What I’m Reading, January 23, 2015

Why Mitt Romney’s tax returns are the most important historical document of the 21st century, LOLGOP, EclectaBlog, January 18, 2015

has given us all a tremendous gift by not giving us something — his complete tax returns. The fact that he’s only the second presidential candidate in the last three decades to not release them — the first was fellow Republican multimillionaire John McCain — makes them all more valuable as symbol.

Now when President Obama proposes ending an array of tax breaks for high earners and their heirs, it isn’t a vague proposition. We see Mitt Romney who amassed a great fortune, often by chewing up companies and spitting them out, paying lower tax rates for collecting checks than some pay for collecting bedpans.

It will also be great context when his old running mate Paul Ryan continues to propose cutting Mitt’s taxes during the next Congress.

Who Regrets Slavery? Not Steve Scalise, BooMan, Booman Tribune, January 15, 2015 Continue reading


The Bluest County in Texas

Austin often seems like a blue island in a sea of red. Yesterday, Travis County (which includes Austin) went for President Obama by 60%, according to Fox News. Yes, I’m relying on Fox News’ election returns. Let it never be said that I don’t occasionally slum it online. Of course, the state overall went 57% for Romney. It got me wondering, though, since we vote precinct-by-precinct, county-by-county, and then the winner takes all at the state level, what is the actual Bluest County in Texas?

Starr County, Texas.

Screen Shot 2012-11-07 at 11.59.33 AM

Screen capture from foxnews.com

The area has likely been inhabited for 11,000 years. Europeans first arrived there in 1638, when Jacinto García de Sepulveda went looking for Dutch sailors rumored to be on the Gulf coast. That really has nothing to do with yesterday’s election, though.

Starr County went 86% for Barack Obama. Romney drew a paltry 13%. Fox News does not provide a breakdown for other parties, literally lumping them in the “Other” category.

According to the 2011 Census Bureau estimate, 61,715 people live in Starr County. Of those, 95.6% are “of Hispanic or Latino Origin.” A language other than English is spoken in the homes of 96.0% of the county’s residents. The county borders the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The county seat, Rio Grande City, has a population of roughly 13,834 people, and is the birthplace of Lieutenant General (ret.) Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded the coalition ground forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004.

The county also seems to have a corruption problem. A former sheriff pleaded guilty to federal drug conspiracy charges in May 2009 and received a 64-month prison sentence. A deputy sheriff was charged with federal bribery, extortion, and drug charges in July 2012.

That’s all I’ve got. I just thought it was interesting.

Photo credit: Screen capture from foxnews.com.


My Live-Facebooking of the Presidential Debate, October 3, 2012

For the heck of it, I went back and copied my stream-of-consciousness rants from Wednesday night’s debacle. I mean debate. The now-mythical evening will probably puzzle political scientists for a few minutes, but it at least gave us some memes. (Edited for typos and whatnot):

7:59 p.m. I’m live tweeting this bee-yotch! (I give my ADD 10 minutes before I start seriously thinking about boobs) #debate

8:02 p.m. The last time we had a Presidential #debate, I didn’t even have a Twitter account. How did I share my thoughts? How did we do anything???

8:04 p.m. I’m sure Jim Lehrer is a great #debate moderator, but you know who we need? Mills Lane, that’s who.

8:06 p.m. Obama may have the best excuse in history for skipping out on an anniversary dinner. #debate

8:07 p.m. Since the candidates always answer the first question with a “glad to be here” soliloquy, shouldn’t the first question just be “‘Sup?”

8:08 p.m. Is someone writing down Romney’s 5 points? Because I’m sure he’ll change them tomorrow.

8:12 p.m. Just for the record, Lehrer asked Romney if he had a question for Obama, and he’s making a speech. #debate

8:13 p.m. Okay, seriously, Jim, cut Romney off if he won’t ask a question!!! #debate

8:17 p.m. It’s hard to make accurate statements about Romney’s tax plan when he stays so coy about it. #debate

8:19 p.m. “Now he’s saying that his big bold idea is ‘never mind.'” #debate

8:22 p.m. Romney keeps referencing conversations he’s had with ordinary people. We’ve seen how that tends to go for him, though… #debate

8:23 p.m. Did Romney really just say his first priority is jobs? #debate

8:27 p.m. “Going forward with the status quo won’t work” says Romney. You mean like Republicans blocking everything Obama tries to do? #debate Continue reading


Generalissimo Romney


Via Huffington Post

The latest gaffe (metedura de pata en español) from the Romney camp involves a question of skin tone. I honestly cannot believe I am writing this.

Mitt Romney appeared to be a touch more tanned during an TV interview for Spanish-language channel Univision on Wednesday, prompting suggestions the Republican leader had piled on the make up to make himself more appealing to Latino voters.

I desperately want to call bullshit on this, so that I may continue to cling to a modicum of sanity in this world.

I’m not the only one. Adam Mordechai at Upworthy posits a few hypotheses, and I fully expect to see some good SNL skits about this soon. I just have two comments to direct to the floundering presidential candidates.

1. Don’t refer to anyone as an “illegal alien.” I would say don’t do that on Univision (seriously, what is wrong with you?) in particular, but just don’t say it anywhere.

2. You’ve got a meme here, Señor. I say own it. If you have the ability to transition between former Massachusetts Governor Romney and Generalissimo Romney, you need to own that shit. You might not be the first Generalissimo, but you could be the greatest.


For the next two months, you are picking a side, whether you like it or not

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
Rush (the band, not the asshole)

265713_4012This is where the rubber meets the road, people. Like it or not, this country has a two-party system. You may not like Obama or Romney, but come November, one of these two is going be elected president.

If you are going to sit the election out because you just don’t care, you are of no use to anyone. If you are going to sit the election out as some sort of protest against the two-party system, no one can tell the difference between you and the person who can’t be bothered to vote. Protest is only effective if someone other than you knows you are protesting. If you live in a predominately red state but support the Democrat, or if you live in a blue state and support the Republican, shut up and vote anyway.

If you feel like you don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed decision,  and yet you are reading this sentence, get someone to teach you how to use Google and educate yourself.

If you seriously think a third party is the answer, I will make an exception for you. Please crawl back into whatever cave you live in and wait until November 7. Then, come back out, learn to type without using caps lock, and try the third party again when you might actually be able to make a difference. Also, where the hell were you in, say, December 2008 or some other time when there wasn’t an election staring us in the face? (Oh yeah, you were on message boards telling the sheeple to WAKE UP and OPEN YOUR EYES. How’s that rhetorical technique working for you?)

From now until November 6, you are on one side or the other. Deal with it. If you are going to criticize one candidate, you had better have some plausible explanation for why the other guy would be better. If you are unhappy with something Obama has done, explain what Mitt Romney will do better. If you can come up with a broad, coherent vision of how a Romney presidency would benefit most Americans, demand that the RNC hire you.

If you just want to rip on one candidate or the other, go away, because you’re not helping anything but your own sense of self-importance.

Photo credit: ‘Confusion’ by mvanrens on stock.xchng.


The Lesbian Cyborg Atheist Who Ran for President

This election cycle seems to be an ever-widening circle of lies sliding along a downward spiral of deception into a morass of strained metaphors. So far, I’ve counted one possible untruth out of Harry Reid, and for Mitt Romney I stopped counting. BooMan captures the essence of why we should not feel bad for any hurt fee-fees Willard might be experiencing:

Mitt Romney isn’t really a Mormon. He’s an atheist who only went along with his father’s faith so he could duck the Vietnam draft. He didn’t actually try to convert anyone when he was in France either. In reality, he spent all his time in Monte Carlo gambling and buying high-end hookers. When his daddy found out what he was doing, he made him come home and marry his high school sweetheart. Actually, he only made him marry her after the second time she got pregnant. The first time, they got an abortion. Then Romney started using some of the mafia connections he had made in Marseilles to import heroin. By the time he became governor, they were flying it straight into a secret airport they set up in the Berkshires. When one of the pilots started to talk, Romney had him killed.

Now, if we started telling these stories to people, and a substantial percentage of the population started to actually believe these stories, and if congressmen humored and even encouraged the people who believed these stories, and if media figures talked about these stories, and if Congress actually had hearings about some of these stories, then Mitt Romney would know what it’s like to be treated like a Democrat.

(h/t DougJ at Balloon Juice)


This Week in WTF, August 3, 2012

Russia_stamp_no._1030_-_2012_Summer_Olympics_bid– Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron disses presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

So does London Mayor Boris Johnson.

– Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) likens the Obamacare contraception mandate to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. No really, this happened.

– A former Chick-fil-A employee is suing the company because of reasons:

Former Chick-fil-A employee Brenda Honeycutt is suing the company for gender discrimination, alleging that owner and operator of Duluth, Georgia’s Chick-fil-As, Jeff Howard, fired her so that she could be a “stay home mother” despite her “satisfactory-to-above-satisfactory employment history with the company.

“During the Plaintiff’s employment, Defendant Howard routinely made comments to the Plaintiff suggesting that as a mother she should stay home with her children,” the lawsuit states.

– A church in Mississippi, one of the states composing our allegedly post-racial nation, refused to marry a couple because they are black:

A black couple in Crystal Springs, Mississippi says that a predominantly white Baptist church refused to let them get married because of their race.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson told WLBT that the day before they were to be married, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs informed them the ceremony would have to be moved due to the reaction of some white church members — even though the couple had attended the church regularly.

“The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if [the pastor] went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” Charles Wilson explained.

We have to respect the delicate feelings of “some white church members,” amirite? I can’t wait to hear if there’s a non-discriminatory explanation.

– A small airplane towing a banner with a marriage proposal crashed in Rhode Island, after the pilot had to ditch. The pilot was found uninjured, after his apparently genius 8 year-old son helped the Coast Guard locate him. No word on whether the intended recipient of the proposal said yes.

– A puppeteer on a Christian-themed children’s show in Florida is arrested for conspiracy to kidnap children and, uh, other stuff. It sounds like police have evidence of some pretty heinous stuff, but it is not clear exactly what he actually did regarding the kidnapping conspiracy charge, versus what he just talked about doing. Technically, “extensive Internet chats about eating children” are not illegal in and of themselves without taking a furher step……you know, I don’t really want to talk about this.

– Some Breitbartian named John Nolte thinks that a new Skittles ad promotes bestiality or something. In other words don’t chase your Chick-fil-A sandwich with Skittles. Or Oreos. I’ll have to get back to you on which candies and cookies have the Almighty’s stamp of approval.

Photo credit: ‘Russia stamp no. 1030 – 2012 Summer Olympics bid’ by Russian Post/Beltyukov V., painter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


The saddest meme in Republican history

The other day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that an unnamed Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney won’t release any more tax returns because that would demonstrate that he did not pay taxes for ten years. We don’t know who actually said that, so it is possible that Senator Reid is making it up. Politicians certainly lie through their teeth all the time–well, Mitt Romney does. I’m sure others do as well.

In response to this, people on the right could have just pointed out that Reid has not provided any evidence for his assertion besides his say-so, which would have gotten the point across that he made an unsupported (albeit plausible) accusation. But that would have been sensible, and this is the American right wing we’re talking about here.

First, they point out that Harry Reid will not release his own tax returns, which is irrelevant because Harry Reid is not running for president.

Not content to leave it at that, someone creates a Twitter hashtag suggesting (facetiously, one hopes) that Harry Reid is a pederast. I assume the intention was to demonstrate the impact of unfounded accusations, not to look like a group of schoolchildren who just learned a big word. The meme yielded gems such as this:



It’s always just hilarious when a person using “pederasty” as a cheap device for a lame attempt at satire uses words like “disgusting” to describe the other person. It is difficult to fully explain how an allegation made as part of an ongoing controversy over an unprecedentedly tight-lipped presidential candidate’s financial history is different from completely made-up accusations of pederasty by a bunch of Tweeters. Honestly, before yesterday it never would have occurred to me that such a distinction would be necessary. If you haven’t already figured out the distinction, there is no hope for your intellectual development beyond its current state, or you are currently under the age of six.


Why America is Doomed

A commenter on BuzzFeed yesterday suggested that Mitt Romney shouldn’t release his tax returns until Barack Obama releases his school records.

The person who thinks that way deserves someone like Mitt Romney as president. The problem is, it’s not worth hurting the other 299,999,999 people in this country just to teach that asshole a lesson.

UPDATE: It’s actually worse than that: Trump to Romney: Demand Obama’s college records:

Billionaire businessman and Mitt Romney supporter Donald Trump said Monday morning that the GOP nominee should release more of his tax returns — as soon as President Obama releases his college records.

“Obama should give his college applications and records — you talk about transparency,” Mr. Trump said on “Fox and Friends.” “We will learn more about Obama when we look at those college applications than any other thing that can happen.”


Nevertheless, Mr. Trump said Republicans should keep pushing on the issue.

“If I were Mitt Romney or advising Mitt Romney, I would say, ‘I will put out all of my records, I’ll go back as far as you want, after you put out your records on college,'” he said.

“I’ll tell you what — the Republicans have to get a lot tougher,” he continued. “They have to get down and dirty also, because that’s what’s happening to them.”

The Obama campaign’s response could be politely summarized as “bite me,” which seems appropriate.


If this isn’t the greatest meme of the 2012 election season…

There’s been a bit of a blowup over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Willard Mitt Romney’s refusal to disclose more than the last two years of tax returns which, he points out, is more than is required by law. Because what we really want in a president is somehow who does just above the bare minimum. Anyway, it led to this meme, which I admit made me LOL quite a bit:


Charles Pierce hit on a very important point in Esquire, which may explain the whole debacle:

There is nothing in those tax returns that is in any way illegal. Certainly, there is within them probably a fairly clear illustration about how our tax code — and, indeed, our entire economic system — has been gamed to benefit the folks in Romney’s economic stratum, but that’s hardly a secret anymore. As Paul Krugman said in this morning’s New York Times, that’s what this whole election is going to be about, whether the two candidates like it or not. And I don’t think Romney’s trying to keep secret how much money he’s kicked back to his church, either. Anybody who’s bothered by that is bothered on theological and cultural grounds. All recent evidence to the contrary, Romney’s people, and Romney himself, are not stupid. They know all this as well as anyone else does. He is not fighting the release of these returns to keep us from finding out the dark secrets about how stupid-wealthy he and his family are. He is fighting the release of these returns because he doesn’t think he should have to release them.

It is helpful always to remind yourself that, in the mind of Willard Romney, there are only two kinds of people — himself and his family, and The Help. Throughout his career, and especially throughout his brief political career, Romney has treated The Help with a kind of lordly disdain. It was there when he swooped down from snowy Olympus and shoved an incumbent Republican governor named Jane Swift under a train. It was there in the general election in 2002, when he glibly pushed aside the Democratic candidate, state treasurer Shannon O’Brien, who raised almost all the same issues against Romney that the president and his people are belaboring him with today. The only time it didn’t work was in his race against Senator Edward Kennedy, when Romney found himself up against a candidate with so much money that he couldn’t outspend him, and so much historical gravitas that he couldn’t ignore him.

The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he’s running for office.
This isn’t stubbornness. That’s often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.

Because I’m lazy, and because there isn’t much I can add on the silliness of this whole issue, here are some blogs I would have linked to had I written out a full post on this: