Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | Women’s Week


Stay with 3 Chics for live-blogging tonight for the POTUS State of the Union Address.

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90 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread | Women’s Week

  1. American hostage in Somalia rescued by US Navy SEALs in overnight raid

    WASHINGTON — In a daring nighttime raid Tuesday, U.S. Navy SEALs rescued two hostages, including one American, who were being held by kidnappers in Somalia, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

    American Jessica Buchanan, 32, and a 60-year-old Dane, Poul Thisted, were working for a Danish relief organization in northern Somalia when they were kidnapped last October. U.S. officials described their kidnappers as heavily armed common criminals with no known ties to any organized militant group.

    According to the U.S. officials, two teams of Navy SEALs landed by helicopter near the compound where the two hostages were being held. As the SEALS approached the compound on foot gunfire broke out, the U.S. officials said, and several of the militants were reportedly killed. There is no word that any of the Americans were wounded.

    The SEALs gathered up Buchanan and Thisted, loaded them onto the helicopters and flew them to safety at an undisclosed location. The two hostages were not injured during the rescue operation and are reported to be in relatively good condition.

  2. Ametia says:

    [wpvideo cnbfUdO0]

  3. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012
    Good timing is everything, and sometimes impossible

    E.J. Dionne:

    [Romney] attacked and attacked and attacked again … Romney set the agenda … What surprised me was that Gingrich never even sought to find a way to turn things back on Romney, to force Romney to answer questions about his own record — at Bain Capital, as governor or on anything else.

    Dionne speculates — correctly, I think — on causation: Gingrich’s (over)confidence. But I also think Dionne overestimates the intensity and effectiveness of Romney’s attacks. To me they fell rather flat, and as I speculated at the time, this was probably because they represented new material to Romney. And Romney doesn’t do the aggressively “new” very well.

    Plus, I thought Gingrich’s precalculated nonresponse response was likely at least passably compelling to his target audience: Look, we all knew what Romney would say tonight — all of which he only now finds attack-worthy. Ergo, his motives are corrupt. Gingrich perhaps should have been more explicit in this tactic, nevertheless a tried and true debate tactic it is.

    Furthermore, Gingrich knows that Romney has been pinned behind a kind of natural eight ball all along, which has forced the characterizing issue of his somewhat feckless counterattacks. To explain, an analogy. A friend of mine a few years back was asked by a U.S. Senate candidate’s campaign to join it as a consultant. He agreed, and upon his arrival at campaign headquarters he was promptly informed that the candidate, who was leading comfortably in the polls, would be going negative at the staff’s recommendation. As the staff saw things, their opponent would soon pull out all the negative stops, and they’d simply beat him to the punch. My friend freaked. No! he protested. You’re going to blow it! You go negative now, while you’re ahead, and it will reveal a weak sensitivity and turn the negatives back on you. Matters became rather heated, the staff persisted, and my friend resigned in disgust. The early-negative candidate? Well, that candidate hasn’t been heard from since.

    The irreproachable moral to that story is that Romney’s belated attackiness isn’t entirely a failing. He’s only been doing what my friend’s candidate should have done. Naturally, this puts him in an untimely squeeze, but he had little choice. To sharpen his claws (and thus his game) any earlier against Gingrich could have been even more politically calamitous. The downside to Romney’s understandable prudence, though, is that his attacks are now merely predictable and not very polished.

  4. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012
    Has it come to this?

    The Wall Street Journal editorial is titled “The Gingrich Challenge,” thus named, I imagine, after rejecting the sincerer headline, “Never Let Them See Us Sweat.” The editorial’s sangfroid is admirable, if not laughable, leaving me to additionally imagine only the quantity of brandy snifters consumed in the course of its exquisitely painful composition.

    What has resulted from Newt Gingrich’s South Carolina victory? Mayhem? Chaos? Gentlemen GOPers leaping from Wall Street’s glass and steel, ten stories up? No, no. A “useful uproar,” that’s what. You know, just as the uproar amidst 1968 Chicago was useful. Hey, when one makes a most agreeable living by writing unapologetic horseshit for the privileged classes, the sturdier stuff of a stiff upper lip is on occasion required.

    And stiff indeed is the editorialist’s lip. I quote with supreme amusement:

    As for the GOP establishment, such as it still is, Mr. Gingrich’s re-emergence is likely to cause a panic attack. They don’t believe he is electable. [Merely because he most assuredly is not?] Our advice would be to relax and let the voters decide.

    Good grief, has it really come to that? Letting the vast, unwashed proletariat decide?

    “Watson, the needle.”

  5. rikyrah says:

    The GOP Deserves to Lose
    That’s what happens when you run with losers.

    Let’s just say right now what voters will be saying in November, once Barack Obama has been re-elected: Republicans deserve to lose.

    It doesn’t matter that Mr. Obama can’t get the economy out of second gear. It doesn’t matter that he cynically betrayed his core promise as a candidate to be a unifying president. It doesn’t matter that he keeps blaming Bush. It doesn’t matter that he thinks ATMs are weapons of employment destruction. It doesn’t matter that Tim Geithner remains secretary of Treasury. It doesn’t matter that the result of his “reset” with Russia is Moscow selling fighter jets to Damascus. It doesn’t matter that the Obama name is synonymous with the most unpopular law in memory. It doesn’t matter that his wife thinks America doesn’t deserve him. It doesn’t matter that the Evel Knievel theory of fiscal stimulus isn’t going to make it over the Snake River Canyon of debt.

    Above all, it doesn’t matter that Americans are generally eager to send Mr. Obama packing. All they need is to be reasonably sure that the alternative won’t be another fiasco. But they can’t be reasonably sure, so it’s going to be four more years of the disappointment you already know.


    . On the evidence of his campaign, Mr. Romney is a lousy CEO.

    But it’s worse than that. The usual rap on Mr. Romney is that he’s robotic, but the real reason he can’t gain traction with voters is that they suspect he’s concealing some unnameable private doubt. Al Gore and George Bush Sr. were like that, too, and not just because they were all to the proverbial manor born. It’s that they were basically hollow men.

    Thus the core difference between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama: For the governor, the convictions are the veneer. For the president, the pragmatism is. Voters always see through this. They usually prefer the man who stands for something.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s Layabout America

    by BooMan
    Tue Jan 24th, 2012 at 11:20:06 AM EST

    The Christian Science Monitor reports on Mitt Romney’s tax returns and it paints an interesting picture of what it’s like to be unemployed in contemporary America:

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid about $3 million in federal income taxes in 2010, having earned more than seven times that — $21.7 million — from his investments and making him among the wealthiest of American taxpayers.

    At the same time, Romney gave nearly $3 million to charity — about half of that amount to the Mormon Church — which helped lower his effective tax rate to a modest 14 percent, according to records his campaign released early Tuesday.

    For 2011, he’ll pay about $3.2 million with an effective tax rate of about 15.4 percent, the campaign said.

    I don’t think Romney has earned an actual paycheck since he left the governor’s corner office in Boston. He’s been a bum and a deadbeat since January 4, 2007. As for private sector work, other than some stuff he did for the Olympics (does that count?) he’s been a shiftless layabout since he left Bain Capital in 1999.

    And, yet, he somehow manages to pocket in excess of $20 million a year for doing absolutely nothing productive. He’s just a parasite on society who goes around the country badmouthing people with actual jobs, like the president.

    And the best part is that this freeloading loafer pays 15% on his “income” while hardworking people like Newt Gingrich pay 31%.

    So, what does this idling shirker have to teach us about job creation? In Romney’s America, do we all get to sit around doing nothing while checks roll in? Who will be left to fix our cars or replace the seawater pump impeller on our yachts?

    I kid, but really, not.

  7. Ametia says:

    The media has been hammering Romney on taxes nonstop ALL DAY!

  8. TheNewDeal:

    Republicans Have Controlled the House for 1 Year and 18 Days. They Have Created 0 Jobs & Voted to Kill Over 7 Million Jobs

  9. Newt Gingrich hasn’t changed in 20 years

    [wpvideo dSoxpyqp]

  10. Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate

    For Immediate Release

    Robert E. Bacharach, of Oklahoma, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit, vice Robert Harlan Henry, resigned.

    William J. Kayatta, Jr., of Maine, to be United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit, vice Kermit Lipez, retired.

    Michael A. Shipp, of New Jersey, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey, vice Mary Little Parell, retired.

  11. Think Progess:

    Georgia judge “orders” Obama to testify in birther case

    The judge can KMBA. It’s a disgrace what he is doing. He should be thrown off the fk bench for this. Ordering a sitting President to appear for some bullshit? GTFOOH!

  12. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012 11:15 AM

    By Steve Benen

    A couple of months ago, Romney campaign spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom was asked what a Romney administration would do with undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Fehrnstrom said Romney “doesn’t believe in granting them amnesty,” but when asked what Romney sees as an alternative, the campaign spokesperson would only say, “He would not grant them amnesty.”

    Team Romney was comfortable saying what they’re against, but not what they’re for. It wasn’t exactly illuminating.

    Last night, Adam Smith, the political editor at the Tampa Bay Times, asked the former governor a good question: “You say you don’t want to go and round up people and deport them, but you also say that they would have to go back to their home countries and then apply for citizenship. So, if you don’t deport them, how do you send them home?”

    Romney replied, “Well, the answer is self-deportation.”

    And what, exactly, does that mean? Adam Serwer explained that the point is to make life so miserable for these immigrants that they simply leave on their own.

    This is the right-wing’s answer to the question of how you deport eleven million unauthorized immigrants: You don’t. You force them to “deport themselves.” Although immigration reform advocates would prefer a solution that involves a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already here, Romney and his top immigration advisers believe they can remove millions of people through heavy-handed enforcement that makes life for unauthorized immigrants intolerable. This approach is notable for its complete lack of discretion and flexibility. Unauthorized immigrant parents with citizen children who need to go to school? Americans who are married to an undocumented immigrant who needs medical treatment? “Self-deportation” hits them all with the same mailed fist. […]

    [M]ake no mistake, when Romney is discussing “self-deportation,” he’s talking about creating a United States where parents are afraid to register their kids for school or get them immunized because they might be asked for proof of citizenship. He’s talking about the type of country where local police can demand your immigration status based on mere suspicion that you don’t belong around here. “Self-deportation” is just a cleaner, less cruel-sounding way of endorsing harsh, coercive government policies in order to make life for unauthorized immigrants so unbearable that they have no choice but to find some way to leave.

  13. Denis Leary:

    Romney is so tight-assed white he’s even tighter-assed-whiter than Richard Pryor’s tight-assed white guy impression.


  14. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012 1:05 PM

    Leave the Navy alone
    By Steve Benen

    The only thing that bothers me more than Mitt Romney’s falsehoods is when Romney repeats the falsehoods after they’ve been proven untrue.

    In last night’s debate, the former governor, who’s routinely struggled with the basics of military and national security policy, complained, “[W]e keep on shrinking our Navy. Our Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917.”

    Romney backer John Bolton raised the same concern in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “The Navy has only 285 ships today, the fewest since World War I, and it is straining to uphold its unique global responsibilities.”

    The problem isn’t with the data, per se, but with the metric. Romney and his campaign want to give the public the impression that the Obama administration is somehow scaling back the military, leaving us vulnerable. But as multiple fact-checks have made clear since the Republican campaign starting pushing this line, the claim is wildly misleading.

    [E]ven by that standard, Obama’s Navy has more ships than at any point in the last four years of the Bush administration. The Navy’s downsized fleet was a result of a decades-long reorganization rather than any Obama administration policy. More to the point, we’re getting a lot more bang for our buck — we’ve swapped dreadnoughts, monitors, and 50-gun frigates for air-craft carriers and nuclear submarines. Which would you want in a fight?

    And this once again leaves us with one of two options. Romney is either (1) confused about military policy, and didn’t do his homework before popping off on a subject he doesn’t understand; or (2) trying to deliberately fool voters, and counting on the media not to call him on it.

    It’s an either/or dynamic that comes up all the time with this guy.

  15. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012 2:05 PM

    Losing a 23-point lead in a week
    By Steve Benen

    As recently as Jan. 15 — nine days ago — Gallup’s daily tracking poll showed Mitt Romney leading Newt Gingrich by 23 points. In fact, a day earlier, Gallup showed Gingrich running third, a point behind Rick Santorum.

    And as of today, Gallup has Gingrich leading Romney by four, 31% to 27%. The pollster published this image this afternoon:

    This really is astounding. Romney’s national support has dropped 10 points in nine days — not because of any new scandal or humiliating gaffe, but because his support was fairly tepid and weak, and voters decided were easily swayed away.

    For the record, I still believe Romney is the frontrunner and likely nominee, in large part because of his financial and organizational edge. I also believe Romney has demonstrated an ability to destroy Gingrich once — remember when the former Speaker had a big lead in Iowa, right before Romney spent millions to tear him down — and will likely do so again.

    But when a frontrunner sees a 23-point lead evaporate this quickly, the ripples of panic in Republican circles are well justified.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Mitch Daniels screws middle class working people in his state, before he heads off to give his speech to the pundits
    by Kay


    Indiana took a big step toward becoming the 23rd state in the nation with the controversial “right to work” law on the books, as the Senate passed the measure late Monday.
    The House could vote on an identical version of the bill today—if, that is, enough House Democrats are present to let a vote take place.

    Democrats have repeatedly shut down the House this session, denying Republicans the quorum they need to do business, and they went behind closed doors again late Monday.When Republicans get to take votes on this bill, they have the numbers to win. They proved it in the House on Monday, as they rejected every amendment Democrats offered, including one proposal to let voters decide the issue in a referendum.

    Thousands of labor union members packed the House and Senate galleries and filled the hallways outside both chambers Monday. About 110 union members from a Munster laborers union even went to the home of House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, to protest the bill.
    “Mr. Bosma and the Republican Party have made it their intention to hit us at our dinner table, so that’s where we want to hit him,” said Kevin Roach, business manager of Laborers’ International Union Local 41.

    Bosma, though, said later: “This isn’t my first time to be intimidated or bullied about. It’s not going to stop anything.”

    That was clear in the Statehouse. For nearly two hours in the Senate, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle argued passionately, each side citing statistics crafted to back its views.
    As union protesters chanted “You lie” outside the Senate chambers, bill author Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, said the legislation will lower unemployment and result in higher-paying jobs. “We’ve heard the argument that ‘right to work’ really means right to work for less,” he said, “and I respectfully disagree with that.”

    But Democrats said the legislation is instead an escalator taking Indiana down to lower-paying jobs and unsafe working conditions. Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, said lawmakers should legislate by evidence and not anecdote. There’s no solid data proving that “right to work” laws lead to economic development, she said. ‘Right to work’ is nothing more than a race to the bottom for the middle class of Indiana,” she said.

    When you’re listening to Mitch Daniels tonight, and hearing pundits afterwards tell us how smart he is and how moderate he is and how he’s the future of principled conservatism, remember that he lied to these people in order to get elected governor. He told them he wouldn’t go after private sector union members. Then he did.

    Oh, and just for the record?

    Here’s the unemployment rate in Indiana again.

    Indiana under Daniels gave away the store to business interests and they got absolutely nothing in return. Gutted business regulation, gutted environmental regulation, sold state assets, deregulated and privatized public schools, destroyed public sector unions, and the unemployment rate in Indiana is comparable to the midwest states around Indiana, states that didn’t make all the concessions demanded by the “job creators”. The promised jobs never arrived.

    When John Boehner speaks of Mitch Daniels he has to claim that Daniels was working on “a climate for job creation.” Not jobs. A “climate” where jobs might blow in like the weather, maybe, sometime, depending. Boehner has to use that odd and abstract language because Boehner knows what the unemployment rate is in Indiana, and he also knows that Daniels is a two-term governor who had a free hand to put in place the whole conservative-libertarian wish list. For years. That’s all in place, but the job creators just keep on demanding more concessions from Indiana, and Mitch Daniels just keeps handing them over.

  17. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012 10:30 AM

    Taking its toll on Romney’s reputation
    By Steve Benen

    We talked over the weekend about Mitt Romney’s “likability problem” — the more voters see him, the less popular he becomes. As the campaign progresses, this appears to be getting worse.

    The number of Americans with negative views of Mitt Romney has spiked in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, compounding the former Massachusetts governor’s challenges as he tries to rally from Saturday’s big loss in South Carolina.

    Among independents, Romney’s unfavorable rating now tops 50 percent — albeit by a single point — a first in Post-ABC polling back to 2006. Just two weeks ago, more independents had favorable than unfavorable views of Romney; now, it’s 2 to 1 negative.

    Romney’s losses since a Post-ABC poll conducted between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are not limited to independents. The number of Democrats viewing him unfavorably is up 10 percentage points, and among his fellow Republicans, negative ratings have jumped from 18 to 32 percent. (Prior to his Iowa performance, Romney’s unfavorable number had been higher than 18, but hadn’t been in the 30s among Republicans since early 2008.)

    What’s striking is the speed with which this is happening. Just two weeks ago, Romney had a higher favorable than unfavorable rating. Now, the unfavorable number has soared, going from 34% to 49% in 16 days.

    For much of the Republican establishment, the argument has been that Romney is a much stronger general-election candidate because Gingrich is so unpopular with the American mainstream. But as of now, the two leading GOP candidates have nearly identical fav/unfav numbers: 31/49 for Romney, 29/51 for Gingrich.

    There are competing theories to explain Romney’s deteriorating standing — the criticisms of his work at Bain, his stilted persona, greater public awareness of his dramatic flip-flops, his shameless dishonesty, etc. — and it’s likely a combination of factors. Regardless, it’s tough to see these polls and think an extended nomination fight is in Romney’s best interests.

    In the meantime, President Obama’s favorability rating — not his approval rating, just those with a positive impression of him — is now up to 53%, the highest it’s been since April 2011. That’s not what Team Romney wanted to see, either.

  18. rikyrah says:

    found this in the comments at Balloon Juice:

    I alluded to this yesterday as did another commenter. In 2009 there was an amnesty of sorts for Americans stashing money away overseas. The IRS said, report it in 2009, pay the taxes, pay a fine, and we won’t go after you criminally. They say the Cayman and Swiss accounts were “reported”. The question remains, when were the accounts opened and when were they reported to the IRS? If he hadn’t reported them up until 2009, and took advantage of the kind of virtual amnesty Obama gave rich people that year, there will be a large anomoly in the amount of taxes he paid, if not some outright disclosure. The MSM should be pushing for the 2009 returns.

  19. rikyrah says:

    African American women see their own challenges mirrored in Michelle Obama’s
    By Krissah Thompson and Vanessa Williams, Published: January 23

    As black women watch Michelle Obama on the national stage, they search — sometimes nervously — for nuances often lost on the larger culture. How she handles criticism, how she raises her children, even her style of dress, has the potential to counter negative stereotypes.

    “She is mainstreaming to the world what a lot of us already know about ourselves,” says Dacenta Grice, a 37-year-old black woman who works as a physician assistant in Atlanta. “She reinforces the reality that so many of us live. She is a black woman who just seems fantastic in her own right, who just seems like every day people and is relatable.”

    In a nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, black women described themselves as relating to Michelle Obama and sensing that she understands them. Nearly eight out of 10 black women say they personally identify with the first lady, and when asked to give a one-word description of Obama, among the words most commonly used were “intelligent,” “strong” and “classy.”

    In follow-up interviews, black women say the first lady’s racial and gender identity are essential to the deep connection they feel they have to her. They call her a role model, someone familiar to them — like a sister or aunt.

    That emotional stake makes watching Obama navigate the world stage both “thrilling and terrifying,” says Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University who has written about the first lady’s impact on black women.

    “Every time she flawlessly performs her role as first lady just by being who she is, she shows how extraordinary and exceptional we are,” says Harris-Perry, who is in her late 30s. “It is really fun to watch. It feels like, yes! Oh, this can never be denied.

    “But every time she is booed at a NASCAR rally, the terrifying reality emerges that it will take so little for the love and admiration of Michelle Obama to go away. Anything she does that is construed as negative or stereotype-reinforcing will undoubtedly be held against us.”

    In fact, the positive views of Michelle Obama cut across racial lines — with three-fourths of white women and two-thirds of white men saying they have a favorable impression of her. Other sharp contrasts do emerge in the Post-Kaiser poll between black and white women’s opinions of the first lady. Nearly nine in 10 black women say that the first lady understands their problems, compared with about half of white women. And nearly nine in 10 black women say she shares their values, compared with about six in 10 white women.

  20. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012, 9:30 am
    Romney’s Taxes

    Just about what we expected. He really needs to provide earlier years, if only to clear up suspicions that he began sanitizing his portfolio in preparation for his presidential run.

    The right-wing apologetics now focus on the claim that Romney’s taxes aren’t really low, because we should impute the taxes that corporations effectively paid on his behalf. But there are at least two things wrong with this argument.

    First, $13 million of the total was carried interest, which gets taxed like capital gains but is really just commissions that receive special treatment for no good reason. No profits taxes were paid on that income; right there, a minimally defensible tax code would have levied $2.6 million more in taxes on Romney.

    Second, just the other day the usual suspects were calling for big cuts in corporate taxes, arguing that these taxes don’t really fall on stockholders, they fall mainly on workers and consumers. Now, suddenly, the taxes fall on stockholders after all. Interesting.

    Meanwhile, the Romney campaign is signalling that it’s going to try to spin this as “he pays lots of taxes”! How stupid do they think we are? Actually, don’t answer that.

    Again, the point here is not that Romney did something wrong by paying the low rates current tax law lavishes on people like him. It is, instead, that in an election campaign that will be in part about issues of inequality, the likely GOP candidate is a living, breathing, coupon-clipping example of how favorable our system is to the very rich; and he also happens to be advocating policies that would greatly benefit people like him, while hurting the poor and the middle class.

    PS: Yes, my tax rate is a lot higher than Romney’s. And I support policies that would raise it further.


  21. rikyrah says:

    I swear someone had nailed it: he paid more to the church than to the country he wants to be elected PRESIDENT.


    Romney Gave More To Mormon Church Than He Paid In Taxes In 2010
    By Zack Ford on Jan 24, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Mitt Romney has never hidden the fact that he has a promised tithe to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but according to his tax returns released today, he gives back more to the Mormons than he pays to the federal government. Since 2010, the Romneys have given $7 million to charity, but over $4 million of that went directly to the Mormon Church, while they paid only $3 million to the IRS last year.

    The Mormon Church is notoriously anti-gay, having raised an estimated $22 million in support of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008, in addition to providing close to 90 percent of the early door-to-door volunteers advocating for the discriminatory measure. Because of blowback from this effort, LDS has been less aggressive in anti-gay campaigns, although just last week church leaders endorsed Minnesota’s marriage discrimination amendment. Some have questioned whether its involvement in ballot measures should compromise the church’s tax-exempt status and there is an on-going petition calling on the IRS to revoke it.

    Though Romney never specifically endorsed Prop 8 aside from opposing same-sex marriage in general, the Church’s success in passing the measure may have helped advance his credibility among social conservatives.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s Swiss Bank Account Is a Gift for Democrats
    By Reid Wilson
    Jan 24 2012, 9:25 AM ET 17

    The GOP candidate’s off-shore accounts will be used to tar him during the campaign, but it could have been a lot worse.

    Mitt Romney had a Swiss bank account. You’re welcome, Democratic National Committee.

    The Republican presidential contender, who released his tax forms Tuesday morning under pressure from his fellow candidates and the media, avoided some of the embarrassing pitfalls that can come with opening one’s financial portfolio for public inspection. But in doing so, Romney handed Democratic opposition researchers a trove of new data that will surely show up in attack ads this fall, if he’s lucky enough to be the GOP nominee.

    Romney’s tax forms show he made $21.7 million in 2010 and paid $3 million in federal taxes, a rate of just under 14 percent. The majority of Romney’s income came from investments — $12.6 million in capital gains, $3.3 million in interest and $4.9 million in regular dividends. The 2011 estimated forms show Romney made a total of $20.9 million last year, including $4.1 million in taxable interest, $3.1 million in dividends and $10.7 million in capital gains. Romney will pay about $3.4 million in taxes this year

  23. rikyrah says:

    Romney: the $42 million man

    Rod Dreher

    Details about Mr. Romney’s tax payments, wealth and income will inevitably be compared with similar disclosures already made by Mr. Gingrich, as well the man Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich hope to unseat, President Obama.

    Mr. Gingrich, who on Saturday won the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, released his own tax returns last week showing that he and his wife, Callista, had an adjusted gross income of $3,162,424 from their various business ventures in 2010. They paid $994,708 in federal tax, according to the return, for an effective tax rate of 31.7 percent.

    Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, released their tax returns in April, showing an adjusted gross income of $1,728,096 for 2010 — much of it from sales of his books “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” The Obamas paid $453,770 in federal taxes, for an effective tax rate of 26.3 percent.


    In a time of crushing economic pressure on the middle and working classes, we are asked to consider voting for a man whose household took in nearly 800 times the median US income over two years, and who was taxed on that income at a far lower rate than Americans who earned their income through labor.

    Is that right? Is that fair? In a time in this country’s life in which income inequality is greater than at any time since the Great Depression, the top two Republicans in this race are Romney, a fantastically rich man who benefited handsomely from this tax law, as do many people in his class, and who proposes no rise in the capital gains rate for the superrich (though he sensibly supports eliminating it for those making $200,000 or less); and Gingrich, a man who proposes reducing the capital gains rate to zero.

    This is the Republican Party today. See this chart based on CBO data: everybody’s income is fairly stagnant, and has been for a long time — except for the superrich, who are rocketing into the income stratosphere. No wonder, given the times, that Romney doesn’t want to have this conversation.

    Why shouldn’t conservatives have this conversation among ourselves? What, exactly, is conservative about a tax system stacked so that the ultrarich make massive profits from it, while working men and women pay a much higher rate on their income? Is the essence of conservatism protecting the privileges of the few at the expense of the many? If so, we lose. We are not egalitarians, and justice doesn’t require economic leveling. But soaking the rich isn’t what we’re talking about here; we’re talking about making them pay the same rate of tax as most ordinary people. You’re not supposed to talk about this on the Right, but why not? Why is this a question only liberals and Democrats are allowed to ask?

  24. Daily Kos:

    Gallup: Gingrich still rising nationally

    • Why would anyone want a scammer in chief as president? If his own party kicked him out because of ethics problems, can you imagine what he would do as president? He’d make Richard Nixon look like an amateur.

  25. David Shuster calls out Newt Gingrich’s lack of ‘perspective or precision’ in campaign rhetoric

  26. Gingrich’s tough talk on food stamps may backfire

    It is one of the code phrases of the 2012 presidential campaign: “the food stamp president.”

    That’s what Republican Newt Gingrich calls Democrat Barack Obama in casting the president’s economic record as a failure, and bemoaning what Gingrich sees as a poor work ethic among those dependent on government help.

    Some see hints of racism in Gingrich’s words, which the former U.S. House of Representatives speaker disputes. But such tough talk did help him tap into the anti-government anger of conservative whites in South Carolina and win the presidential primary there on Saturday.

    As the campaign moves forward, however, Gingrich’s food-stamp imagery might not play as well, political analysts and voters say.


  27. Hey Ametia!

    Love Black Magic Woman. Love Love Santana

  28. rikyrah says:

    Understanding Mitt Romney’s Bain Problem
    January 23, 2012

    The beauty of modern computational finance, or financial engineering, is how much wealth it can create beyond that which is produced through toil or invention.

    As the liberal economist Brad DeLong has noted:

    [L]iquidity creation, duration transformation, and simple diversification are all attempts to make the law of large numbers work for us. They are largely successful attempts not to buy liquidity, immediacy, and insurance from those who want to sell them, but rather to create them out of whole cloth—via clever applications of the principles of probability. As such, they are the preeminent examples of our largely successful ability to make the economy live beyond its means on its wits. Liquidity, immediacy, and insurance are good and valuable things: the marvel of financial engineering is that it creates them out of thin air.

    Lots of people, on both the left and right, are deeply uncomfortable with this nebulous idea of “wealth.” This is the source of Rep. Ron Paul’s discomfort with “fiat money.” At the risk of oversimplifying, Marx believed value is produced by physical exertion—turning a tree into a rocking chair, for instance. The adherents of Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand, meanwhile, believe more broadly that value is produced by entrepreneurship and genius.

    Needless to say, we left behind that simple world—if it ever truly existed—a long time ago.

    Also needless to say, it was this system of financial engineering run amok that crashed the global economy.

    “What does this have to do with former Gov. Mitt Romney?” you ask.

    Simple: He got rich in some measure by applying the methods of this high-financial wizardry.

    When he graduated from Harvard, Larry Cheng, founding partner of Volition Capital, says he turned down a job offer from Bain Capital because, at the time, the firm was more active in leveraged buyouts, or LBO, rather than venture capital, or VC:


    By talking in these terms, Romney tries to project the aura of classic Horatio Alger rags-to-riches Americana. In his South Carolina concession speech, he went so far as to say that an attack on Bain is an attack on every average enterprising American:

    We cannot defeat the president with a candidate who has joined that very assault on free enterprise … When my opponents attack success and free enterprise… they’re attacking you.
    This line is as absurd as it is insulting. Lots of Americans work hard, or are willing to work hard, and they will never realize the kind of wealth that Romney has. It is not out of envy—or at least not primarily envy—that people question the acquisition of wealth through “thin air,” as DeLong puts it.

    Furthermore, no one is asking Mitt Romney to “apologize” for his success.

  29. Ametia says:

    Ron paul

  30. rikyrah says:

    Romney Saved $3 Million Under Bush Tax Cuts, Wants To Extend Them

    Under the Bush tax cuts, Mitt Romney saved $3 million in 2010 and 2011, according to the release of his tax returns. Experts at the Center for American Progress point out that Mitt Romney in favor of keeping all of the Bush tax cuts in place — even those for the very wealthy — which would continue his own $3 million dollar tax cut.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Coates has been dismantling the Ron Paul bullshyt of ‘the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery’ at his site. Paul used bullshyt about ‘ compensating the slave owners for their slaves.’

    From Coates:

    I want to make sure that I, again, call attention to an error in the original thread. The 1860 value of the slaves was $3.5 billion and the 21st century value is, per Blight, $75 Billion. I obviously want to correct the record, but I also don’t want something like “Ron Paul Voted for MLK Day” to happen here. There’s no need for exaggeration. The scale is ultimately what we come back to:

    In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America’s manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. The only thing worth more than the slaves in the American economy of the 1850s was the land itself…

    Thread one:

    Thread two:

  32. rikyrah says:

    Mitt’s TPS Reports Always Have the New Cover Sheet
    by mistermix

    When I went to confession yesterday my priest told me to say 3 Hail Marys and watch the Republican debates as my penance, so I saw most of last night’s shitshow. I think that priest know what he was doing, because I’ve resolved to keep the boozing and sodomy down to a minimum so I just have to say an Act of Contrition next time. That said, I have a couple of observations.

    Brian Williams was careful to phrase his 47 questions about the ark of the horse race covenant, “electability”, in a way that kept him from getting smacked down by Newt. Instead of asking direct questions about each candidate’s weak spot, he repeated one candidate’s attack ads to the another. He also stayed away from Newt’s 3 marriages and counting. This led to an awesome half hour of Romney and Gingrich pounding on each other, with no real clear winner, though it’s probably good news for Romney that he finally landed a couple of solid shots, including channeling Steve Benen by pointing out that Newt resigned in “disgrace”.

    The man-on-man action was pretty entertaining, but what struck me is the exchange I embedded above, where Romney unveils the centerpiece of his immigration strategy, “self-deportation”. In other words, he expects undocumented immigrants to leave voluntarily because his administration will make their lives miserable. The questioner, Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, asked the obvious follow-up question, “Isn’t that what we have now?” and Mitt replied with some earnest word salad about “e-verification”, which assumes that some magic card will reverse a 50 year national habit of hiring undocumented workers.

    What struck me about that exchange is that it shows how much Mitt and his advisors think that careful corporate-style “message discipline” will paper over the awful parts of Mitt’s policies and resume. Here’s another example from Mitt’s tax return release:

    Romney advisers stressed that the holdings in the Caymans—along with those in a Swiss bank account that was closed in 2010 after an investment adviser decided it could be politically embarrassing to Romney—were reported on tax returns and were not vehicles to avoid taxes.

    I realize that the job of Romney’s advisors is to put lipstick on many pigs, but the apparent seriousness and earnestness that accompanies communication from Romney’s world makes me think they believe their bullshit will fly. I have to believe that’s because “enhanced messaging” works in business settings, where employees just have to nod and grit their teeth when corporate comes up with some new, stupid euphemism. But Mitt isn’t the CEO of the Republican primaries, and “self-deportation” and “we didn’t avoid taxes with our Cayman and Swiss bank accounts” just don’t cut it in the real world.

  33. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012 10:00 AM
    No more white knights
    By Steve Benen

    Republican voters, activists, leaders, and pundits are all coming to the same realization: in November, either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich will be the GOP nominee against President Obama. And as this insight takes root, many of those same voters, activists, leaders, and pundits are once again asking, “Are we sure it’s too late to nominate someone else?”

    The latest is the New York Times’ Ross Douthat, who weighed in yesterday.

    For months now, even as the rest of the conservative commentariat has gradually resigned itself to the existing presidential field, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has continued to pine — publicly, unstintingly, immune to either embarrassment or fatigue — for another candidate to jump into the race. He’s dreamed of Mitch Daniels, touted Chris Christie, talked up Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, name-dropped Jeb Bush, and circled back to Daniels once more. He’s quoted poetry on behalf of his cause — Yeats, and (with some revisions) Andrew Marvell. He’s endured snark from the Huffington Post, eye-rolling from Slate, mockery from New York Magazine. But he’s continued undeterred — and in the wake of Newt Gingrich’s South Carolina victory, he was back at it again, throwing out a link to “a new online petition was launched Saturday night … at”

    And do you know what? He’s been right all along. Right that the decisions by various capable Republicans to forgo a presidential run this year have been a collective disgrace; right that Republican primary voters deserve a better choice than the one being presented to them; and right, as well, that even now it isn’t too late for one of the non-candidates to change their mind and run.


    Over the late summer and early fall, when a large number of party officials expressed deep dissatisfaction with the GOP field, it was not unreasonable to reach out to possible candidates watching from the sidelines. Indeed, to a certain extent, these efforts worked — Rick Perry got into the race.

    But September was a long time ago. Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have already weighed in, and Florida is a week away. I don’t blame Republicans for feeling underwhelmed, at a minimum, by the prospect of a Gingrich or Romney nomination, but it’s past time for the right to come to terms with the reality of the situation.

    There are no white knights coming to rescue the party. It’s simply too late. As Eric Kleefeld documented nicely, “In every primary state up through early April, the filing deadlines have passed. That includes the very delegate-rich Super Tuesday of March 6…. [F]or a Republican hero to ride in on a white horse, it would take a scenario that verges on political science fiction: A combination of write-in voting where applicable — and for Romney to fully drop out and endorse this new savior candidate, to essentially bequeath his place on the ballot by telling his pledged delegates elected in this manner to go along with it.”

    And what about talk of a brokered Republican convention? That’s “not going to happen,” either.

    There are four candidates left — Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul — and one of them will win the 2012 Republican nomination. If the party isn’t satisfied with these choices, too bad. They should have thought of that before it was too late.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s Broken Jobs Record Can’t Match Obama’s Presidential Experience

    The inherent lying from Republican presidential hopefuls makes it difficult to gauge their true qualifications, and their campaign speeches have served to verify that most of their assertions are fallacious. It is often beneficial to listen carefully to concession speeches to determine how a candidate reacts after suffering through defeat, and after South Carolina’s primary last Saturday, Willard “Mitt” Romney reverted to using the tired canard that his prior accomplishments as investor and governor of Massachusetts are reasons he is a better choice to be the Republican standard bearer in the 2012 general election. For Americans with a memory, Romney’s broken record assertions may not be his best argument for winning the Republican nomination or the presidency.

    After losing to Gingrich, Romney thanked the Republican field for a hard-fought campaign and leveled a bevy of attacks at President Obama and Gingrich highlighted by his oft-repeated exaggeration of his qualifications. In particular, Romney said that, “President Obama has no experience running a business and no experience running a state. Our party can’t be led to victory by someone who also has never run a business, or a state.” First, let’s get one thing straight; President Obama does not have executive experience running a state, but for the past three years he has run the richest, most powerful nation in the history of the Earth and he is still cleaning up after the last Republican president who had experience running a state and businesses.

    Conservatives may embrace the notion of a vulture capitalist running this country, but for most Americans, leveraging struggling and start up businesses with debt and laying off untold numbers of employees is not the definition of a businessman. Romney slipped during one of the South Carolina debates and admitted that he did not run any business that added employees during his time at Bain Capital, so his assertion that he “ran a business” that created jobs is patently false. Bain Capital used other investors’ money to either shore up or cripple businesses with debt and profited from management fees and selling off failing businesses. While Romney ran Bain Capital, they closed more than 1,000 offices, stores and plants, and cut employee benefits, pensions and wages. American workers were laid off, and their jobs were outsourced to other countries, but Romney will never brag about those facts. Romney is a job-killing machine and he made hundreds-of-millions in the process.

  35. Ametia says:

    What a LYING LIAR

  36. rikyrah says:

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Mitt Romney, Uncreative Destructor

    by David Atkins

    Mitt Romney had a fascinating take on the foreclosure mess today. Dave Dayen and Digby have superb rundowns of Romney’s comments particularly as they relate to strategic default and the Administration’s foreclosure settlement, but I want to focus on a specific part of Romney’s answer to struggling homeowners:

    “The banks are scared to death, of course, because they think they’re going to go out of business,” Romney said. “They’re afraid that if they write all these loans off, they’re going to go broke. And so they’re feeling the same thing you’re feeling. They just want to pretend all of this is going to get paid someday so they don’t have to write it off and potentially go out of business themselves.”

    “This is cascading throughout our system and in some respects government is trying to just hold things in place, hoping things get better,” Romney continued. “My own view is you recognize the distress, you take the loss and let people reset. Let people start over again, let the banks start over again. Those that are prudent will be able to restart, those that aren’t will go out of business. This effort to try and exact the burden of their mistakes on homeowners and commercial property owners, I think, is a mistake.”

    It takes a while to think through what Romney is saying here, but at its core what you get is a terrifying view of Romney’s perspective as a vulture capitalist.

    The single silver lining to the cloud of vulture capitalism is the principle of creative destruction. From a business point of view, creative destruction rests on the notion that while killing and carving up struggling firms may entail short-term pain, in the long run the economy benefits by freeing up capital and resources to function in smaller, more dynamic parts or even just the broader economy. It’s not much of a silver lining to those who lose their jobs or to the towns that die when factories are closed, but a halfhearted case for the role of vulture capital in helping along creative destruction can be made by an economist.

    So when Romney says to simply flush all the bad debt out of the system for both homeowners and banks alike, he’s resting on this same worldview: that things will be better off once the current mess is destroyed, so that the housing market and banking market can be rebuilt from the ground up. It’s the same perspective he had when he insisted that Detroit be allowed to go bankrupt. Creative destruction is the name of Romney’s game. It also serves the Libertarian economic project fairly well, because the alternative to creative destruction is direct intervention, usually by a government entity.

    But applying the principle of creative destruction to the entire housing and banking market is nothing short of terrifying. It’s one thing to do it in the Rust Belt or Silicon Valley, where factories and offices can be liquidated so that mechanics and engineers can theoretically be assigned to more productive industries. It rarely works out that way, of course: usually the engineers and mechanics stay unemployed or are rehired at far lesser wages, even as the vulture capitalists make off like bandits. But at least there’s a sound theory behind it.

    Banking isn’t like manufacturing or technology, though. Banks don’t produce anything but loans and interest on investment. You can’t take a banker and reassign her to a more productive type of finance, even in theory. Banks are less like factories themselves, and more like cogs in an economic machine that are allowed to take profits in return for the service they provide. Banking is a boring and often ugly business that is in many ways a necessary evil–so much so that most societies have historically placed stringent, usually religious rules or even bans on the activity, forcing social outcasts to provide the service. “Creativity” in banking is almost always a bad thing, as is financialization of economies. There’s no “creativity” to be had in destroying banks; rather, the only reason for destroying banks is essentially to regulate them by limiting their power.

    Homeownership is even less subject to the rules of creative destruction, unless one is literally leveling homes in a process similar to gentrification–which even then, obviously, has its own social costs. Homes are not an economic engine, or rather they’re not supposed to be. They’re places where people live, grow up, raise families and retire. Turning families out of their homes isn’t like turning them out of a dead-end job with the hope of their landing a more productive, economically efficient job later. It simply means another transplanted or homeless family.

    That the big zombie banks should be broken up rather than allowed to stagger on pretending their bad debts will be repaid is without question. That homeowners with no home of repaying their mortgage should have alternatives to walking away, such as own-to-rent or mortgage write-downs, seems intuitive.

    But Romney’s stated approach of simply allowing the housing market to bottom out and the banks to go under without government intervention is not only cruel; it’s economically insane. It’s not creative, just destructive. It’s the approach of a man who understands only the business of vulture capital, not the business of running an economy.

    It’s proof that the last thing America needs in office is a businessman, or at least one who cut his chops in the financial sector.


  37. rikyrah says:

    found this in the comments at Balloon Juice:

    33.Darnell From LA – January 24, 2012 | 2:19 am · Link

    you are not of the street. Never have been. Daddy Warbucks, just fucking own it already.

    Most people just don’t get how true this is. Willard’s dad was not only one of the richest, most powerful, most respected Mormons in the country, he was also a successful CEO for AMC. (think Lee Iacocca)

    Now imagine Lee Iacocca having been elected to 2 terms as Governor of Michigan, the 6th most populous state at that time.

    How imagine Lee Iacocca running for President, then becoming Secty of HUD in the Reagan Administration.

    THEN, imagine Mrs. Iacocca (yes, mom!) running for the Senate on the GOP ticket! (yes, Mitt’s mom ran for Senate)

    And Willard wants us to believe that being George Romney’s freakin’ son wasn’t a slight advantage in life. Really. Got it, Willard. Being George Romney’s son literally makes George W. Bush look like he grew up as a chimney sweep.


  38. rikyrah says:

    Political AnimalBlog
    January 23, 2012 3:00 PM

    Americans Elect’s dubious new poll
    By Steve Benen

    From a press release that landed in my inbox this afternoon:

    New polling from Americans Elect shows Americans evenly divided between voting for a Democrat, a Republican, and an independent-minded presidential candidate. This polling is consistent with other national polls that demonstrate the need for a new way to pick a president.

    According to the Americans Elect poll, about two thirds of voters (66 percent) believe it is important for an independent to run for president in 2012. A solid majority is favorable towards an independent running against the Democratic and Republican nominees. About one‐quarter (26 percent) say they are absolutely certain or very likely to vote for an independent presidential candidate. When those who say “possibly” are included, that number jumps to 64 percent.

    I haven’t seen the methodology of the phrasing of the question, but to a large extent, it doesn’t much matter. The notion that there’s a significant number of Americans willing to support an independent presidential candidate seems pretty uncontroversial, and I can recall seeing other polls pointing to similar results for years.

    The next question, though, is why anyone should care. Unnamed, generic candidates can find it easy to generate widespread public support because, well, they don’t exist. Voters can imagine these candidates having all kinds of appealing qualities, but real people with actual records and positions on controversial issues tend to find presidential campaigns a little more difficult.

    For that matter, Americans Elect doesn’t actually have a candidate. The entity has reportedly reached out to a variety of people Americans Elect leaders find appealing — Joe Lieberman, Lamar Alexander, and Chuck Hagel, for example — and none was interested. Even Jon Huntsman has ruled it out.

    And while we’re at it, let’s also not forget that Americans Elect is sitting on $30 million for their election project, and organizers refuse to disclose where the money came from. Ed Kilgore recently added that organizers have also adopted a series of “anti-democratic measures” and built them into Americans Elect’s structure: “the power of a board to set aside (subject to a veto override from ‘voters’) the People’s Choice in order to create a legitimately ‘balanced, centrist’ ticket, whatever that means.”

    I realize Americas Elect is in a position to have an effect on the presidential race, and has secured a ballot line in at least a dozen states. But as near as I can tell, it’s an overly-secretive, well-financed gimmick, eager to play electoral mischief for reasons that remain unclear.

  39. rikyrah says:

    found this tweet:

    Dan Davenport
    @dandavenport “Unemployed” Romney makes 400x avg income, pays 14% taxes, ships $ overseas to avoid paying. He doesn’t love America. He fleeces it.

  40. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012 8:00 AM

    Turning the dishonesty to 11
    By Steve Benen

    Last night’s debate for the remaining presidential candidates offered Mitt Romney a chance to try to turn his campaign around. He hasn’t had much luck lately, and confidence in his candidacy has been badly shaken, especially after Romney turned a double-digit lead in South Carolina into a double-digit defeat.

    But one of the former governor’s more disconcerting qualities is his reliance on falsehoods to get back in the game.

    I won’t fact-check every claim from the debate, but there were some doozies that should, if honesty in politics had more meaning, cause Romney and his team some headaches. He claimed Dodd-Frank was hurting community banks, but that’s not true. He said he never advocated for a national health care mandate, and that’s false, too. He repeated his misleading claim about the size of the U.S. Navy; he claimed not to have received an inheritance; and he claims his private-equity firm never did any work with the government. All of these claims are deceptive, if not demonstrably wrong.

    The most irksome, though, was this claim:

    We have $15 trillion of debt. We’re headed to a, to a Greece- type collapse, and he adds another trillion on top for Obamacare and for his stimulus plan that didn’t create private-sector jobs. This president has failed.”

    This is an important part of Romney’s indictment against the president, so it’s worth unpacking it a bit. Let’s take this one claim at a time.

    * It’s true we have $15 trillion in debt, but the biggest chunk comes from Bush-era tax breaks. Romney wanted to make them permanent.

    * Anyone who seriously believes U.S. fiscal challenges are in any way similar to Greece is a fool.

    * The Affordable Care Act doesn’t add to the debt, it cuts the debt by hundreds of billions of dollars.

    * The stimulus created millions of private-sector jobs. Indeed, take a look at private-sector job growth since the start of the recession:

    Since March 2010, the U.S. economy has added 3.1 million private-sector jobs. Even playing by Republican rules, that’s 3.1 million more than zero.

    And as for whether President Obama has “failed,” Mitt Romney has argued repeatedly this month that under Obama, the economy has “gotten better.” That sounds to me like the opposite of failure.

    I’m not optimistic this will ever happen, but Romney’s penchant for dishonesty in high-profile settings deserves to be a story unto itself.

  41. rikyrah says:

    Willard thought he was slick…dumping these on the night of the State of the Union.

    From the Plum Line Blog:

    Posted at 07:48 AM ET, 01/24/2012
    What timing: On day of Obama’s big inequality speech, Romney reveals massive income, low tax rates
    By Greg Sargent

    I’m not sure the Obama campaign could have scripted this more perfectly. In a remarkable bit of good timing, President Obama is set to deliver a State of the Union speech focused on income inquality and tax unfairness on exactly the same day that Mitt Romney will reveal that he made over $40 million in the last two years — all of it taxed at a lower rate than that paid by middle class taxpayers.

    The Post scoops the returns that Romney is set to release today, and they confirm what he has already acknowledged: He pays a far lower tax rate than many middle class taxpayers. Here are the key figures:

    — Income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million in 2011, virtually all of it from profits, dividends or interest from investments, and none from wages.

    — $7 million in charitable contributions in 2010 and 2011, including at least $4.1 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    — In those two years Romney actually paid less than that charitable figure in taxes, sending around $6.2 million to Washington. In 2010 he paid a rate of 13.9 percent; in 2011 he paid a rate of 15.4 percent.

    — $13 million in “carried interest.”

    — Romney holds investments in many entities like Luxembourg, Ireland and the Cayman Islands. While the Post notes that these are “all famous tax havens,” those investments don’t appear to be sizable. And Romney’s representative flatly asserts there was no tax advantage in any case, something which some tax analysts have found credible.

    As other tax experts have pointed out, however, Romney may have an incentive to release only these two years’ worth of returns, because he would not have been able to restructure investments in previous returns to conceal things that might prove politically problematic.

    Either way, all this comes as Obama is set to deliver a speech focused on extreme disparities of wealth, and on precisely the element of the tax code that enables his likely rival to pay a far lower rate than many middle class taxpayers — at a time of rising public preoccupation with inequality. As Chuck Todd put it this morning: “If Team Obama could have picked any day to have Romney release his tax return, today might have been the day they’d pick.”

    Romney doesn’t just disagree with Obama on these fundamental issues; he personally symbolizes virtually the entire 2012 Democratic message. He is the walking embodiment of everything Dems allege is wrong with our system and the ways it’s rigged in favor of the wealthy and against the middle class. Yet this is the standard bearer the GOP seems set to pick.

  42. rikyrah says:

    January 24, 2012 8:40 AM
    What we’ve learned from Romney’s returns
    By Steve Benen

    Mitt Romney’s campaign, as promised, released the former governor’s 2010 tax returns, as well as an estimate for his 2011 returns, and we’re starting to get a sense of why the Republican candidate wasn’t eager to share these details.

    Mitt Romney offered a partial snapshot of his vast personal fortune late Monday, disclosing income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million last year — virtually all of it profits, dividends or interest from investments.

    None came from wages, the primary source of income for most Americans. Instead, Romney and his wife, Ann, collected millions in capital gains from a profusion of investments, as well as stock dividends and interest payments.

    By any fair estimate, over $42 million in income over two years isn’t bad for a guy who jokes about being “unemployed.” Indeed, Romney would be in the top 1% based solely on the income he makes in one week.

    Romney said last week that his rate was “closer to 15%,” but as it turns out, despite his vast wealth, he actually only paid a 13.9% rate last year — lower than his political rivals who aren’t nearly as wealthy, and lower than most middle-class American workers.

    And what about those overseas investments?

    His 2010 return also showed that he had a financial account in Switzerland that was closed in 2010 and that he generated income from overseas investments. He also reported financial accounts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

    A Reuters report added that Romney’s Swiss bank account was closed in 2010 “after an investment adviser decided it could be politically embarrassing to Romney.”

    I suspect those with far more expertise in this area will subject these materials to considerable scrutiny, but at first blush, the disclosure appears to raise at least as many questions as it answers.

    Why did Romney set up $100 million trust funds for his sons without paying any gift taxes? Were his accounts in the Caymans and in Switzerland created to avoid paying taxes? Was the closing of the Swiss account related to this IRS investigation? And given all of the questions surrounding Romney’s Bain-era work, why does the Republican candidate continue to insist he won’t disclose returns from previous years?

    What’s more, following up on a point from last week, even if Romney argues that he’s simply playing by the rules — taking advantage of existing tax loopholes to pay lower rates than much of the middle class — this doesn’t explain why Romney is eager to exacerbate issues on tax fairness with his tax plan that makes the problem worse.

    In a debate over tax fairness and income inequality, Romney is practically a case study for What’s Gone Wrong, but he can at least plausibly argue that this is a mess he benefits from, but didn’t create. Romney, however, prefers to believe the problem doesn’t exist.

    Greg Sargent did a nice job capturing the larger political context:

  43. rikyrah says:


    you’ve been on my mind lately. How are things?

  44. rikyrah says:

    Monday, January 23, 2012
    Last Call
    Posted by Zandar
    Rick Santorum winning the state of Iowa’s Republican caucuses despite a position on rape and abortion like this pretty much seals the deal that they should lose their “first in the nation” status entirely.

    SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

    Yes ladies, rape is awful. But you get a lovely parting gift, as decreed by Rick Santorum and his fellow anti-choice nimrods.

    Everyone repeat after me: There’s no difference between Obama and the Republicans on issues that matter!

  45. Ametia says:

    The nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning.
    Nominated for best motion picture were:

    “War Horse,” “The Help,” “Moneyball,” “The Descendants,” “The Tree of Life,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Artist,” “Hugo” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”
    Oscar winners will be announced February 26.

  46. Ametia says:

    Good piece from Daily Beast with vids

    2012 Election Super PACs You Need to Know (VIDEO)
    by Laura Colarusso Jan 24, 2012 4:45 AM EST

    With the battle for the Republican nomination heating up in Florida, outside groups are pouring money into the race. From Romney’s Restore Our Future to Obama’s Priorities USA, watch ads from the top super PACs right now.

  47. rikyrah says:

    Unemployment, Bitches
    by John Cole

    Who knew being unemployed was so profitable:

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released tax records on Tuesday indicating he will pay $6.2 million in taxes on a total of $45.2 million in income over the years 2010 and 2011.

    Bowing to increasing political pressure to provide more detail about his vast wealth, the former private equity executive released tax returns indicating he and his wife, Ann, paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010. They expect to pay a 15.4 percent rate when they file their returns for 2011.

    Romney’s tax rate is below that of most wage-earning Americans because most of his income, as outlined in more than 500 pages of tax documents, flows from capital gains on investments.

    Under the U.S. tax code, capital gains are taxed at 15 percent, compared with a top tax rate of 35 percent for wage earners.

    He closed his Swiss bank account shortly after UBS named names, in case you were wondering.

    How many of you lucky duckies paid 13% on your income last year? Ahh, patriotism.

  48. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney’s International Tax Problem
    Posted on 01/23/2012 at 2:45 pm by JM Ashby

    Mitt Romney’s shady financial train-wreck just became an international train-wreck with a member of British parliament proposing legislation to close the Cayman Islands as a tax haven.

    Many of those investments are associated with Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney co-founded, which has an extensive history of using such tax havens to boost profits at a multi-billion dollar cost to American taxpayers. Those tax havens aren’t just causing outrage among Americans, however. The Cayman Islands are a British territory, and British MP John Cryer, a former member of the British Treasury Select Committee, told the British blog Left Foot Forward that it is “a disgrace” that corporations and investors like Romney and Bain can use them to avoid paying taxes. […]

    According to Left Foot Forward, Cryer proposed a motion last week calling on the House of Commons to immediately close the Cayman Islands as a tax haven. The motion states that the House is “alarmed” by reports that Romney and others are using the Caymans to “avoid paying the same tax rate as other US citizens” and “concerned about the continued use of tax havens by the top 1% in the US and UK to avoid paying the correct tax in their own country.” The motion then “calls on the UK government to introduce urgent legislation to help close tax havens and increase transparency so that the very richest pay their fair share of tax in their respective countries.”

    I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen, but this is yet another layer of bad press for Team Romney.

    Can you imagine electing a president that is internationally well-known to be sheltering vast amounts of wealth in an off-shore territory?

  49. rikyrah says:

    Blast from the 2008 Past: An Avowed Muslim
    Posted on 01/23/2012 at 4:40 pm by JM Ashby

    During a town-hall meeting hosted by Rick Santorum in Florida today, one of his supporters was given the chance to speak and what she had to say sounded awfully like something out of the 2008 election.

    Woman: I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not. Okay. And, well, he constantly says that our constitution is passe and he totally ignores it as you know. He does what he darn well pleases. He is an, uh, avowed Muslim. And my question is why isn’t something being done to get him out of our government? He has no legal right to be calling himself President.

    Santorum: Yeah, well, I’m doing my best to get him out of the government. And you’re right about how he uniformly ignores the Constitution. […]

    He does as he darn well pleases? I could barely transcribe those few short sentences without cursing or breaking localized objects.

    I couldn’t help but think of this moment from the 2008 campaign while listening.

    At least John McCain had the sense, and the decency, to quickly cut the woman off and correct the record that then-candidate Barack Obama was not a secret-Arab, Muslim terrorist.

    Obviously President Obama — and yes, he absolutely should be referred to as President Obama — is not an “avowed Muslim,” nor does he ignore the constitution. In fact, President Obama regularly reiterates the need to avoid constitutional conflicts as witnessed in recent executive statements. And let’s not forget that he taught constitutional law before running for office.

    Rick Santorum should be embarrassed by not setting the record straight, and for the shit-eating grin on his face while she spoke, because what that woman said was outright inflammatory and grossly inaccurate. It’s also an ugly reminder that birtherism, and the notion that the president is some secret-Muslim, is still with us four years after electing him.

  50. rikyrah says:

    The Selling of the Nominee
    by Geov Parrish
    Tue Jan 24th, 2012 at 12:22:22 AM EST

    I agree with Josh Marshall here:

    It would be quite difficult for Newt Gingrich to beat President Obama. The bigger story is that he would likely devastate the congressional Republican party. He’d probably weigh down the GOP up and down the ticket. And that puts the whole thing in much sharper relief for Republican officeholders, committee chairs and money folks.
    If I’m right about that, that means they have to and will do virtually everything possible now to crush Gingrich and make Romney the nominee.

    But I’m not sure it matters.

    We buy a lot of crap in this country. We buy a lot of things we don’t need, and in many cases haven’t even known for very long that we wanted. Much of what we buy is of terrible quality and questionable value, and there is an entire, multi-billion dollar industry – a science, really – devoted to making us want to make that crap our very own. And then, when it turns out to be, well, crap, to make us want to turn around and buy the next shimmery thing, and so on.

    To my mind it’s impossible to understand US presidential elections – any elections, really, but especially the presidential races – without understanding that the candidate is a product. Every word, every gesture, every tic we see from a presidential candidate is quite possibly part of a conscious and very detailed strategy to get you to “want” – to vote for, or even to send money to or volunteer for – his or her campaign. The idea that voters are searching for authenticity is, in this context, somewhat laughable, because all it means is that the top-flight marketing gurus who run presidential campaigns spend months figuring out what the best way to project authenticity is.

    As with certain other types of brands where authenticity is prized – some types of pop music, for example – it’s enormously helpful if you have a politician who really is authentic. One of the reasons Obama was a strong candidate in 2008 was that he seemed to be who we saw, and seemed comfortable in his own skin and less beholden to his phalanx of advisors than, say, Hillary Clinton. (McCain was authentic, too – but, unlike Obama, he seemed like an authentic, erratic, pandering asshole. Obama seemed not only authentic, but competent and likeable.)
    Genuine authenticity, of course, can be faked. Reagan, for example, was derided in his day for being a “mere” actor, but his acting skills as a genial, likeable “great communicator” were a core reason for his success. They masked policies and priorities that had nothing in common with his projected demeanor. As in the consumer world, just because a product is crap doesn’t mean it won’t sell.

    But sometimes – rarely, but every now and then – a product is so bad it can’t be sold effectively, even with all the hype in the world. New Coke. Heaven’s Gate.

    Mitt Romney?

    For the last year, I’ve been pretty confident that Romney would be the Republican nominee in 2012. He fits the pattern of Republicans nominating their previous runner-up, but more importantly, he’s had a lock from the start on the big money and DC/New York establishment party support that is usually essential for a GOP nominee. And Marshall is right that in a Gingrich v. Romney showdown, all that muscle will mobilize frantically for Romney.

    Nobody else in the Republican field, at any point, has shown any level of acceptability to that crowd, and there’s really no modern precedent on the GOP side for a nominee being chosen over establishment preferences – even when there is a viable alternative. My assumption all along has been that however flawed a human being, however inconsistent on his record, however wooden and arrogant his presentation, Romney could be crafted by all that money and power into a product that would at least get enough GOP voter support to win him the nomination against the worst batch of competitors in memory.

    I’m starting to wonder. Last week was a brutal week for Romney, after a less than inspiring performance all through the debate season. There was a moment, after his New Hampshire win, when the inevitability of his nomination seemed very close to assured, mostly due to the complete lack of viable alternatives. But even without those viable alternatives in place, it sure feels like the grass roots Republican base, which much more closely resembles the South Carolina or Florida GOP electorate than the voters in New Hampshire, is rejecting Romney with the vehemence of a mismatched organ transplant. (Remember the month when the Frank Luntz talking point du jour was for GOP talking heads to object to things being rammed down their throats? Like that.)

    Romney’s newfound attacks on Gingrich tonight and in his new TV ads, attacks which destroyed Newt in Iowa but were never deployed in South Carolina, will help erode Gingrich’s Florida support. But by how much? The Mittster’s bizarre combination of being an unapologetic banner-carrier for the one percent and a panderer to the basest of the Republican base seems designed to project an image of a person so inauthentic and unlikeable he could unite the country, with people despising him across the political spectrum.

    At this point, the conventional DC wisdom – that Romney, as the most relatively sane GOP candidate, would be the most difficult matchup for Obama in November – has been stood on its head. First impressions are everything in politics (or any other product launch), and the first impression many people are getting of Romney as a potential GOP standard-bearer is of a guy nobody much likes and a lot of people hate for a lot of different reasons. Of course, a lot of people hate Newt, too. But they’re not the ones, generally, voting in Republican primaries, and we now have enough of a closed universe in GOP media that Newt’s huge negatives in the larger (read: real) world don’t really figure.

    Romney has still got all that money and establishment support – and right now that money and establishment support has nowhere else to go. But no matter the promotional budget, some products just can’t be sold. And we may be seeing one of them. Either in the next couple of months, or, if he survives the nomination process, in the general election this fall, Romney has the potential to be a truly epic fail.

  51. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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