink and took some large metal pans that did not appear to be dirty, soaped them up and rinsed them, remarking as the cameras clicked and the TV cameras rolled that he had spent a summer washing dishes when he was younger.
“We had a Hobart, though, which was — you get calluses on your fingers because it’s so hot,” he said, referring to the Hobart industrial dishwashing machine.
That was The Washington Post's report. Here's what The New York Times reported:
Afterward, Mr. Ryan stopped with his wife and children at a nearby soup kitchen. The family put on aprons and washed several large pans, though they did not appear to need washing, according to a pool reporter. There also was no one to serve at the soup kitchen, as breakfast had ended.

Turns out the soup kitchen isn't all that happy, either:


The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group’s Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall. 
Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.
“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors. He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”
Sure, all politicians do stupid photo ops. But this seems a little different in that it's doubly fake, and unwanted. Like the R/R budget plans, except that the fakery hasn't convinced people they don't want it. In fact, it's the fakery of which they're particularly fond.

[Update: Stephen Colbert reports:



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He Even Lied About That


Amusing as has been the internet response to Mitt Romney's "binder full of women" disquisition, it turns out it's not true. He didn't direct a search for qualified women; it had been done before the election, by a bipartisan group.

Not a true story. 
What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor. 
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.
Specifically I don't suppose it amounts to much. But in general, as yet another example of Mitt's ease with lying, it tends to confirm the obvious: for whatever reason, Mitt Romney will lie about anything and everything to get that to which he considers himself entitled. Might be fine if your goal is to make as much money as possible without regard to anyone who gets in the way; but as a fundament for a president, not so good. But maybe that's just me.

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Businessman



Words from David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director:
... Mitt Romney claims that his essential qualification to be president is grounded in his 15 years as head of Bain Capital, from 1984 through early 1999. According to the campaign’s narrative, it was then that he became immersed in the toils of business enterprise, learning along the way the true secrets of how to grow the economy and create jobs. ... 
Except Mitt Romney was not a businessman; he was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses. He did not build enterprises the old-fashioned way—out of inspiration, perspiration, and a long slog in the free market fostering a new product, service, or process of production. Instead, he spent his 15 years raising debt in prodigious amounts on Wall Street so that Bain could purchase the pots and pans and castoffs of corporate America, leverage them to the hilt, gussy them up as reborn “roll-ups,” and then deliver them back to Wall Street for resale—the faster the better. 
That is the modus operandi of the leveraged-buyout business, and in an honest free-market economy, there wouldn’t be much scope for it because it creates little of economic value... 
It's a very long article, and goes deep into the weeds. But the main point is made in the above, and it's what I've said here a few times, too: Mitt Romney's experience in business has nothing whatsoever to do with learning about or having influence on the big-picture economy of the US.

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