Pawlenty's Faustian Bargain

Former Minnestota Governor Tim Pawlenty is resigning his post as national co-chair of Romney's presidential campaign to assume the leadership role of the Financial Services Roundtable, the K-Street lobbying arm of the nation's financial services sector which counts a membershio of one hundred integrated financial services companies that provide banking, insurance and investment services.

The move likely ends Tim Pawlenty's public office career. Pawlenty, who ran briefly ran for the GOP nomination before bowing out after a poor performance in the Ames Straw Poll, has agreed not to serve in the Cabinet should Romney prevail November 6th. But even longer term, it is difficult to see how Tim Pawlenty could sell himself to the American public after this Faustian bargain with the lobbying arm of American capital that comes with a reported $1.8 million salary. For starters, banks are seen in negative light and reckless risk takers while the word lobbyist is itself a pejorative.

Still, Pawlenty sees it differently. According to The Hill, Pawlenty said representing "Wall Street is another way for him to help the middle class and people who are struggling to find work."

"If you ask what are those things that you can do to make it more likely that jobs are going to grow, the answer is we need more businesses starting and growing," he said. “These financial institutions are the fuel that goes into that engine."

It should be noted that Tim Pawlenty has never worked in the financial services industry nor in the Federal government, making it clear once again that success in America is evermore predicated on who you know more than what you know.

We congratulate him on his new position and his seven figure salary but we would urge him to rethink his view that Wall Street's interests are somehow aligned with Main Street's and I say this as a former Goldman Sachs professional. If I learned anything during my decade on Wall Street, it is that the investment banking sector has become a glorified casino gambling with other people's money where once it was focused on the long-term investments that helped to build this countrty with its own capital.

The Incurious Mitt Romney

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mitt Romney, it seems, has long ago made up his mind - blame the Palestinians exclusively. But take this portion of the dialogue from the Marc Leder-hosted Boca Raton fundraiser for which Mother Jones has now published the transcript and the only conclusion one can draw is that Mitt Romney isn't just incurious, he's not interested in anything that might contradict his already pre-held views. Is this a characteristic one wants in a President?

Romney: I got a call from a former secretary of state—and I won't mention which one it was—but this individual said to me, "You know, I think there's a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections." I said, "Really?" And his answer was, "Yes, I think there's some prospect." And I didn't delve into it . . .

Romney likely had Jim Baker, who served in several capacities during the Reagan-Bush years from 1981-1993, on the phone and Romney "didn't delve into it" when Baker, who remains well-connected and well-respected both in Jewish and Arab circles, suggested that there might be a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections. Why delve into it when you can just "kick the ball down the field"?

Mitt Romney is unfit to be President on many levels but his disinterestedness in hearing the erudite thoughts of the well-connected is as damning as any. The incurious Mitt Romney is a dangerous Mitt Romney.

The Bald-Faced Hypocrisy of Mitt Romney

“All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are ENTITLED to healthcare, to food, to housing, you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ” --Mitt Romney in Boca Raton, Florida on May 17, 2012

By now it should be quite clear that Mitt Romney is as loathsome an individual as any that has ever disgraced our national stage. Simply put Mitt Romney is the most unqualified person ever to seek the presidency in my lifetime, perhaps ever. Without a doubt, he is certainly the most disingenuous and bald-faced hypocrite ever to seek the White House. He is a farce, one would hasten to add that he is a perfect parody of a plutocrat but for the fact that he actually is a plutocrat with his own bizarre sense of entitlement. It is a lark to hear him put such emphasis on the word when he denigrates half the country for not be eligible to pay income taxes especially given the fact that he is clearly eligible to pay said taxes and yet it still remains less than clear that year in and year out whether Mittens has offered up his pittance to Federal coffers. It takes some chutzpah to stroll down that road but chutzpah is a commodity for which Mitt “I believe in America but bank in the Caymans” Romney has never lacked.

There's more...

Romney Goes Birther

Today in a campaign stop in Commerce, Michigan, Mitt Romney decided he would try to bring some levity to his otherwise ill-humoured run for the Presidency. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised,” said the presumptive Republican nominee to an all-white crowd.

Romney knows better for sure but he'd rather play to the lowest common denominator by suggesting that Barack Obama isn't quite an American if an American at all. The Obama campaign responded quickly and forcefully:

"“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them. It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”

A candidate can choose to raise the level of discourse or a candidate can choose to debase himself to lowest level of discourse. Mitt Romney has chosen the latter course and to indulge in the crassest of racist banter.

On this note, Ta-Nehisi Coates has a must-read article in The Atlantic this month. Coates writes:

""While Beck and Limbaugh have chosen direct racial assault, others choose simply to deny that a black president actually exists. One in four Americans (and more than half of all Republicans) believe Obama was not born in this country, and thus is an illegitimate president. More than a dozen state legislatures have introduced “birther bills” demanding proof of Obama’s citizenship as a condition for putting him on the 2012 ballot. Eighteen percent of Republicans believe Obama to be a Muslim. The goal of all this is to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. If Obama is not truly American, then America has still never had a black president."

On this note, Rep Steve King of Iowa has called for that on the first day of a Romney Administration that every act, every law and every executive order passed under Obama be undone. I have to ask, how should one respond to the inherent racism in such a bizarre demand and how do we as Americans respond to such insanity as that of Rep King?

What It Feels Like to Disenfranchise Voters if You're Republican POS

That heinous individual is James Bopp. And who is James Bopp? Well, he is an Indiana lawyer and a Romney delegate to the GOP convention. He is also the attorney who represented Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 case that upended federal election rules and gave a dollar the right of free speech.

Disenfranchising voters merits a double-fisted pump. Reprehensible. Outrageous. Heinous.

Let me be the first to call on the Democratic Party that the time for DC Statehood is long past.

Missouri's Rep. Akin on "Legitimate Rape"

Trying to peg who the most extreme and outlandish GOP Senate candidate is in this cycle is indeed a fool's errand. One simply has too many choices be it Ted Cruz down in Texas or Linda McMahon over in Connecticut but Missouri GOP Congressman Todd Akin surely has to be on our shortlist of radical out-of touch if not out-of-their-minds extremists.

Take his comments made on Sunday on a local Missouri talk show. Akin told KTVI-TV: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare.

"If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down."

Akin then went on to say that if that "didn't work", then the punishment should be "on the rapist and not attacking the child."

It is incomprehensible that such a man with such views serves in the House of Representatives but it is truly frightening to think that he may unseat Senator Claire McCaskill come November.



Guns Don't Kill People

James Holmes, the detained shooter in our latest national mass murder tradegy, bought four guns from various retailers over the last two months.

Holmes bought his first Glock pistol in Aurora, Colorado, on May 22nd. Six days later, he picked up a Remington shotgun in Denver. About two weeks later, he bought a .223 caliber Smith & Wesson rifle in Thornton, Colorado, and then a second Glock in Denver on July 6th — 13 days before the shooting.

A high-volume drum magazine was attached to the rifle, making that rifle an assault weapon and allowing him to fire 50 to 60 rounds in under sixty seconds.

Led by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congress passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) on September 13 1994 and signed into law by President Clinton the very same day. But the law expired on September 13, 2004. Despite numerous attempts by Senator Feinstein and others in the Democratic leadership, attempts to renew the AWB have all failed because of Republican opposition.

Guns don't kill people, Republican policies do.




The Gasps of the GOP

Over at Mother Jones, Kevin Drums writes that voter id laws are the last gasp of a fading GOP strategy. While I think Kevin's analysis is largely right, I would caution that there is nothing in theory to prevent further restrictions in suffrage nor to employ other tactics that aim at maintaining power. The GOP is at a crucible but it is one of their own making. There has always been a paranoid fringe prone to believe in bizarre conspiracy theories richly spiced with anti-government rhetoric, a fear of some impending catastrophe that actually never materializes, a distrust of the alien and foreign coupled with calls for a nativist redoubt , a sense of betrayal by the powers be thus reinforcing the notion that they and they alone are the keepers of the flames of freedom in American politics beginning with some of the anti-Federalists in 1780s. Patrick Henry was certainly a firebrand and outspoken but one can think of him as the Founding Father of the paranoid set. He declined to attend the Constitutional Convention suggesting that there was a dark movement afoot to establish a monarchy going as far as to demand an investigation.

But this paranoid conspiracy-minded anti-government portion of the American political spectrum has largely been a fringe though in the Vermont of 1830s and 1840s, the anti-Masonic party did capture the state government. And the nativist consumed with alleged Papist plots American Republic Party, better known as the Know Nothing Party, for a brief period in the 1850s won important mayoral contests across the country from Boston to San Francisco while also twice claiming the California governorship. From then in the mid-1850s until the Tea Party of today, the paranoid, conspiracy driven elements remained largely a fringe with minimal electoral success.

The problem for the GOP elite is that in their zeal to win elections in the post New Deal America, they have courted some of the most vitriolic, xenophobic and conspiracy minded elements of the American political landscape. But today's date becomes tomorrow's long-term spouse. In building their electoral coalition, the GOP brought in groups that largely came from the most conservative elements in the South and West. And as they came to rely more and more on this portion of the electorate, the effect was to mainstream the fringe giving clout and providing a electoral vehicle to the delusional.

Over the past half century that has remade the GOP from a national party with a pro-business agenda that accepted the social contract of the New Deal into a party that is increasingly dominant in the more rural regions of the country but moribund in the more urban area. That pro-business agenda is now one steroids and the party now aims to reverse not only the New Deal social contract but the Progressive Era regulatory structure that most Americans take for granted.  Since 1960 with only one exception, the GOP after a defeat in a presidential election has nominated an even more conservative candidate in the subsequent election. Only Nixon in 1968 after the Goldwater defeat in 1964 was more to the center. For the GOP, electoral defeat implies a circling of the wagons but as you close that circle you are pushing people out. Hence figures like Bruce Barlett, Jim Jeffords, William Weld, Lincoln Chafee, Loretta Sánchez and Charlie Crist are no longer Republicans. Even among some still nominal Republicans like David Frum and Christine Todd Whitman, there are repeated cries of angst as they see their party self-immolate in the fires of conservative doctrinal purity. But I will quibble with this point that Kevin makes: "They'll also have more and more money on their side, but that's not enough either. After all, there are only so many ad spots available to buy."

Wisconsin, I think, suggests that it is enough. The Tea Party backed Walker outspent his opponent Democratic opponent Tom Barnett by over 8 to 1. According to the Center for Public Integrity, more than $63.5 million had been spent by candidates and independent groups, the overwhelming majority underwritten by out-of-state sources. Another point is that while there are only so many ad spots to buy that implies that those with more money to spend will outbid those with less for available spots. And as they win elections, the GOP will attempt to solidify their control of government by codifying an electoral result into permanent law and hard to undo anti-democratic practices. For the record, we have had in recent memory, Tom Delay's Texas redistricting, the attack on public sector and these voter suppression efforts. It is a coup in steps. Think that can't happen? Look at Hungary now or the fall of the Second French Republic and then get back to me. The belief that the United States is immune to how oligarchic systems operate is to indulge in willful ignorance.



The Writings of Anders Behring Breivik

We fight for the free indigenous peoples of Europe, for those not yet born and for the memory and wishes of our forefathers, our martyrs. We fight to preserve our culture, our identity, our country and for Christendom.

All participants in the current Phase 1 civil war will be remembered as the courageous few, the immortal pioneers, true European heroes who had the courage when no one else did, who stood up against, and still stand up against an oppressive Marxist tyrant.

We must rise and claim what is rightfully ours! By September 11th, 2083, the third wave of Jihad will have been repelled and the cultural Marxist/ multiculturalist hegemony in Western Europe will be shattered and lying in ruin, exactly 400 years after we won the battle of Vienna on September 11th, 1683. Europe will once again be governed by patriots.

from Anders Behring Breivik's "2083: A European Declaration of Independence"

Under the pseudonym of Andrew Berwick, Anders Behring Breivik posted online a 1,500-page document written in English hours before his twin attacks in Norway that claimed the lives of nearly hundred people. In this Breivik takes a page from the anarco-primitivist Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, who penned a manifesto entitled Industrial Society and Its Future voicing his displeasure with the state of human affairs back in the mid 1990s. Breivik's opus is titled 2083 - A Declaration of European Independence. It is technically a compendium, half of the document is written by Breivik, the rest is a compliation from various sources.

It is a document that took nine years to research and write. Its last entry is dated Friday July 22nd 12:51 PM about 2 hours before the detonation of the car bomb. Eerily, the last part of the documents details his preparations for the bombing and the massacre, all rather matter of factly and seemingly without any concern for the devastation that he was to cause. It's not clear how long these attacks had been planned but he seems to suggest that he had been thinking about it for about six years. It took him about 80 days to actually build the bomb.

Another portion is autobiographical detailing his life and revealing among other things his phase as a graffiti artist, various assaults suffered at the hand Muslim immigrants, his run for the Oslo City Council as a candidate for the right wing populist Progress party (Norway's second largest party) and that despite his visceral hatred of Islam that he had several Muslim friends including one of Pakistani heritage.

He discloses other details of his life. He is the son of Norwegian public servants who divorced when he was still a boy. His father served in Norway's foreign service. Both of his parents were members of the Labour party. He spent summers in France with his mother and step-father. He was baptised at age 15 in the Norwegian Lutheran Church and attended services regularly. His godmother was a Chilean exile. He chose not to attend university and is largely self-educated. He has started several businesses including a farm which he used to purchase the fertilezer used to create his bomb. He's travelled widely in Europe and has visited the Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Turkey and the United States (Las Vegas, which he enjoyed but did not like as he considered it vapid). His political epiphany and radicalization seems to have been a result of the war in the Balkans and in particular the EU isolation of Serbia.

Breivik claims to belong to a group of some one hundred European nationalists that resurrected the Knights Templar/PCCTS (Latin for Pauperes Commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici  English: Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Solomon Temple) of medieval Christendom. He envisions himself as being in the vanguard of pan-European pan-Christian resistance movement that aims to restore what he calls cultural conservatism. If he is to believed, the Knights Templar is divided into single or duo cells across Europe. The Norway attacks are intended as a recruiting event and a wake-up call for Europeans. Noting that "the time for dialogue is over," Breivik writes that the Knight Templar aim to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

It's hard to slice through the document but he seems to envision a sixty year struggle to throw Islam out of Europe. He literally aims to deport every last Muslim after a civil war. Among the more outlandish aims are the reconquest of Constantinople, the establishment of three Christian states in the Levant (he laments the demise of Maronite Lebanon), a Coptic state in the Sinai and the creation of a greater Armenia, a Greater Greece and a Greater Serbia. Bosnia and Albania would be wiped off the map. All Turks would be deported to a rump Turkey in central Anatolia. Israel would annex the West Bank in toto.

He rails against multiculturalism, cultural Marxism, moral relativism, political elites, political correctness. He is particularly angered by Turkish denials of the Armenian genocides. He admires Japan, South Korea and Taiwan for eschewing multiculturalism and emphasizing their monocultures. He professes admiration for Winston Churchill, Otto von Bismarck and Vladimir Putin. He is not a fan of Lady Gaga, Madonna or Christina Aguilera. He considers the HBO series Sex and the City to be a cultural peversion.  He does not consider himself a racist but a nationalist. He doesn't seem to have Nazi sympathies; he's not a Holocaust denier. On Judaism, he does seem conflicted. Many of the European intellectuals he blames for the demise of European civilization happen to be Jewish but on the other hand he professes admiration for Israel. 

While it seems that he is broadly well-read, many of his sources are typical right wing media. Robert Spencer, who with Pamela Geller led the opposition to the Parc 55 Mosque in Manhattan, is a frequent citation. Surprisingly, I have yet to run across a citation of Pamela Geller. He does cite blogs like Brussels Journal (a conservative website critical of Islam and its effect on European society), JihadWatch and the Gates of Vienna. Many of the additional essays in the compendium are the work of Fjordman, the anonymous Norwegian blogger who writes for various blogs that are critical of Islam. Brevik takes pains to note that while he admires Fjordman, they have never met. 

Among academics, he quotes Gertrude Himmelfarb (the wife of Irving Kristol, the mother of William Kristol and a historian in own her right), Bernard Lewis (the Princeton historian on Ottoman Empire), Samuel Huntington (the Harvard political scientist and author of The Clash of Civilizations) and Daniel Pipes. He attacks Edward Said, the now deceased Columbia professor who wrote the landmark work Orientalism. He also critical of thinkers such as Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse and Antonio Gramsci. 

While most of the document relates to Europe and the role of Islam in Europe, there are a number of passages that touch on the United States. He calls for the withdrawal of all American troops from Europe calling the presence of US troops sixty-five years after the end of WWII "unacceptable." He also bemoans American cultural domination of Europe. 

Below the fold, I've pulled some of the parts the struck me. I have chosen not to provide a link to document as frankly it strikes me as a primer for committing acts of terrorism. 

In terms of my general reaction to the document, I'll say this. It is a manifesto that will likely find a receptive audience among a very small of group of anti-Islamic activists in Europe and perhaps even in the United States though it is hard to conceive that Breivik will convince many to join a reconstituted Knights Templar to wage a sixty year war on behalf of Christendom. I've heard Congressman Allen West, among others, speak of the threat from Islam and to be frank Allen West would find the portion on Islam wholly consistent with his views. The New York Times has additional information on this story.

There's more...

It's Time to Round Up All the Right Wing Christians

Eighty-seven dead is the latest toll from Friday's twin attacks in Norway. Seven died in the bombing of the government buildings in Oslo and another four score, almost all teenagers, died at the summer jamboree of the governing left of centre Norwegian Labour party in Utøya, some 25 miles northwest of Oslo. All at the hands of a single gunman, a 32 year old right wing conservative Norwegian Christian named Anders Behring Breivik. Thus, it's time to round up all the right wing Christians.

Clearly, I'm not serious but had yesterday's attacks been perpetuated by Islamists there would have been incessant calls from the right, here and abroad, to deprive Muslims of their rights. In fact even before all the facts were established, right wing bloggers like Michelle Malkin and William Jacobsen of Legal Insurrection were doing all they assign blame on Islam as a whole and engage in willful hateful misinformation. I can only imagine what the vile Pamela Geller had to say. Neither sanity nor reason are hallmarks of the American right wing, but the rush to judgment based on unadulterated hate is.

It was fairly evident to me from the start that the bombing in Oslo was not the work of Islamist jihadis, notwithstanding a claim of responsibility by a group called Ansar al Jihad al Asam. Theirs is more wishful thinking that perhaps some lone jihadist had acted. However, Islamist jihadis tend to blow themselves up in executing their perverse acts of terror. They also tend to attack civilian transportation targets. Neither was the case in Oslo. From the start, the bombing reminded me more of Oklahoma City, a car bomb against a government target. That, of course, was the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil before September 11.

We will learn more today about the gunman and his motives but one thing is for certain. On both sides of the Atlantic right wing Christian populism is a threat that must be confronted. I suspect that in Europe they will rise to that occasion. Indeed, Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was unbowed stating that "our answer to violence is more democracy."

That should scare the bejesus out of the Christian right.







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