Friday, January 13, 2012

Got Envy?

It's possible that Thursday will become known as the day that the starkest possible battle lines of the 2012 were drawn.  With Romney insisting that any questioning of the justice or the damaging  economic and social effects of income inequality amounts to nothing but envy.  With Gingrich and Perry continuing their attacks on Romney's record as ceo of Bain, and its record of job killing, including a Swiftboat-style documentary and ads cut from it.  And with President Obama's chief economic advisor making a high profile speech laying out the realities of income inequality.

What's fascinating some political observers is that the attacks on Romney are coming from other GOPers, with the Dems preparing their own, reportedly even more devastating attacks.  And the potential for the damage this can do to Romney and the GOPers.

What fascinates me is that what goes around comes around--that GOPers are so used to their toolbox of lies, distortions, simplistic and inflammatory charges, and piling on repeated extreme attacks, that they cannot have an internal disagreement without employing them all.  Long practiced in the scorched earth politics of destruction, they are incapable of doing anything else, and so are employing the same extreme tactics against each other. 

It's spectacle at this point, but maybe pretty meaningful.  The official GOPer freakout over the Gingrich/Cowboy Rick attacks on Romney's predatory business practices has to be seen to be believed.  In this case, TPM's 100 seconds is worth 1000 words. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Clowns Go South

Newt Romney gets to be head clown this week.  That's the outcome of the New Hampshire GOPer primary, which notably was badly attended by GOPer voters.  Romney finished close enough to 40% and Huntsman's surge didn't materialize to north of 20%, with Ron St. Paul getting a solid quarter of the vote to come in second.  Much if not most of his votes came from self-declared Independents.

What it all means is that the clown show continues with the same cast for another week, moving down to South Carolina where there are lots of Tevangelicals but also a history of traditional GOPers chosen.  Since neither Rick Sanctimonious nor Mitt Gingrich were significantly stronger than each other (or anybody else), they will see if either can break out in S.C.  The anti-Romney ad blitz there has already begun, but Romney will have a sizeable media presence there too (and some are attributing his retaining his poll margin in New Hamp to a last minute ad buy over the weekend.) With his faint pulse of credibility (third place gets him Anti-Romney status but second would have given him Huntsmentum), Huntsman will try again in S.C. to attract moderate and/or sane conservatives.

So what is likely to happen in S.C. is either somebody finally beats Romney, or he ekes out another victory by less than overwhelming margins.  What's likely to be more interesting is what happens then.  If Romney wins his third in a row, but Gingrich and Sanctimonious still go on (or Cowboy Rick, who got less than 1% in NH)--or especially if they somehow finally combine forces to support a single non-Paul Anti-Romney--while the rest of the world proclaims his Romneyness as the presumptive nominee--what does that say about the GOP, and what does it do to the party and the candidate?

The latest wrinkle in the clown show is that Cowboy Rick and Gingrich are getting pasted by some FOXite conservative media types for what they said about predatory capitalist Romney--Cowboy Rick was compared to one of those envious Occupy Wall Street anticapitalists, and Gingrich was called a socialist!   Meanwhile, it looks like the Gingrich-paid ads slamming Romney--which are excerpted from a "documentary" created by the folks who brought you Swift Boating--are far worse than the Dems would ever use, employing the usual tools of distortion that GOPer groups can't help but use even against the guy who might well be their nominee.

Meanwhile there's a rumor that the next GOPer candidate debate will be held in a bakery that specializes in cream pies...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Some say quickly, some say more gradually, all say painfully, but this is all going to end.  It's still such an odd feeling to have my end in sight at the same time as human civilization and much of the natural world as we know it perhaps. 

Meanwhile there are lovely days like Monday, another sunny one, so I took a walk in the community forest.  It's not supposed to be sunny in January.  We should be in the middle of our rainy season.  Last year the rains were late also, but we wound up with our normal amount of rain or a little more.  But quantity isn't the whole story of normal, and normal is what the ecosystem depends on.  We're hearing of drought effects in some places hereabouts already this winter.  These redwoods, second and third growth in this forest, need a specific climate, and if this is the pattern of the future, they'll be endangered.

But a lovely day is a lovely day, warm in the sun, and quickly cold when it went down.

Circus Violence

Violence in the circus--verbal, that is.  And to think that the circular firing squad used to have a Democratic patent.  His Romneyness opened the doors wide to the circular circus firing squad with two eminently soundbitable statements that played directly into the top candidate for the most damaging non-flipflop charges against him: his rich guy ego plus his predatory behavior plus his politician hypocrisy.  He's a circular firing squad in himself.

His first statement was a variation on the phony regular guy I'm one of you (and I'm not a witch) pandering he's awkwardly tried before, but this one was really ill-timed.  He said he knew the pressure people were feeling, they might lose their jobs, because he's been there--he's been afraid a few times of being fired, of getting that pink slip.

Okay, so you know that there are only about 3,000 Americans in total who are richer than Romney.  Much of this wealth was inherited, so he's never, ever had to be afraid for a micro-millisecond that he would miss a meal or a mortgage payment or a health insurance premium.  People may not know much about him, but people living on the edge are likely to know that he really is not.

He then committed another unforced error by uttering the words, "I like to fire people."  Though he was talking about a health care system that enables people to fire their insurance provider, the words play perfectly into the growing attacks based on the predatory practices of Bain, the place where he got all that vaunted business experience.  (Bain even sounds like some evil kingdom in a comic book mythology.)  But even before the DMCers could reach for their editing tools, Romney's fellow GOPers were taking his words exquisitely out of context with all the temeritry his Romneyness used to take Barack Obama's comments completely out of context.  Jon Huntsman zinged him--Romney wants to fire people, he said, but I want to get jobs for people.  Gingrich has some really awful paid ads already hitting Romney on this, and his Newtitude jumped on it. 

But one candidate put both statements together with true eloquence.  And that candidate is--you're really not going to believe this--Cowboy Rick.  First he quoted Romney: "I know what’s it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.”  Then he fired away: I mean, he actually said this,” Mr. Perry told more than 100 diners at a breakfast gathering here. “Now, I have no doubt Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips — whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company, Bain Capital, of all the jobs that they killed,” Mr. Perry said. “I’m sure he was worried that he would run out of pink slips.”

He said that people in nearby Gaffney, S.C., in particular, “would find his comments incredible,” because it is where Mr. Perry said Bain shut down a plant and fired 150 workers. “That didn’t happen until Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, they looted that company with more than $20 million in management fees.”
He also charged that Mr. Romney’s firm took $65 million in management fees out of a steel company in a deal in which 700 steelworkers in Georgetown, S.C., and Kansas City lost their jobs, their health insurance and “large portions” of their pensions.
“There’s nothing wrong with being successful and making money — that’s the American dream,” Mr. Perry said. “But there is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failures and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business. I happen to think that that is indefensible.” “If you are a victim of Bain capital’s downsizing, it’s the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain — because he caused it,” Mr. Perry said."

Both quotes--but especially the "I like to fire people" clip--went viral all day Monday.  Today--Tuesday-- is voting day in the New Hampshire primary.  We're going to learn how many smart phones there really are in that state, which is likely a measure of how fast this soundbite spreads.  Because the trend lines were already showing Huntsman moving up and Romney moving down.  Most pundits say that not enough time has elapsed for Huntsman to actually overtake R's huge lead, but that he's in position to come in second, closely followed by Ron St. Paul. 

But an emotional backlash can come on faster than a headcold.  If some hefty percentage of New Hampshire GOPers were preparing to delicately hold their noses and vote for the guy who seemed most likely to compete in the general, they might be simultaneously feeling enough disgust to deny him their votes, while suddenly realizing that Huntsman is a pretty good alternative. 

If the final vote of the primary has Romney at 30%,  Huntsman north of 20%,  with St. Paul getting 15% and Gingrich north of 10%, then South Carolina and Florida begin to look less inevitable for his Romneyness.  There's also the theory that if Huntsman does well, his own fabulously wealthy father will open the bank vaults, and his Romneyness will face wall-to-wall Anti-R ads from both Gingrich and Huntsman.  And those ads are on TV sets in places where not just GOPers can see them. 

Monday, January 09, 2012

Emerson for the Day

"Our limbs indeed have room enough but it is our souls that rust in a corner.  Let us migrate interiorly without intermission, and pitch our tent each day nearer the western horizon."


The Circus and the Last Dark Horse

Over the weekend there were two episodes of the ongoing reality series circus called GOPer debates.  The first on Saturday night inspired former GOPer Committee Chair Michael Steele to tweet, "What the hell kind of debate are we having right now? The Obamas are starting to order the china pattern for the second term."  It inspired one traditionally GOPer voter to donate $25 to the Obama campaign, and the spouse of another to inquire, "do these guys know they are running for President?" 

The bickering among the anti-Romneys left his Romneyness untouched, went the wisdom on that one.  But Sunday morning Romney got touched up a few times, including a hopefully memorable plea by Gingrich to Romney to "drop the pious baloney."  How could he do that?  Without pious baloney he's naked.

While some pundits (like Joe Klein) citing some numbers as well as the debates are declaring Romney the certain nominee, there was at least some trouble brewing--and some different poll numbers.  Josh Marshall at TPM highlighted the $5 million that yet another Rabid Right billionaire has used to fuel the Gingrich attack ads against Romney, with lots more where that came from.  Marshall suggests this could seriously complicate Romney's march, especially if the money keeps coming.  And don't forget those Tevangelical preachers getting together this week to try to pick a single Anti-Mormon, sorry, I meant Anti-Romney.  Nothing inspires serious consideration more than the scent of cash.

While the bulk of the negative ads against Romney are being targeted in South Carolina, the next primary state, there are some polls that suggest things may be moving in New Hampshire.  Romney has been slipping in tracking polls, while Ron St. Paul and Huntsman are moving up (Gingrich so far is his usual fourth, while Rick Sanctimonious is fading, and Cowboy Rick says he wants to return troops to Iraq immediately, where he may have a better chance at a presidency.)

Most of the pundits ignored Huntsman's good moments in Sunday's debate, but if those clips get around, he could move up further.  New Hamp loves an underdog, and everybody knows he's a better fit there than the Ricks.  It depends on how disgusted New Hamps are with this entire field--Huntman positioned himself as the sane alternative. Sane in this crowd anyway.  He might make this interesting after all.

There We Were

The Steelers lost to Denver and their quarterback Tim Tebow in overtime on Sunday.  The reason of course is that Tim Tebow is a devout fundamentalist Christian, and so God was on the side of Denver.  God saw to it that two more Steelers were injured early in the game, so the entire defensive line was second and third string.  When Steelers receivers had easy catches with the end zone in sight, God knocked the ball out of their hands.  God shone His light in the eyes of Steeler coverage when St. Tebow threw the ball to his receivers, especially the Steeler corner called Gay (get it?)  Obviously God has not yet forgiven Big Ben--having already hobbled him and made it harder for him to pass accurately, He knocked the ball out of his hand when all he needed was a few yards to set up the winning field goal.  And then of course, His Lightning struck in the first play of overtime. St. Tebow be praised.  Amen.