Friday, January 20, 2012

Gingrich and Santorum are not the only racists in the GOP (Jenny Sanford anyone?) (VIDEO)

I watched this interview with Jenny Sanford, curious about what she had to say about Newt Gingrich. Now I’m never going to be curious about anything she has to say ever again.

There’s no other way to put this, but Jenny Sanford is a racist. I wish she wasn’t, but there it is. She’s a Southern Belle, who herself is the privileged daughter of other Southern Belles, who apparently thinks African-Americans like me been making all this Racism stuff up these last three hundred and fifty years.

To have Chris Matthews show her the video tape of Newt Gingrich actually being thanked for "putting Juan Williams in his place", and to have her say there was nothing wrong with that, that all this dog-whistle talk is a media fabrication, speaks volumes for her lack of character.

Actually, no it doesn’t. It tells me, plainly and simply, she’s a racist.

The big problem that exists in America today is that too many (mostly White) Americans think that one only meets the definition of racism if you're buring a cross on someone's lawn, and doing it when you're wearing a sheet over your head.

Not so. I see evidence of racism in small ways in everyday life, committed by people who if asked, even quiet rooms where such things are discussed, will insist that they're not racist.

But clutch your bag a little tighter in the elevator when a black man walks in? Follow around young black men in the store? Assume because of my Skin Color that I can't qualify for credit or a loan? These are judgments and actions being taken on the basis of my skin color.

And when you provide cover for the racism of others, as Jenny Sanford does in that video? Well, you're either blind, stupid or willing. Jenny Sanford is not stupid. I think its too late in the day for anyone to be that blind as to racial disparity in this country.

So that only leaves willing...someone willingly blind. And if you're willingly blind, if you're not willing to make and effort to see what's going on, what else am I to think of you?

Now, if you are a White Republican, and have a problem with what I'm saying. What can I say, but @#$^ off. I'm African-American. I know what racism is, you don't. I know what the dog-whistles sound like, you don't.

I get to judge what offends me, you don't.

You want another Dog Whistle? James Fallows of Atlantic Monthly (rightly) took Newt to task for his racial coding. Here's what an angry reader sent to him:

Many times you present your perspective fairly, but in today's footnote comments about the South Carolina debate in your Final on Huntsman blog posting, one of two things is apparent. Neither alternative reflects well upon you.

You cited as a "dog whistle" Newt Gingrich's comment that Obama is "the food stamp President". By calling that a dog whistle you are dog whistling to your own constituencies about how terrible and racist those evil Republicans are.

You should certainly be aware that Newt Gingrich and other Republican candidates have many times in recent months made the argument that President Obama's administration has resulted in record numbers of Americans receiving food stamps, while record numbers of Americans are unable to find jobs. They then promise policies that will result in more jobs and fewer people needing food stamps as employment improves. They may make the point as well that it is more personally uplifting to feed one's family as a result of holding employment, than it is to be dependent on food stamp assistance.

Alternative one is that James Fallows is ignorant of this argument or fails to see that it might resonate with people of all races who hope to support themselves in the job market. That would imply an obtuseness that other evidence does not support.

Alternative two is that James Fallows understands this formulation but pretends not to for the specific purpose of unfairly accusing its proponents of racism. Given that the distribution of food stamp assistance is broadly represented among whites, Latinos, and blacks in America, even if the argument were "nobody should be receiving food stamps", which it clearly isn't, where is the racial viciousness supposed to come from? The ugly smearing appears to be coming from this hypothetical James Fallows alternative two.

Look, there are plenty of cultural, aesthetic, and policy issues you may have with the Republican South Carolina campaign. It might be wise to confine your arguments to those real differences rather than smearing people for slurs they do not make.

See that? Same mentality as Jenny Sanford.

And yes, that was racist, too.

Fallows promptly ripped the reader to shreds:

Here is a third alternative, the one I believe: that Newt Gingrich knows exactly what he is doing when he calls Obama the "food stamp" president, just as Ronald Reagan knew exactly what he was doing when talking about "welfare Cadillacs." There are lots of other ways to make the point about economic hard times -- entirely apart from which person and which policies are to blame for today's mammoth joblessness, and apart from the fact that Congress sets food stamp policies. You could call him the "pink slip president," the "foreclosure president," the "Walmart president," the "Wall Street president," the "Citibank president," the "bailout president," or any of a dozen other images that convey distress. You decide to go with "the food stamp president," and you're doing it on purpose.

And what am I supposed to think of people who deny that what Newt is doing is being done on purpose?

Now the good news is that people get it. People (mostly notably, a lot of White people, like Fallows) are calling this stuff for what it is. Nothing makes me happier.

But clearly, Newt Gingrich, Rick "Blah People" Santorum, Jenny Sanford and this douchebag who wrote in to Fallows are not the only racists in the Republican Party or Conservative set. My problem is that within the party of Lincoln, the cancer is growing.

(By the way, you did notice we haven't even touched on the racist crap Ron Paul's done, right?)

I have known and continue to know a lot of Republicans in my life. The Republicans I know are primarily Eisenhower-style, Small Government, Fiscally Conservative, yet Socially Liberal types. Yes, they are out there...

...but they’re also out there providing cover for the racists that are out there, and now it is their silence that is starting to speak volumes to me.

You want more examples? How about this?

Or this from December of 2011?

Okay, so maybe that last one wasn't code so much.

Don't joke with us. We know the codes. Stop using them, or get called out for what you really are.

The Compleat Stephen Colbert appearance on Morning Joe (VIDEO)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"I-I-I-I-I' in love with you..." (VIDEO)

Is it just me, or does the President seem...really, really, REALLY chill this election season?

As a side-question to the non-African-Americans out there: we all understood the Sandman reference, right?

UPDATE 9:11am, Pacific: Okay, now Josh Marshall, proprietor of Talking Points Memo, is getting all kinds of video of the President singing. Can an Album drop be too far behind?

Aretha Franklin:

Dionne Warwick:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

You deserve to read the President's whole answer on Simpson-Bowles...

This is from the Fareed Zakaria's interview with President Obama (his questions are in red). And I highlight it because noted deficit-scold Andrew Sullivan, posted just a little teeny-tiny bit of the Simpson Bowles answer toward the end of the interview (the part in blue).

Personally, I'd like you to read the whole thing:

You talked a lot about how foreign policy ultimately has to derive from American strength, and so when I talk to businessmen, a lot of them are dismayed that you have not signaled to the world and to markets that the U.S. will get its fiscal house in order by embracing your deficit commission, the Simpson-Bowles. And that walking away from that,which is a phrase I’ve heard a lot, has been a very bad signal to the world. Why won’t you embrace Simpson-Bowles?

I’ve got to say, most of the people who say that, if you asked them what’s in Simpson-Bowles, they couldn’t tell you. So first of all, I did embrace Simpson-Bowles. I’m the one who created the commission. If I hadn’t pushed it, it wouldn’t have happened, because congressional sponsors, including a whole bunch of Republicans, walked away from it.

The basic premise of Simpson-Bowles was, we have to take a balanced approach in which we have spending cuts and we have revenues, increased revenues, in order to close our deficits and deal with our debt. And although I did not agree with every particular that was proposed in Simpson-Bowles — which, by the way, if you asked most of the folks who were on Simpson-Bowles, did they agree with every provision in there?, they’d say no as well.

What I did do is to take that framework and present a balanced plan of entitlement changes, discretionary cuts, defense cuts, health care cuts as well as revenues and said, We’re ready to make a deal. And I presented that three times to Congress. So the core of Simpson-Bowles, the idea of a balanced deficit-reduction plan, I have consistently argued for, presented to the American people, presented to Congress.

There wasn’t any magic in Simpson-Bowles. They didn’t have some special sauce or formula that avoided us making these tough choices. They’re the same choices that I’ve said I’m prepared to make. And the only reason it hasn’t happened is the Republicans were unwilling to do anything on revenue. Zero. Zip. Nada.

The revenues that we were seeking were far less than what was in Simpson-Bowles. We’ve done more discretionary cuts than was called for in Simpson-Bowles. The things that supposedly would be harder for my side to embrace we’ve said we’d be willing to do. The whole half of Simpson-Bowles that was hard ideologically for the Republicans to embrace they’ve said they’re not going to do any of them.

So this notion that the reason that it hasn’t happened is we didn’t embrace Simpson-Bowles is just nonsense. And by the way, if you talk to some of these same business leaders who say, Well, he shouldn’t have walked away from Simpson-Bowles, and you said, Well, are you prepared to kick capital gains and dividends taxation up to ordinary income —

— which is what Simpson-Bowles — 
— which is what Simpson-Bowles called for, they would gag. There’s not one of those business leaders who would accept a bet. They’d say, Well, we embrace Simpson-Bowles except for that part that would cause us to pay a lot more.

And in terms of the defense cuts that were called for in Simpson-Bowles, they were far deeper than even what would have been required if the sequester goes through, and so would have not been a responsible pathway for us to reduce our deficit spending. Now, that’s not the fault of Simpson-Bowles. What they were trying to do was provide us a basic framework, and we took that framework, and we have pushed it forward.

And so there should be clarity here. There’s no equivalence between Democratic and Republican positions when it comes to deficit reduction. We’ve shown ourselves to be serious. We’ve made a trillion dollars worth of cuts already. We’ve got another $1.5 trillion worth of cuts on the chopping blocks. But what we’ve also said is, in order for us to seriously reduce the deficit, there’s got to be increased revenue. There’s no way of getting around it. It’s basic math. And if we can get any Republicans to show any serious commitment — not vague commitments, not “We’ll get revenues because of tax reform somewhere in the future, but we don’t know exactly what that looks like and we can’t identify a single tax that we would allow to go up” — but if we can get any of them who are still in office, as opposed to retired, to commit to that, we’ll be able to reduce our deficit.

Now, to your larger point, you’re absolutely right. Our whole foreign policy has to be anchored in economic strength here at home. And if we are not strong, stable, growing, making stuff, training our workforce so that it’s the most skilled in the world, maintaining our lead in innovation, in basic research, in basic science, in the quality of our universities, in the transparency of our financial sector, if we don’t maintain the upward mobility and equality of opportunity that underwrites our political stability and makes us a beacon for the world, then our foreign policy leadership will diminish as well.

Can we do that in a world with so much competition from so many countries? One of the things you do hear people say is, You know, we have all this regulation. You’re trying to make America more competitive, but you’ve got Dodd-Frank, you’ve got health care. There’s all this new regulation. And in that context, are we going to be able to be competitive, to attract investment, to create jobs? 
Absolutely. Look, first of all, with respect to regulation, this whole notion that somehow there’s been this huge tidal wave of regulation is not true, and we can provide you the facts. Our regulations have a lower cost than the comparable regulations under the Bush Administration; they have far higher benefits.

We have engaged in a unprecedented regulatory look-back, where we’re weeding out and clearing up a whole bunch of regulations that were outdated and outmoded, and we’re saving businesses billions of dollars and tons of paperwork and man-hours that they’re required to fill out a bunch of forms that aren’t needed. So our regulatory track record actually is very solid.

I just had a conference last week where we had a group of manufacturing companies — some service companies as well — that are engaging in insourcing. They’re bringing work back to the United States and plants back to the United States, because as the wages in China and other countries begin to increase, and U.S. worker productivity has gone way up, the cost differential for labor has significantly closed.

And what these companies say is, as long as the United States is still investing in the best infrastructure in the world, the best education system in the world, is training enough skilled workers and engineers and is creating a stable platform for businesses to succeed and providing us with certainty, there’s no reason why America can’t be the most competitive advanced economy in the world.

But that requires us to continue to up our game and do things better and do things smart. We’ve started that process over the last three years. We’ve still got a lot more work to do, because we’re reversing decade-long trends where our education system didn’t keep pace with the improvements that were taking place in other countries; where other countries started to invest more in research and development, and we didn’t up our game; where our infrastructure began to deteriorate at a time when other countries were investing in their infrastructure; and, frankly, where we have gotten bogged down politically in ways that don’t allow us to take strong, decisive action on issues in ways that we’ve been able to do in the past.

And so my whole goal in the last three years and my goal over the next five years is going to be to continue to chip away at these things that are holding us back. And I’m absolutely confident there’s no problem that America is facing right now that we can’t solve, as long we’re working together. That’s our job.

Andrew Sullivan on the fallout from his "Obama's Critics are Dumb" piece... (VIDEO)

The first Obama Campaign Ad, in case you missed it (VIDEO)

Running now in six swing states. Take THAT Turd Blossom!

American Prospect: Who knew the State Department was so hip? (VIDEO)

Great stories from both the American Prospect and Foreign Policy.

Can't say we didn't try.

Oh, yeah...the Russians did just that:

Apparently, this is Moscow's idea of rolling out the "red carpet": Russian state television today launched an all-out assault on new U.S. Ambassador Mike McFaul.

"The fact is that McFaul is not an expert on Russia. He is a specialist in a particular pure democracy promotion," read a report published on Russia 1, the channel that is run by the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK).

The Russian government was evidently displeased that McFaul met with human rights activists in his first official function at the Moscow embassy, where he was joined by visiting Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns. The Russian media's public smear campaign against McFaul accused him of working on behalf of the "so-called democratic movement" in the country during the early 1990s, when he visited there on behalf of the National Democratic Institute -- an organization "known for its proximity to the U.S. intelligence services," according to the TV report.

The report then quotes from several of McFaul's writings and from The Cable's post on McFaul to accuse him of having an agenda of supporting Russian opposition groups in an attempt to destabilize the Russian government.

The hostile welcome represents a sharp rebuke to McFaul's message of openness and cooperation that he brought with him upon arriving in Moscow last week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Once you had a deal with Bain Capital, Romney would always lowball you...


From a piece in the Washington Post called "When Romney ran Bain Capital, his word was not his bond":

[To the filmmakers and bankrollers of "When Mitt Romney Came To Town"] the Bain way is nothing less than “turning the misfortunes of others into . . . enormous financial gains.” The film spends most of its time interviewing people who lost their jobs and much of their savings after working at various companies that Bain bought, milked and sold to generate those huge profits.

Yet, there is another version of the Bain way that I experienced personally during my 17 years as a deal-adviser on Wall Street: Seemingly alone among private-equity firms, Romney’s Bain Capital was a master at bait-and-switching Wall Street bankers to get its hands on the companies that provided the raw material for its financial alchemy. Other private-equity firms I worked with extensively over the years — Forstmann Little, KKR, TPG and the Carlyle Group, among them — never dared attempt the audacious strategy that Bain partners employed with great alacrity and little shame. Call it the real Bain way.

Here’s how it worked. Private-equity firms are always eager to find companies to buy, allowing them to invest chunks of the billions of dollars entrusted to them and from which they earn hundreds of millions in fees. One ready source of these businesses is Wall Street bankers hired to sell companies through private auctions. The good news is that when a banker puts together a detailed selling memorandum about a company, chances are very high that company will be sold; the bad news is that these private auctions tend to be very competitive, and the winning bidder, by definition, is most often the one willing to pay the most. By paying the highest price, you win the company, but you also may reduce the returns you can generate for your investors.

I never negotiated directly with Romney; he was too high-level for any interaction with me. Rather, I dealt often with other Bain senior partners, who were very much in his mold. In my experience, Bain Capital did all that it could to game the system by consistently offering the highest prices during the early rounds of bidding — only to try to low-ball the price after it had weeded out competitors.

By bidding high early, Bain would win a coveted spot in the later rounds of the auction, when greater information about the company for sale is shared and the number of competitors is reduced. (A banker and his client generally allow only the potential buyers with the highest bids into the later rounds; after all, you can’t have an endless procession of Savile Row-suited businessmen traipsing through a manufacturing plant if you want to keep a possible sale under wraps.)

For buyers, the goal in these auctions is to be one of the few selected to inspect the company’s facilities and books on-site, in order to make a final and supposedly binding bid. Generally, the prospective buyer with the highest bid after the on-site due-diligence visit is selected by the client — in consultation with his or her banker — to negotiate a final agreement to buy the company.

This is the moment when Bain Capital would become especially crafty. In my experience — which I heard echoed often by my colleagues around Wall Street — Bain would seek to be the highest bidder at the end of the formal process in order to be the firm selected to negotiate alone with the seller, putting itself in the exclusive, competition-free zone. Then, when all other competitors had been essentially vanquished and the purchase contract was under negotiation, Bain would suddenly begin finding all sorts of warts, bruises and faults with the company being sold. Soon enough, that near-final Bain bid — the one that got the firm into its exclusive negotiating position — would begin to fall, often significantly.

Of course, some haggling over price is typical in any sale, and not everything represented by sellers and their bankers is found to be accurate under close examination. But Bain Capital took the art of negotiation over price into the scientific realm. Once the competitive dynamics had shifted definitively in its favor, the firm’s genuine views about what it was willing to pay — often far lower than first indicated — would be revealed.

At such a late date, of course, the seller is more than a little pregnant with the buyer. Attempting to pivot and find a new buyer — which knew it had not been selected in the first place, but was now being called back — would be devastating to the carefully constructed process designed to generate the highest price. Once Bain’s real thoughts about the price were revealed, the seller either had to suck it up and accept the lower price, or negotiate with a new buyer, but with far less leverage.

Needless to say, this does not make for a very happy client (or a happy banker). By the end of my days on Wall Street in 2004, I found the real Bain way so counterproductive that I no longer included Bain Capital on my buyer’s lists of private-equity firms for a company I was selling.

Bill Clinton: "I think Barack Obama will be the next president..."

Bubba layin' it down in the latest issue of Esquire.  But it's always nice to hear him say it again:

ESQUIRE: Who do you think the next president will be?

CLINTON: I think Barack Obama will be the next president. I think he will win. Because I think that whatever feelings the American people have about their own conditions and however much they may wish he had moved more quickly, I think that they will conclude that it takes a long time to get out of the kind of economic distress we were in and that his direction and policies are more likely to move us out of that than if they give the White House and the Congress to a party that will give them more of what they just had.

I think that the rapid decrease in popularity of the Republican governors in places like Florida and Ohio and Wisconsin will help him.

It shows you how inexact the voting process is, and how people vote for candidates based on some fleeting rhetorical impression or their sense of the connection between that election and their own circumstances, rather than listening to what candidates actually say they intend to do. Because every one of those governors is just doing what they said they were gonna do.

But I think that the president will win. He'll be able to talk about the difference in the auto industry between when he took office and the way it is now. I think he'll be able to talk about much more progress in certain sectors of the economy, and he's going to have a very strong national-security record to run on, so he won't be vulnerable there. In fact, the Republican may be more vulnerable than he is there. So even though the conditions of the country are difficult, I expect him to win. And I also think, based on what happened in 2008, that once he gets an opponent in the general election, I think except for Fox and the conservative outlets, the media will tilt back toward him. The coverage won't be as anodyne and evenhanded as it has been.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Something the Professional Left, #OWS and other "disappointed" Liberals need to remember..

From Andrew Sullivan's cover story on Newsweek/Daily Beast:

But the right isn’t alone in getting Obama wrong. While the left is less unhinged in its critique, it is just as likely to miss the screen for the pixels. From the start, liberals projected onto Obama absurd notions of what a president can actually do in a polarized country, where anything requires 60 Senate votes even to stand a chance of making it into law. They have described him as a hapless tool of Wall Street, a continuation of Bush in civil liberties, a cloistered elitist unable to grasp the populist moment that is his historic opportunity. They rail against his attempts to reach a Grand Bargain on entitlement reform. They decry his too-small stimulus, his too-weak financial reform, and his too-cautious approach to gay civil rights. They despair that he reacts to rabid Republican assaults with lofty appeals to unity and compromise.

They miss, it seems to me, two vital things. The first is the simple scale of what has been accomplished on issues liberals say they care about. A depression was averted. The bail-out of the auto industry was—amazingly—successful. Even the bank bailouts have been repaid to a great extent by a recovering banking sector. The Iraq War—the issue that made Obama the nominee—has been ended on time and, vitally, with no troops left behind. Defense is being cut steadily, even as Obama has moved his own party away from a Pelosi-style reflexive defense of all federal entitlements. Under Obama, support for marriage equality and marijuana legalization has crested to record levels. Under Obama, a crucial state, New York, made marriage equality for gays an irreversible fact of American life. Gays now openly serve in the military, and the Defense of Marriage Act is dying in the courts, undefended by the Obama Justice Department. Vast government money has been poured into noncarbon energy investments, via the stimulus. Fuel-emission standards have been drastically increased. Torture was ended. Two moderately liberal women replaced men on the Supreme Court. Oh, yes, and the liberal holy grail that eluded Johnson and Carter and Clinton, nearly universal health care, has been set into law. Politifact recently noted that of 508 specific promises, a third had been fulfilled and only two have not had some action taken on them. To have done all this while simultaneously battling an economic hurricane makes Obama about as honest a follow-through artist as anyone can expect from a politician.

What liberals have never understood about Obama is that he practices a show-don’t-tell, long-game form of domestic politics. What matters to him is what he can get done, not what he can immediately take credit for. And so I railed against him for the better part of two years for dragging his feet on gay issues. But what he was doing was getting his Republican defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to move before he did. The man who made the case for repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was, in the end, Adm. Mike Mullen. This took time—as did his painstaking change in the rule barring HIV-positive immigrants and tourists—but the slow and deliberate and unprovocative manner in which it was accomplished made the changes more durable. Not for the first time, I realized that to understand Obama, you have to take the long view. Because he does.

Or take the issue of the banks. Liberals have derided him as a captive of Wall Street, of being railroaded by Larry Summers and Tim Geithner into a too-passive response to the recklessness of the major U.S. banks. But it’s worth recalling that at the start of 2009, any responsible president’s priority would have been stabilization of the financial system, not the exacting of revenge. Obama was not elected, despite liberal fantasies, to be a left-wing crusader. He was elected as a pragmatic, unifying reformist who would be more responsible than Bush.

And what have we seen? A recurring pattern. To use the terms Obama first employed in his inaugural address: the president begins by extending a hand to his opponents; when they respond by raising a fist, he demonstrates that they are the source of the problem; then, finally, he moves to his preferred position of moderate liberalism and fights for it without being effectively tarred as an ideologue or a divider. This kind of strategy takes time. And it means there are long stretches when Obama seems incapable of defending himself, or willing to let others to define him, or simply weak. I remember those stretches during the campaign against Hillary Clinton. I also remember whose strategy won out in the end.

P.R. in Action! Jodi Kantor gives the exact same interview on two different shows! (VIDEO)

Watch, gentle reader, with amazement as Jodi Kantor goes onto two different shows, with two different tempraments, and two different hosts...only to give the exact same interview:

First Lawrence O'Donnell:

And then Jon Stewart:

Remember, in the end, both shows are right.  Ms. Kantor never called the First Lady and Angry Black woman in her book.  That is important to clear up.  Of course, that the first stories to leak out from the book were about arguments did not help.

But my main problem with the book, isn't the reporting, but the fact that Kantor in some parts of the book she used a third person, novelistic, inner monologue to have the First Lady describe her actions and thoughts, when she (ahem) hadn't interviewed the First Lady. That, in my book, is more than a little bullshitty.  If Kantor had stuck to straight reporting, and just told what she learn from Aides and people close to Michelle, I would have zero problems with this book.

Then again, there would be zero controversy for her P.R. people to market, and thus zero reason to go on with Lawrence and Stew-Beef!