Guest co-host Jaz Tupelo joins Traci on the patio for drinks and a breakdown of the RNC having a breakdown. With special guest and bourbon specialist Katy Wight.
I have what might be considered some bad news for my friends in the dumbocratic party: I happen to like Paul Ryan a little bit. (Yeah I know he listens to AC/DC, but we can probably get past that.) I disagree philosophically with him on how to make the country better, and I probably agree with his policies five percent of the time.
Still, he seems like cool people, the kind of dude I wouldn't mind throwing back a few Red Stripes with on a Sunday evening while he cheers on his Packers and I get my holla on for #7 and Gang Green.
Which is why is has been so disappointing to hear that Paul has been playing fast and loose with the truth when it comes to his personal life. (Notice I didn't say when it comes to his politics, because I know that as a republican he has to lie to get elected. He has been telling some real political whoppers of late, but that is how politics works these days in America: tell a lie, and hope that it sticks, because the "lame street media" will ignore it, and your base will want to believe that it's true.) The other lies I can live with, but then I heard about a couple of others which kind of left me wondering about my man Paul.
First, he lied about the time it took him to run the marathon.
"In a radio interview last weekRyan claimed he ran a marathon in just under three hours, an almost unbelievably impressive time. For the record, winners of the New York City Marathon usually clock in around 2 hours and 10 minutes, while the average marathon time is somewhere around 4 hours and 30 minutes. That would make Ryan one impressive athlete.
But despite Ryan's claims that his best time was "two hour and fifty-something," it turns out Ryan's actual time was much, much higher. Runner's World delved into the matter and found several factual inaccuracies with Ryan's story.
From Runner's World: "Ryan's name does not show up in the 1991 race results provided by Grandma's. Runner's World checked 11 years of results for Grandma's Marathon, from 1988 through 1998, and found a finisher in the 1990 race by the name of Paul D. Ryan, 20, of Minneapolis. Ryan's middle name is Davis, and he was 20 in 1990. The finishing time listed was 4 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds."
So there you have it. Ryan's best time is significantly higher than previously stated. To be fair to Ryan, though, 4 hours is still a pretty impressive time, just not nearly as amazing as his earlier record. [Source]
That is "pretty impressive", so why lie about it to make yourself look even more impressive?
Then there is the other lie. This one wingnuts should find ironic because my man Paul actually plays the race card.
"The cheerleader who Paul Ryan dated in college and helped forge his uncompromising opposition to racism says that she may not be a Republican but still supports the 'nice guy'.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Deneeta Pope said she met the future vice presidential candidate through friends at Miami University some 20 years ago.
Pope, 40, said: 'Paul is a very nice guy, a kind guy and a family guy. He's very approachable and a very likeable person.'
The relationship and the negative reaction he said he suffered from his so-called friends were a formative experience in the political evolution of the VP pick who described himself as a 'big, big fan' of Martin Luther King and is a staunch advocate of civil rights.
But Pope, an I.T. specialist and realtor living in Chicago, denies that they experienced any racism as a couple. [Source]
Oh ohh. Did she say that they didn't experience any racism? Yes, I think she did.
Well why did Paul say......
"In a 2005 interview, Mitt Romney?s future running mate said that he had been confronted with racism personally, because he had dated an African-American and also had a brother with a black wife.
?I have a sister-in-law who?s African American,? he told Milwaukee Magazine.
?My college sweetheart was black,' he added.
?I just experienced some ugly comments, some racist views from people who I thought were friends of mine.'' [Source]
Another lie? Hmm, maybe. But, to be fair to Paul, his friends at Delta Tau Delta could have been telling him to cut the jungle fever crap and get on with his life. Maybe Paul didn't tell Deneeta the ugly details because he wanted to protect her from the evils of color arousal. (Apparently it worked, because Deneeta married another guy just like Paul.) If that's the case I might have to apologize to Paul. If not, I might need a psychological profile of the guy before it's too late.
Finally, I see that the LAPD is up to their old tricks. Sadly, three very ugly incidents have us all thinking Daryl Gates, again.
They beat the crap out of a poor woman for using her cell phone while driving, the commander tried to cover it up and thankfully he was removed from his command.
Then there is poor Brian Mulligan; he must have felt like the white Rodney King after the LAPD put a serious beat down on his behind. (Check out this picture of what used to be Brian's face.)
What happened to Ms. Jordan, and Mr. Mulligan is bad, but at least they are still alive and here with us to tell of their horrible experiences. Alesia Thomas, unfortunately, is not.
"Los Angeles police are embroiled in another excessive force investigation after a mother of two died during a chaotic July arrest in which an officer kicked the woman in the groin while she was handcuffed, officials said." [Source]
If LA's finest continue to act this way we could be looking at more riots down the road. Count on it.
Not that it's a surprise, but eating healthy food, exercising and having a social life is good for your health. BBC News:They showed that smokers died a year earlier, but people who quit in middle age were almost as long-lived as those who had never smoked.Swimming, walking and gymnastics increased life expectancy by around two years. People with a rich social circle lived a year and a...
It is nicknamed "Banktown." The city is considered to be the No.2 banking capital of America. The city is Charlotte, North Carolina, and it is where the 2012 Democratic National Convention is being held.The setting is appropriate when you consider how[...]
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Among the things largely absent from the 2012 Republican National Convention has been any mention of Bain Capital and any fidelity to the truth. After the first two days, the GOP's twin frauds about welfare and "we built that" were once again demolished, prompting Team Romney to protest that "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." Adding to the embarrassment was a prime-time presentation on how to build your small business by selling to the government.
As it turns out, the silence about Mitt Romney's old company (which only ended on the ceonvention's last night) and the Republican sham that "you didn't build it" are related. Because when it comes to Bain Capital, in a very real sense you did build it. After all, your United States tax code doesn't merely allow the "carried interest exemption" that enables the likes of Mitt Romney to pay a lower rate than many middle class families. Without the public subsidy that is the corporate debt interest deduction, there might not be a Bain Capital--or a private equity industry as we know it--at all.
As the history shows, on his road to becoming a $250 million captain of private equity at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney had a lot of help from his uncle. Uncle Sam, that is. Writing in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi explained how:
Essentially, Romney got rich in a business that couldn't exist without a perverse tax break, and he got to keep double his earnings because of another loophole - a pair of bureaucratic accidents that have not only teamed up to threaten us with a Mitt Romney presidency but that make future Romneys far more likely. "Those two tax rules distort the economics of private equity investments, making them much more lucrative than they should be," says Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel at the Center for Tax Justice. "So we get more of that activity than the market would support on its own."
Then-Bain Capital CEO Mitt Romney concluded as much when he acknowledged, "There's a lot greater risk in a startup than there is in acquiring an existing company." So he fatefully redirected his firm from venture investments in new companies like Staples and instead became a leveraged buyout king. To understand both why he did that and how all American taxpayers helped make it possible, a little background is in order.
Private equity owes its success in no small part to that uniquely American provision of the corporate tax code. The New York Times recently helped explain why:
Companies can finance investment from either debt or equity. Companies can finance investment from either debt or equity. But profit on an investment financed with equity -- stock issued by the company -- is taxed. In contrast, if the project is financed with debt, then only the profit after interest payments are made is taxed. This means debt-financed investments are cheaper than equity.
And not just a little cheaper. As the Treasury Department recently explained, "The effective corporate marginal tax rate on new equity-financed investment in equipment is 37 percent in the United States. At the same time, the effective marginal tax rate on the same investment made with debt financing is minus 60 percent--a gap of 97 percentage points." The result:
This creates a bias by corporations toward debt.
Or, for the likes of Mitt Romney, a business model.
For the leveraged buyout (LBO) kings of the 1970's and 1980's, that was the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow. Because the same interest deduction applied whether debt was taken on for a new factory or just to pay investors, Josh Kosman detailed in The Buyout of America, the early corporate raiders and their private equity successors could almost mint money as they bought firms for a fraction of the overall deal size:
Kohlberg saw a way to make debt far less onerous for the company being acquired. He would have the company treat its debt the way businesses handle capital expenditures--as operating expenses deduced from profits through the depreciation tax schedules, thereby greatly reducing taxes. With far less to pay the government, his companies could use the money that formerly went to Uncle Sam to retire these huge loans at an unusually fast rate. Bear's equity would rise with every dollar the companies paid back in debt, even if the value of the businesses only remained the same. The final step in the plan was to sell these companies, usually within four to six years.
In January, The Economist explained how the perverse incentives work:
From 2004 to 2011 private-equity firms piled more debt onto their companies so they could take out $188 billion in dividends to pay themselves. The deals got bigger and bigger. The largest ever, in 2007, was the $44 billion purchase of TXU, an electricity company. The market worries the company will go under.
But though the private-equity people may have walked off with the loot, America's tax code was partly to blame, because it encourages this behaviour. The tax deductibility of interest payments on debt gives private-equity executives an incentive to pile extra debt onto the companies they buy, thereby risking the health of these firms for the sake of a tax benefit and the prospect of higher returns.
"In the majority of these deals," Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission explained, "the tax deduction has a big enough impact on the bottom line that the takeover wouldn't work without it." And that interest," Turner said, "just sucks the profit out of the company." As Taibbi rightly noted, "You almost have to start firing people immediately just to get your costs down to a manageable level."
"Traditionally," Kosman noted in 2009, "cash-rich public companies have paid dividends to lure and reward investors." But private equity firms, he explained, stand this process on its head. "Fourteen of the largest American private equity firms had more than 40 percent of the North American companies they bought from 2002 until September 2006 pay them dividends," Kosman pointed out, adding, "In thirty-two of the eighty-three case, 38 percent, they took money out in the first year." And the innovator behind the business model?
Mitt Romney was a pioneer of this strategy. His private equity firm, Bain Capital, was the first large PE firm to make a serious portion of its money not from selling its companies or listing them on the stock exchange, but rather by collecting distributions and dividends, which in this context is the exact opposite of reinvesting in a company. Bain Capital is notorious for failing to plow profits back into its businesses.
So much for candidate Mitt Romney's 2007 claim, "Don't forget that when companies earn profit, that money is supposed to be reinvested in growth."
During his tenure as CEO from 1984 to 1999, Bain invested in 40 companies in the U.S. While seven later went bankrupt, in June the New York Times reported that "In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money." That mirrors a January 2012 analysis by the Wall Street Journal, which revealed:
Bain produced stellar returns for its investors--yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.
Some of those companies, too, later ran into trouble. Of the 10 businesses on which Bain investors scored their biggest gains, four later landed in bankruptcy court.
Put another way, Mitt Romney's investing was almost risk-free. He won when his portfolio companies won and often when they lost. Thanks in large part to the dangerous incentives unleashed by the U.S. tax code.
That's why Romney's former Bain colleague Marc Wolpow fretted, "I believed he was making a mistake by framing himself as a job creator." In reality, he insisted, "That was not his or Bain's or the industry's primary objective. The objective of the LBO business is maximizing returns for investors."
And it's also why other countries like Denmark, the UK and Germany either don't offer--or are trying to limit--the "public subsidy" that William D. Cohan deemed "the mother's milk of a leveraged buyout". As Felix Salmon noted, the United States could lower the rate at which debt interest can deducted or cap the amount of debt to which it applies. (The Obama administration is considering those kinds of changes in its recently proposed "Framework for Business Tax Reform.") In its January 30, 2012 editorial, the Financial Times lamented:
"The system could be made fairer and more efficient by taxing debt and equity at the same rate...Most of [Romney's] money was made at Bain Capital, which, like all private equity groups, benefits from a federal debt subsidy. It should be eliminated."
Reflecting on his private equity career, Romney in 2007 sounded almost remorseful that the pain from Bain fell mainly on the plain:
"It is one thing that if I had a chance to go back I would be more sensitive to," Mr. Romney said. "It is always a balance. Great care has got to be taken not to take a dividend or a distribution from a company that puts that company at risk." He added that taking a big payment from a company that later failed "would make me sick, sick at heart."
Not so sick at heart, though, to make President Romney change the two key elements of the federal tax code that keep the American private equity gravy train running at full speed. The first is the tax deductibility of corporate debt. The second is the notorious "carried interest exemption" that allows him and fellow fund managers to pay only the 15 percent capital gains rate- and not the 35 percent rate on income- to Uncle Sam. It is that rule that allowed Mitt to pay a lower effective tax rate on his $45 million (much of it still from Bain Capital) over the past two years, a rate below that of many middle class families.
As Alec McGillis noted in the New Republic, even the likes of Stephen Moore and Pete Peterson have grudgingly come to the conclusion that it's time for the carried interest exemption, "which allows fund managers to have their compensation for investing other people's money taxed as capital gains, not earned income," to go. But what makes Congress' largesse to Mitt Romney's ilk so glaring is the historically low capital gains tax rate he and his gilded colleagues now pay.
It's worth noting Bain Capital has come under increasing scrutiny for getting carried away with carried interest. The practice isn't just immoral; in Bain's case, its use of "fee conversion" to evade taxes may also have been illegal:
Private equity funds are usually paid like this: They get a 2 percent management fee, which is taxed as ordinary income at a 35 percent rate, and a 20 percent share at the profits, called carried interest, that's taxed at as capital gains at a 15 percent rate, as University of Colorado law professor Victor Fleischer explains. But since those 2 percent fees can still be a lot of money, funds convert this into carried interest, too, by waiving the management fee in exchange for the chance to skim off the top of future profits. Fleischer writes, "Unlike carried interest, which is unseemly but perfectly legal, Bain's management fee conversions are not legal. If challenged in court, Bain would lose." The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore, Floyd Norris, and Julie Creswell report that the funds converted $1.05 billion in fees that would have been taxed at the higher rate. That saved $200 million in income taxes and $20 million in Medicare taxes.
Leaving that question aside, there's little doubt, as a Washington Post analysis detailed last year, that "capital gains tax rates benefiting wealthy feed [the] growing gap between rich and poor." As the Post explained, for the very richest Americans the successive capital gains tax cuts from Presidents Clinton (from 28 to 20 percent) and Bush (from 20 to 15 percent) have been "better than any Christmas gift":
While it's true that many middle-class Americans own stocks or bonds, they tend to stash them in tax-sheltered retirement accounts, where the capital gains rate does not apply. By contrast, the richest Americans reap huge benefits. Over the past 20 years, more than 80 percent of the capital gains income realized in the United States has gone to 5 percent of the people; about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent.
The tax rate on capital gains and dividend income used to be much higher. In the late 1970's, it reach 40 percent. Even as late as 1986 the IRS treated the top taxpayers' investment and earned income the same way. (It is worth noting that lower capital gains tax rates raise income inequality, not investment.) This convenient chart tells the tale:
All of which has--and continues--to work to the great advantage of the one Willard Mitt Romney. To be sure, other codicils of the United States tax code, like overseas tax havens and vagaries of the gift tax have allowed Romney to, among other things, generate a $100 million IRA for his sons, tax-free. (Getting state tax breaks or having the U.S. bail out the pension funds of firms he acquired or even saving Bain & Company itself, didn't hurt, either.) To be sure, Mitt Romney is very smart, very hard working and, to use his words, "extraordinarily successful." But without the policy choices of our elected United States government, Mitt Romney would not have gotten nearly as rich as he did at Bain Capital. As Matt Taibbi put it, "the way Romney most directly owes his success to the government is through the structure of the tax code."
In other words, the government actually incentivizes the kind of leverage-based takeovers that Romney built his fortune on. Romney the businessman built his career on two things that Romney the candidate decries: massive debt and dumb federal giveaways. "I don't know what Romney would be doing but for debt and its tax-advantaged position in the tax code," says a prominent Wall Street lawyer, "but he wouldn't be fabulously wealthy."
Not without you, that is. After all, you built Bain Capital.
(An earlier version of this piece appeared at Perrspectives.)
Really, Paul? You caught a fish HOW BIG?! (Reuters)Sure, it lacks the tear-your-hair out, anger-inducing outrage of the lies about the GM plant in Janesville, but Paul Ryan was caught in another failed attempt at deception to close this week.
This time, it was about the athletic prowess in his distant past:
It turns out Paul Ryan has not run a marathon in less than three hours?or even less than four hours.In the annals of human abuses of the truth, most people would probably rate this rather low, right down there with tales of the bombshell girlfriend in band camp and the time Jon Bon Jovi saw you singing in a hotel bar and said he admired your voice.
A spokesman confirmed late Friday that the Republican vice presidential candidate has run one marathon. That was the 1990 Grandma?s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, where Ryan, then 20, is listed as having finished in 4 hours, 1 minute, and 25 seconds.
Ryan had said in a radio interview last week that his personal best was "Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something."
However, there is something both more infuriating and more sinister about this one than is apparent at first blush.
For one thing, there is something disturbing about people who lie when they don't need to. Dana Houle captured the essential part of the Hugh Hewitt interview where the fiction of Paul Ryan, Marathon Great was established:
And for those who might still believe that Ryan?s tongue simply slipped, look again at what he said:Ryan could have simply said: "Yeah, Hugh, I still run. I even ran a marathon in college once. Almost broke four hours! But, then I had a back problem, and..."
H. H.: Are you still running?
P. R.: Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don?t run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or [less].
H. H.: But you did run marathons at some point?
P. R.: Yeah, but I can?t do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.
H. H.: I?ve just gotta ask, what?s your personal best?
P. R.: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.
H. H.: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University?
P. R.: I was fast when I was younger, yeah.
A four-hour marathon, in itself, is a pretty impressive achievement for anyone. Hell, completing a marathon is a damned impressive achievement.
But Ryan couldn't live with a modestly impressive past. Perhaps that conflicted with his own goal of being Republican Superman, or something. So he invented a better running history, confident that no one would be able to verify one way or another that he was fabricating his past. Not only did he wildly exaggerate his performance, but, as Houle astutely noted, he also did not correct Hewitt's assertion that he had run multiple marathons.
And this is not a small fib. This is saying that your 1050 on the SAT in high school was really a 1500. When you knock an hour-plus off your marathon time, you are going from an above-average effort to being in the top 1 percent (a familiar setting for Ryan and his allies, of course). Ryan, one must assume, figured he could get away with such a whopper, because who would know what time he ran in a marathon 22 years earlier?
His problem was that he didn't understand the subject he was lying about. Completing a marathon is a big deal, and completing one in under three hours is a damned big deal. Ergo, records are kept (you want to know my personal best in the 5K? It's online, albeit fairly unimpressive).
Thus, it required very little effort for Runners' World to confirm that Ryan was, indeed, full of shit. And, once cornered, Ryan had to fess up.
But he did it in the most weasel-esque fashion possible—claiming "it was more than 20 years ago." As if running a marathon was such a common event that the salient details would easily slide from our memory. Especially when we are talking about a guy that Republicans incessantly try to convince us is some kind of a numbers guru: Wile E. Coyote with a congressional pin.
The average American knows what is going on here. Every damned one of us went to a high school reunion, and got cornered by "that guy." "That guy" claimed he dated a stream of supermodels in college, but you knew he never left his dorm room. "That guy" claimed he was the final guy cut from the Milwaukee Bucks back in '96, but you knew that he didn't even start in high school.
The thing about "that guy": he's sad. One of the true icons of Gen X television, Al Bundy, serves as an instructive example here. Why does Al Bundy talk incessantly about his four touchdowns in one game at Polk High? Because what else does he have? "That guy" has to cling to those stories filled with past glories (real or imagined) because that's all he has got.
But ... you see ... Paul Ryan shouldn't be "that guy." He has financial wealth, political power, all the accoutrements that the average Joe who exaggerates his past doesn't. "That guy" may not have a right to lie about his past, but at least he has a reason. What is Paul Ryan's reason?
In his landmark nonfiction work Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon observed that everyone lies, but they lie for different reasons. Some people lie because they have to. Some people lie because they think they have to. And some people lie just for the hell of it. This particular incident reveals a huge character flaw in Paul Ryan, for it is evident that he falls in this latter category.
As a result, this incident can not be examined in a vacuum. If this convention week has proven anything to us, it is that Paul Ryan is willing to exaggerate, and completely fabricate, to suit his chosen narratives (the lame lamentations of Ben Smith to the contrary). One wonders if the press, who leapt all over a certain Democratic presidential candidate for far less over a decade ago, will conclude that this is a pattern, and not a series of isolated events.
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Although you didn't hear all that much about this in the corporate media, there were indeed activists, protesters and Occupiers at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. From The Nation:
Hundreds of senior citizens, religious leaders, community organizers, and Occupy Wall Street activists have descended upon St. Petersburg to protest at the Republican National Convention?s welcome event at Tropicana Field.
More than 1,800 law enforcement officers from federal, state, and local agencies worked in tandem over the last 36 hours to secure the stadium by closing surrounding roads, implementing parking restrictions, and monitoring traffic flow to facilitate the peaceful protests.
Some protesters rode down on buses provided by Occupy, including an activist named Susan, 62, who told the Huffington Post she was laid off from her job in a hospital last fall and has since been receiving unemployment benefits.
Working in the hospital, Susan said, she had seen the Great Recession?s effects up close.
?Medicaid is being cut,? she said. ?Charity care is being cut. So the hospital is really struggling.? She said she felt compelled to march against Mitt Romney and the RNC. There had been plans for five buses to come down to Florida from New York, but the storm kept a lot of people at home, she said. Only two buses ended up making the 22-hour trip.
Judy Sellers, 66, a retired school teacher, told the Huffington Post she hadn?t attended a protest since Vietnam, but ?this is just as important to me.?
Sellers said that she?s been middle-class all her life. She?s concerned that kids won?t be able to afford college and she?s disturbed by the way she thinks Republicans have maligned teachers. ?We work our butts off,? she said. ?It?s not right.?
Bank of America quickly became a primary target for activists. Carrying a giant statue of Mitt Romney wearing a sign that said ?King of the 1%,? hundreds of activists (one report put the count higher at ?roughly 1,000?) gathered in a downtown park for an unscheduled protest before speakers criticized tax cuts for the rich, and half the group split off to march across the street to Bank of America plaza.
They carried signs and chanted slogans against the ?one percent.? Several demonstrators ? armed with crayons and stickers ? began pasting and scribbling slogans across the sidewalk and building pillars. One sign read: ?You stole our money; we want it back.?
The ubiquitous Code Pink was also in attendance and held signs including, ?Vagina. If you can?t say it, don?t legislate it,? and ?GOP, respect women.?
?I?m completely opposed to the Ralph Reed agenda of the war on women,? said Rae Abileah, 29, of San Francisco. Reed started the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which among other causes is against abortion.
White House Beer Recipe Released. Get it here! The White House has released its beer recipes in a blog post titled ?Ale to the Chief.? Check out one of the recipes Here: http://aareports.com/2012/09/white-house-beer-recipe-released-get-it.html
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