Let’s Talk about Donald Trump

Yesterday, Donald Trump, who is of German ancestry (Drumpf), Tweeted this:

It was quickly deleted after people like John Schindler pointed out that the troops shown in the red stripe are, in fact, wearing the uniform of the dreaded Nazi Waffen-SS, the war criminals who ran the death camps.

The ad would also work this way,

Don’t let’s forget that Trump was feted by the local Republican committee, which urged him to run for Governor against Cuomo.

The Obola Outbreak

In the last two weeks – coinciding with the results of the recent midterm elections – Republicans throughout the United States have been succumbing to an apparently communicable disease for which no cure or vaccine exist. It has reached epidemic proportions.

The virus, known formally as “Obama Derangement Syndrome”, or “Obola” started out with small outbreaks in the darkest corners of the right wing online and radio media. The incubation period seems to have been equal in time to the duration within which the Republicans did not hold majorities in both houses of Congress – now that they’ve taken a simple Senate majority, Obola has spread like wildfire.

No quarantine or travel ban is possible to halt the spread of this outbreak.

One of the symptoms of Obola is “impeachment”. Sufferers lurch uncontrollably from microphone to microphone, threatening the President with impeachment.  Impeachment was once an exceedingly rare phenomenon, but has now become a political tactic for out-of-power Republicans to criminalize the Democratic Party. Justification for impeachment used to be, “high crimes and misdemeanors”, as the Constitution requires. Obola sufferers, like the victims of Clintonitis before them, re-interpret impeachment to put the President on trial for, “things I don’t like”.

How do you know if you suffer from Obola?

1. You think the attack on Benghazi was caused by, or failed to be prevented by, President Obama.

The attack on the Benghazi consular compound by terrorists was a tragedy that killed 4 Americans, but President Obama didn’t cause it, and neither did clumsy explanations on Sunday shows. Answers given on “Meet the Press” are not under oath, are not testimony, and are not undertaken in a courtroom setting. No high crime nor misdemeanor occurred.

2. You’re a Birther. 

If you think that Obama has a Social Security number issued in Connecticut in the 1940s; if you think that Obama became an Indonesian citizen; if you think that Obama was born in Kenya; if you think that Obama is, for any reason, not a “natural born citizen” as defined by contemporary law; if you think that the Birtherist movement was somehow an important civic conversation, then you suffer from this disease and should see your doctor immediately.

3. You Oppose Net Neutrality

In just the last two weeks, this:

and this:

Both of these characters are well-known Obola victims, but these idiotic and ignorant statements reveal an acute worsening of the disease. “Net Neutrality” is simply a policy whereby internet service providers will be prohibited from favoring some internet traffic over others. For instance, with net neutrality, it would be illegal for Time Warner Cable to favor streaming video from Hulu over Netflix. It is not “Obamacare for the Internet” or “for the wealthy and powerful”.  It’s simply a consumer protection initiative to make sure that you get to use the internet for which you pay for whatever purpose you want, without interference from your ISP. But because President Obama has come out strongly in favor of net neutrality, Obola sufferers are reacting quite predictably and typically – if Obama is for it, they must be against it.

4. Immigration Hysterics

President Obama is poised to sign an executive order effectively legalizing the residency and work status of millions of undocumented immigrants.  This is always controversial, but in this particular instance, (from the New York Times):

Asserting his authority as president to enforce the nation’s laws with discretion, Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.

If you talk the “family values” talk, you should walk the “family values” walk. If you are in favor of deporting the immediate family of natural born and legal American citizens and residents, then you’re not for “family values”. If you’re upset that people arrived here improperly, there are certainly penalties less punitive than deportation.

That part of Mr. Obama’s plan alone could affect as many as 3.3 million people who have been living in the United States illegally for at least five years, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration research organization in Washington. But the White House is also considering a stricter policy that would limit the benefits to people who have lived in the country for at least 10 years, or about 2.5 million people.

Extending protections to more undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and to their parents, could affect an additional one million or more if they are included in the final plan that the president announces.

Mr. Obama’s actions will also expand opportunities for immigrants who have high-tech skills, shift extra security resources to the nation’s southern border, revamp a controversial immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities, and provide clearer guidance to the agencies that enforce immigration laws about who should be a low priority for deportation, especially those with strong family ties and no serious criminal history.

Leave the low-risk people who have skills and aren’t criminals alone, and re-focus limited federal resources on preventing more undocumented immigrants from illegally crossing the border.

A new enforcement memorandum, which will direct the actions of Border Patrol agents and judges at the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and other federal law enforcement and judicial agencies, will make clear that deportations should still proceed for convicted criminals, foreigners who pose national security risks and recent border crossers, officials said.

The affected beneficiaries will have had to establish that they are longstanding, law-abiding members of their communities.

Officials said one of the primary considerations for the president has been to take actions that can withstand the legal challenges that they expect will come quickly from Republicans. A senior administration official said lawyers had been working for months to make sure the president’s proposal would be “legally unassailable” when he presented it.

Most of the major elements of the president’s plan are based on longstanding legal precedents that give the executive branch the right to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in how it enforces the laws. That was the basis of a 2012 decision to protect from deportation the so-called Dreamers, who came to the United States as young children. The new announcement will be based on a similar legal theory, officials said.

The reaction from Obola victims has been swift and predictable: IMPEACH! (Ross Douthat in the NY Times, Mark Levin, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and others. But this sort of prosecutorial discretion is well within the powers of the Presidency, as set forth in this letter, and given the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which effectively allows the executive to prioritize who gets deported and who doesn’t. DACA came out in 2012, and no legal challenge has been successful. The Administration’s executive actions on immigration, in part a response to Congressional inaction, appears to be perfectly within Presidential authority.

Way back in 1986, Republicans and President Ronald Reagan introduced and signed, respectively, a law that granted amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants who met certain requirements. More than anything else, requiring our immigration law enforcement agencies to hunt down and deport law-abiding, long-term undocumented immigrants is a waste of resources.

Now, Republicans can’t get out of their own way as they pander to, or are driven by, the extreme right wing of their party, so immigration reform has not taken place. Part of this is due to an acute symptom of Obola – making sure Obama cannot succeed, country be damned.

Make no mistake: impeachment is not a winning strategy, and is not an expression of strength.

5. “Obama is a Dictator”; “Rules By Fiat”

If you utter or believe either of the above, then you’re in the deepest throes of Obola and you should seek immediate treatment. President Obama’s use of Executive Orders has been one of the most modest in recent history.

By any metric, President Obama’s use of Executive Orders has been less than that of his recent predecessors.

If you or someone you love is suffering from acute Obola, please seek professional help immediately.

A Local CEO Implores His People to Vote Romney

A tipster wrote, saying that the following screed was emailed by a local business owner to all employees on the morning of election day.  The man sending it is David Buonerba, CEO of Trans American, a local customs brokerage. I don’t quite understand why businessowners can’t be satisfied with having a loyal set of hard-working employees, and has to give them a set of lies and try to force them to vote a particular way, especially when it’s palpably against their own interests.  

A message from the C.E.O. on Election Day Nov. 6, 2012

Today is a very important day. I am voting for Republicans and urge all of you to do the same.

Gov. Romney has not only solid business experience but has the necessary leadership skills to lead our country in the right direction.

Not really. Governor Romney is a vulture capitalist. To the extent that “Bain Capital” is a business, it exists to swallow and regurgitate struggling businesses, using other people’s money as leverage. It’s a fantastic way for the rich to get richer, but hardly indicative of “leadership skills”. 

Some facts about Gov. Romney:

He is of impeccable moral character
He is a good father and husband
He is a very successful self-made businessman
He is well educated with an M.B.A. and law degree
He donated ALL of his (family) inheritance to charity
He donates at least 20% of his annual income to charity
His “15% tax rate” is our Capital Gains tax rate… he has already paid either corporat tax at 35% or personal income tax at 30%+ on the money that he has invested (that he pays the 15% on!)

Self-made? While he may have donated his inheritance proceeds, by the time George Romney died, Mitt was already quite wealthy. For him to be “self-made”, we’d be assuming that his father didn’t support Mitt throughout his youth. After all, Ann Romney explained that she and Mitt struggled through college, selling off parts of his stock portfolio just to buy Chateaubriand. As for Romney’s track record of taxpaying, we learned in the waning days of the campaign that Harry Reid was right – Romney likedly avoided paying any tax whatsoever for years through a carefully crafted loophole available only to the superwealthy. 

Unfortunately, we know very little about Barack Obama’s background because he REFUSES to release his academic and personal records. Obama has never run a business and has no idea how to create value to grow the economy.

Mitt Romney didn’t release more than one solitary complete tax return, for one year. He released no academic or other personal records. Romney supporters have unclean hands on this particular whine. You don’t have to run a business to know how to run a government. See Collins, Chris

Every single member of the TA family of companies knows far more about economics than Obama… we all (actually) balance our budgets. Obama promised to cut the national debt in half… he increased it by $6+ trillion. What’s a trillion $?…If you spent a dollar a second it would take you 2,700 (two thousand seven hundred) years to spend a trillion $.

Of course, this ignores the depression spiral in which the country was falling in the latter half of 2008. Also, the trillion-dollar war in Iraq paid on credit, which was waged by choice, not out of necessity. 

President Obama has no business experience and is a poor leader surrounded by a bunch of nuckleheads. He recently admitted, “I can’t change Washington from within!” What a profound admission.

Frankly, I agree with him and he should leave Washington ASAP, because it sure is a mess! Barack Obama won election 4 years ago on “Hope and Change”. The definition of hope is “to have a wish to get or do something”… we need more than more wishes after 4 years!

You can’t change Washington from within. You need people – the grassroots – to help change Washington from without. To attack that notion is to attack the very principles of representative democracy. As for Hope and Change, we got both. President Obama pulled us out of that depressionary spiral through the stimulus, which didn’t kill jobs, but grew them; which contained more tax cuts than any previous law ever passed. 

On another very serious note, the Benghazi attack that killed our Ambassador and 3 CIA operatives on Sep. 11th continues to seep out each day and you’re going to learn in the very near future that Barack Obama has outright lied to us about what really happened… an left American’s behind.

This is a right-wing trope that has been repeatedly debunked, and also ignores the Iraq war, which killed thousands based on lies. 

Gov. Romney has a plan to grow the economy that includes reducing taxes (for everyone), getting rid of obamacare and making the U.S. energy independent which will take our country in the right direction. The U.S. has more oil and gas reserves than any other nation in the world. Every time you fill your gas tank, just think of what you could do if you were able to keep at least half of those dollars in your pocket! I most strongly believe that if we have 4 more years of Obama, as Americans we will be much worse off than we are now.

Gas prices went from an average of under $1.50 before the Iraq War, and shot up past $3 and 4/gallon around the time of Katrina, and haven’t significantly dropped since then, except in the midst of the Bush global recession of 2008. The Republican answer to energy problems is to drill – a “solution” that takes 10 years to take effect. 

I invite everyone to take time off during the day or leave early today to vote. Please coordinate with your Supervisor to ensure that we have no lapse in client service.

I hope they all voted for Obama to teach this asshole a lesson. 

Buffalopundit Endorsements 2012

The Iowa Caucuses took place on January 3rd of this year – that’s almost a full year ago. I first want to comment on just how fundamentally horrible and broken our political system is. We have a multi-year process to pick a President. It costs many hundreds of millions of dollars. We have a primary system where candidates have to ingratiate themselves to a party’s extremes before they can move on to the general election and effectively lurch to the center. The Supreme Court has legalized bribery – because money is political speech, its restriction is subject to strict scrutiny and we have barely regulated, completely non-transparent groups able to not just promote or attack ideas, but can expressly endorse or oppose individual candidates. One person can feasibly – legally – fund a SuperPAC with millions or billions of dollars and run whatever ads he wants, with no oversight, no regulation, no limits. I have a huge problem with this, and you should, too.

I detest this system, and hope we can someday fix it. I hate the way in which it has become difficult to debate opinions because we can’t agree on the facts. Other countries manage to hold nationwide general elections in a matter of weeks – not years. They limit contributions, they limit the ways in which money can be spent, they regulate the influence of money in politics and government so that policies help the people, and not special interests. To find out more about how federal electioneering can be changed to focus on people rather than the axis of corporate money and political influence, check out Rootstrikers.

As for our local races, while the Hochul/Collins race gave us a chance to understand that our votes actually count – it couldn’t be closer – It’s disheartening to see how many state races are literally (some figuratively) unopposed. Jane Corwin and Tim Kennedy should have general election races, period. Others are poster children for term limits. Our local politics remain polluted and corrupted by the legalized racketeering performed routinely and legally by the minor parties. Our system of electoral fusion serves no practical purpose and should be abolished.

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as such. They have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. Any endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions.

Obama/Biden vs. Romney/Ryan: Barack Obama 

Obama. I have very strong personal reasons for this, which are none of anyone’s business. But from a macro standpoint, his leadership helped us to begin shaking off a horrific global recession, from which the world economy is still reeling. He passed a law to guarantee women equal pay for equal work. Obama advanced the cause of universal health care coverage – a goal that our country had hitherto been unable or unwilling to meet despite many attempts since World War II. Obama strengthened alliances abroad while navigating a particularly difficult set of international issues and crises. Obama may not be perfect, but he has done a tremendous job given the circumstances with which he has been faced. He deserves to continue the work he’s started, and we ought to stay the course.

Need something persuasive? The Economist endorsed Obama, explaining that he averted a Depression, he refocused our foreign policy in an intelligent way, and that Obamacare will reverse a “scandal” of 40 million uninsured. It hits Obama for inconsistent stewardship of commerce, and places blame on him for the noxious relationship with congressional Republicans (who also own it), but overall explains just how awful a choice Romney would be.

It’s no secret that I wholeheartedly endorse President Obama for re-election. Mitt Romney has completed the Republican Party’s departure from “compassionate conservatism” to “severe conservatism”, and he has run a fundamentally opportunistic and disingenuous campaign, where he promises absolutely nothing of substance to middle-class families. So, instead, I’ll offer up some graphical and audiovisual reasons to vote for President Obama.

Job growth rebounds after the dreadful global Bush recession:

Obama passed the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act:

The case for Obama now:

The Dow is up.

Employment is up.

Obama soshulizm.

Romney went to Europe, and came back a punch line:

We never got that “Whitey Tape“, but we got to see Romney’s.

 

Gillibrand vs. Long: Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand is running for her first full term after winning a special election to take over what had been Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. She has proven herself to be a capable and responsive representative in Congress, who has taken up the cause of “Made in America” in a positive, consistent way.

New York is a pretty left-center state, and the tea party may have some emotional influence within Republican circles, it’s a Paladino-fed joke among the electorate at-large. Wendy Long is a tea party candidate who has attracted all the support she deserves – not a lot. Gillibrand would have been quite vulnerable had the Republicans put up a credible, centrist Republican to run against her, but the Republican Party in New York is in as much disarray as its national counterpart will be after Tuesday when Mitt Romney’s opportunistic campaign loses. The stage is set for an epic battle between the pragmatic reasonableness of people like Chris Christie, and the reactionary, obstructionist hatred of the ultra-right tea party. This will be good not only for the Republican Party, but also for the country.

NY-26 Higgins vs. Madigan: Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins is a tireless champion for western New York. He has worked relentlessly – from the center-left – to improve Buffalo, WNY, and especially her waterfront. Mike Madigan is another tea-party candidate in a decidedly un-tea-party district. He has fallen back on a platform having to do with the poor quality of education in the inner city. He has identified an acute problem – one that he could better address in city or state government, or within the school board. The right wing agitates for de-federalization of education, and abolition of the Department of Education. I don’t know how that would improve school quality or student outcomes versus, say, promoting a 10th Amendment states’ rights agenda, but you can’t voucherize your way out of the problem. If Madigan is serious, he’ll try again for a seat where he might actually have a direct positive affect.

NY-27 Hochul vs. Collins: Kathy Hochul

Not only is Kathy Hochul a fantasic legislator who is pragmatic, independent, and votes as you’d expect a conservative Democrat to vote, but she isn’t Chris Collins. Chris Collins has a record of mean-spirited failure. Make no mistake about it – sending Chris Collins to the House of Representatives would be an utter disaster. He is a person uniquely unqualified to act as an effective legislator – arrogant, mean, rude, inflexible. He doesn’t need the job, and the people in the district don’t deserve the shambles he would cause. I know that this is a tied race, so it is incumbent upon everyone to pitch in to help re-elect Hochul and to prevent Collins from going to Washington and acting in his own best interests, rather than ours.

Think about this – when have you ever heard a single person, ever, say, “that Chris Collins – I like him. He seems to have my best interests at heart.” Never.

SD-59 Gallivan

Gallivan runs for re-election unopposed. This is a shame. I’m sure he’s not perfect.

SD-60 Grisanti vs. Amodeo vs. Swanick: Mike Amodeo

First off – I don’t care if you self-identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Conservative – a vote for Chuck Swanick is a vote for transactional politics at their worst, for someone who was at the forefront of the great Erie County fiscal meltdown of 2005. That leaves Grisanti and Amodeo. Grisanti has ably served the district, and although he too often devolves into a cookie-cutter Republican, railing against fantasy bogeymen like “free college tuition for illegal aliens” and tougher criminal penalties for various things, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that his vote for marriage equality in 2011 was a genuine profile in courage.

Looking forward, however, one of the biggest pressing statewide issues right now is whether the state will allow hydrofracking for natural gas. It’s fair to say the electorate-at-large is pretty uninformed when it comes to the risks and benefits of hydrofracking, so this makes it unfair to force New York voters to weigh them and decide either to allow or prohibit the practice. This is something so fraught with emotion, and an issue so backed by money that the pressure will be strong; relentless to arrive at a quick decision from the top, down. Until we as citizens of New York have had an opportunity to have a full and fair, fact-based debate about fracking’s pros and cons, we should prohibit it altogether. On this point, Amodeo is stronger and the edge goes to him.

SD-61 Ranzenhofer vs. Rooney: Justin Rooney

Mike Ranzenhofer has been an elected official for 20+ years. Name one accomplishment. You can’t. His continued tenure in government is to pad his pension and lifetime benefits, which I’m sure his small law office wouldn’t afford him. Justin Rooney is young blood who deserves a chance to free eastern Erie County from the Ranzenhofer record of [blank].

SD-63 Kennedy

Tim Kennedy is running for re-election unopposed. This is a shame. I’m sure he’s not perfect.

Assembly: Ray Walter, Christina Abt

A-140 Schimminger vs. Gilbert

A-141 Peoples v. Donovan

A-142 Kearns

A-143 Gabryszak v. DeCarlo

A-144 Corwin

A-145 Restaino v. Ceretto

A-146 Walter vs. Schultz

A-147 Abt vs. DiPietro

A-149 Ryan vs. Mascia (C)

Of the above, I can endorse Ray Walter and Christina Abt. I know Ray, and I know he’s actually going to Albany to try and make a difference. Walter’s opponent hasn’t mounted a credible campaign. Christina Abt is a brilliant writer, a lover of the region, and someone who has proven her ability to reach across the aisle to get things done. DiPietro has become a Rus Thompson-like perennial candidate, and his tea party ideals certainly play well on obscure Google groups and listservs, but his political inflexibility contrasts starkly with Abt’s flexible pragmatism.

I don’t know anything about any of the other races, but note that neither Jane Corwin nor Mickey Kearns deserve to be running unopposed.

Comptroller: Shenk vs. Mychajliw: No Endorsement

This is a tough one. I like Stefan, despite the over-the-top caricature of a Republican hack he played while acting as Collins’ spokesman in 2011. But he is uniquely unqualified for the hypertechnical post of County Comptroller and has no experience handling a budget of any size, much less a billion-dollar one.

Shenk’s qualifications are, to be honest, not much more impressive. He does, however, have extensive experience handling municipal finance in the town of Boston, so arguably he could expand that countywide. I don’t put much stock in the anti-Shenk argument about how he was selected to run out Poloncarz’s term – anyone complaining is merely upset because the political selection didn’t comport with their particular preference.

However, what Shenk should have done was to establish his independent bona fides at some time in the last 11 months. He did not do that, and that enabled his detractors to point out that fact to underscore their argument that he’s under Poloncarz’s thumb and would be an ineffective watchdog. That’s bad policy and bad politics, and reflects a troubling tone-deafness. On the other hand, Mychajliw should be explaining to voters how he would overcome his utter lack of experience by explaining whom he would hire to do the gruntwork.

This is a push. I would be leaning towards a Mychajliw endorsement if I knew the people he’d be hiring, and if I wasn’t so sure he’d hyperpoliticize the office. Shenk may have a marginally better grasp of what the job entails, but hasn’t used his time in the office to do much with it. I won’t know for whom I’m voting until I’m there with pencil in hand.

Vote

Polls open on Tuesday at 6am and close at 9pm throughout New York State. Some areas have propositions on the ballot – you can check the ones in Erie County here. An .xml list of all Erie County candidates is here. To find your polling place, and to generate a sample ballot based on your Erie County address, click here.

Romney’s American Value: Lying

One of the reasons a local birther cited for choosing Mitt Romney over Barack Obama is that Romney is an American who holds American values with other Americans in America and has America’s best American interests at American heart. 

One of those American values must also involve lying

For instance, American Mitt Romney hopped on a Bloomberg story indicating that Jeep would return to the Chinese market. Jeep doesn’t make cars in China, and not a single car made in the People’s Republic of China is sold in the United States at this time.  That didn’t stop the Romney campaign from saying – with a straight face – that Obama is an outsourcer because Jeep will start building its cars in ChinaThe report was that Jeep would resume exporting American-made Jeeps to China. From Chrysler: 

There are times when the reading of a newswire report generates storms originated by a biased or predisposed approach.

On Oct. 22, 2012, at 11:10 a.m. ET, the Bloomberg News report “Fiat Says Jeep® Output May Return to China as Demand Rises” stated “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley (President and CEO of the Jeep brand) referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”

Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce. It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.

Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.

That didn’t stop the American Romney campaign from completely making something up out of whole cloth. On the American stump, Romney began saying that Jeep was going to start building cars in China. When Chrysler and the media pointed out that this was false,  American Romney doubled down on the lie and made an ad about it. It’s a lie. It’s false. Mitt Romney’s American or Mormon or whatever values allow him to just blatantly make stuff up

It’s so bad that it’s now actually become a thing. The Obama campaign is pouncing, Americanly 

Thrifty Rent-a-Carl

I recently received yet another one of Carl Paladino’s pieces of spam masquerading as a political statement. This one contained a compendium of conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s alleged socialism, Marxism, Kenyanism, Islamism, etc., ad infinitum. It’s clear that Carl Paladino and his crew are full-on birthers, and when Barack Obama wins re-election in a couple of weeks, that boom you hear won’t be a miniscule Olcott earthquake, but the sound of heads exploding throughout Paladinoist WNY. About a week ago, I wrote a post that included this:

6.  If you own any of these:

 

Then chances are you’re white, male, and over the age of 45. You think Sean Hannity is great, you hate that Bauerle tolerates gay people, and you think that Carl Paladino is God’s gift to politics. You read WND.com as either a primary or secondary news source. You stopped going to Free Republic a couple of years ago, but you think that Michelle Malkin has the right mixture of sarcasm and gravitas. Also, you completely freaked the fuck out when the country elected a black (you insist on calling him mixed-race or half-black) President in 2008. You believe that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, but was born in Kenya to devoted communists, and set up through a wide conspiracy – that’s taken place over 50 years – by Democrats, the SDS, Kenya, world Islam, Indonesia, the KGB, and an associated roster of communist cadres to take away the United States and replace it with a Leninist dictatorship. You self-identify as a tea party activist, but in reality you’re just a racist omniphobe who has – at least once – uttered the phrase, “keep the government out of my Medicare”. 

Click to enlarge

The lawn sign – those are available courtesy of Paladino henchman, Rus Thompson. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the “Vote for the AMERICAN” bumper sticker – which suggests, obviously, that Mexican-American anchor baby Mitt Romney is American, while African American Hawaiian-born natural born citizen Obama is not – is being affixed to cars rented from the Thrifty and Dollar rent-a-car franchises at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport

The Thrifty and Dollar rent-a-car franchises at Buffalo Niagara International Airport are owned by, 

Westover Car Rental, a subsidiary of Ellicott Development, a Buffalo holding company controlled by Carl Paladino, the Tea Party-affiliated businessman who lost the 2010 gubernatorial race to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Two visitors (no word on whether they were cultural tourists here to see our beautiful architecture, museums, and dining), told the Huffington Post,

“We noticed a bumper sticker on the car and in the dark lot we thought it was a promotion to “buy American” — but didn’t think about it until the next morning when we went to the car for additional luggage,” Wingate, who rented the car the weekend of Oct. 13-14 to attend her daughter’s wedding, told The Huffington Post in an email. “After reading it, we realized what it said/meant and were horrified.”

Wingate said she was “embarrassed” to drive the car and that she complained to an employee when she returned the car. She said the employee said the franchise owner wanted the stickers kept in place and that he had asked the staff to vote for Romney. Wingate also said she noticed other cars with the stickers at the Thrifty franchise.

And another woman Tweeted, 

 

You know, my family has rented cars in full-on Communist countries, and those Zastavas didn’t proselytize or propagandize to us. If I rented a car somewhere and it had a political sticker of any kind on it, my reaction would be to say, “WTF is this?” and ask that it be removed so I wouldn’t get charged for putting it there and its removal. What a disgusting and embarrassing way to treat customers and represent our region as idiotic, backwards, ignorant birthers. 

“We all thought it was offensive,” DiBiase said. “If it was a general Mitt Romney sticker, it would be upsetting, but it would not be offensive.”

DiBiase said she again raised her complaint when returning the Toyota Prius and said a staffer told her that the stickers were placed there by the owner and that the one she took off would likely be replaced. She said Thrifty’s corporate office replied to her various tweets saying they would look into the matter, but she has not heard back.

The Huffington Post called over to the Buffalo Thrifty franchise and got a runaround, and of course Carl doesn’t speak with liberals. But now you know to add the Buffalo Dollar and the Thrifty franchises in Buffalo and Rochester to your Paladino boycott list. 

Horses and Bayonets on the Morrow

In debate the first, Alpha Romney showed up and stylistically, if not factually, defeated a sleepy Obama. In debate two, electric boogaloo, Romney and Obama both came to the knife fight with guns a-blazing. 

Last night, in debate number three, Alpha Obama went on offense against a stammering, sweaty Romney who, at times, seemed as if Sarah Palin had helped with debate prep. When Obama criticized Romney’s incoherence on various foreign policy matters, Romney whined, “attacking me is not a plan”. It was repeated at least twice, and sounded weak, sorrowful, and pathetic. Obama’s cross-examination of Romney on his prior inconsistent statements was effective and decidedly well-hinged.

For instance, at the first debate, Romney had complained that the 2014 deadline to leave Afghanistan was something he agreed with, except insofar as it telegraphs to our enemy that all bets are off after that. It’s a disingenuous weasel answer, and one that Romney completely abandoned last night, instead claiming to back the 2014 date. From TPM, Obama

You said that first we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan, then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends. Which means not only were you wrong, but you were confused and sending mixed messages to our troops and allies.

In 2008, Romney said we shouldn’t move “heaven and earth” to get Osama bin Laden, and that we should first ask Pakistan for permission.  Obama recounted meeting the daughter of a 9/11 victim, which reaffirmed to him that moving heaven and earth was exactly the right thing to do; “worth it”, 

“[Y]ou said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man,” Obama said. “If we would have asked Pakistan for permission, we wouldn’t have got him.”

On Russia: 

“I’m glad that you recognize al Qaeda is a threat. Because a few months ago when you were asked the biggest threat facing America, you said Russia,” Obama said. “The Cold War has been over for 20 years. But governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

Later Obama said directly to Romney, “You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it.”

Romney repeatedly claimed to be the candidate of peace – he rebutted the elimination of Osama bin Laden with “we can’t kill our way out of this mess“. Romney tried to attack Obama from the left on this, and everything about it reeked of phoniness. The guy who has John Bolton on his foreign policy team isn’t the McGovernesque peace candidate.  On Iran, Romney actually suggested that some unnamed “world court” indict Ahmadinejad for genocide. That’s nice, but the United States has nothing whatsoever to do with the International Criminal Tribunal. And how does that jibe with the Republican anti-world-government, anti-UN, US must do everything mantras? It’s a desperate ploy by a desperate candidate. 

If, at the foreign policy debate, Romney can get no traction on his Libya attacks, he’s lost. 

Throughout the night, Alpha Obama was the calm, rational, factual counterpoint to Romney’s rushed stream of consciousness. He also gave Romney nary an inch to repeat falsehoods or reinvent history. Obama pre-empted Romney’s predictable attacks about Israel with yet another “Libya moment”. One of Romney’s clumsiest attacks was to accuse Obama of weakening our military by pointing out that the Navy has fewer “ships” now than it did in 1916(!). Obama snarkily obliterated that argument, and it was a highlight of the night – a “you’re no Jack Kennedy” moment. 

Funny aside – someone on Facebook mentioned that Fox News “fact-checked” the assertion that the military doesn’t use bayonets anymore by pointing out that Marines have them. Except for the fact that the President said “fewer”, not “none”. Now we’re fact-checking deliberately false fact-checking. 

But except when they veered to domestic policy issues that are swing-state friendly, it was astonishing just how much Romney agreed with every foreign policy thing Obama’s doing, or has done. He liked everything! Romney was reduced to using long strings of words to say he’d do exactly the same thing, only perhaps louder or faster. 

In their closing arguments, Obama pivoted back to hope and staying on a path to move forward, rather than back. Romney did his best Reagan impression, but ended up sounding and looking more like a more WASPy Billy Fucillo, who really wants to see you in this purple Hyundai with low miles and EZ-terms. 

Some highlights: 

In response to Romney’s accusation about an “apology tour” where Obama purportedly ignored Israel. This was quite the Libya moment. Please proceed, Governor:

Closing with hope :

Gas and the Dow

During the second Presidential debate, this exchange happened

MR. ROMNEY:…If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about a buck eighty-six a gallon. Now it’s four bucks a gallon. Price of electricity is up.

If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country to get America energy-secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it.

MS. CROWLEY: Let me —

MR. ROMNEY: Those things will get us the energy we need.

MS. CROWLEY: Mr. President, could you address — because we did finally get to gas prices here — could you address what the governor said, which is: If your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, think about what the governor — think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was 1.80 (dollars), 1.86 (dollars). Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse; because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney is now promoting. So it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices, because with his policies we might be back in that same mess. (Audience murmurs.)

I’ve seen a bunch of Republicans make this charge – that it’s Obama’s fault that gas prices have skyrocketed from a reasonable $1.80/gallon to the current $4.00/gallon. But that is so fundamentally misleading – such a basic symptom of Romnesia

If it’s Obama’s fault that gas prices have gone from $1.80/gal in February 2009 to $4.00/gal in October 2013, then it’s also his fault that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has skyrocketed from 8,000 to 13,300 in that same time. 

 

What else? Well, let’s take a look at some more trends

Retail Sales: 

 Unemployment: 

Car sales: 

Highest since 2007: 

So, don’t listen to the doom and gloom, and don’t succumb to Romnesia, whereby you completely forget what happened in 2008. 

Politicizing Security

Orwellian

In August 2004 – in the immediate aftermath of the Democratic National Convention, any momentum Senator Kerry had coming out of it was halted by the Bush Department of Homeland Security raising the terrorist threat level from yellow to orange for financial institutions in some cities. It reeked of petty political opportunism and dirty Karl Rove trickery. As it turns out, former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge later admitted it was exactly that

The threat level reverted to yellow just a week after Bush’s re-election. Mission accomplished, as they say.

The idiotic threat level system – designed for simpletons, by simpletons – has since been abolished. 

When we talk about fraud and political opportunism, we should have longer memories. The world didn’t begin in 2008.

Romney vs. Obama: Colorado

On style, Mitt Romney ran away with the debate. President Obama barely showed up, and seemed to be completely disengaged and bristly. Romney denied and attacked consistently and constantly, and Obama sort of repeated himself and backed off of capitalizing on huge entrees. 

Then again, debates don’t win elections – zingers and good performance don’t win debates. Dan Quayle defeated Lloyd Bentsen, you guys. George W. Bush was one of the least articulate candidates in history, with a superficial grasp of issues and he defeated Al Gore and John Kerry. 

But here’s the thing – Obama is weakest on the economy. This performance may have been a strategic choice. After all, we still don’t know how Romney will pay for his tax plan, do we? We still don’t know the details of what he’d replace Obamacare with. We don’t know how he’s going to get insurers to cover pre-existing conditions without Obamacare/Romneycare’s promise of more customers through a mandate. 

Instead, Romney started in with death panels again, and Obama meekly defended the Affordable Care Act’s advisory groups that would streamline care and make it more efficient for patients. Instead, Romney repeated the “take $716 BN from Medicare” lie. 

The Republicans are demonizing efficiency and cost-cutting. 

When Romney somehow tries to claim that Obamacare differs from Romneycare, he’s lying. When your lie is caught and you then devolve to a state’s rights argument – why should people in Iowa have worse access to care than people in Massachusetts?  If health insurance universality is worth doing, it’s worth doing universally. Obama’s failure was in not confronting Romney on his blatant lies

“I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of the scale you’re talking about. I think we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I won’t reduce the share of tax paid by high-income people. … I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce revenues going to the government. My number one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that no tax cut that will add to the deficit.”

So who’s right?

Romney has run for months on a plan to lower everyone’s tax rates by 20 percent — an amount that independent analysts have concluded will reduce revenues by $5 trillion over 10 years.

Romney has also insisted that his plan will be deficit neutral and that it won’t increase taxes on the middle class. But according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center and other analysts, Romney won’t be able to make good on both of those latter promises.

According to TPC, even if Romney closes all loopholes and deductions for high-income earners, that alone will not account for all the revenue he loses because of the rate cut. Thus, to make the overall plan deficit neutral he’d have to raise the tax burden on middle income Americans.

If Obama had the attack line on deck, responding to the lying denial should have been ready to go in the dugout. It never came to the plate. Obama got a few good lines in, delivered sleepily. Obama asked whether Romney was “keeping the details of his plan secret because they’re too good?” Under Obamacare, insurers will no longer get to “jerk you around”.  On substance, Romney seemed to pretend that the world began in 2008, and Obama did practically nothing to disabuse him of that notion. 

Obama said, “budgets reflect choices. If we ask for no revenue, we have to get rid of a lot of stuff…severe hardship for people, and  no growth.”  It was too wonky by half. The poor economy is most people’s central issue. Selling the successes and benefits of health insurance reform is critically important. Obama whiffed on all of them. He didn’t strongly defend his administration’s record, he didn’t strongly enough rebut Romney’s lies and promises, and he simply sleep-walked through the thing. 

On a side note – Jim Lehrer also barely showed up. I have never seen a less structured debate or a less forceful moderator. At times, he was simply trying to get a word in edgewise, saying, “um…hey….guys”. Perhaps someone slipped something in Obama’s and Lehrer’s drinks. 

Twice, Romney claimed that Obama wanted “trickle-down government”. Along with his tax claims and his health care obfuscation, I suspect that this is a line that will come back to haunt him.

It’s easy to be confident and outperform your debate opponent when you’re lying. Romney tried to remake himself last night as a champion for the middle class – this is the same guy who opposed the auto bailouts and denigrates 47% of the population as victim moochers. Time will tell how this will play out, but debates aren’t game-changers.  Coming up: 

Thursday, October 11 – Vice Presidential Debate

Tuesday, October 16 – Second Presidential Debate (Town Hall)

Monday, October 22 – Third Presidential Debate

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