(Originally, this was meant to be a Brilliant at Breakfast exclusive but to anyone who'd tried to follow my link, you may've noticed that Jill's having maintenance issues and, for whatever reason, her site's down. So I decided to cross-post this, after all.)
history pinches the bridge of its nose ages and ages hence and selects
the one single stunt the Romney campaign has pulled that reveals the
sheer depth of Willard's superficiality, it'll point to his relief
efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Granted, it may
not be on a par with Bush allowing 1800 mostly African American people
to drown and float, half-eaten by crocodiles, in the streets of the
French Quarter and essentially ensuring, by demoting FEMA from the
Cabinet-level position it was under Clinton, that thousands would get
warehoused in two giant buildings, away from the prying eyes of the
press. So, on the sheer scale of ineptitude, Romney still has a long
ways to go before he can fuck up like Bush. One can dream.
if Romney had won the presidency four years ago, we'd still be seeing
the same kind of triangulation, the same Irwin Allen opportunism we're
seeing today. The difference, of course, is that we have as a Chief
Executive a man who knows how to react to disasters, responds
appropriately and in a swift, decisive, presidential manner. In fact,
Mr. Obama's response to this crisis has been so exemplary that New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie actually yanked a turkey drumstick from
his jiggling maw to go on Dylan Ratigan's show on MSNBC to praise the president's efforts.
while the president, after canceling a Virginia rally to respond to
Hurricane Sandy, has actually been of some help and not merely circling
over the disaster in Air Force One like a momentarily amused tourist, Romney has been in the swing state of Ohio, the place where automaker jobs die and go to China, spending $5000 at a Wally World so as not to make the donation tables look empty.
without having to spend a penny from his campaign, the president simply
doing his job and ensuring that FEMA responds in a timely fashion is
making Willard look like the world's most incompetent stock boy. Which
is precisely what he is.
It's Willard essentially
telling the Red Cross to go fuck itself and collecting canned food that
the Red Cross will have to waste precious manpower on to process in some
New Jersey warehouse. The Red Cross has repeatedly stated that it needs
money, which is fungible and the one thing you'd think Romney would know something about, or blood donations through local area hospitals.
Willard can't do that because Republicans such as him and Bush cannot
grasp the concept of altruism, or the simple concept of helping out your
fellow man in an hour of greatest need. The very idea of appropriately
and effectively allocating resources where they're needed most is as
alien to Republicans as setting fire to puppies and kittens is to animal
Lord knows I'm not a fan of the President but
at least it's nice to see we have for the first time since 2001 a chief
executive who knows where help is most needed and is smart enough not to
impede on the rescue and relief efforts of professionals who know what
they're doing. Romney collecting canned goods such as Campbell's soup
also betrays his complete inability to grasp the reality that many
people in the tristate area are without electricity and the canned goods
would be worthless.
That's another concept Romney
cannot grasp: Knowing the difference between political grandstanding and
earning cheap brownie points instead of making a difference and uniting
with the president as a fellow American. This is yet another lost
opportunity for the GOP, which is bound and determined to do the exact
opposite President Obama does in the final week of an election, even if
people die as a result.
Romney could've listened to the Red Cross. He could've suspended his thinly-veiled campaigning in the swing state of Ohio. He could've
asked Donald Trump to shut his obnoxious methane hole and to donate
that $5,000,000 to the Red Cross' relief efforts. But he didn't do any
of that. Because he couldn't. Help, to your typical Republican,
is simply a four letter word that's always within smelling distance of
the words "welfare" and "entitlements."
Because Republicans, when they come running toward disaster, respond to the cries but not to help.
The latest demotivational poster from Casa de la Puerco. Making some last minute preparations for tonight's Halloweenery so posting here will be light to nonexistent. However, if you're Jonesing for a good dose of lib'ral outrage, hop on over and see today's post at Brilliant at Breakfast. I've been sorta shouldering the load there while Jill Hussein has been swamped with work and tending to a sick kittie.
So what are you dressing up as tonight? I hear Willard's going out as a stock boy. I also hear that, instead of candy, Paul Ryan and his wife will be handing out vouchers.
So, if I don't see y'all until tomorrow, happy Halloween.
Recently when I got hit with a $22.50 surcharge for not paying my auto excise taxes on time (I never got the original bill), I was so incensed I fired off a letter to the tax collector's office giving them a piece of my mind. Not content with this, when I cut them a check for the $22.50, I put in the memo line, "Scam." Not very funny but then again it was more important to me to let them know how I feel about paying surcharges for a bill I never got and my paying the same rate every year while my car depreciates in value. But this got me to thinking if other people have written off-the-wall memos on their checks and whether they put the results on the internet. This is a collection of the best ones I've found.
We could dismiss Willard Romney, the world's most accepted, if not loved, sociopath, as the Retroactive Republican. But that would be to sell Mitt Romney short. Mitt has worn different hats in his fabulously rich life:
Looks like Popeye found his shelter from the storm, a book bag that Mrs. JP had just emptied after our return from a used book sale yesterday.
Now we're back from our obligatory panic shopping at the supermarket, where it's always entertaining on the eve of a storm watching my fellow civilized Caucasians knife-fighting eachother over parking spaces, duct tape and bottled water. My prediction?
It's not saying much that we live in the central area of a tiny state like MA but at most I think we'll get back-handed by Sandy's outer arm for a few hours tomorrow and it'll literally blow over. Of course the weathermen and meteorologists are calling this Frankenstorm and the Storm of the Century, yada yada, and you'll fucking die if you don't stay tuned in to our station because only we can track it! Oh shi-i-i-it!
Because fear and anxiety sells and we're always buying, folks, because we're the most wet-legged species that ever slithered across the face of the earth. With all the hype and near-commercialization of Sandy, the building hysteria is beginning to sound like Y2K all over again. And we all remember how prescient that was, don't we?
I will say, though, that it's funny how hurricanes, storms that feed on hot air, keep following Obama and Romney where ever they go.
The News at a Furtive Glance: No Heart, All Chattle Edition
In the ironically-named town of Defiance, Ohio, Willard Romney (aka "No Heart, All Chattle") continued his Merry-Go-Round of Mendacity by once again flying in defiance of the facts by telling Jeep autoworkers their jobs were probably going to get sent to China, even though as Greg Sargent and others point out, that's simply untrue. What is true is that Romney's Bain Capital is about to ship 170 American autoworker jobs to China by the day before election day. But, of course, Willard doesn't want to talk about Sensata.
Last March, ABC News had dug up a long-forgotten video of Willard Romney while he was running for Governor of Massachusetts telling business leaders how they can game the system and get all sorts of free money from the federal government. In this video, Romney sounds like the stereotypical Republican version of the welfare queen informing other wouldbe moochers on how to milk Uncle Sam for everything he was worth (including from, outrageously, the Department of Education that he and every Republican in the land would love to erase from existence). Romney even brags about his friends on the inside who helped saved the Olympics with what would eventually come to a $2.7 billion bailout courtesy of John and Jane Q. Public.
Here's John McCain essentially excoriating Romney and the Senate for this bloated Olympic budget, the solvency for which he's taking credit on the campaign trail. It's amazing to remember that just four years ago, or eight years after this speech, McCain seriously considered making Romney his running mate. Then he saw his tax returns and reconsidered. Or maybe he remembered this righteous speech and the fact that the $1.3 billion price tag for Salt Lake City more than doubled.
With the predatory nature of banks these days, it would take a hell of a story to blow away all the ones you've heard. But I have one. Wells Fargo illegally evicted a terminally-ill woman despite a court order forbidding them from doing so. Actually, it's triply illegal because Niko Black never had a mortgage with Wells Fargo and since all of her health care is home-based, evicting her also violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. When the Sheriff's Dept. came in after kicking her door down, they had their guns drawn and one trigger happy Deputy Dawg by the name Sergeant Bob Sima actually put a gun to the 100 pound terminal cancer patient's head, with his finger in the trigger well and safety off (which, of course, he's now denying on AM radio).
Here's the online petition pertaining to Niko's case that you may like to consider signing. At last count, they needed only 337 to meet their goal.
Via the incomparable Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars comes this ironic tale of autoerotic Republican buttfuckery disguised as "austerity" measures. So, if Willard, who's been followed by hurricanes since last August, is going to complain about Hurricane Sandy, the so-called "Frankenstorm", then he only has right wing austerity measures to blame for the lack of weather satellites on which we rely for our meteorological news more than most of us realize.
A former Hart Intercivic employee came out of the woodwork last week to tell us about the fraud, criminal negligence and abuse of the public trust at Hart that led him to quit after two years. My question is, why aren't more of us listening to this whistleblower with the election coming up in 10 days? Especially since it also came out last week that Tagg Romney, Mitt Romney's brother Scott, his wife Ann and "former" company Bain Capital all have a financial and political stake in their newest acquisition?
Remember when Mitt Romney recently said, "I'm not like Bush?" Well, you could've fooled... fooled us, you can't get fooled again because, wow, it seems Wiilard's surrounded himself with many of the rats from the Bush administration. 17 out of his 24 senior policy advisers, to be exact. Who are they?
Some of them are big names, like former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and State Department vet Paula Dobriansky.
His transition team, which would staff up a potential administration, is run by Bush alum Michael Leavitt, former Health and Human Services secretary; Josh Bolton, Bush's chief of staff; Robert Zoellick, former World Bank president; and Emil Henry, who worked in Bush's Treasury Department...
Wow. And we were worried when Obama surrounded himself with the exact same fuckups who worked for the Clinton administration. What Sir Drifty sez. The Photoshopped lead picture alone is worth going there.
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
I'm only 98 or 99 per cent certain that Mitt Romney's of earthly origin. During this election cycle, I've thought that, if a conspiracy theorist were to put enough work and research into it, s/he could get an unlimited number of people to also believe that Mitt Romney is simply not terrestrial.
Obviously, he is. If you look at pictures of a younger George Romney, the similarity between him and his son Willard at comparable ages is striking. Mitt is George's son, no doubt about it. No alien in the woodshed in Casa del Romney.
But there's something about Willard Romney that isn't all... quite there. He's the kind of sociopath that makes me wish I'd gone to college and gotten a PhD in Clinical Psychology because if I had, I could easily see myself devoting my entire career to just studying the fascinating, dark metronome that is Mitt Romney's clockworks.
One hears the stories and listens to Romney himself during inevitably disastrous unscripted remarks on the campaign trail and one is struck by how inept he is when dealing with other sentient carbon-based life forms. Because one gets the impression that that's exactly how Romney sees his allegedly fellow humans: As carbon-based life forms who fall into one of two categories: Those who will help him achieve his ravenous ambitions and those who are obstacles that need to be, and eventually are, dealt with.
Romney is like David Bowie's character in The Man Who Fell to Earth minus the humanity and addiction to alcohol evident in Bowie's character, Thomas Newton. It's as if Romney has actually come from the Kolob star system in which his cult believes God resides. He came to earth, started a corporation, grew very wealthy, met a middle-class girl and all for what? The movie tells us that Newton was trying to bring water back to his dessicated planet. What Romney wants to bring back to Kolob (American manufacturing jobs, non-711 cookies, Sheetz subs, cheesy grits?) is anyone's guess.
But what blogs and especially the mainstream media fail to do is to keep a running tally of the almost inexhaustible supply of sociopathic or psychopathic indications of the humanity-challenged Mitt Romney. Each revelation or disclosure is treated as separate, isolated incidents, which then dooms it to the memory hole. But if we were to assemble under one title all the examples of Willard Romney's sociopathic disconnects from normal human beings, we are then able to see more than a dot here and there and can begin connecting those dots to complete a picture that virtually anyone not blinded by a paranoid, racist hatred for Obama can see.
Adventures in Dogsitting
There was the Seamus incident. Yes, I'm bringing that up again. So does Gail Collins in every other article in her byline and God bless her for that. It takes something on a par with a human monster to subject a dog, a family pet, to such terror for 12 straight hours to the point where it shit all over the family station wagon. Romney used the resurrected incident to take a swipe at PETA by saying, "PETA doesn't like the fact that my dog likes fresh air."
The problem was, Seamus was no longer his dog because he ran away as soon as they got to Canada. We're talking about an animal that's
renowned for its loyalty to its human pack members. Seamus, contrary to
official family history, actually ran away because the poor pooch knew
he'd be better off taking his chances in the wild and eventually getting
rescued (we can hope) by someone who wouldn't synonymize him with inanimate luggage.
Bishop to Pawn
Now, let's review what Bishop Romney did right after coming back from his infamous 1983 Canadian vacation, sans
Seamus. A woman, Carrel Hilton Sheldon, had been advised by her Mormon
doctor that if she didn't have an abortion, her life would be in serious
jeopardy. Enter Bishop Romney who told her to keep the child and that,
"as your bishop, my concern is with the child." Even worse, when Sheldon
told him she was advised to have the procedure at the behest of her
physician, the stake president, Romney flat-out accused her of being a
liar and threatened to track him down to prove her lie. Sheldon's
father, when confronted by Romney over the matter, was so offended by
the young bishop that he threw him out of his home. Decades later, he'd
reminisce, "I have never been so upset about anything in my life.
[Romney] is an authoritative type fellow who thinks he is in charge of
When confronted with this damning testimony about past sociopathy, Romney's non-reaction
was identical to the Lauber hair-cutting incident, which is to say he
was suffering from what the president would call "Romnesia": He didn't
remember. Once again, it's entirely possible that Romney doesn't remember
brow-beating this woman, who would eventually leave the Mormon cult,
because it was just one of several incidents betraying complete
indifference to the suffering of the vulnerable. It's famously difficult
to turn devout Mormons and other cultists into apostates but Romney's
personality is so abrasive when his authority is threatened or challenged that he drives people out of the cult.
As if torturing poor dogs wasn't enough, Romney's sociopathy was obviously well-established by the time he was a pampered adolescent in Cranbrook Academy. It had come out only last spring after over four decades that Romney had viciously attacked a fellow student with a sharp object, this time a pair of scissors. John Lauber, a closeted gay student at Cranbrook, had come back after spring break with dyed hair that draped over one eye and that filled Mitt Romney with rare emotion. He flew into a rage at the thought of anyone wearing their hair differently than him and, with a small posse, tracked down Lauber and cut off his hair.
Even more telling was Romney's non-recollection of the incident when confronted with it. His refusal to remember the incident shows, at best, that he's a fucking liar who knew he'd done wrong. At worst (and I think this is actually the case), it's likelier that Romney really doesn't remember assaulting Lauber with a pointed object in a fit of rage that was serious enough to leave emotional scars on Lauber for life and fill his little posse with remorse. Perhaps it was lost in a welter of memories of similar incidents at Cranbrook and Harvard that haven't come to light. Romney waving off the incident as a nonstarter was disturbingly similar to George Bush's non-reaction after Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau reminded us of Bush similarly torturing another Jewish classmate by branding him with a red-hot coat hanger.
Then there was Romney using yet another disaster for political fodder and his reaction to a Louisiana woman who'd just lost her home after a flood, telling her to "go home and call 211." To cite another parallel with George W. Bush, it, too, was eerily similar to two crying women in Biloxi that Bush had draped under either arm five days after Katrina made landfall, and they cried to him they needed clothes for their sister and her children. Bush, instead, tried to divert them to food and water tables that were then, according to a German film crew, immediately broken down the minute Bush was out of camera range. Both seemingly deaf non-reactions to all three women were part and parcel to the thinly-veiled Republican mantra of, "Unless you're a member of the 1%, don't look to the government to bail you out, you worthless moochers."
I'm an Unemployed Moocher Just Like You!
During the mercifully rare occasions that Romney attempts to feign empathy with the common man, it comes off looking awkward and pathetically comical, like a poodle trying to walk on its hind legs. Romney had such a moment in Tampa last June, when he told a group of unemployed Floridians, “I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.”
This kind of false equivalence is also part and parcel to the Romney mind. There's an enormous difference between being unemployed through no fault of your own and struggling to meet even your basic bills and retiring from a vulture capital firm with a quarter of a billion dollars offshored in tax havens. This theme of "We all have it rough" was echoed earlier this year by Mitt's equally sociopathic wife, Ann, who whined about how when she and Mitt were just married, they were "living on the edge" by having to sell the occasional stock option despite the fact that as a teenager in Paris, he still lived better than most middle class people ever do, with servants waiting on him in a palace. But try telling that to the Romneys.
If You Vote For Obama, You're a Lazy Moocher
Thanks to Mother Jones' David Corn, by now we all know that last May at a $50,000 a plate fundraiser at the palatial mansion of another crook named Marc Leder, Mitt Romney said this:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no
matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are
dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who
believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who
believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to
It wasn't enough for Romney to blithely write off nearly half the nation (most of whom being unable to pay income taxes because they're too poor thanks largely to Republican initiatives). Romney, thinking he was speaking off the record, felt free to say what he really thinks of not just the 47% but to express his viciously capitalist worldview. It's one in which basic necessities for the survival of any living creature are considered entitlements, including health care, food and shelter. To sociopaths such as Romney, if you're not a fellow sociopath willing to fuck over innocent people to get ahead then you don't deserve to keep body and soul together.
When confronted with this the day after Corn's nuclear bomb of an article came out, Romney didn't make much of an effort to walk back his statements and never came close to repudiating them before the campaign, and his sociopath wife, announced that Mitt was for 100% of America. Sure he is: 1% at a time.
Silly Poors, Entitlements Are For the Rich
Recently, Greg Palast revealed how the auto bailout that Mitt Romney was so against when he said, "Let Detroit fail" netted him and Queen Ann at least $4.5 million and perhaps a good deal more than that. And this wasn't the first time Romney and Bain benefited from a bailout. Most people may forget that Romney himself had negotiated a $10 million bailout courtesy of Congress and the first Bush administration back in 1990. It ought to be added that this bailout was made necessary because of Romney's incompetent attempt to restructure Bain Capital. So, according to Romney and others of his ilk, corporate welfare at the expense of the taxpayer is perfectly fine as long as those same taxpayers don't expect Social Security and Medicare after working their asses off for decades. Oh, and food and housing? Those are luxuries and privileges, as well.
You Can't Have a Family. You're teh Gay!
When he was still the Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt essentially hid under his desk and used any and every dodge at his disposal to avoid meeting the two LGBT activists who'd spearheaded the landmark Goodridge Vs the Board of Health ruling that introduced gay marriage to Massachusetts and America. Once they embarrassed Romney into opening his door, they met with him for 20 minutes and, according to those who were there, Romney sat there "stone-faced" and finally ended the perfunctory meeting with a dismissive, "Is there anything else?" When they were leaving his office, Julie Goodridge asked Romney, "(W)hat would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her
mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her
state, are going to block our marriage?" His reaction was, "I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you
just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight
years." He also expressed surprise that gay couples had families, completely oblivious to the fact that Goodridge Vs the Board of Health was largely about married same sex couples being able to adopt. Later, while addressing business leaders, he'd stated that if they could come up with some data proving that same sex marriage could increase their profits, he'd endorse it, which he'd conveniently do on the campaign trail a few years later.
I could go on and on about the complete black hole that understudies for Mitt Romney's alleged soul but I trust you get the idea. At this point, anyone who votes for Romney would have to be, A) a fellow 1% sociopath whose fortunes under Obama have boomed but still not nearly enough or B) a racist who just can't reconcile oneself to the fact that a black man is running the nation and that the Caucasian model of governance is giving way to an already long-established multiculturalism that's been a defining characteristic of America since the 18th century.
And it's been made abundantly clear time and again that between A and B, the only people Mitt cares about is A, fellow Wall Street types who "earned" their palatial shelters, their Cadillac health care plans and their 5 star food by firing honest, hard-working Americans and sending their jobs to China to bloat their profit margins and virtually imploding the global financial infrastructure in their Gordon Gecko-on-steroids pursuit of more money.
The primary difference between Mitt Romney and Thomas Newton is that Newton is concerned for everyone on his home planet. His pursuit of money is a means to a noble end, to save his people. Romney cares only about a small coterie made of fellow Mormons, relatives and vulture capitalists. Romney simply wouldn't be able to relate to someone who didn't have the sociopathic enterprise to become a "success" in her own right by also fucking over her common man. Thomas Newton's story may have ended in dissolution and drink but that's because Newton had a sincere interest in interacting with humans and find out for himself what humanity was all about. I don't see Mitt Romney trying that experiment any time soon.
Did Mendacious Mitt Help His Buddy Cheat on His Alimony? (w/updates)
Mitt Romney and sacks of fertilizer. What's the difference? The sacks of shit behind him don't lie.
(Tip o' the tinfoil hat to Mrs. JP for the heads-up. Who loves ya, baby?) As I write this, noted liberal attorney Gloria Allred and her client are at
Norfolk Probate and Family Court in Canton, Massachusetts. Her client is Maureen Sullivan Stemberg. So why is that so important? It's important because Allred is uniting with the Boston Globe on a motion to impound the now-sealed court records of the Stembergs' War of the Roses-type divorce in 1991. The story was broken by the muck-raking TMZ as well as the Globe, Time magazine and Daily Kos, the Huffington Post and others. And they're trying to get the court records unsealed and gag order lifted because the Globe got a tip that not only did Mitt Romney testify on behalf of his buddy Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, but he'd even helped his campaign surrogate lie about his corporation's worth (And, remember, Staples was supposed to be Bain Capital's first great triumph, if the definition of "triumph" is in not bankrupting a company they'd taken over and ship all the jobs to Communist China). But 21 years ago, a few years after the company began taking off, Romney had supposedly testified during the divorce proceedings that, gee, maybe I'm not such a great businessman, after all, and my poor CEO friend Tom here really isn't worth as much as his mean estranged wife and divorce lawyer are claiming he is. Regarding the actual worth of the company, here's Tom crowing in his own words about the company during those heady salad days in an interview with Parade Magazine just late last August:
We had a board meeting in the early ‘90s, and by this time, Staples was a multibillion-dollar operation. It had a delivery business, a contract business, and an international business.
Note he said, "the early '90's." Which was no more than a year or two after the divorce. And we're supposed to believe that Staples' stock had benefited from some miraculous, quasi-religious turnaround in its fortunes so that in 12-24 months it had been transformed from a start-up company into a global multi-billion dollar corporate giant, a success that neither Stemberg, Mitt Romney nor anyone at Bain Capital could've foreseen? It's a miracle, brothers and sisters! Hallelujah! The other half of the story, the aftermath, ought to be considered at least as important as Multiple Mitt committing perjury on the stand 21 years ago. Says TMZ,
Sources tell us ... Tom also got custody of the couple's one child, making allegations of abuse against Maureen. And get this ... in the mid-90s, after the divorce, Tom sent the boy a letter saying, although he loved him, because of issues related to the divorce "it will not be possible for you to be a part of our family for the foreseeable future."
Maureen lost her home in the process and struggled financially.
In other words, Stemberg and Mitt treated Maureen Sullivan Stemberg (an MS sufferer as well as a cancer survivor) and son as if she was just another one of Bain Capital's tens of thousands of employees who'd just lost their jobs to downsizing or outsourcing or offshoring and left to fend for herself.
Meanwhile, weeks after the divorce, Mittens and his buddy Stemberg broke their necks getting to Goldman Sachs and sold their "overvalued" stock for a mint. I have to admit, I find Allred's and her clients' timing a little suspicious, what with election day in 12 days. But if perjury was indeed committed, condemning a mother and child to poverty, then justice certainly has to be pursued. And one has to wonder, in the event the Romneys ever get divorced, if Mitt will lowball his own offshored fortune just to fuck over Ann, another wife of a rich man who suffers from MS and is a cancer survivor? My guess would be, Abso-fucking-lutely yes because right wingers are greedy sociopathic scum first and husbands and fathers ninth or tenth.
David Freedlander of the Daily Beast posted an excellent article early this morning that asked a very good question: Are progressive bloggers a dying breed?
It was a subject on which I'd touched in one or two articles four years ago when Barack Obama first got elected. Unlike other bloggers, I was looking far beyond the next election cycle and offering an educated guess that liberal blogging, once George W. Bush left office, would go into a slow but steady rate of decline. In that respect, old W. was indeed a uniter rather than a divider. He was able to unite progressives of all different styles and voices with his endless malapropisms. With Obama, we have little if any of that.
And, as Peter Daou was quoted as saying in Freedlander's article,
“It has been a very testy relationship,” said Peter Daou, a blogger in the early days of the movement and now a political consultant. “He didn’t reach out. That was complained about in 2008, and during his presidency there has been a very bad relationship. They have been dismissive, and you want to look for a reason why the progressive blogosphere has fractured, that is it.”
So there you have it. That's one very good reason for the declining influence of liberal blogs and it's a synecdoche of why the Democratic Party has been in decline since Carter and perhaps even since the assassinations of King and Kennedy: Fractiousness or, as some liberal diehards would term it, the selling out of Blue Dog Democrats to the Dark Side (Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, Bart Stupak and Jane Harman, to name just a few of the more notorious examples).
Citing my own experiences, I recall getting anywhere from 10,000-33,000 hits on good days with my first and second blogs. Five or six years ago, a link on Buzzflash used to guarantee, at bare minimum, a good four figure day, usually five. Granted, it wasn't always my own content that Buzzflash and its readers were interested in so much as my shameless poaching of NY Times op-ed pieces back when Bill Keller thought the pay-to-read velvet rope was a good idea. But that's not the point.
The point is, getting the big headline at the top of Buzzflash's index page for even 60 minutes guaranteed several hundred hits an hour. These days, I don't even bother submitting to Buzzflash because on the offchance they'll actually link to something of mine, the bump would hardly be noticeable. When you run a C list blog like Pottersville, it's like running a business that depends upon the financial health of your customers- Your traffic depends upon the traffic of the places that link to you.
And in a hit-based, ad-driven revenue model like blogs, the fewer hits you get, the less ad revenue you receive. When I started my first site, Yep, Another Goddamned Blog, nearly eight years ago (Which, in internet time, makes me almost the IF Stone of blogging), a good day was when I got 700 hits. By the time I deleted my second blog, the original Pottersville, I was back down to 700 hits a day and half those people surfed in looking for inappropriate content. I'd come full circle, in other words, and this discouragement is partly what led me to delete it. Even now, despite getting the occasional linkage on Crooks and Liars and almost ceaseless blogwhoring on A list sites, 700 hits a day would be above average for me and that's with Google+ and Twitter belatedly added to the mix.
Freedlander had contacted my old friend Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerilla and what she'd told him could've been written by me:
"The days when people could be very influential in the blogosphere aren’t here anymore." ... Asked if she hopes to keep at it, Madrak said: “Oh Christ, I hope not. I just turned 58. I have been out of work for four years. No one is breaking down the door to give me an offer. Until I have other options I have to keep doing this.”
But Freedlander only touches on another reason why B and C list blogs are going out of vogue when he'd written, "Many bloggers with their own sites have been folded into the tent of Daily Kos, which has dozens of contributors and conducts extensive polling and microlevel analysis of local races."
Susie Madrak, it ought to be remembered, is very typical. Someone who'd started an influential B list blog then got absorbed into a much larger place like Crooks and Liars, where she's front-paged virtually every day. In the old days, the major blogs were largely if not entirely maintained by one, sometimes two bloggers. John Aravosis ran AmericaBlog, John Amato Crooks and Liars, Duncan Black Eschaton, etc. But then a curious thing began happening back when Bush was still "President". Many of the A list blogs went all Earth, Wind and Fire and began recruiting some of the cooler kids (never me, God forbid) like Madrak, Emptywheel, TBogg, Driftglass, his wife Bluegal and so forth so that instead of the work being shouldered by one superblogger, it was farmed out to several B listers.
This is certainly beneficial for the Aravosis's, Amatos, Hamshers and Blacks of the blogosphere. It reduced their work load and, with 12 front-pagers instead of just one or two, it ensured their blogs' content would remain fresh, multi-faceted and frequently updated. But that often meant the abandonment of their original B list blogs (Orcinus, run by Evan and Sarah Robinson, hasn't been updated since February or long after the Robinsons themselves got absorbed by C&L, and just a few times since last year). And the constant piling on and scrolling down of still-fresh material means, because people are too lazy to scroll down a couple of inches, an hour-old post that gets topped can expect to get half the traffic it originally had.
The consolidation of smaller blogs and bloggers into larger ones (the best example of this is perhaps Firedoglake, which started out the same time I had) also means fewer individual voices. Just because a blogger is front-paged it doesn't mean s/he is free to write whatever they want. Their posting privileges are predicated on not displeasing the founder of the blog. For instance, when I crosspost on Brilliant at Breakfast, there are several prohibitions by which I have to abide or I'm out.
But the folding of smaller blogs into larger ones also promises a smaller version of the plantation model pioneered by Ariana Huffington. Barring a voluntary, occasional donation through one's Paypal account (such as I get once in a while from B@B), bloggers still work for free.
But there's also a pecking order in blogging as with anything else. Many of the pioneers of political blogging "grew up" and became "legitimate" (some of the more uncharitable of us would say "sold out"). Preferred bloggers on both sides of the tracks, based on initial large hit counts during the Bush years, abandoned their blogs in favor of book deals and TV appearances. Markos Moulitsas, DKos co-founder Jerome Armstrong, Pam Gellar, Glenn Greenwald and a few anointed others have all gotten book deals. Others have had their blogs picked up and folded into more or less "legitimate" journalism (such as Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory getting transformed into a byline on Salon.com).
Mainstream journalism, another dying beast, realized or assumed, along with elected officials who'd begun courting attention from places such as FDL and DKos, that bloggers weren't going away anytime soon. If Crooks and Liars could attract 500,000 people a day in the aftermath of a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina or if Firedoglake could provide excellent coverage of the Valerie Plame outing that could not be ignored, then they were forces to be reckoned with. Journalism grudgingly gave bloggers a chance to run with the big dogs and if you were Markos or Hamsher, life could be very good indeed.
But electronic media exposure didn't exactly catapult blogging to the next level of exposure and awareness and the rise of Barack Obama and his administration's dismissive attitude toward bloggers has set us back to 2002, back when people who were questioning the events of 9/11 were derisively referred to as "truthers" and bloggers were put on the same level as conspiracy theorists with, as Charles Krauthammer infamously said, "Bush Derangement Syndrome."
And, as with the political infrastructure in this country, this election unites racist right wing bloggers who are behind Romney 110% while the progressives are squabbling amongst themselves over whether to support Obama, to do so conditionally or voting Green or Justice Party. But internecine squabbling hasn't resulted in the lower traffic we've seen since Obama's election. And it can't be said that accepting ads and revenue from right wing outfits such as NewsMax, ads that confront one with a disturbing contrast in content when they're found on places such as Eschaton or Firedoglake, will pump up traffic anytime soon. Nowadays, even the major A list blogs have to struggle just to raise enough money to pay for bandwidth that isn't quite so much in demand, anymore. The smaller ones, such as Madrak and myself, have to struggle even harder just to keep body and soul together.
Perhaps progressive blogging will be revived the next time a right winger gets elected president. But it'll be a vastly different, even more technologically-savvy America (Twitter and Facebook are the hares and blogs the tortoises) and I just don't see blogging regaining its relevance and importance of 2001-2008.
As with the last debate, I'd wisely taken a pass at the one that took place in Boca Raton last night. I've made up my mind who I'm voting for two weeks from today and Obama's not getting my vote again if he ejaculates cancer-curing rainbows from his dick. His so-called foreign policy is, for me, the biggest deal-breaker out of many (the 2nd round of bailouts, kowtowing to Wall Street and the GOP, ObamaCare, the undermining of unions, figuratively spitting at liberal critics, his longstanding support of DADT and DOMA until election year drew near, cutting the Social Security tax, escalating Afghanistan, keeping us in Iraq for three more years to no effect and whining about not getting credit for dreaming up the insane idea that cutting the social safety net would somehow magically balance the budget being among the endless list of other deal-breakers).
And, as reluctant as I am to write about something I refused to witness, I have to say one needn't be a witness to a historical event to critique a book written about it and, journalism being history's first draft, it's not going to hurt to comment on last night's debate after having read a few reality-based analyses on it.
And, without having to suffer through one second of the foreign policy debate, it was obvious that, as always, we're left with two choices: Voting for a man that we ought to hate for what he's done or a man whom we ought to hate for things that he will do. Peter Baker and Helene Cooper had concluded in the NY Times,
For all its fireworks, the debate broke little new ground and underscored that the differences between the two men on foreign policy rest more on tone, style and their sense of leadership than on particular policies. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney seemed to align on matters like withdrawal from Afghanistan, the perils of intervening in Syria and the use of drones to battle terrorists.
So there you have it, although that's but one, maybe two opinions on how disturbingly similar these guys are regarding foreign policy. They argued with each other over tremendous trifles while agreeing with one another whether or not they'd admitted as much, on a number of issues.
But while Karl Rove was at home sitting in his boxer shorts and waving a giant foam middle finger at his TV and tweeting about how Romney was winning the debate, it was completely lost on him and other wingnuts that Romney, as Esquire's Charles Pierce tells us, sold him, his buddies in the military/industrial complex, the GOP and its enduring but dying blood-stippled neocon agenda up the river.
Because the only Mitt Romney character that Mitt Romney would ever think to reprise is the Moderate Mitt we saw at the second debate. And Moderate Mitt has a lot in common with Obama, such as agreeing to the 2014 timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, that Iran is a threat that must be dealt with and agreeing over economic sanctions that are, as usual, guaranteed to hurt just the poor and middle class of Iran and not the ruling class. They both vied for the cock of Bibi the Yahoo and argued over who could make him cum in their mouths the fastest.
But the real Mitt, the one that's dying to scratch out of those beady little glass eyes that flare up the minute someone tells him he may be ever so slightly disingenuous, was showing through like the steel belts on an all-weather radial about to blow. Despite stealing the line that "we can't kill our way out of this mess", it's abundantly clear that Romney would be an even bigger foreign policy disaster than Obama and perhaps even Bush.
And it seems that Romney lost the debate, and perhaps his latest (and hopefully last) failed bid for public office, the second Obama had to talk down to him like the foreign policy antiwonk that he is and explain to him about the smaller Navy and things like aircraft carriers. For the first time in American history, neither major candidate has any military experience whatsoever and Romney had to be schooled about a basic fact like the Navy and got properly zinged by Obama's now famous, "horses and bayonets" comeback.
And it seems thinking liberals who still haven't discovered that there are other parties with other candidates running for the presidency will wind up voting for Obama simply because he's got four years as POTUS under his belt. Romney showed how stupendously unqualified he is and how astoundingly inept his foreign policy advisers are (Romney and Ryan have actually been getting intelligence briefings since last month. Make of that what you will, you hilarious internet wags, but one senses that the Obama administration is giving the president the real stuff while playing a prank on Camp Romney and giving them stuff written by the staff of the Onion).
Otherwise, what other conclusion can one come to when Romney stated that we've never created or propped up dictators? Really? Such as Saddam, the Shah, Pinochet, Noriega and the creation of al Qaeda? One is kept awake at night by the haunting fear that if Romney had appeared on a foreign policy-themed edition of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, he'd go home humiliated and empty-handed while Josh Romney glared at the kids.
Mitt Romney is so stupendously unqualified to be anything or anyone more responsible than dog catcher that it no longer makes sense at how he'd managed to beat off the other Republican lunatics to get the nomination. The only thing Mitt Romney has ever been good at is making piles of money he never earned, dodging wars and taxes and firing people. And, as horrible as Obama has been and will continue to be both domestically and abroad, America will absolutely not be able to survive four years of Mitt Romney.
...be prepared to step into your fair share of turds. Because as sure as cow pastures attract cow shit and as sure as cow shit attracts flies and maggots, there will always be right wing trolls who seek to exploit senseless tragedies such as the Brookfield Sq. Mall to make liberals and people of color look bad. What follows are some of the comments I've collected from the seedier side of the tracks while the situation was still fluid and tactical (as it is as I write this). Keep in mind that this isn't an all-inclusive list but just the worst ones I've found thus far. Don't forget, people, these lunatics also have the right to vote. (Editor's note: I hope this results in at least a few donations or that at the very least you guys tell me you appreciate me doing this. Because going into a place like FreeperLand is like jumping into a sewer without hip waders.)
This is the very first response that came up when the freepers finally got around to reporting on the mall shooting:
Yeah, sport, because this is exactly what God would've wanted. Let's continue:
Yes, because that's what's important, proving that black people are dangerous to proper, God-fearing white people who love to cling to their religion and guns.
When in doubt, blame the liberal lesbian.
Ah, Affirmative Action, the reverse racist program that gives a free pass to black people who murder whites. "But, but... OJ!"
Now, there's an enterprising Freeper: Exploiting two senseless tragedies to make black people look bad! Well played, my little flying monkey, well played. Have a banana.
Now, Freeper tying this to the Obama campaign in 3... 2... 1...
Seenario wit Mooslims. Dayam that trims mah mullet!
Ah, good ole fashioned white persecution. That'll serve them in good stead when Obama's New Black Panthers bring back the days when blacks used to lynch whites by the thousands.
So, Obama is responsible for the actions of every mass shooter and spree killer from 2009 on? The Lone Gunmen ride again.
Hell yeah! Because the last thing we need is a president who, uh, has hardly put the words "gun" and "control" together in nearly four years.
I have it on pretty good faith the person who wrote this is as white as Mitt Romney so nothing more need be said.
Aw! How courageous of this person, to put aside their grief over the shooting of people they'll never meet or know to put a humorous smiley face on it!
Ah, yes. That would be the Christian religion that W. used as a rationale for convertin' them there heathen Muslims in the latest Crusade in the Middle East.
Wow. Kudos to this brave patriot for not actually blaming Sasha and Malia.
Uh, yeah. Like the wouldbe Tides Foundation shooter who was found with Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity books in his car?
I was wondering how long it would take Pam Gellar to weigh in from the peanut gallery.
I guess that one was from Rep. Peter King. (Editor's note: "Allahu ahkbar" is Arabic for, "Praise the Lord and pass the Ammunition!")
Now, keep in mind these were culled just from the one page of comments from the latest thread and the first 50 comments on the first page of the first thread concerning Brookfield from just one site. At that time there were 124 others to wade through and even your progressive porcine can stand only so much.
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
You only have a realistic hope of ending poverty if you can somehow curb the destruction and waste and the devastation of war. - The late Sen. George McGovern (1922-2012)
As is often the case in the Protean, Broomhilda landscape of politics, ironic timing follows much of what transpires. The death of Senator George McGovern, the Democratic nominee for President in 1972, neatly dovetails into the revelation partly broken by Brad Friedman that Tagg Romney and company, through Bain Capital, has bought voting machines in at least five, perhaps six states, starting with the swing state of Ohio.
Attorney General Eric Holder has called for an investigation into this latest bid on the American electoral process that opened up with the Citizen's United decision. Yet, considering the Obama Justice Department's laughable record of investigations it's launched only to drop like radioactive dog turds, this doesn't give the liberal heart much hope. Plus, one can already hear Karl Rove's fax machine creaking and grinding like a $20 hooker on rent day fanning out talking points to the right wing press such as, "Comrade Obama is engaging in partisan politics," and "Comrade Obama is persecuting poor Tagg Romney and the Free Market system yet again!"
And, just to play Devil's Advocate, how would it look if the President's own Attorney General called for an investigation into the oldest son of the Republican presidential nominee essentially buying up thousands of voting machines in Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington, Colorado and, according to David Pakman, also the president's home state of Hawaii?
The real issue, obviously, wouldn't be in partisan politics on the part of the president, who can hardly order his Attorney General and Justice Department to look into this amazingly brazen attempt to buy Romney into the Oval Office but in the incestuous relationship between a major presidential candidate, his family, his "former" company and the very electoral process in the last two weeks of the election.
Here are the abstracts, according to those who'd originally broken this story. Let's start with election watchdog Brad Friedman:
Late last month, Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis at FreePress.org broke the story of the Mitt Romney/Bain Capital investment team involved in
H.I.G. Capital which, in July of 2011, completed a "strategic investment" to take over a fair share of the Austin-based e-voting machine company Hart Intercivic.
It gets even better (or worse, depending on your political stripe). Apparently, this sleazy move also includes one of Mitt's brothers and even Queen Ann Romney. From Truthout:
Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States. In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall's election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help decide who "owns" the White House."
So if you're wondering why Rove, the Romneys and other assorted right wing nut cases seem oleaginously optimistic regarding Willard's chances of sliding into the Oval Office, there's your starting point.
I Love (Kevin) Bacon!
On the face of it, it seems absurd that a businessman savvy enough to take center stage in an $8.5 billion Ponzi scheme without even being investigated let alone charged let alone jailed for his involvement wouldn't be stupid enough to buy infamously unreliable voting machines in the final weeks of his father's run for the presidency. But, obviously, that was the point all along.
So how can this possibly be legal? Well, there's what I call the Kevin Bacon factor. Insert enough degrees of separation between the perp and the people actually carrying out the fraud and that provides coddled, well-connected, lawyered-up right wing operatives like Tagg Romney with enough plausible deniability of any subversive and illegal motive. And this "strategic investment" is enough to dizzy all but the hardiest souls with its labyrinth of corporate entities in the financial and business sectors. So far, we've heard the names Hart Intercivic, Bain Capital, H.I.G. Capital and Solamere. As Allvoices.com sums it up (emphasis theirs),
Both The Nation and New York Times
confirm the connection between the Romney family, Solamere and the Bain
Capital investment in the voting machine company, Hart Intercivic,
whose board of directors serve H.I.G. Capital.
Romney, his wife Ann Romney, and their son Tagg Romney are also
invested in H.I.G. Capital, as is Mitt's brother G. Scott Romney.
The investment comes in part through the privately held family equity firm
called Solamere, which bears the name of the posh Utah ski community
where the Romney family retreats to slide down the slopes." Truthout added.
There are also political connections between Solamere and the Romneys. "Matt Blunt, the former Missouri governor who backed Mr. Romney in 2008, is a senior adviser to Solamere, as is Mitt Romney’s brother, Scott, a lawyer," according to the New York Times.
Willingly ascribing all these connections and collusions between right wing operatives and corporations that include Romney's own Bain Capital to sheer coincidence ought to come with a mandatory revocation of your membership card to the intellectually dominant life form on earth. Whether or not this is being orchestrated from behind the scenes by Karl Rove or any one person, this largely unreported scandal is merely of a piece that threatens to bring back the tainted elections of 2000 and 2004, which also devolved on Ohio thanks largely to a conflict of interest in the form of the Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, also serving as George W. Bush's campaign co-chair.
We can plainly see a massive, nationwide concerted effort to steal votes from the president in a multitude of ways. Tagg Romney and family buying up dysfunctional, easily-hacked voting machines in five, perhaps six states. At least 25 racist and restrictive Voter ID laws being enacted in 19 states. SAC and the electoral fraud scandal in Florida, which led to the "firing" of SAC's Nathan Sproul, another infamous right wing operative tied to yet unprosecuted over electoral fraud. An operative in Virginia, one hired by Sproul, who was recently arrested for throwing in a Dumpster Democratic registration forms. Purge lists ordered by Florida Governor Rick Scott targeting minorities. Republican operatives training challengers to intimidate minority voters and to spread disinformation. The list stretches longer than the rap sheet that most Republicans ought to have on public record.
Considering tomorrow's third and final presidential debate will be exclusively about foreign policy, don't look for the President or the moderator to mention this slimy gambit on the part of the Romneys to buy or steal this election. Yet, with the exception of the New York Times, not one major news source has been linked to in this article because they're simply not touching it. The supine MSM, true to form, is avoiding this and busying themselves with busy work like pedestrians avoiding the aftermath of a mob hit.
The crowning irony in all this is that a couple of years ago, President Obama could've scuttled his own re-election chances by signing on to the right wing hysteria over "voter fraud" and James O'Keefe's heavily-edited, misleading video that got ACORN and its GOTV efforts defunded by Congress.
And that brings us back to George McGovern, an honorable, decent and honest man who seriously underestimated the power of the stupidity of people in large numbers and the Southern Strategy. McGovern sincerely wanted to end a war in Vietnam from which Mitt Romney furiously avoided involvement while lobbying for it. McGovern's tragically misguided faith in the American public's common sense is eerily reminiscent of that of our African American President, who seems to think he'll handily win in 16 days because everyone who wants to vote for him will simply be allowed to with no obstacles, blithely ignorant of the Republican Party's thus far successful attempts to buy, steal, cheat, intimidate and otherwise do everything in their considerable power to not so much install Mitt Romney but merely to unseat him.
See this? This is pond scum. This is what Republicans can only aspire to. And as much as I disrespect Democrats, if I had my way I'd shanghai every self-identified Republican on the planet earth, stuff them in a Saturn V rocket and aim them into the heart of a red giant 100 light years away. And the first one in this one-way ark would be Darrell Issa (R-GTA).
And why do I have a problem with Darrell Issa these days? Well, let's start with the fact that, in his racist hatred of the Obama administration, he'd made a document dump of 166 pages that outed certain Libyans by name, a disclosure that only puts their lives in danger. Go ahead and read Josh Rogin's bombshell of an article and I'll price Saturn V's while I'm waiting.
You done? Good.
For the moment, let's just elide over the fact that Darrell Issa, a pistol-packing car thief who, with screaming irony, made his $450 million fortune as CEO of a company that made car alarms, is now worse than Wikileaks and Bradley Manning. who at least can say never put anyone's life in danger with their disclosures. Issa's State Department document dump that names names in his mad attempt to scuttle the president's reelection campaign, is now working with or for the very terrorists who'd taken the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Despite the sensitive information contained therein, the State Department never made these cables classified, giving a partisan lunatic like Isaa leeway to release them as is.
Does this really surprise anyone that this was orchestrated by a party that had outed Valerie Plame and the 90+ covert agents working under her and wrecking a CIA front company, all dedicated to assessing the weapons infrastructures of Iraq and Iran? Does it really surprise anyone this was carried out by the very same party that had seriously damaged a non-partisan soup kitchen's funding for the sake of a photo op? Does it really surprise anyone that this is the result of a racist and selfish party that had grounded rescue choppers right after Hurricane Katrina for, once again, the sake of a photo op or had commandeered an entire Red Cross aid station in Louisiana for eight hours for a photo op?
Does this really surprise anyone that this scorched-earth strategy was hatched by a party that time and again has shut down the government with one temper tantrum after another until they finally got what they want?
In working in cahoots with terrorists, this incredibly scummy disclosure will at the very least have a chilling effect on Libyans or anyone else who would even just consider working with the American government. Republicans foam at the mouth at the very mention of Wikileaks. But now for the umpteenth time it seems we have met the true enemy and it's the Republican Party.
At the very least, Issa should get voted out of office over this. Personally, I'd love to see Issa get impeached for breaching national security and working in tacit collusion with terrorists. Jerry Tetalman is running for Issa's seat in California's 49th district. He doesn't have nearly the war chest that his criminal opponent does so I'll make you all a deal:
Whatever anyone contributes to Pottersville's Paypal account between now and the day before election day, I'll donate exactly half of what I receive to Tetalman's campaign. We need to get this piece of shit off the Oversight & Government Reform Committee and out of Congress before he endangers more lives.