Romney, Anglo-Saxons, Foreigners, and France

An item quoting a Romney adviser in The Telegraph might be summed up as saying, “Mitt Romney is the white candidate and Barack Obama is not.”  Unlike the Romney campaign, I realize that promoting my interpretation as the actual statement would be unfair, so here is the context of the report:

In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.

This is hardly an isolated moment. We’ve had Romney refer to Obama’s policies as extraordinarily foreign while campaigning in Pennsylvania: “Celebrating success instead of attacking it and denigrating making America strong. That’s the right course for the country. His course is extraordinarily foreign.” Romney surrogate John Sununu has expressed similar beliefs, saying Obama “has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S. he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure, and then got into politics in Chicago.”

We have already seen evidence of Romney’s homophobia. These statements raise questions as to the degree to which racism also permeates the campaign, as with much of the conservative movement.

Romney’s attempts to appeal to an Anglo-Saxon heritage also makes me wonder about his current thought about France. In 2007 there were reports that Romney planned to use France-bashing as part of his campaign, including using the slogan “First, not France.”

Obama Responds To Misquotations By Romney

There are two schools of thought about handling an untrue attack–ignoring it or responding to it. The down side to responding to an attack is that often doing so leads to more people hearing the attack than originally heard it. In the past it might have been better to ignore some attacks, but in the age of twenty-four hour right wing “news” and the internet, an attack which is ignored will only continue to spread. The Obama campaign must have finally decided that attacks on Obama based upon misquoting his comment on small business are doing harm, and finally decided to respond.

Obama was repeating a basic fact about economics–businesses benefit from government infrastructure such as roads and bridge. Businessmen did not build these. Nor did they build the internet, utilities, educational systems, and other government services which are helpful to their business. Republicans have been distorting Obama’s statement to claim he was saying that businessmen did not create their own business–a complete fabrication.

Yesterday I pointed out that Mitt Romney has made a comment analogous to Obama’s in the past–not that it is any surprise to see Mitt Romney take both sides of any issue. In addition a fact checker noted that Romney’s attacks are untrue, and it was even discovered that a spokesman in a Romney ad attacking Obama over the distorted quote has received direct government benefits for his business.

Today Obama has responded:

At a campaign fundraising event in Oakland, Calif., Obama hit back at Romney for “splicing and dicing” his words. “I believe with all my heart that it is the drive and the ingenuity of Americans who start businesses that lead to their success. I always have and I always will,” he said.

This morning, Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter “debunks distortions” and defends the Obama record on small business in a new video.

Stephanie Cutter also pointed out that this is not the first time Romney has distorted Obama’s words, and it won’t be the last:

The “you didn’t build that” meme has been exposed as a lie. On the other hand, the memes that Romney repeatedly lies about Obama’s positions, and  takes both sides of virtually any issue, have been demonstrated to be true once again.

Three Strikes Against Romney’s Lie About Obama And Small Business

Lacking legitimate arguments against Obama from the right, Mitt Romney and other conservatives have concentrated on fabricating attacks against Obama for views he does not actually hold. The latest attacks, based upon twisting a comment from Obama to give it a quite different meaning, is beginning to backfire against Romney. While Obama  spoke about the benefits to businessmen from government infrastructure they did not build, such as the roads and bridges, Republicans twisted this into a ridiculous statement that businessmen did not build the businesses which they created. Conservatives, who believe a Randian fantasy about the economy and are often ignorant of how a market economy actually works, have been easily fooled into believing the claims from the right.

Obama’s statement should actually not be controversial at all. It is such common sense that people receive some benefits from others that even Mitt Romney expressed a similar view talking to Olympians in 2002:

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” said Romney, who on Friday will attend the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics. “For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right! [pumps fist].”

This no more reduces respect for the accomplishments of the Olympians than Obama’s statement shows any lack of respect for the accomplishments of creators of small businesses.

The second embarrassment for Romney is that the businessman in an ad promoting the attack on Obama turned out to have received government assistance even beyond government roads and bridges:

HE GOT HELP. In the Mitt Romney campaign web and television ads that received national attention last week, a blunt Jack Gilchrist of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson tells President Barack Obama that he, his father and his son _ and not the government _ built his company.

But as it turns out, Gilchrist did receive some government help for his business, albeit a long time ago.

In 1999, Gilchrist Metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority “to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment,” according to a New Hampshire Union Leader report at the time.

The federal government allocates to each state a certain amount of tax-exempt bonding capacity each year for business and housing loans.

Because the bond buyers do not pay federal taxes on the interest, the interest rate for the borrower is typically lower than that of standard bank financing.

Last year, Gilchrist Metal also received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008, according to a government web site that tracks spending.

The Romney camp released a web ad featuring Jack Gilchrist last Thursday after Obama had said a week earlier that “if you were successful, you didn’t get there on your own” and added, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”

Finally, even Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, who has previously taken the Romney line even when his own newspaper showed that he was wrong, has finally done some fact checking on this Romney lie:

The biggest problem with Romney’s ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama’s words — such as a reference to “roads and bridges”— so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative. The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away.

Suddenly, the word “that” appears as if it is referring to a business, rather than (apparently) to roads and bridges…

Romney, however, descends into silly season when he extrapolates Obama’s quote and says that means Obama believes Steve Jobs did not build Apple Computers.

Here’s what Obama said when Jobs passed away earlier this year: “By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the Internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun.”

That sounds like Obama believes that Jobs really did build his company. He did not mention the roads to Cupertino.

Penn State’s Penalties

Being too busy until his evening to post means that by now everyone who is interested has read about the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State. Yesterday’s post on the topic does sort of require a follow-up so I will briefly summarize.  Penn State is being fined $60 million. This money, along with an additional $13 million due to penalties from the Big Ten Conference, are to be used for “external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university.”

Penn State will also be on probation for five years and will not allowed to participate in bowl games or the Big Ten Championship game for four years. This, along with a loss in scholarships, will probably keep Penn State from rebuilding as a football power for many years. It is also questionable if that was possible even without sanctions due to the stigma now surrounding the school.

I question the meaning of vacating games already played, but Penn State has vacated all their victories from 1998. As a consequence, Joe Paterno will no longer be listed as the coach with the most wins in college football.

There are questions as to the benefits of penalizing the current students, the region which will be hurt economically, and the University after those involved might all be in prison or dead. While a legitimate question, it is hard to justify any lesser sanctions for such an egregious failure to monitor the integrity of the football program when other schools have received significant sanctions for far less serious offenses

We Were Penn State: After Unprecedented Scandal Penn State May Not Recover For Years, If Ever

Joe Paterno’s statue is down and the NCAA is reportedly on the verge of handing down unprecedented sanctions against Penn State. We are dealing with an unprecedented failure of leadership at Penn State as University officials showed far more concern with covering up the scandal than they did for those abused by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.  There has been speculation that the penalties, to be announced at 9 a.m. tomorrow, might  include the “death penalty” which would prevent the school from playing football for one or more seasons. ESPN says they won’t get the death penalty, but the penalties “are considered to be so harsh that the death penalty may have been preferable.” The death penalty might not have been an option according to an AP report:

The last time the NCAA shut down a football program with the so-called ”death penalty” was in the 1980s, when SMU was forced to drop the sport because of extra benefits violations. After the NCAA suspended the SMU program for a year, the school decided not to play in 1988, either, as it tried to regroup.

Current NCAA rules limit the penalty to colleges already on probation that commit another major violation. But NCAA leaders have indicated in recent months they are willing to use harsher penalties for the worst offenses. That includes postseason and TV bans, which haven’t been used extensively since the 1980s.

”This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like (what) happened at SMU, or anything else we’ve dealt with. This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn’t a football scandal,” Emmert told PBS. ”Well, it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we’ll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don’t know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it’s really an unprecedented problem.”

USA Today quotes former NCAA investigators as saying that “Penn State is eligible for the death penalty even though it is not a so-called repeat violator because all punitive options are on the table in cases involving major rules violations.”

It is likely that the penalties will prevent Penn State from attending bowl games for one or more years. Ohio State is ineligible for bowl participation next year, leaving Wisconsin with a pretty open road to represent the Leader’s Division in the Big Ten’s second championship game next year.

Even without the impending sanctions, it is questionable if Penn State could recover from a scandal of this magnitude in the near future to become a major football power again. The stigma will probably keep away many potential recruits, and might also impact hiring of coaching staffs. Sanctions which might keep Penn State out of bowls, off of television, and limit recruiting will make rebuilding even more difficult. It also doesn’t help Penn State that they do not have a football tradition to fall back upon beyond the now tainted Paterno years. I do not think that there will be much happiness in Happy Valley for years to come, and there will be strong economic repercussions beyond the loss of a winning football team for the region.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; The Newsroom; Downton Abbey; Three Breasted Prostitute; Superman; Harry Potter Ten Years Later

Here’s more Doctor Who news from Comic Com and elsewhere since last week’s report. Above is video of an interview with Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner. Den of Geek has posted a selection of comments from various interviews with them along with the cast:

On how much of a plot arc there will be in series 7:

Steven Moffat: “There’ll be something going on, yes. Last time we went for a very big arc, this is a much more lightly sketched one this time, but there is something yeah, to reward the one who watches it every week.”

Will the series 7 story arc continue between the two chunks of episodes?

SM: “There’s obviously the story of the Doctor saying goodbye to the Ponds and there’s obviously him saying hello to someone else, but wait and see, wait and see how we do that. I can’t say something else without giving everything away.”

On how Amy and Rory will re-join the show:

SM: “What you’ve seen is them leave the TARDIS. What you’ve seen is a decision, ‘let’s go and get on with our lives’. It’s not that they then move back in as it were, it’s a continued relationship with the Doctor. Something that’s always intrigued me about the Doctor, certainly in the old series you know, someone would leave the TARDIS and he’d never see them again, I mean, who does that? You’d go and visit.”

On Asylum of the Daleks:

SM: “You’ll be seeing more generations of Daleks than you’ve ever seen before”

Matt Smith: “My favourite Dalek is one from, I think it was the Troughton era, the sort of blue and white one. We had to draw in every Dalek that had ever been made around the world so we could fill a room full of Daleks, and it was sort of incredible. I think we’ve made them scary again in a way that perhaps we didn’t achieve in my first season, and that’s really exciting.”

Arthur Darvill: “They’re really, really scary in this one. They’re really, genuinely, brilliantly scary. That is such a great episode.”

Karen Gillan:Asylum of the Daleks is such a great episode. And then we have four more, we have five, epic, movie-style episodes and we’re going to leave in the fifth one.”

On how the new companion changes the show’s dynamic:

SM: “It does, and in some ways having a new companion about is the biggest change, bigger than even changing the Doctor. It’s always about how their life is changed because of that, so yes, it does give a new dynamic, it’s brilliant and brings out a very new side to him, pretty much a different Doctor really.”

MS: “The show remains the show. The Doctors come and go, the companions come and go, that’s the nature of the beast, that is what happens. By its very nature it’s a show that regenerates itself so you’ve got to move with that and you’ve got to go with the times. Of course we will miss Karen and Arthur, they’re great friends of mine, but Jenna’s doing a wonderful job, she’s a wonderful actress, very dedicated and I think Steven’s writing her in a very interesting way, in a very different way to Amy Pond.”

On the thinking behind the Doctor’s new costume:

SM: “Well that is plot-driven, so the reason is… he goes through stuff.”

Caroline Skinner: “It kind of just works, you’ll see next year.”

MS: “Weirdly enough, when I started I always wanted a sort of purple-y coat, but they felt it was too much like the Joker, and I liked it being a bit longer to the leg. It’s still tweed. I always thought that the costume would evolve year after year. I’m absolutely part of those conversations, we have a wonderful costume designer who comes in and does great work, you know, different hats every year, it’s fun to keep it moving.”

On plans for the 50th anniversary episode:

SM: “We know what we’re doing, but we’ll tell you when the time is right. Every time when you sit down in meetings about the next episode of Doctor Who, it’s the same size of challenge, because they’re always different, they’re always huge. So we set ourselves the task of never making an ordinary episode, they all have to be exceptional.”

On the rumoured big-screen Doctor Who movie:

MS: “I don’t know. There’s talk of it. I think David Yates was attached to do something. For my money, whoever is playing the Doctor should be in the movie. I don’t think there should be two Doctors. I think it would take four or five years to get something like that off the ground, and I don’t anticipate that I’ll be playing the Doctor then. […] I think they should get Steven to write it because he’s the best.”

The video above has more from Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. The two also say the Weeping Angels have become even more scary.

Sci-Fi Storm reports that Moffat might reveal the Doctor’s real name:

At Comic-Con he said of the Doctor, “He never gives his name. Other Time Lords do, but he doesn’t. Clearly the question is tremendously important… And only I know why! We actually find out the truth.” When pressed on whether he really knew the Doctor’s name, he said, “Yes… You’ll see.”

 

Here’s a gadget I can’t wait to buy–a television universal remote in the form of the Sonic Screwdriver.

The cast of Elementary commented on the comparisons to Sherlock.

Aaron Sorkin is replacing most of the writing staff for the second season of The Newsroom.

It was obvious by the end of last season that Emily’s mother would surface on Revenge. The character has been cast–to be played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.

News on Season 3 of Downton Abbey:

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ | A rather revealing trailer – which was met with excitement and audible gasps by the assembled press – proved that the Season 2 finale’s respite of happiness will be short-lived. Major financial woes will plague the Earl of Grantham and his family – Maggie Smith’s Countess remarks that an aristocrat with no money is as useful as a glass hammer – while Mary and Matthew are in the midst of wedding planning. But will the big celebration actually take place? The two are already arguing. Elsewhere, a new footman enters the downstairs world and former chauffeur Branson (now the husband of Lady Sybil) elicits some strong reactions at a family dinner. Plus, one of his old cohorts doesn’t want to dress him!

A WHOLE NEW WORLD | “This season is about the recovery from the war,” previewed creator Julian Fellowes. “There were those few years where people were trying to decide [if] the world was going to go back? Is it going to be the same as it was before? Was the future going to be completely different? That’s the theme of the [season].”

CORA THE EXPLORER | One person on the grand estate is more prepared for the changing world coming in Season 3 than any other. The introduction of Cora’s mother, Martha (played by Shirley MacLaine), “reminds us that Cora’s upbringing was not the same as Robert’s,” explained Fellowes. “Cora is less afraid of the future than Robert is. She’s much less afraid of change. She’s less afraid of expressing that. … If anyone understands the world that’s coming, it’s Cora.”

GREAT DAMES | MacLaine admitted that she was not a fan of the show before she was cast. But she overhead the hairdressers at her Malibu salon chatting away about it and went to them for scoop on Martha. Joining the series “was an extraordinary experience for me in stamina and work ethic,” she said, recalling long shoots in the rain and wind while wearing her formal attire. As for whether she and Dame Maggie Smith – whose characters went head-to-head with pointed barbs in the sneak peek – knew each other before the show, the actress joked, “We were lovers in another life.”

WELCOME TO AMERICA | Now that Mary’s decided to brave it out in England, the show will not be traveling across the pond. Instead, “we have chosen the other route and brought America to us [with MacLaine’s character],” said Fellowes.

SEE YOU NEXT DECADE? | Don’t look for Downton to jump to the 1930s anytime soon. Fellowes intends to continue “moving pretty slowly through the 1920s” because he finds the transitional period “very interesting.” For one, it allows him to explore major events of the time such as “the impact on this family [by] the Irish problems.” So where will it all wrap up? “We could end with the Wall Street crash and have Robert playing the ukelele,” joked the creator.

The three-breasted hooker from Total Recall remains in the remake, and she was seen at Comic Com, played by Kaitlyn Leeb.

Two Man of Steel trailers can be seen here.

Wonder what happened after the events of the Harry Potter books and not satisfied with the epilogue? Check out the first installment of the web series, Harry Potter And The Ten Years Later.

Quote of the Day

“Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $35 million more than President Obama for the month of June. Out of force of habit, Mitt stashed it all in the Cayman Islands.” –Jay Leno

Picture of the Day

Quote of the Day

“Wall Street says they prefer Mitt Romney for president. And by God, who could question Wall Street’s judgment?” –David Letterman

Quote of the Day

“Mitt Romney announced that he’s going to the Olympics in London next month. No word yet on whether he will be rooting for Switzerland, Bermuda, Luxemburg or the Cayman Islands. I’m not quite sure.” –Jay Leno