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August 24, 2012

the bain dump

As usual, time is short, but if you have a second this weekend, read up on the ripples caused by John Cook's release of 950 pages of Bain Capital documents that give a better idea of what Mitt Romney's money's been doing all these years — you know, all that money that Mitt Romney won't release taxes on.

And if you want to start someplace that will ease you in, start here, where fellow Gawker writer Mobuto Sese Seko explains why all this matters at all:

It's a pernicious bit of false piety in America to assume that wealth confers goodness and goodness wealth; that the two evidence an indivisible value to anything other than profit. Asking how Romney became wealthy and how he manages wealth transgresses nothing. It is not an unreasonable intrusion or a heretical line of inquiry. There is not and will never be a minimum number of zeroes to your net worth that confers either absolution or immunity.

To wit, if it's true that Romney's experience at Bain Capital means that he knows how to run things and therefor should be president, you can expect from a Romney administration the leveraged buy-out of Canada, with about thirty percent of the debt used to buy Canada added to the books of Canada, whereafter we'll either keep sucking money out of Canada with exorbitant management fees or lay everyone off in Canada to make the stock price more attractive so we can sell it at a profit.

His experience at Bain doesn't give him a damn fool qualification to be president, and the only reason we're talking about it is because Romney claims otherwise.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:30 AM

August 23, 2012

up by ten?

Yesterday I wrote something implying that Claire McCaskill wouldn't necessarily easily beat back Todd Akin on account of Akin's dim-wittery.  The thinking behind that was that, for the red-meat religious conservatives and the Tea Partiers alike, Akin's know-nothingness is a virtue and not a sin.  Combine that with Missourians not so eager to be told what to do by national parties and campaign, and I thought that Akin had at least a shot.

Well, the first post-gaffe poll to show a real shift in support is out, and it shows McCaskill, who was previously a few points behind, now up by ten.

So I guess a day is a long enough time to have passed before I eat my words.  I'll get right on that.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:05 AM

August 22, 2012

todd akin

Let's take half a second and unpack this Todd Akin debacle.  To recap, he's a scary-right candidate that upset the party favorite to run against Sen. Claire McCaskill in the state of Missouri.  In an interview last weekend, he said that in a "legitimate rape" the rapee will not get pregnant.  Predictable firestorm ensued, resulting in many calls for his to step down, which he will not do (as of Wednesday, August 22).

Many people are cheered by this.  Incumbent McCaskill was running uphill in a state in which the president is not very popular, so the thinking is that Scary Rape Man will be easier to upset than your standard issue Republican.  This may well be the case (though still no cakewalk at all).

But the bigger implication to me is the egg on the face of the national effort.  The entirety of the GOP machine, up to and including the putative nominee for president, called for Akin to step aside, publicly and privately.  For two entire days.  He did not step aside.

So: one, the Romney/Ryan ticket will be forced to answer Todd Akin questions everywhere they go, which amplifies an aspect of their anti-abortion policy which is pretty unpalatable to voters.  And two, you now have a Republican Party with factions openly warring about the future of the party.  Sure, the apparatus is united against Akin, but then you have the backlash to the backlash, with the conservative Christians lining up behind Akin, and (I expect) the Tea Party factions that pushed him through the primary in the first place, shrugging off Beltway dictates.

And on top of all that, and I haven't seen anyone say this out loud yet, but you have a GOP presidential campaign that is utterly incapable of getting ahead of the news cycle, constantly on their heels.

The whole thing gets interestinger and interestinger.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:29 AM

August 20, 2012

quick rundown 8.21.12

Don't let Todd Akin-mania squeeze out the other important wonders and irrelevancies of the newsday!

For example, a truly awesome thing to read would be this long piece by war reporter C.J. Chivers who somehow found his way into Syria.  As you know, Syria isn't exactly granting visas to journalists, nor is Syria exactly a safe place for a journo, as the Assad regime has (allegedly) targeted Western reporters embedded with the rebels.  If you think that one of the best thing that reporters do is go to places that they're not allowed to go and then write about it, then spend your lunch with this.

And if you're not in the mood for achievement at all, read this morning's David Brooks, in which he talks about replacing Medicare with vouchers: he's for it!  Well, not directly, but he does tell a carefully-constructed straw man that greatly resembles David Brooks that it's "neat" and better than the alternative.  Because, you see, it's predicated on the efficiency fairy model of economics, and if the free market is allowed to compete to rake in those big bucks taking care of poor people then everything will be swell, like with telcos and cable companies.  It's lunacy, but it borders on lucid so David Brooks must've had a swell vacation.

And as to Akin, he of the strange (but not unheard of) ideas about different kinds of rape, he may not be dropping out after all.  Neat/weird.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:43 AM

August 19, 2012

moe tkacik on student debt

Time to re-familiarize yourself with the student debt crisis.  You've heard about this.  The size of the debt nationally is gargantuan, and in the depressed job market we have, a whole generation of grads are saddled with a debt that is insurmountable.

But there's some more that you should know about student loans, if you don't already, and Moe Tkacik wrote a column for Reuters about it, and you should read it.

Tkacik gives a brief legislative history of why student loans may not be discharged under bankruptcy and why student loan collection agencies are exempt from debt collection regs and may garnish the debtors wages.  And she identifies the businesses predating on the sizable market of debtors. 

It's worth reading and committing to memory, because it's yet another example of how the financial services market bought legislation that enables them to loan-shark citizens and to suck money out of them like a siphon, and I don't think I've heard either candidate discuss the issue yet.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:07 AM

assault on the medicaid of grandkids

One brief point about the back-and-forth over Medicaid, which the Romney campaign weirdly decided to double down on: the campaign is careful to make the point that Nothing Will Change if you're 55 or older, and that the privatization of the system will only affect everyone else.  And I've seen pundits (John Carney was one, I think) suggest that that fact will stop senior citizens from turning on the GOP ticket over this as is widely expected, because their own personal benefits are protected.

I disagree with that, entirely.  It posits a generation or two of seniors, including all the baby boomers, so selfish that they don't care at all as long as they are taken care of.  That's not the case.

Now, that is an accurate way to describe, say, the Tea Party, who are against any government benefit other than the ones they receive, which transform from a benefit into the right thing to do, somehow.  They are a demo that selfish, that divorced from right and wrong.

But not seniors.  Seniors are parents, and grandparents.  And I haven't seen any polling on this (like I trust polling), but as a purely anecdotal generalization, seniors will care more about the benefits of their progeny than they will care about their own.  End of story.

They may not like those welfare people too lazy to work and having babies and driving Cadillacs and eating fried chicken, etc., but any assault on Medicaid is not an assault on seniors, but an assault on the future of seniors' grandkids.

Good luck with that.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:57 AM