Romney’s “clinging to guns and religion” moment

I honestly don’t expect this to make any real difference in the election, but I find the parallels between Romney’s 47% of Americans expect handouts when speaking to a fundraising audience striking similar to Obama’s clinging to guns and religion comments from four years ago– as this National Journal story points out:

In the video, Romney can be heard saying: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, here 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 you-name-it.”

“And they will vote for this president no matter what…. These are people who pay no income tax,” Romney said. “[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” …

Obama had his own problems in the 2008 campaign with a video secretly shot by a Huffington Post citizen-reporter at a closed fundraiser. That’s how the world found out he had said rural voters beset by economic insecurity were “clinging” to guns and religion.

A new conservative talking point this year is that 51 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax. They do, however, pay sales, property, Social Security, and Medicare taxes, among others.

Naturally, you can count on Ezra to (again) deconstruct the nonsense behind this statement:

For what it’s worth, this argument isn’t true. Among the Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes — which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid. Another 22 percent were elderly.

So 83 percent of those not paying federal income taxes are either working and paying payroll taxes or they’re elderly and Romney is promising to protect their benefits. The remainder, by and large, aren’t paying federal income or payroll taxes because they’re unemployed. But that’s a small fraction of the country.

At this point, I’m mostly curious to see just how much legs this story has and how, if at all, it shapes the ongoing media narrative.

Paul Ryan’s rise to wonk superstar

Really nice piece by TNR’s Alec McGillis about how Paul Ryan’s greatest asset is to recognize how to play the Washington system to his benefit.  Thought this part was key:

That body of work included Ryan’s overall authority on the issue. “He’s very eloquent—he describes the nature of the debt and deficit problem very well,” Bixby [leader of Concord Coalition] said. “If somebody’s got a wealth of facts and figures at their fingertips and can recall them at a moment’s notice, other people tend to defer to that. He knows all these numbers.”

Bixby’s leniency here is remarkable and can be explained by a cultural shift that has taken place in the capital. Simply put, Washington has seen its supply of people able to talk about government in substantive terms—who know “all these numbers”—dwindle over the last two decades or so. The press has shifted ever more into permanent campaign mode; congressmen spend ever more time raising money rather than digging deep into issues that interest them. The upshot is that Washington now finds itself highly susceptible to doe-eyed young men brandishing graphs. What these “wonks” propose doesn’t even have to add up or be scorable, as the case may be with the Ryan budget, because people who lack much policy knowledge themselves regard those who have it with a reflexive awe…

Bingo.  Enough to make me think maybe I should run for Congress.  Seriously, though, I know a hell of a lot.  Which also means I can just totally make stuff up on a regular basis and have people believe me.  Once you get a reputation for knowing things– especially a body of knowledge with which others are not so familiar– that goes a long, long way.  Paul Ryan has used this to totally make up a lot of stuff (i.e., budget numbers that simply don’t add up in the real world).

 

Romney’s math problem

Nice piece from Chait, love his conclusion:

The basic problem for Republicans is that their highest policy priority is to cut the effective tax rate paid by the richest 1 percent of Americans, but the vast majority of the voters don’t share that goal. Handling that problem is the single biggest challenge the Republican party faces. Normally, when a party has an extremely unpopular position, it just jettisons it. But Republicans care so much about this goal that they won’t give it up, which makes sense — you compromise on your secondary goals, not on your primary goal. Still, this ultimately places them in the position Romney finds himself and Paul Ryan and George W. Bush have found as well — the only way they can get elected is to obscure the real trade-offs and make up a bunch of fake numbers.

And similarly from Kevin Drum on why Mitt Romney will not be adding any details (and it is quite humorous that Republicans keep saying he just needs to share more details– obviously, they don’t get how this works):

There are at least two reasons for this lack of detail. First, there’s the usual one: he knows that if he starts to get specific about taking away tax loopholes and cutting spending, people will realize that they don’t like some of the specifics. Cut ag subsidies and farmers get mad. Take away the home mortgage deduction and homeowners get mad. No politician ever wants to get specific about the price that voters might have to pay to balance the budget or let kids go to any school they want.

But there’s a second reason for fuzziness that’s very specific to Romney: his numbers don’t add up. They don’t even come close. Romney can’t offer details even if he wants to because any detail he provides would automatically demonstrate just how laughable his plan his.

So all those tea partiers who want details can forget it. They may be convinced that the American public will swoon if someone presents them with a full-throated, blow-by-blow defense of their principles, but Romney knows better. If he did what they want, his election chances would go from bad to zero overnight.

Exactly.  The necessary details to Romney’s general proposals are electoral death.  That’s why you never hear them and never will.

Mom satire

Two great pieces of Mom satire that, like the best satire, make their points far  more effectively through humor than a straight-up essay would.  First, Jenny Allen in the New Yorker:

Are you a mom? No? Then you don’t need to read one more word. Go on, shoo! I’m not trying to be mean; it’s just that you probably won’t understand a lot of what I’m going to say. It’s a mom thing. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. Right, moms? Go, us!

I’m not saying that moms are better than other people, but there is, well, something different, something special about us…

Unlike Mrs. Obama, when Mrs. Romney talks so movingly to the women of America, she leaves out the childless gals, and there is a reason for that: they are not moms.

You can sugarcoat that all you like, but Mrs. Romney chose not to, and I say good for her. Because, if you’re not a mom, you may not be a bad person, but you are an extraneous person. If there were something great about being a woman who is not a mom, something that added anything to America, if there were even one teeny-weeny example of how the non-moms hold America together the way moms do, Mrs. Romney would mention the childless gals. But she doesn’t, because there isn’t.

Nice.  And as for the over-protective/over-involved parents, here’s Laurie Kilmartin:

Dear Fellow Mom at the Playground,

Please stop.

Oh, I know you mean well. You’re trying to be a good mom. In fact, you are a good mom. That’s the problem. Your enthusiasm is killing my buzz. See, I’m a mother, too, at the very same park with my 4-year-old, but I’m here to stop mothering. The playground has a gate, and the asphalt is covered with rubber mats. If I can’t turn on my iPhone and tune out here, I don’t want to live.

Don’t mistake my disinterest for neglect. If my son really hurts himself, I will be the second person to jump off the bench. (The first will be whoever taps me on the shoulder and says, “Is that your son bleeding by the swings?”) Until then, I’m getting work done: e-mailing, posting on Twitter. And look at all these podcasts in my queue — all those Marc Maron commentaries don’t listen to themselves.

So, I don’t appreciate you rushing to the sandbox every time your daughter cries. Actually, I’m insulted. If pulling out one earbud and yelling, “Figure it out, Mom’s busy!” is good enough for my son, why isn’t it good enough for yours?

I’m starting to think you’re a snob.

Good stuff.  Read ’em both in full.

Photo of the day

From a rather provocative In Focus set of photos of the Muslim protests:

Iranian protestors hold anti-US posters as they demonstrate after Friday prayers against a film mocking Islam, in Tehran, on September 14, 2012. Thousands of people yelling “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” rallied in central Tehran to protest the anti-Islam film blamed for violent anti-US demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Quote of the day

Saw this on a friend’s FB page who also happens to be a friend of the blog.  He said I could quote him here as long as I attributed it to “some doofus:”

 It is amazing to me that anyone who believes they know anything about the founding of this country (especially Supreme Court Justices) could also claim they know the true intentions of the Founders. The Founders were so diametrically opposed on so many points, and the only glue that held the document together was a tenuous compromise which resulted in a constitution nearly no one was happy with. Of this I am certain, on their intentions, not at all.

On a related note, Judge Posner smacksdown Scalia’s (here’s the original smackdown) co-author on “textual” interpretation of the Constitution.  Here’s my favorite bit:

Their approach is typified by the example Garner gives in his letter of a sign that reads “no person may bring a vehicle into the park.” Early in the book the authors say that an ordinance that excludes ambulances from the prohibition “is not the ordinance that the city council adopted,” for an ambulance is a vehicle. Hundreds of pages later they retract that conclusion, citing the common law defense of necessity. Garner in his letter calls this retraction an example of “nuance,” an appeal to a “mitigating doctrine.” I call it having a pocketful of nontextual interpretive principles to draw on whenever textual originalism produces dumb results, such as barring ambulances on rescue missions from parks because the dictionary says an ambulance is a vehicle.

Short version: textual originalism is just one more form of interpretation, as are all judicial decisions.  The difference is that textual originalism is locked into a time when the Founders could not even agree and has a hard time dealing with the modern world.

Your religion will be mocked

Loved this from Saletan:

Dear Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Jews,

You’re living in the age of the Internet. Your religion will be mocked, and the mockery will find its way to you. Get over it.

If you don’t, what’s happening this week will happen again and again. A couple of idiots with a video camera and an Internet connection will trigger riots across the globe. They’ll bait you into killing one another.

Stop it. Stop following their script.

Today, fury, violence, and bloodshed are consuming the Muslim world. Why? Because a bank fraud artist in California offered people $75 a day to come to his house and act out scenes that ostensibly had nothing to do with Islam. Then he replaced the audio, putting words in the actors’ mouths, and stitched together the scenes to make an absurdly bad movie ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed. He put out flyers to promote the movie. Nobody—literally nobody—came to watch it…

the men behind the movie said it would expose Islam as a violent religion. Now they’re pointing to the riots as proof. Muslims are “pre-programmed” to rage and kill, says the movie’s promoter. “Islam is a cancer,” says the director. According to the distributor, “The violence that it caused in Egypt is further evidence of how violent the religion and people are and it is evidence that everything in the film is factual.”

Congratulations, rioters. You followed the script perfectly. You did the propagandists’ work for them…

The hatred and bloodshed will go on until you stop taking the bait. Mockery of your prophet on a computer with an Internet address somewhere in the world can no longer be your master. Nor can the puppet clerics who tell you to respond with violence. Lay down your stones and your anger. Go home and pray. God is too great to be troubled by the insults of fools. Follow Him.

I have to say, the sheer toddler-like idiocy of simply lashing out at an available target just  flabbergasts me.  I get that this is not a majority, but the presumably sane people in the Arab world need to put a stop to this.  Apparently Egypt’s president was slow to condemn the protests because he thought the film should be protested.  To which end I shall re-quote Saletan:

Why? Because a bank fraud artist in California offered people $75 a day to come to his house and act out scenes that ostensibly had nothing to do with Islam. Then he replaced the audio, putting words in the actors’ mouths, and stitched together the scenes to make an absurdly bad movie ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed. He put out flyers to promote the movie. Nobody—literally nobody—came to watch it.

Seriously?!  The idea that people are that keen to take offense and umbrage that they care about a single moron thinks in a country of over 300 million is just astounding.  Now, of course, I realize this speaks to larger issues of resentment, etc., but if you are going to hang it on something, it should damn well be something logical.

After I wrote this, but before posting, I read an excellent piece in the post entitled “Why the Arab World is so easily offended.” (you really should read it).  I do get the “why” better now, but it still is just ridiculous on a basic level.

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