In “Dark Road to the White House” Mr. Blow says if the repulsive strategy Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are using doesn’t motivate some voters who had been considering sitting out this election, nothing will. Mr. Nocera, in “Ever Hear the One About…”, says so much for a sleepy summer. We’ve got bank scandals, college football scandals, a sinking Facebook stock and more. Ms. Collins, the poor soul, has been looking at Mittens and ZEGS. In “Political Page Turners” she says Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are NOT the same person! Yes, yes, yes. She’s heard all the rumors, too. But she helps us get a few things straight. Here’s Mr. Blow:
Shady money, voter suppression, shifting positions, murky details and widespread apathy.
If there is a road map for a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan win in November, that’s it. Distasteful all.
As The New York Times reported this week, Paul Ryan made the trip on Tuesday to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner who has pledged to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Obama. No reporters were allowed in, of course.
As The Times’s editorial page pointed out on Friday:
“Last year, his company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, announced that it was under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — specifically, that it bribed Chinese officials for help in expanding its casino empire in Macau. Later, the F.B.I. became involved, and even Chinese regulators looked askance at the company’s conduct, fining it $1.6 million for violating foreign exchange rules, The Times reported on Monday.”
There was a saying I heard growing up in Louisiana: “Bad money doesn’t spend right.”
On Wednesday, a judge in Pennsylvania who is a Republican refused to block a ridiculously restrictive, Republican-backed voter identification law from going into effect in the state, which is a critical swing state. Surprise, surprise.
And to add insult to injury, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday: “On the same day a judge cleared the way for the state’s new voter identification law to take effect, the Corbett administration abandoned plans to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote.”
Corbett is Tom Corbett, the Republican governor of the state.
In June, State Representative Mike Turzai, a Republican and the Pennsylvania House majority leader, ripped the veneer off the purpose of the voter changes in the state when he declared, “voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”
Angry yet? Well wait, there’s more.
As has been well documented, Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on many of the major positions he once held: abortion, taxes, guns. Now his vice-presidential pick, has traded his wingtips for a pair of toe-splitters.
Thursday, as Think Progress pointed out, Ryan adopted Romney’s position on China’s currency manipulation and stealing of intellectual property, saying: “Mitt Romney and I are going to crack down on China cheating and make sure trade works for Americans.”
However, as Talking Points Memo reported: “Ryan has consistently opposed measures to crack down on China’s currency manipulation practices, which tilt the playing field against American labor.”
Furthermore, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday: “In 2009, as Rep. Paul D. Ryan was railing against President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as a ‘wasteful spending spree,’ he wrote at least four letters to Obama’s secretary of energy asking that millions of dollars from the program be granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservation groups, according to documents obtained by The Globe.”
Even so, Ryan denied the fact in an interview with a Cincinnati TV station on Thursday, saying, “I never asked for stimulus.”
Ryan later recanted. In a statement, he said of the letters: “They were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled.” It continued: “This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that.”
Oops! Paint a scarlet “H” on that man’s chest for hypocrisy.
Romney, for his part, has consistently resisted specifying what he would cut to get to the balanced budget that he promises, and he continues to resist calls to release more tax returns.
“Mitt Romney said on Thursday that he had not paid less than 13 percent of his income in taxes during the past decade,” The Times reported. But are we supposed to take his word for the rate being even that high? Absolutely not!
Show, don’t tell, sir.
America, this is the Republican ticket. Although most smart political observers currently have Romney losing the Electoral College, Romney, following this repulsive road map, is virtually tied with Obama in national polls of likely voters.
That is, in part, because of apathy. As USA Today reported, the 90 million people who are unlikely to vote in November prefer Obama over Romney by 2 to 1, and “they could turn a too-close-to-call race into a landslide for President Obama — but by definition they probably won’t.”
If this underhanded dirty dealing by the Republican ticket doesn’t jolt some of these unlikely voters into likely ones, I don’t know what will.
Well, there are some purity trolls whose fee-fees are wounded and who are going to either not vote or throw their vote away in a snit… Here’s Mr. Nocera:
Tying up loose ends before vacation:
What was that about? The Standard Chartered scandal, I mean. Nearly two weeks ago, we were led to believe that the big British bank had conducted some $250 billion worth of illegal transactions with Iranian institutions. But, after the charges were brought by the New York State Department of Financial Services, other regulators, in Washington and London, expressed shock. They were upset, first, because they had been blindsided and, second, because they, too, had been investigating the bank and were coming to the conclusion that its behavior was largely legal.
Then, on the eve of a public hearing that could have cost the bank its New York license, Standard Chartered settled for $340 million. One the one hand, that is a huge sum for a state regulator to collect. On the other hand, it is a rounding error for the bank, which quietly put out the word that it had settled to put the bad publicity behind it. (Its calculation appears to have been a good one — the bank’s stock quickly rose once the settlement was announced.)
What is frustrating is that here we are, after these inflammatory charges have been hurled, with no idea whether they are true. If Standard Chartered routinely conducted illegal transactions, then Benjamin Lawsky, the chief New York bank regulator, showed the kind of spine that other regulators have largely lacked. And if it didn’t? Then the bank is the victim of a publicity-hungry regulator. Neither prospect is fun to contemplate.
Someone told me recently that a handful of firms that use high-frequency trading strategies are developing a new microwave system to connect their Chicago and New York offices. The reason? To shave literally nanoseconds off the time it takes to complete trades. It’s true. It’s also madness.
After I wrote about high-frequency trading two weeks ago, I wound up thinking I had understated how corrosive — and pervasive — it has become. In fact, the markets have been largely optimized for high-frequency trading. The exchanges cater to these traders. Everyone scrambles to get their business. Firms like Knight Capital — which lost $440 million a couple weeks ago in a computer fiasco — both take orders from brokers and run their own trading systems. That gives them, undeniably, advantages for their own trading. The regulators, focused on the prospect of computer malfunctions that lead to wild price swings, are missing the forest for the trees. The real issue is the capture of the markets by high-frequency traders, not the occasions their computers run amok.
As for the long-term investor or the companies that want to tap the capital markets, their concerns scarcely matter. High-frequency trading is where Wall Street now makes its money. That’s all that counts.
Have you been following the recent athletic scandal swirling around the University of North Carolina? It has been brewing since last August when The News and Observer of Raleigh obtained the transcript of a football player who’d suspiciously completed a senior-level course the summer before his freshman year. This triggered an inquiry going back to 2007, which revealed that the African and Afro-American Studies Department was a haven for no-show classes, grades that were quietly changed and bogus independent studies courses. The purpose of these shenanigans, it would appear, was to keep athletes, especially football players, eligible.
The department chairman quickly resigned, and the university promised to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. But, earlier this week, a transcript was posted online that appears to have been the scholastic record of the former U.N.C. — and current Chicago Bears — player Julius Peppers. Peppers attended North Carolina long before 2007; his first year was 1998. And his transcript — with its summer courses that magically allowed him to retain his eligibility — could serve as a template for how to remain eligible without getting anything that approaches an education. It also suggests that these problems have been going on a lot longer than 2007.
Is North Carolina a particularly bad actor? Hardly. But gaming the system has become a necessity for every big-time football and basketball school. In the wake of the Penn State scandal, the N.C.A.A. is vowing to never again allow universities to put athletics ahead of academics. But it’s too late for that. The only real answer is to stop the hypocrisy, pay the players and let them attend school — if they want.
Let’s see: It’s been three months since Facebook went public. Since then, its stock has fallen around 50 percent, plaintiffs’ lawyers are lining up to sue it over its botched initial offering, and the news coming out of Facebook has been unremittingly lousy.
The person who was most reluctant to take Facebook public was Mark Zuckerberg, its youthful chief executive. I wonder what he’s thinking now.
Well, the more Facebook is shoved in my face (no, I do NOT want to “friend” my laundry detergent or cat food) the more I stay away from it. Just saying… Here’s Ms. Collins:
Let’s see if we can clear up a few things.
First of all, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are not the same person. They aren’t even related! Stop spreading rumors! Although they do sort of look alike and enjoy spending time together. Perhaps Mitt regards Paul as the sixth son he never had.
Ryan is the one who lives on the same block where he grew up. Romney is the one who lives above the car elevator.
Ryan is the one who spent his youth cooking hamburgers at McDonald’s. Romney is the one who used to enjoy dressing up as a police officer and playing fun pranks on his prep school friends. Neither one of them worked as a Wienermobile driver. Really, I don’t know where you get this stuff.
Ryan is the one who likes to catch catfish by sticking his fist into their burrows and dragging them out by the throat. Romney is the one who drove to Canada with his dog strapped to the car roof.
When it comes to the issues, both men are on the same page. Although the page does keep turning and you have to wonder how average voters can cope with all of the confusion.
Fortunately, polls suggest average voters have already decided who they’re going to support and, therefore, have no need whatsoever to try to figure out which page the Romney-Ryan campaign is on.
Practically the only person in America who claims to have no idea who he’s going to vote for is Senator Joseph Lieberman, who recently declared himself absolutely and totally undecided. People, do you think it’s possible that the entire presidential campaign is now being waged just for the benefit of Joseph Lieberman? On the one hand, that’s a real waste of about $1 billion. On the other, it’s exactly what Joseph Lieberman has been waiting for all his life.
Anyhow, about the issues:
Ryan is the one who requested stimulus money for his district, but he is sorry. The stimulus was a terrible thing, and Ryan had no intention of trying to glom onto a chunk of it. He thought he was just forwarding a constituent request for some … constituent thing. Or four.
Romney is the one who hired undocumented workers to mow his lawn. Totally by mistake.
Ryan is the one who voted for a massive prescription drug Medicare entitlement, the Bush tax cuts and two wars without paying for any of them. He is even sorrier about this than he is about the stimulus.
Romney is the one who passed Obamacare before Obama. But it wasn’t the same thing at all because it happened in a state.
Both men want to make more big tax cuts that will be paid for with the closing of tax loopholes. They are in total, complete concurrence that the identity of these loopholes is not an appropriate topic for a presidential campaign.
Ryan is supposed to be the Tea Party hero and Romney is the one they hated so much they were actually willing to contemplate a Newt Gingrich presidency to avoid him.
But I’m not entirely sure we can trust the hard right to know what it wants anymore. This week in Florida, a Republican primary uprising knocked out Cliff Stearns, a superconservative veteran congressman who had campaigned on his efforts to kill off federal funds for Planned Parenthood and embarrass the Obama administration with an investigation into the Solyndra loans. That sort of bragging enraged the faithful by reminding them that Stearns was a Washington insider, and he lost to a newcomer named Ted Yoho.
Maybe Tea Party voters now only want to send people to Washington who will lack the capacity to get anything done. Personally, I’m kind of O.K. with that. Also, I like the idea of having a congressman named Ted Yoho, as well as the fact that Yoho describes himself as a “large animal veterinarian.” We don’t have many veterinarians in Congress, and you never can tell when a visiting heifer will come down with a medical problem.
All right, a little more about the issues.
Romney has a plan to make Medicare solvent forever. We know this because he wrote “Solvent” on the board at a press conference the other day.
Ryan used to have a plan to make Medicare solvent forever by taking it away from everybody under age 55 and giving them health insurance vouchers instead. But that was so 2011.
Now, Ryan and Romney are on the same page when it comes to Medicare, which is that it must be saved from the $716 billion in cuts President Obama wants to make over the next 10 years. Although that same $716 billion was in the budget plan that Ryan got the House to pass this year. But it’s not like he expected it to happen. “We would never have done it,” he told campaign reporters, desperate wretches condemned to roam the earth with calculators, endlessly searching for the Ryan-Romney page.