Sunday, July 29, 2012

Which Religion is Right and True?

None of them.

This has been another edition of short answers to stupid questions.

Except, well, I want to make a few points.

Calligraphic representation of Muhammad. Images of him are forbidden.

Going back to their origins, there's not a dime's bit of difference among Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. They share Abraham as their first prophet, and they all originated in roughly the same part of the world. They all believe in an afterlife, a "Judgment," although the Jews don't stress it and believe in a non-infinite period of punishment for sin in life -- they don't believe in eternal damnation as the Christians and Muslims do.

All three stress good acts; all three have sacred texts; all three believe in the one God (Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah); followers of Muhammad have a history of war, as do Christians and Jews. This is not to say that violence and death are the basis of any of the religions. But it is to say that none of them are,  well, Quakers.

A vital turning point with most religions is that they begin as an attempt to understand why we're here and later a body of law develops that generally turns a religion into a vehicle for control, usually with detrimental consequences. Christianity has its canon law, Islam has its hadith, and Judaism has its halakhah. It's these religious laws that take a decent set of beliefs, though based on myth and superstition, and turn them into something, well, not a force for good.

Not a bad dude, for his day.

I'm not trying to be a "Can we all get along?" guy, but, hey, religion is quite often not a force for peace and tranquility. "Believe in my God or I'll kill you" has been a modus operandi for centuries. So, the sooner the world gets beyond these ridiculous religious differences, the better.

Anyone who wants to demonize Muslims need only think of Northern Ireland, where differences between two sects of Christianity was the cause of death and destruction for decades.

I was inspired to make these comments because there have been a number of polls that try to determine the percentage of people who believe that Barack Obama is a Christian and the percentage of those who believe he's a Muslim, secret or otherwise. There are a few polls that also attempt to determine if Mitt Romney's Mormonism works for or against him. Apparently it's a wash.

Those for whom this is important are either political operatives, pundits, or voters who would use this distinction to determine their votes. I for one believe that the whole process is absurd at best and contemptible in any event. Sorry. Religion is bunk.

I secretly believe Barack Obama is an atheist, or at least I hope so. He's too smart to accept any of it as real, but he's also too smart to not realize the community that comes with belonging to a church. And, of course, Americans are more likely to elect a Muslim president than an atheist. Thus I don't begrudge any public figure who claims to be a Christian, as long as they don't try to force their beliefs on society.

Conquering the heathens for Christ. It did involve killing them.

So I ask: Can we stop judging our leaders by their religion? And, secondly, can we begin the long, hard slog toward electing an atheist? The sooner the better.

Of course, this is like hoping that America will become sane and ban most guns and also enact a government-regulated, single-payer healthcare system. But then waiting for that is like waiting for a television show that portrays abortion in a good light.

Sigh. Some days it's hard to be a progressive. Oh well, God bless you and God bless America. (Wouldn't it be a miracle if a speech by a president didn't end with those words?)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Interpretations of the 2nd Amendment...

...are just fucked up and bullshit, as Atrios would say. Speaking of which, an Eschaton poster that often starts off the day at Atrios' blog, ql (have no idea who that is), offered a link to Hecate, whose blog post on the Aurora killings blew past anything I could say about the 2nd Amendment:
I will say this. When I was in law school (and it was many, and many a Moon ago) I learned two important rules of statutory construction. These are rules that they teach to lawyers to help them to figure out what various laws and regulations mean.
The first principle of statutory construction that I learned was that you have to read a statute in a way that, if at all possible, comports with the purpose of the statute. Thus, if, at the beginning of the statute, it says that the purpose of the statute is to, for example, protect consumers, you have to try and interpret that statue in a way that, you know, protects consumers. So if one side argues to the judge that the statute must mean X, but X would hurt consumers, and if there is another plausible meaning of the words, say Y, that would protect consumers, the judge should read and interpret the statute in a way that will protect consumers and should adopt Y as the correct interpretation.
The second principle of statutory construction that I learned was that you have to read a statute in a way that, if at all possible, gives meaning to all of the words. This is often stated, in the law, as reading the statute in a way that will not “render” any of the words in the statute as “surplusage.” In other words, you should try not to ignore any of the words that the lawmakers wrote. If there’s a reading that gives effect to all of the words, that’s the one that the judge should select, over a reading that would ignore some of those words.

Now, upon reading all the words of the 2nd Amendment, for practically all of my life I was struck by the obvious meaning that "Hey, dude, we encourage you to have a flintlock because we aren't going to have a gun for you if we draft you into our militia when the Indians come, or the Brits invade from Canada, or some other fucked up bullshit."
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
For the rest of it, just read Hecate's piece. She nailed it. What she had to offer was the statutory construction bit. Not being a  lawyer, I had never been exposed to the concept. Once one is, everything falls into place.

What's odd is that John Roberts left the PPACA (Obamacare) intact because he applied the logic of statutory construction, in as much as he fully interpreted the words of the statute in a way that allowed the law to stand: since Congress could enforce a mandate under its taxing power, the penalty for not having health insurance (if you couldn't afford it) is collected by the IRS, thus equating it for statutory purposes to a tax. Thus the law could stand.

Any interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that allows Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Tucson, and the almost endless list of similar tragedies to occur is a deliberate act of misinterpretation of the wording of the Amendment. I also believe it to be either an act of cowardice, political or otherwise. I simply cannot find a justification for the carnage and mayhem we permit in our society. I'm, I just don't know, words fail me when I'm called to confront this folly.

I've written about the statistics that demonstrate how we're head and shoulders above all other developed countries in the amount of violence we permit to exist in the U.S., but Paul Krugman found a graph that illustrates the reality well:


I'm glad to see our overall violence come down, but really, we're horribly violent.

Gun presented to Sarah Palin by the NRA in 2009 as a tribute. (Not kidding.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Will Aurora Change the Gun Debate? No.

The Colt AR-15, a legal gun in the U.S.

One of the most tragic aspects of our American culture is its obsession with weaponry, whether the military kind or the so-called civilian kind not merely permitted by the 2nd Amendment but also openly facilitated by the NRA. In fact, the ferocity with which NRA opposes the banning of almost any kind of gun amounts to insisting that Americans be armed and dangerous.

Readers here know that I openly oppose all but single-shot hunting rifles, which can include shotguns. If it's tied to hunting of wild animals, and if hunting-rifle ownership requires strict licensing and training, I have no problem. I don't hunt, but I can imagine how I might have enjoyed it if I were raised in a rural hunting family. I did grow up fishing and diving for abalone. Catching and killing fish, abalone, and crab, and then eating them fresh just makes sense to me. The same holds for game.

The 100-round drum magazine, a legal AR-15 accessory.

Any other kind of weaponry is only meant to kill human beings. And the weapon that caused the most damage and human grief in Aurora, Colorado this week was a AR-15 assault rifle equipped with a hundred-round drum magazine. Do we need such guns? No. Beyond the hunting rifles, we don't need any guns.

Will anything change because of Aurora? No. There is a slim possibility that assault weapons might get a second look in a few progressive states, even possibly Colorado, but I wouldn't hold your breath. It is one of the great tragedies of American society that we encourage gun violence.

I will stand with anyone who is willing to work to ban all but hunting guns. In fact, I am thinking that people of conscience should start a movement that prohibits voting for anyone who isn't in favor of major gun control. If that means I can't vote for Barack Obama, so be it.

I haven't made this decision, but it's the first time I reached this conclusion. Sometimes you have to just live by your conscience, with no exceptions. I hope I have the courage.

I stand against guns, and support those who also do.

Father in Aurora, CO, is overcome with worry his son might be among the victims.
His son, Alex, was later confirmed among the dead.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Not-So-Hidden, Not-So-Accidental Agenda

After working my way through liberal and conservative/libertarian economic blogs, articles and occasional academic papers, I usually find myself with something analogous to a headache: What does all this economic gibberish mean?

I guess you'd have to replicate my journey to understand what I mean. I'll save you the trouble: The fight is between Keynesian (or post-war Keynesian) fiscal stimulus to be followed by debt reduction when we get out of recession and toward full employment and austerity now because everybody knows we won't be wise enough to pay down our debt later. There's a related argument between two positions, one, that we're better off with a stronger economy that is debt-laden because of fiscal stimulus, and, two, we'll be better off undergoing austerity now regardless of the resulting weakened economies because at least we've reduced our debt, setting the stage for eventual growth.

I'll thrown in that there's a strong case to be made that austerity during a weakened economy reduces GDP and thus tax revenues, which then actually increases public debt and is therefore counterproductive. This is currently being borne out in the UK and the Eurozone countries. But I digress.

I don't have to send you to countless political articles in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist for you to understand the current political climate. It's an election year after four years of fiery white hatred of a black president and a growing disposition among the elite classes that Barack Obama is, as Paul Krugman would say, "looking at me funny." In any event, the climate is toxic.

But to my point: What's going on is not opaque, it's clear as day. We know the agendas of the parties in the argument. We know why they take these views. The economists equivocate and the politicians obfuscate, but if we glean the wheat from the chaff and keep the kernel, we can see it clearly. Here it is:
  1. We're in a recession, but whether or not we are -- see the Bush years, e.g. 2001-2007 -- the conservative/libertarian agenda is and has been to constrict government in order to dismantle the welfare state, variously known as the New Deal, the Great Society, the safety net, the entitlements.
  2. Allies of the conservatives -- the rich and the very rich -- applaud and support the cutting of taxes, especially on the rich, and reward these conservatives working on their behalf with lots of cash, for elections, for cronies, for what-not. This effectively works against any agenda that increases or sustains the current safety net.
  3. Liberals -- much less supported by the wealthy elite -- have only demographic trends in their favor, but that has yet to translate into sustained political power. The conservative elite understand this and know that the current crisis may be their last chance to get their way, which is, of course, the dismantling of the welfare state. It must be done now -- even if these welfare systems are actually not yet in crisis.
  4. Thus conservative politicians, the economists who underwrite their positions, and the wealthy elites that want to transfer as much wealth as possible from the middle and lower classes to themselves, are all working together to foist a preposterous economic theory -- expansionary austerity -- on a confused public for the explicit purpose of making the ignorant and ungrateful lesser classes take their medicine now.
  5. The purpose of forcing austerity on such a vulnerable world economy -- by which I really mean the U.S. and the Eurozone -- is to squelch moral hazard, to get people to live within their means, even if what that really amounts to is the theft of money and opportunity from the lower classes and the passing of that money up the food chain to the wealthy elite who own an increasing share of total wealth.
  6. The "living within our means" meme is effective with white, Christian, working-class Americans -- largely men -- because, as the true losers in this squeeze between the wealthy elites and the growing power of minorities, i.e. blacks, Asians, Latinos, and women, this cohort is easily manipulated by conservative/libertarians and their call to "get the government out of our lives."
  7. The result is the American middle class, and, by extension, the Eurozone's equivalent, is having austerity forced down its throat while the rich reap the rewards.
  8. The elite are not "letting a good crisis go to waste." They are dismantling the welfare state -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc. -- and transferring its costs to the wealthy in the form of lower taxes. Because of these lower taxes, the government -- on local, state, and federal levels -- can no longer afford these programs and have no choice but to reduce them, in many cases, radically.
To summarize: The wealthy elite, through their agents in politics, are directing American wealth to itself at the expense of the middle and lower classes, and using morality as an excuse. That none of this should or has to happen is not allowed to be questioned. The elite are our betters, and the plebeians should take their medicine and remain mute.

I wish it were not true, but it is. The agenda of the Republicans is not hidden, not accidental. It is not mysterious, and one thing is certain: It is very much to the detriment of America. I hope against hope that in this race, between conservative clout and the slow, inevitable demographic swing toward egalitarianism, enough of our communal society can remain intact to rebuild from the ashes of the devastation our current politics is leading us toward. I do really hope so.

As an observation, is it at all surprising that the Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, and the political and economic policies he espouses, so perfectly epitomize the wealthy elite of which I speak, and their political and economic goals, as well? It is not, I think.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama: A Study in Americanism

I spent a little time last year posting diaries at firedoglake until I realized that it was more progressive -- even more radical -- than I was prepared to engage. The puzzling thing was that I'm as radical as most of the denizens of Jane Hamsher's site; I just was willing to "work within the system" whereas the firedoglakers were fiercely allied with the Occupy movement and ready to burn the whole place down, convinced that America was rotten to the core.

I don't begrudge them their position. America is a confounding place, especially for a humanist. But what underpins my willingness to engage America on its own terms goes back a lifetime and was quite focused by the 2000 election and its consequences. As the election neared, I was talking with a liberal friend with libertarian leanings who explained that he was backing Ralph Nader because the U.S. needed a wake-up call and there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Al Gore went on to win the election and had it stolen by the Supreme Court, with an assist by Ralph Nader. Now, you might be able to argue that point, but most Americans are no longer prepared to argue that George W. Bush was a successful president. To the contrary, Bush gave us one disaster over another. What with unnecessary tax cuts, two wars waged off the books (and on the deficit), a Medicare drug program that was patently made more expensive by banning price negotiations, Abu Ghraib, torture, and indefinite detention without due process -- and more -- Bush left our country in tatters, and it didn't have to be so.

What differences there are between the traditional two parties do matter and have nothing to do with how radical many of us would want our government to behave. It's how it does behave that matters. So I remain engaged. Or I could pass the time poo-pooing the whole thing, you know, like hanging around cafes on the left bank in Paris, drinking red wine and huffing on Gauloises and talking boisterously with Spanish communists. It might be fun but doesn't get anything done. I actually did that briefly in the early 70s, believe it or not. It's one of the reasons I came back to the U.S., since, I   believed, being in the belly of the beast easily trumped staying in the dusty museum that Europe was at the time.

So the differences between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, however narrow or broad you conceive them to be, do matter and are what will shape our country going forward. All the harumphing and "to the barricades" notwithstanding, what happens in presidential election years do often add up to major sea changes in American politics.

So I've gone on long enough while talking around the point of the title of this post. You do the mental work for a while. Do the differences between Mitt Romney and the America he believes in -- and thrives in -- and Barack Obama and his vision of America add up to enough that what will happen going forward will be meaningful?

I say yes. What say you? And if so, what should we do about it? (Hint: support Barack Obama.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Attack Mitt Romney on his Massachusetts Record. Attack now!

I can pretend I'm a savvy campaign operative, but I'm not. However, I think I can spot a no-brainer when I see one. I don't even know much about Mitt Romney's record during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, but I do remember one thing: He destroyed -- or appropriated -- every hard drive in every computer used during his administration. There is not a single email remaining, and I believe I've heard that paper documents are hard to come by, too.

There's nothing to hide in Massachusetts. Literally.
The Obama ad should be: "What's Mitt Got to Hide in Massachusetts?" And then just slam him, over and over, about all the secrecy, all the work it took to disappear his governorship. You could throw in bad things, like his failed jobs effort or his raising taxes, and you could also feature his health care reforms. "What's Romney Running From?"

Over and over and over. Don't stop, at least until his convention. When you're done, Mitt Romney won't have a record to run on. Not Bain, not Massachusetts. Okay, give him the Olympics. Tell him to do that again.

Mitt Romney, by the way, has done this to himself. He's running away from Bain, he's running away from Massachusetts, he's running away from his tax returns.

At some point, he's going to have to stop running. I hope it's after this last -- failed -- run for the presidency.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Connecting the Dots on the Bain Story

Fine. I said in December 2000 that he split his work between the Olympics and Bain. So what?

It took a while, but I think I've got it.

There is a lot of there there with the Bain story, and it's all about trying, over a number of years, to take the Bain era off the table, politically speaking. Here's the timeline:
  1. Mitt Romney founds Bain Capital and embarks on a successful career in private equity, not particularly considering what a political liability it might someday become to be as ruthless as one often needs to be in private equity.
  2. In 1994, Romney runs against Ted Kennedy for the Senate. Kennedy wipes the floor with him through relentless attacks on Romney and his role at Bain.
  3. In 1999, Romney goes to Utah to lead the scandal-plagued Salt Lake City Olympics. By all accounts, he does a bang-up job.
  4. While in Salt Lake City from 1999 to 2002, Romney remains owner, chairman, CEO, and president of Bain Capital, all the while with a salary. The truth of this is demonstrated by SEC filings, which Romney signs. It's also later proven that Romney remained active, at least on a part-time basis, by his own testimony in front of the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission in order to prove continuous residency in the state so he can run for governor. He testified to active participation in the affairs of Bain and several companies owned by Bain during this time, including Staples and LifeLike. He succeeds in convincing the Commission that he is eligible to run.
  5. Romney -- and I suspect some of his advisers -- realizes in 2002 that he's vulnerable to the same attacks on Bain that he suffered in 1994. He must make Bain go away or risk losing his bid for governor.
  6. In 2002, Bain gives Romney a severance package, retroactive to 1999, and the story is put forth and repeated that Romney left Bain in February 1999 and any attacks on Romney for his Bain years are "old news."
  7. The only proof that Romney actually left Bain completely in February 1999 has come from Romney himself and his campaign. And, yes, an old crony or two from Bain say it's so, too. The required, legal documentation filed with the SEC says otherwise, as does Romney's own testimony he gave to prove his Massachusetts residency.
Where have I gone wrong? It seems clear to me that Mitt Romney made up a story to mute attacks on his role at Bain during the 2002 campaign (it worked, for he was elected), and now he wanted to recycle that effort here in 2012.

This time, people are sussing out his deception. It likely won't work, no matter how many times Romney says he won't release his tax returns. Until he does, I'd make book that he's likely to be hounded incessantly. Eventually, even Fox News might demand he release his returns.

For now, he's behind the eight ball, and if I'm right, his reasons -- beyond the possibility that there's more in his returns than just his role at Bain in the years in question -- for his continued stonewalling is just an attempt to get past Bain as he managed in 2002.

There are at least a thousand possible captions for this picture, none of them involving the truth.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mitt the Obscure?

This is my "credibility" expression. What do you think?
It's clear now that Mitt Romney's strategy for the 2012 election is to avoid saying much beyond vague platitudes delivered forcefully to enhance their effect. That he believes that this will work shows more than any single truth about him that he is not suited to the U.S. presidency.

Because of this, he is ill-prepared to deal with the consequences as what few investigative reporters left in America comb through his life story to discover all the things that Mitt attempts to obscure. The result is clear: Mitt is a inveterate liar, both by disposition and practice.

Here are several viewpoints on this that help us understand the different sides of Mitt Romney that makes him think the truth doesn't matter. First, Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post does a great job getting to the nub of Romney's problem:
But the larger question: Why did Mitt and his minions behave this way, that is, putting a blowtorch to a campfire?
The first reason is Bain, and the culture that surrounds it. Bain Capital, which Mitt Romney founded, was not and is not now in the business of telling people what it is up to. The press is a pox, at best, in a business that requires stealth attacks on undervalued assets.
There it is, the motherlode of Mitt's character flaw: the truth is not his friend, not professionally, not politically. Either his antipathy toward the truth came from this professional realization or his proclivity for this particular profession derives from the fact that Mitt Romney was a priori well-suited to just such a profession. By now, it makes little difference. Mitt Romney lies because he is supposed to. That's what private-equity practitioners do and what politicians do. Read the entire Fineman piece.

Nothing more clearly demonstrates this character flaw in action than watching Romney in action. A good exercise is putting two events in juxtaposition and noticing that Romney says one thing when he thinks it's got to be the "truth" and another thing when it's got to be the "truth." For an example, let's look at two stories, both from Talking Points Memo, which dug up the dirt on this. First, one that has Romney insisting he left Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics:
A central element of the 2012 campaign cycle has become just when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital. The Romney campaign says he left in early 1999 — in time to get him off the hook for some controversial investments. backs up Mitt while David Corn and the Obama campaign have brought forward numerous pieces of documentary evidence indicating he didn’t leave until a couple years later.
Now here’s even more evidence that he didn’t leave in 1999 as he now claims.
The gist of the disagreement comes down to this: There’s no question that numerous public filings and some contemporaneous press references say Romney was still running things at Bain after 1999. But his campaign insists that whatever securities filings may have said, in practice, he was so busy running the 2002 Winter Olympics that he actually had no role at Bain after early 1999. That’s possible in theory. But there’s no evidence for it besides self-interested claims by Romney. And there’s plenty of documentary evidence to the contrary. After all, what you tell the SEC is really supposed to be true.
 Next is a story about Romney's testimony that he was involved in Bain and its businesses through 2002 in order to prove residency in Massachusetts so he could legally run for governor:
Mitt Romney testified to Massachusetts officials in 2002 that he maintained business ties during his Olympics work, undermining his argument that he had no connection to Bain Capital or related companies after 1999. Notably, his campaign has refused to deny whether he ever held meetings with Bain during his time in Salt Lake City.
Romney, who at the time was trying to convince the state Ballot Law Commission that he should be allowed to run for office in Massachusetts despite living in Utah the previous three years, did not directly address his work with Bain Capital. But, in testimony obtained by the Huffington Post, Romney said that he returned home for “a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth.”
Romney noted that he remained an active member of the board at Staples, where Bain was an early investor and a company Romney frequently cites on the trail, and LifeLike, a toy company where Bain was heavily invested at the time.
 There it is, Romney trying to have it both ways. Why? Because he's professionally, politically, and, conceivably, personally inclined to do so. He believes that things are the way he wants them to be, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and he will not change his story, except to say this is the way it is now. Some people might say that is the definition of a pathological liar. I'd have a hard time disputing that, except to say that this kind of human so populates our financial and political culture that it has become, unbelievably, accepted practice. A good demonstration of this pops up at Barry Ritholtz's The Big Picture in a post by Invictus attacking an article in the LA Times that claims the majority of jobs are created by "big business." This chart says it all:

Invictus goes on to say:
All that said, is it really appropriate to write that “big business remains the primary driver of economic growth and job creation” when the facts (remember them?) tell us otherwise?
This whole “leave the billionaire job creators alone or they won’t hire anyone” meme has gotten very old, very fast. I guess in large part because it’s untrue. And also because they’ve been left alone and they’re still laying people off. Comments like those seen here, here and here are laughable. Sad, but laughable.
...Anyway, it’s a sad state of affairs when virtually every piece of information put out for public consumption needs to be fact-checked. I don’t know when, exactly, this trend started, but I sure hope it gets reversed soon.
 I don't know when it gets reversed. Mitt Romney hopes never. I started out talking about Mitt the Obscure. I unfortunately believe that Mitt the Disturbed is more like it.

The world where Mitt Romney succeeds is not the world I want to live in. I guess we'll see in four months.

I can't believe they connected the dots, I sure couldn't.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Never Thought Bush Could Win. I Feel the Same about Romney. Uh-Oh.

I watched in horror as George W. Bush hung in there as the election neared in 2000. I couldn't imagine how the U.S. electorate would consider turning the nation's well-being over to an obvious incompetent. Then the miracle of miracles happened: Al Gore defeated George W. Bush and all was right with the world.

Then something else happened. Florida, the Supreme Court, the unbelievable ruling. Something resembling the end of the world.

Maybe not, but it takes a real imbecile to count W.'s tenure as anything but a string of disasters tied together by a series of illegalities and broken treaties.

So, naturally, when I think about Mitt Romney actually winning the presidency, I'm forced to admit, why not?

What passes for logic out there these days.

If I have any reason for hope it's that Mitt Romney is starting to bore Republicans. Republicans! They don't like listening to him. Check this Pew Center poll:

Okay, it's possible that voters are finding Barack Obama boring, but I never do. And the fact that Democrats are more interested now is an indication that this is all about Romney. With the independents bored, it stands to reason they have no reason to go out and vote for Romney. These numbers can't be good for the Republican side.

And now that a Vanity Fair article is coming out showing how much money Mitt Romney may have off-shored, we can be sure that Bain, out-sourcer-in-chief, Swiss bank accounts, Bermuda corporations, Cayman this and Cayman that, and a host of other items will be pounded into voters' heads along with a constant drumbeat of "Show us your tax returns!" Can the Mittster stay on message with all of that?!?

I hope not.

Then again, he needs his surrogates to keep reminding people, "Oh, Mitt Romney does have policy ideas. It's just not wise to reveal them at this stage of the campaign, if ever. But don't worry, once you elect him president, he'll keep all his promises." Oh, okay, then.

And then there's this, the theory of Mitt's Boson.

When I think of Bush's bullshit, there's so much to choose from, but this one stood out as a tipping point (C-Span, so no embedding possible). In fact, after this speech on Jackson's Square, everyone (except the deadenders) thought Bush was full of shit. His popularity slipped to about 28% and never recovered, even now. Why? Because it was all bullshit. He never did any of it, or if he did, it was so shoddy no one noticed. Bush over and out.

I want Mitt Romney to have his Waterloo before he's elected.

So do a lot of Democrats.

Even Republicans don't like him.

But, too horrible to imagine, that doesn't mean he can't win in November. What does that say about America? I shudder to think.

Update. More conservatives worry that Romney can't win as the candidate without any actual policies.

If you knew my actual views on policy, I'd have to kill you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Don't Teach Your Children How to Think

This bit has been spreading around the Internet in past few days, and it's a stunner:
The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform, adopted June 9 at the state convention in Forth Worth, seems to take a stand against, well, the teaching of critical thinking skills. Read it for yourself:
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.
As a top commenter on a Reddit thread wrote about the language, "I was absolutely sure this had to be an elaborate fake ... ." It's not.
According to various reports, the Texas Republican Party also recommends abstinence-only sex education, corporal punishment in schools, and opposition to mandatory preschool or kindergarten, saying that parents are the best providers of early childhood education.

Talking Points Memo contacted the Texas Republican Party and were told that the language included in the platform "was not the intent of the subcommittee," but that they cannot correct it until 2014. Looks like the Texas Republicans could use a little critical-thinking training themselves.

A recent Texas Republican role model.