Tuesday Evening Open Thread

In honor of Romney’s docu-dump (550 pages, more than a ream of paper) of just two years’ worth of tax returns, I give you Doghouse Riley:

… There’s no sacred text of Alexander Hamilton which consecrates what was done at Bain. There’s no shrine to unfettered rapine honored in every American household. What Bain did–what Willard Mitt Romney and his two hard-scrabbled Hahvahd degrees did–was take every advantage of a gamed system, a gamed system we can call, not for want of a better term but because there is no better term, the Reagan Revolution.
Faced with a troubled, stagnant economy which was in trouble, and had stagnated, largely because its multinational colossi did not want to be bothered adapting to a changing world–one in which energy wasn’t plentiful and cheap, one in which the United States did not stand as the only global player, one in which consumers had begun to take their rightful place in the endless merry-go-round of merchantilism–in other words, the world of the 21st century, the one we’re failing to adapt to today–unless their built-in advantages were preserved. So the Reagan administration, and the Western-Southern alliance in the Congress, defanged and dismantled the legislative safeguards which had for two generations somewhat leveled the playing field, and protected the vulnerable public from the worst of Boom and Bust. Which allowed the “visionaries” and “tenacious achievers” to bleed the system, to convert assets into cash. Meanwhile destroying the assets.
Fooled plenty of people. Made Reagan look like an Economic Miracle Worker, provided you didn’t look too closely or ask why he simultaneously had the worst jobs creation record of any post-war President. Until his successor inherited the snake oil inventory.
That’s what Romney did; his tireless efforts were designed to prove that any idiot with money can make more money, provided making more money is the only thing he cares about.

Apart from the State of the Union address — or, as the Media Village courtiers are pleased to call it, “President Obama’s inaugural campaign speech of 2012” — what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Bless their dedicated souls, the Guardian is liveblogging the State of the Union!

Jeb Bush Is Grifter-Curious

Sweet suffering national polity, I honestly thought “the smart brother” would have the sense of self-preservation (decency not being part of the Bush geneset) to lie low until more of us had the chance to forget the horrors of the Dubya Regency. But it looks like we are never going to be rid of these people:

Jeb Bush, the popular former Florida governor, said he will “stay neutral” in the state’s Republican presidential primary while warning his party’s candidates to leave the “circular firing squad” of their debates behind and start appealing to a broader audience.
Bush’s remarks, in an exclusive interview, establish a challenge for his party’s candidates as the contest advances to Florida, where the Jan. 31 primary will take the race into its biggest and most diverse arena yet. The winner will be awarded all of the state’s 50 presidential convention delegates…
The younger Bush described both Romney and Gingrich as “credible” candidates in a November contest with President Barack Obama. “I intend to help whoever wins the nomination,” the former governor said in the interview yesterday… At the same time, Bush said his party’s candidates should adjust the “tone” of their debate on issues such as illegal immigration to start appealing to independent-minded voters in “swing states” such as Florida with a history of voting for either major party. These voters are likely to decide the outcome of the 2012 presidential election…
The year before the 2008 Florida primary, Bush introduced Romney to advisers and friends as a worthy candidate but stopped short of endorsing anyone. In this year’s primary “I’m going to stay neutral,” he said. “I have a lot of friends supporting all the varying candidates, but more importantly I think the voters ought to make the determination.” …


… The debate within the Republican primary over Romney’s success at Bain Capital LLC has made Bush “kind of dizzy,” he said. Romney should disclose his tax returns, as Gingrich has, and should be “talking about his successes” as he campaigns in Florida, according to the state’s former governor.
“He is clearly uncomfortable talking about his own success, which is natural,” Bush said of Romney, a multi- millionaire. “At the same time, I don’t think he has anything to be ashamed of. What a wonderful success story. It should stand as an example of American exceptionalism.”

Not included in the article: Whether Jeb immediately added ‘Bless his heart’ in the best Southern tradition.

Newt/Jeb 2012 — the Doughy White Boys dream ticket!

GOP Debate Open Thread

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

This one’s sponsored by CNN, out of Charleston. Richard Adam’s Guardian liveblog here.

Stolen from earlier thread, Because of Wow:

The Other Chuck – January 19, 2012 | 7:06 pm
Newt asked Callista for an open marriage so he could FUCK ALL 300 MILLION OF US.

From the Guardian:

8.33pm: Our correspondent Ewen MacAskill is at the debate venue here in Charleston and gives his thoughts on Newt Gingrich’s beat-up of CNN’s super-dumb questioning about his second wife:

It was a good tactic for Gingrich to shift the onus onto the media, criticising John King for starting the presidential debate with it. Media-bashing proved popular with this Republican audience and probably goes down well nationwide. It has worked for Gingrich in earlier debates.
But maybe he made too much of it, going on just a bit too long. Many millions watching would have been unaware of the Marianne Gingrich interview: the former House speaker has just provide great advertising for the ABC interview. He has just ensured many of them will be tuning in to hear it…

Let’s hope ABC takes full advantage. Juicy details of all three marriages?

9:06pm: Asked when the candidates should release their tax returns, Newt Gingrich quips “an hour ago” (he has just released his). Ron Paul says he hasn’t because he earns so little he’s embarrassed. And somehow Mitt Romney blames Obama for insisting on it – which is weird.
“I want to make sure I beat President Obama and everytime we release things we get drip, drip drip … my taxes are carefully managed,” says Romney.

Next ad from President Obama’s re-election campaign: Do you think a guy who can’t take responsibility for ‘carefully managing’ his own taxes is capable of leading America in this big, messy world?

9:53pm: We are in the final strait of this debate, and the candidates are being offered a final statement, although in a stupid way, the choice being offered is: should South Carolina vote for Mitt Romney or not?
Who is writing your questions, CNN? An drunken intern, it would seem. Possibly a not very bright drunken intern.

We’ll Just Call It A Tie

In an example of just how terribly corrupt Republican party officials are, the official, certified results of the Iowa caucus are finally in and Rick Santorum actually won by 23 votes.  The Iowa GOP has decided to call it a tie instead.  Josh Marshall:

The rationale for calling this a tie, according to the Des Moines Register, which has the story as an exclusive, is that 8 precincts’ numbers are lost permanently and will never be certified. So in practice it’s a tie, too close to call, etc. That of course probably applies to pretty much all recount type elections — Bush v Gore, maybe Franken v. Coleman, etc. The vagueries of the process itself is too imprecise in some sense to tell you who ‘won’ in some Platonic (the other sense of the word) sense. But in normal elections where the people holding it aren’t deeply invested in not letting one guy win we have a name for that kind of situation — Rick Santorum won.

Of course, it’s unlikely to do Santorum much good at this point. And he probably just was never a good enough, or viable enough, candidate to have truly shifted his fortunes even if it had come out on caucus night. But it’s worth speculating how the news would have affected Romney’s momentum. A win is a win, as the state GOP of Iowa seems to have a hard time now accepting. And even though it was razor close, Romney came out of Iowa with a win. And after a rout in New Hampshire he had two ‘wins’. And together those shifted where the race was pretty decisively by mid-January, finally forcing a lot of Republicans with Mitt-commitment issues to get on board.

In other words, the call in Iowa then made Mitt all but inevitable now.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Republicans react to this on the road.  If Mitt wins Saturday, it’s over.  But would he have done worse if Santorum had been rightfully declared the winner in Iowa?  The Iowa GOP is saying that several precincts lost their votes so there’s no way to know if Santorum’s 23 vote lead is really true:

Results from eight precincts are missing — any of which could hold an advantage for Mitt Romney — and will never be recovered and certified, Republican Party of Iowa officials told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday.

We’ll never know.  Republicans aren’t terribly interested in facts, just results.  Remember that the next time they play the ACORN/UNION THUGS/BLACK PANTHERS!!!!11!!one! card and say Democrats are cheaters.

[UPDATE]  To clarify, 1) I’m all for a GOP primary process that is as long and painful for the GOP as possible (for them, but admittedly that sucks for all the rest of us too) and 2) Can you imagine the howling if this happened at a Democratic party caucus?

Open Thread: Willard the Well-Practiced Liar

(Mike Thompson via GoComics.com)
In the Washington Post, DFH William D. Cohan (“He has worked at Lazard Freres, Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Chase.”) says that when Romney ran Bain Capital, his word was not his bond. It’s well worth a read, especially for those touting Romney’s “business acumen” as his biggest asset as a candidate.
In a post titled “The most glaring lie of the night“, Washington Monthly‘s Steve Benen points out that Romney still can’t be trusted:

It’s hard not to marvel at just how dishonest Mitt Romney is prepared to be in order to win. The notion of politicians misleading the public to advance their ambitions isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, but Romney acts as if he doesn’t even care about getting caught, leading to blatant and obvious falsehoods.
This one, from last night’s debate, was just shameless.

“We’ve got a president in office three years, and he does not have a jobs plan yet. I’ve got one out there already and I’m not even president, yet.”

Look, I realize Romney’s busy, and keeping up on current events may be difficult, but Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress just four months ago, and at the time, presented a jobs plan. The whole thing has been online ever since. It’s been scrutinized, analyzed, and subjected to CBO scoring. It’s been debated; it’s been the subject of advertising; and it’s been voted on in the Senate….
In all likelihood, of course, Romney knows full well that the president has presented a detailed and credible jobs plan, but prefers to say otherwise because he (a) assumes voters are easily fooled; and (b) expects the media to give him a pass. He may well be right.
But that doesn’t make Romney’s dishonesty any less brazen.
Postscript: Incidentally, the former governor with an abysmal jobs record added, as part of his comment, that he’s “got [a jobs plan] out there already.” He really doesn’t. Romney has a plan for cutting taxes on the wealthy and giving Wall Street free rein to do as it pleases, but this does not a jobs plan make.

And this, our Media Village overlords assure us, is the best of the available Republican candidates…

Open Thread: SOPA / PIPA

According to The Hill, “Controversial online piracy bill shelved until ‘consensus’ is found“:

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) unless there is consensus on the bill.
“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said in a statement. “Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”…
SOPA is designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of music, movies and TV shows with impunity. Even without the provision allowing sites to be blocked, the bill would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites…

Well, not even WordPress wants to break the internet. But is it just a side effect of being old and cynical that when two of the foremost Mustelidae representatives in today’s Congress say that they’ve got this, I hear the echo of that cherished Republican mantra, Trust, but verify?

Open Thread: Willard, Meet Professor Krugman

(D.B. Echo at Another Monkey)

Heh, indeed:

… So what the story of Romney and the auto bailout actually shows is something we already knew from health care: he’s a smart guy who is also a moral coward. His original proposal for the auto industry, like his health reform, bore considerable resemblance to what Obama actually did. But when the deed took place, Romney — rather than having the courage to say that the president was actually doing something reasonable — joined the rest of his party in whining and denouncing the plan.

Furthermore, Mr. Romney, “America Isn’t A Corporation“:

… Now, to be fair, being a career politician isn’t necessarily a better preparation for managing economic policy than being a businessman. But Mr. Romney is the one claiming that his career makes him especially suited for the presidency. Did I mention that the last businessman to live in the White House was a guy named Herbert Hoover? (Unless you count former President George W. Bush.)
And there’s also the question of whether Mr. Romney understands the difference between running a business and managing an economy.
Like many observers, I was somewhat startled by his latest defense of his record at Bain — namely, that he did the same thing the Obama administration did when it bailed out the auto industry, laying off workers in the process. One might think that Mr. Romney would rather not talk about a highly successful policy that just about everyone in the Republican Party, including him, denounced at the time.
But what really struck me was how Mr. Romney characterized President Obama’s actions: “He did it to try to save the business.” No, he didn’t; he did it to save the industry, and thereby to save jobs that would otherwise have been lost, deepening America’s slump. Does Mr. Romney understand the distinction?