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November 30, 2012

stuart stevens and white turkey chili

The president met with Mitt Romney for lunch yesterday, where Romney was served White Turkey Chili.  Mr. President: still water runs deep, right?  But even as Romney is welcomed into America's hearts as meme-stigator and loveable punchline, one of his advisers, an architect of the failed campaign, is still spinning as hard as they can.

Stuart Stevens, his name is, and while he acknowledges that the Obama camp ran a good game, he insists that the Romney campaign was superior on the grounds of its focus:

"They ran very state specific issues, less of a national campaign. That was not why Governor Romney was running. He wanted to talk about big national issues — debt, entitlements, the future of the country. He wanted to put big questions before the country. And he did that. And I think the comparison of those two was striking. It was striking in the debates."

That's just a silly thing one says under the klieg lights with a TV camera in one's face.  A less polite way to phrase Stevens' assertion is that the Romney campaign blithely ignored the swing state races to the extent that he lost all of them but one.

Stevens did have a chance for a more contemplative assessment, in an op-ed he placed with the Washington Post.  What does he really think?

In the debates and in sweeping rallies across the country, Romney captured the imagination of millions of Americans. He spoke for those who felt disconnected from the Obama vision of America. He handled the unequaled pressures of a campaign with a natural grace and good humor that contrasted sharply with the angry bitterness of his critics.

Ha ha ha ha ha, okay.

If any of you are running for president, let me recommend hiring Stuart Stevens.  You'll lose in a landslide, but he'll always have your back.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:48 AM

November 29, 2012

simpson and bowles in a clown car built for two

Whether we call it the fiscal cliff or the austerity bomb, you have seen, and will continue to see, a disproportionate amount of references to, profiles of and interviews with Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Laurel and Hardy of addressing the national debt.  It may seem to make sense: after all they did chair the bipartisan commission that bore their name, the commission that came to some conclusion but was unable to achieve consensus.  After all, they're the middle of the road!  Peanut butter and chocolate, warily leaving the comfort of their side of the aisle, coming together to create something delicious, in the shape of a pumpkin or an Easter egg.

But hooey to all that, I say.

Simpson is a crotchety old cuss who's been trying to shred the social safety net for decades, and Bowles is a stark reminder that the Clinton administration spent a good deal of time yelling HOW HIGH? whenever the financial services sector ordered them to jump.  Simpson-Bowles, as they call the plan, is not a compromise — it's a bought-and-paid-for boon to the one percent.

As Charles Pierce puts it:

It is an exercise in Beltway wankery that hasn't even bothered to pause to estimate the human cost of the deal it is seeking to foist on the American people. (And of which Alan Simpson is indecently contemptuous.) It traffics in the spurious notion that any deal with which "both sides" are angry must be the right deal. (Can we please have an honest assessment of credibility here? If billionaires are angry because they might have to chip in some boutonniere money on April 15, and a middle-class family is angry because their 82-year old grandmother with Alzheimer's is lying in her own filth in a substandard nursing home because of Medicare "reforms," are we honestly saying that the anger of both sides is equally justified? Has anyone even asked that question?)

Do not fall for this sad Martin and Lewis act.  Whatever compromise that happens is going to ill fit our needs, but hopefully it can best Simpson-Bowles by a few degress.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:19 AM

November 28, 2012

florida: block the vote

This was news on Monday, concerning the 2012 election, which we are still talking about because it was actually less than a month ago (I know!).  So, according to former governor Charlie Christ, former head of the Florida GOP and current GOP operatives who choose to speak anonymously (as reported by the Palm Beach Post), the purpose of the efforts to limit early voting was to suppress Democratic turnout.

I know.  I'm as shocked as you are.

Obviously Supreme Court cases are not the sort of thing that you get to lobby in the press, but I hope that the Justices in their eminent wisdom take the time to read the above report when they are deciding this case right here.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:42 AM

November 27, 2012

bigfoot maybe news

I was looking forward to demonstrating a little exuberance in sharing with you news that a team of scientists have genetically sequenced some alleged Bigfoot material and found it novel.  That would be huge, right?  Some nice hard science boosting our efforts to keep the world as weird as possible?

Well, that news did break yesterday, but I am decidedly leery of it, as the source of the news is not a scientific journal or even a general interest publication, but rather this thing called PR Wire.

I don't have much experience with PR Wire (thankfully?), but Choire Sicha does, and I take him at his word.  The short version is that this is not a news story breaking, but some soul out there paying to publicize an "upcoming" paper in the hopes that it would become an accidental news story and the "scientists" would get all kinds of attention.

Icky poo, I say, and please quit ruining my paranormal news with this cheap prostitution.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:39 AM

November 26, 2012

tax know-nothingism

This Derek Thompson post is from last week, but it's a point that needs to keep being made over and over again:
When President Obama says he's going to raise the top marginal tax rate, the key words there are "top" and "marginal." According to the president's plan, every dollar under $250,000 of earned income will enjoy the same tax cut it has today. He's only pledged to raise taxes on income above that level by about 5%. So, if you make $251,000 next year, your tax bill wouldn't go up by $12,000. It would go up by $50. A steak dinner, not a small car.

It's in response to the endless series of business stories featuring man-on-the-street interviews from concerned small businesspeople, in which said businessperson just isn't confident enough to expand the business because of the uncertainty of possible tax increases.  Which is not only bad business practice (if you're looking for a reason to expand/contract, try demand, der), but stupid for the reason cited above by Thompson.

This ties in quite nicely to Warren Buffett's op-ed this morning, his umpteenth iteration of Please Tax Me Already Dammit, which looks quite tiring, having to repeat oneself all the time.

But sure, when that loudmouth uncle blows up an innocent FB comment thread with hoo-ha concerning tax uncertainty, remember: if there's gonna be a tax increase over X dollars annual income, all that money before the break will be taxed as it was before.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:53 AM