How many of you really doubt that the image of Malevolent Mitt hacking off the hair of a high school classmate with a pair of clipping shears as Romney's friends held the terrified boy down on the floor, was not merely some remote episode from a long-forgotten past but was instead a missing piece of a puzzle which helps to explain a very weird man who, for most of us, remains a puzzle himself?
Stories of youthful transgressions have legs even when they emerge from our ancient past if they are more than aberrations but echo prevailing story lines.
And the recollections recounted by Mitt Romney's prep school buddies in this week's Washington Post about a presumptive Republican nominee who may have been, and could still be, a mean and potentially violent bully, are important because they reinforce what we already know about the mature Romney -- or at least the one seen posing with business chums squeezing wads of cash in their teeth, earned while looting healthy companies and tossing terrified workers out on the street.
Targeting the vulnerable is an act of cowardice, as Charles Blow of the New York Times correctly notes, which could be a real problem for someone like Mitt Romney whose serial evasions, retreats and reinventions have caused many to question his political courage.
The past, as they say, is prologue. And in prep school, according to the Washington Post, Romney assaulted classmate John Lauber, who the paper described as "a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney" who "was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality."
It was Lauber's bleached hair that apparently "incensed" Romney who then reportedly led a "posse" of other boys "shouting about their plan to cut Lauber's hair." According to the Post, Romney and the other boys approached Lauber, "tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors."
Charles Blow notes that Romney laughed the whole thing off in an interview on Fox Radio, where he claimed he didn't remember the incident, except to acknowledge that "back in high school, you know, I, did some dumb things. And if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize."
Romney then continued, "I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far. And, for that, I apologize."
Blow says there are five important takeaways from Romney's response.
First, the hair-cutting incident was not a prank or act of simple bullying -- it was an assault. Second, "honorable men don't chuckle at cruelty." Third, what does it say about Mitt Romney that the "searing account" which apparently haunted the memories of Romney's friends made no lasting impression on him? Fourth, Romney has offered no real apology for the alleged incident and has instead brushed it off. And lastly, what does it say about Romney as a leader that he would pass up an opportunity to say something meaningful about the problem of bullying that Blow notes 77% of Americans believe to be a "serious problem that adults should try and stop whenever possible."
We've seen this movie before. Remember the stories that re-appeared when then Governor George W. Bush of Texas was preparing his own run for President? Back then, we learned how a younger George Bush, while leader of Yale's Delta Epsilon Kappa fraternity, branded the backsides of young pledges with a red-hot metal rod in a hazing ritual Yale administrators had to put a halt to once the sadistic ritual became a scandal in the local press.
"When they burned me I jumped a mile," one of Bush's fraternity brothers remembered years later.
"I got branded and I didn't like it one bit," said Bradford Lee, who later became a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. "It did burn. I think I still have the mark on me."
When these stories first resurfaced, Bush brushed the barbaric torture off (much as Romney is brushing off his attack on Lauber today), calling them a harmless school prank comparable to "only a cigarette burn" which left "no scarring mark physically or mentally."
And we all know how that story finally turned out when Bush became President.
Charles Blow is right about Romney. There is a "malicious streak at the core of the high-school boy in these accounts" that is disturbing - all the more so because the "muddled explanations" and "half-apologies" make you wonder if "something isn't missing from the core of the man," such as sincerity and sensitivity.
My high school principal, Dr. Doyle, always tried to impress upon us that who we were in high school was who we'd likely become later in life. So, what is it about young scions of wealth, privilege and political power like George Bush and Mitt Romney that makes them unable to connect with other human beings?
The story of predation against that terrified young boy back in prep school helps to put in a whole new light what Romney means today when he says: "I don't really worry about the poor." Doesn't it?
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In the two-and-a-half years I've been doing this feature, the pickings have never been as sparse as this week. I took a look at my Twitter trolls, and saw stuff like this:Is @markos a little bitch? @Progress2day Is Scott Walker A Drug Addict? @dailykos #wiunion
Yup, nowhere near as good as the good stuff that gets emailed to me. Then, Friday night, when I had lost all hope and despaired about what to do with this feature, I got a beauty. It may be the only email this week (hence we'll default to "below average" and skip the poll), but it's a good one. Check it out, below the fold.
Words supporting marriage equality are nice, and greatly appreciated. Growth from old positions is nice, and greatly appreciated.But executive opinions don't actually change anything. Executive orders, on the other hand . . .[...]
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We've written before about how Mitt Romney claimed that his time as a Mormon missionary in France was under quite impoverished conditions, when in reality he spent almost half the time living in a Paris mansion with servants. We even uncovered some photos of Mitt's palatial residence.Well, now there's another photo of Mitt's time in France. The poor old chap really had to slum it.
The rumor of this story was out there a month ago, but the most arrogant man on Wall Street dismissed it. Jamie Dimon has known about the $2 billion trading loss for weeks and finally went public with the news Thursday night after trading hours. The actual trading loss by the man known as Voldemort or "The Whale" in London was "only" $800 million (a fraction of the value of JPMorgan, which is...
All you need to know:The Catholic Bishops are once more acting like a Republican GOTV organization in an election year.The Catholic Bishops defend the boy-abusers but put their nuns (average age, 74) into receivership. Many Scout groups are organized in parish schools, which gives the Bishops some leverage. It's the old old story ? homophobic, misogynistic, often-closeted men acting...
Buck & Schmuck
The House Ethics Committee is investigating Buck McKeon for taking bribes from Countrywide, a major player-- like in a really bad player-- in the subprime mortgage meltdown. McKeon was a "Friend Of Angelo." These days McKeon is still scamming and raking in bribes, but he's moved on from the housing industry and the for-profit student loan industry to put most of his focus on reaping immense amounts of cash from the war industries. He's now the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee and he's on the record taking more bribes from armaments companies and war contractors than anyone else in Congress-- more than Boehner and Cantor... more even than any senator! But McKeon has his paws out all the time-- and everywhere and it's just coming to light that he's also taking bribes from local entertainment corporation, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (MMSA), owned by the Starwood Capital Group. I wonder when law enforcement gets serious about his serial record of criminal behavior.
Right before he introduced legislation tailored specifically to serve MMSA, McKeon solicited and received donations-- bribes-- from executives of the company. That's illegal. He also violated FEC rules by failing to disclose very valuable in-kind contributions from Rusty Gregory, CEO of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.
Like every other Member of Congress McKeon is prohibited from accepting corporate donations for his campaign, either directly or in kind. Thus, he could not host a fundraiser at MMSA without either paying for the gifts, food and beverage given to donors, or in lieu of payment he would have to declare this as an in kind donation from Mr. Gregory. Gregory and his wife both made a maximum contribution to McKeon on March 30, 2011. In kind donations are included in the federal maximum ($2,500 per person, per election) and if Gregory donated gifts, food and beverages to the campaign for the fundraiser, it must be declared and subtracted from his allowed donation.
MMSA executives have given McKeon at least $17,600 since 2004. On March 4th last year McKeon held a fundraiser at MMSA, hosted by Gregory. The invitation and donation form were (and continue to be) hosted on MMSA?s corporate website, a violation of FEC rules for using corporate resources for campaign fundraising. Campaign donors were given lift tickets, ski coaching, lunch, and dinner. Based on pricing found on their website, lift tickets are worth $69 and coaching $99 per hour. MMSA banquet pricing for lunch is $17 - $33 and dinner $38 - $55 plus dessert $9, and drinks additional. Total value of the package was approximately $265 per person. The Buck McKeon for Congress financial report for Q1 2011 fails to show expenditures for the event paid for by Buck McKeon for Congress to MMSA or in kind donations from MMSA or affiliated persons. McKeon seems to have quite the penchant for this kind of shady behavior.
In return for all this kindness, McKeon introduced HR 2157. Here, in part, is what MMSA wrote for him to parrot on the floor of Congress (and in the Congressional Record):
"Mr. Speaker, the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is located in the northern half of my district, in the Eastern Sierra. Mammoth provides between ten and thirty percent of the total employment in Mono County and is a premier recreation destination for tourists all throughout California and the U.S. Each winter, Mammoth sees an average of 1.3 million visitors. These visitors pump vital money into the local economy by populating hotels, restaurants, and stores throughout the region. Tourism is the life-blood of the Eastern Sierra.
"Mammoth has operated on a Special Use Permit from the U.S. Forest Service since 1953. The base area of the mountain is aging rapidly and is in need of renovation and redevelopment in order to provide a safer, more enjoyable experience for visitors to Mammoth Mountain. However, these renovations are difficult to achieve under the terms of the Special Use Permit.
"Since 1998, Mammoth Mountain has been working with the Forest Service to complete a land exchange between their main base parcel and other desired Forest Service acquisitions. These acquisitions include high resource value lands in the Inyo, El Dorado, Stanislaus, and Plumas National Forests. The exchange would allow the main base to undergo significant and needed renovations.
"My legislation is meant to supplement and codify this agreement. It is needed for two reasons:
1) Two parcels that the Forest Service wants are outside Inyo National Forest boundaries. Both parcels are currently leased by the Inyo National Forest from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
2) There is more value in the Mammoth Mountain parcel than all the land parcels exchanged in total, so Mammoth needs legislation for permission to pay a cash equalization to the federal government that will be used for future forest acquisition.
"The agreement is widely supported by the local community because residents, business owners, and local governments understand the great value of having Mammoth Mountain in their community. Besides jobs and recreation, Mammoth supports a significant portion of the tax base, providing needed revenue throughout the region...
"Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving my bill time on the floor. Mammoth Mountain has been a good steward of the environment, a solid partner in economic vitality for the region, and an honest party in negotiations with the Forest Service. This land exchange will be mutually beneficial for all parties involved and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2157.
?Certainly to take a gift from a corporation is illegal. To not disclose contributions on your finance report is against FEC rules. By taking a gift from a corporation is blatantly illegal,? said Rogers.
Rogers says tracing the amount of money McKeon raised during the ?Day on the Mountain? support event will be difficult because payments could have been made on different days. To make things transparent, McKeon would need to divulge the amount he made himself.
Santa Clarita Valley voters who?ve become cynical over campaign contributions, will at least wonder why McKeon has not introduced legislation to stop the CEMEX mega mine with a land swap.
Following McKeon?s announcement of the Mammoth Mountain deal, even one local Republican Scott Wilk, who is running for the 38th Assembly District, joined Rogers in a press conference to denounce McKeon?s lack of progress on CEMEX. (KHTS coverage of that story can be found by clicking here.)
Haueter attended that press conference and said that neither Wilk nor Rogers understood the differences between CEMEX and the Mammoth Mountain land swap. Haueter says CEMEX would be considered by the House of Representatives as a bill with earmarks and could not advance.
Rogers isn?t buying that argument saying McKeon puts pork and earmarks in his Defense Authorization Act. So why not earmarks for Santa Clarita?
?He does this land exchange to benefit a private corporation and he says that?s not an earmark, and that?s currently in the district, and that?s my definition of what an earmark would be. But he?s not willing to step up to the plate and go to bat for CEMEX,? said Rogers.
Perhaps McKeon disagrees with Rogers? assessment of the Mammoth Mountain arrangement, but he seems to be unwilling to confront him in person. McKeon failed to attend an April 30th candidates forum hosted by SCVTV, KHTS AM 1220 and The Signal newspaper.
Haueter told KHTS McKeon was unavailable that day and asked to reschedule. Tami Edwards who made the arrangements for SCVTV disputes Haueter?s claim of requesting a date change.
The Palmdale Chamber of Commerce who is holding a candidates forum May 16th said McKeon would not be attending. Rogers says he knows why McKeon is ducking him.
?I don?t think he wants to really answer for the type of things he?s been doing since he?s been in Congress. I think that he?s under the influence of a lot of industries. He may not want to answer to them directly in any type of forum,? said Rogers.
Rogers says he understands a Congressman has a busy schedule and has offered the McKeon campaign any date and time to debate.
?I think it?s a legitimate reason to work around his schedule and that?s why I?ve offered to work around his schedule. I think he is doing an awful lot of work and that?s why I?ve made myself available any time,? said Rogers.
Apparently, McKeon could not make time for Rogers tomorrow because he is holding another fundraiser, this time at the Agua Dulce Winery from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., in Agua Dulce. The admission is free, and so is the food, wine tasting and children?s craft fair.
McKeon?s guest of honor will be Congressman Allen West from Florida?s 22nd District. Perhaps West provides the Tea Party bona fides needed for McKeon to attract a certain electorate, but a curious choice for the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to select a ?Congressman and American Patriot? who narrowly missed facing a court-martial for violating two articles under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Local news blogs have anticipated protests from Libertarians and Democrats at the event.
Rogers thought it was ironic that the fundraiser will be held at a winery near where the dust from the CEMEX mega mine would be settling over the vines. But as fundraisers go the number one mission is to follow the money.
In this case, the grapes of math.
by Neven Acropolis via Arctic Sea Ice blog
I’m starting this blog post off with a conclusion that was reached a while back already: Sea ice on the Atlantic side of the Arctic looks vulnerable, sea ice on the Pacific side should be thicker.
Right, with that out of the way we can now look at various aspects of the 2011/2012 freezing season, and compare them to previous years, to be precise the previous freezing season of 2010/2011, and the freezing seasons leading up to and following that other record year: 2006/2007 and 2007/2008. Simply put: I’ll be comparing 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012 before their respective start of the melting season.
I’ll try not to use too many words, but I’ll be using a lot of images. Click on them images if you want a bigger version.
I’ll start with the AARI ice age maps. These images are for the end of April, and they look upside down, because it’s from the perspective of the Russians who produced them:
This year, at the end of April, the Arctic seems to hold less of the brown ‘old ice’ than last year and 2007 (older version), and a tad more than 2008, that had relatively little multi-year ice (MYI) after the 2007 melting season/massacre.
Another source that was already mentioned in the A first clue blog post, were these images based on data compiled by NASA senior research scientist Josefino Comiso from NASA’s Nimbus-7 satellite and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio). The images show the amount of MYI at its maximum, I presume:
These images look similar to the ones from AARI, with 2012 showing less old ice/MYI than 2007 and 2011, and a bit more than 2008 (look at the graph in the bottom right image). However, at the time a flag was raised by Spanish blogger Diablobanquiso on his excellent blog, maintaining there was more MYI than AARI and Comiso indicated. He based himself on ASCAT radar images, where slightly brighter white represents older ice. The following image shows March 16th 2011 and March 15th 2012 side by side (unfortunately there are no radar images available from 2007 and 2008), with 2012 merging into an imagemade by Diablobanquisa, showing what part was missing from AARI and Comiso:
In my view he was proven right when James Maslanik and Chuck Fowlerproduced their bi-yearly graph/map for NSIDC, showing March ice age distribution, compared here with our other years of interest:
Here we see the zone delineated by Diablobanquisa on the ASCAT radar images that reaches much further towards the East Siberian Sea. Could it be that Comiso and AARI overlooked it because it stands out less clear than the rest of the MYI on the radar images? Either way, it still looks like 2012 has less old ice/MYI than 2011 and 2007, but more than 2008.
This isn’t surprising as there has been a lot of transport of ice towards Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, and through Fram Strait.
The movement of ice floes is largely determined by wind, and wind is largely determined by sea level pressure gradients. So let’s first have a look at SLP maps from NOAA’s Earth Science Research Laboratory (daily mean composites page). I have divided the freezing season up into 3 parts with a duration of two months each:
Obviously the mean of two months of SLP patterns will look similar from year to year, but there is still some interesting info here. Take a look for instance at the purple-blue region of low pressure around Greenland. Low pressure means winds blowing counter-clockwise, so the intensity of this low pressure area tells us something about ice transport through Fram Strait and towards Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago. Darker purple means more transport, and particularly the Dec-Jan row looks intense in this sense for this winter and the winter preceding the 2007 melting season.
Also noteworthy is how far the purple blot stretches towards Siberia. Looking at Dec-Jan for this year and last year we see that the low doesn’t stretch all the way over Novaya Zemlya, which partially explains why that region showed a retreat of ice earlier on in 2012 and 2011: westerly winds blowing between high and low pressure systems.
One last thing I noted is that comparing Dec-Jan from year to year, and also Feb-Mar from year to year, the pressure over Siberia seems to be getting higher every winter. Whether this means anything with regards to the WACC theory (Warm Arctic, Cold Continents), I wouldn’t know. Either way, it’s not relevant to this Winter Analysis.
The effect of the various SLP patterns can also be seen on these excellent IFREMER/CERSAT sea ice drift maps (hat-tip yet again to Diablobanquisa). I’ve made an animation covering the October-March period of 2011/2012:
In December and January there are a lot of long arrows, pointing towards Fram Strait, but also to Greenland, the Canadian Archipelago and the Beaufort Sea. This explains in large part why the ice pack looks vulnerable on the Atlantic/Siberian side of the Arctic, and should be stronger on the Pacific/North American side of the Arctic. But there are other factors as well.
For SAT and SST images we turn again towards that most excellent tool: the daily mean composites page from NOAA’s Earth Science Research Laboratory. First of all the surface air temperatures of the four freezing seasons, divided into two periods:
With regards to the first half of the freezing season we see that in 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 large parts of the Arctic are anomalously warm, and the freezing season of 2010/2011 had a very big anomaly over Baffin Bay and the Canadian Archipelago. In the second half of the last freezing season the contrast between the positive anomaly in the Barentsz/Kara region and the negative anomaly in the Bering Sea is very pronounced.
I’m not really sure how useful this is, because it would seem to me that satellites can’t measure SSTs when the sea is covered by ice (maybe I did something wrong while entering the parameters on the daily mean composites page), but nevertheless we see again a big contrast between the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Arctic for the second half of the past freezing season, a contrast that translated into record anomalies in the Barentsz and Bering Seas.
One final comparison to look at are the thickness maps generated by the Naval Research Laboratory’s PIPS model and its follow-up, the Arctic Cap HYCOM/CICE/NCODA Nowcast/Forecast System (ACNFS):
There seems to be a lot more of the thickest 4-5 meter thick ice north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago when compared to 2008. But then again, PIPS wasn’t the best tool for ice thickness projections, so I’ll just have a look at higher-resolution ACNFS images and compare 2012 to 2011.
There seems to be less thick ice now than last year, but overall it’s thicker, which makes sense, after all those winds pushing the winds from Siberia towards Greenland, the Canadian Archipelago and the Beaufort Sea in December and January. Here too the Atlantic side of the Arctic looks vulnerable, compared to last year, and there’s a lot more (thin) ice in the Bering Sea.
So that was all the evidence for the conclusion given at the start of this blog post. The big questions now are of course:
How this plays out, mostly depends on the weather, albeit less so than in the past when ice was thicker. We will be keeping a close watch through the (bi-)weekly ASI updates, the monthly NSIDC and PIOMAS updates, comparisons of sea ice concentration maps and an animation here and there.
– by Neven Acropolis via the Arctic Sea Ice blog. Reprinted with permission.
Maybe it's time to go to another bar.No more bets for Greek euro exitAthens News10 May 2012 Want a flutter on Greece leaving the euro zone? It may already be too late. A surge in bets has forced Britain's biggest bookmakers William Hill Plc and Ladbrokes[...]
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The purpose of the Progressive Information Project is to more widely share resources and information created to advance progressive causes. A lot of good work is being done, but the average progressive often doesn't learn about it or know what is available. This series is designed to help alleviate that problem.
This post will serve to update a few previous posts with more resources on ALEC and online progressive radio and video. First up are some new resources on ALEC, which I previously profiled here. Since then, a number of groups who are part of the ALEC Exposed community have come together to provide some more research on the shadowy organization behind much of the right-wing legislation being pursued in the states.
I'm also still getting a lot of good feedback on the online radio and video posts and there are a lot of new shows to add. I will continue to update the list and it will be housed on my Liberal FAQ website for the future, although I won't likely post it here again, I'll just add new shows to the list.
Now, the original idea ...
The idea is very simple?it's an attempt to round up all of the online progressive radio shows, podcasts, and video shows that are regularly produced. I'm sure the list below is incomplete, so let me know what is missing and I'll update the list regularly to make sure everyone can find the progressive media voices available to us online ...
The new shows added to the list are ...
For more entries, go to the series index. If you have tips, e-mail me at email@example.com