Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Fabulous Finale To The Romney-Ryan Musical Review: Latest In IRS Cover-up Reveals Religious Loophole - CRUT

Will someone PLEASE GET THE HOOK!?!

Bloomberg News - through the Freedom of Information Act - made a startling discovery on Oct. 28, regarding the real reason why Romney didn't want his tax returns divulged:
"In 1997, Congress cracked down on a popular tax shelter that allowed rich people to take advantage of the exempt status of charities without actually giving away much money.Individuals who had already set up these vehicles were allowed to keep them. That included Mitt Romney, then the chief executive officer of Bain Capital, who had just established such an arrangement in June 1996."
The song and dance act that has been the Romney campaign since its inception has centered around money, Mitt's money as well as the rest of the country's. With a "jobs jobs jobs" campaign, the Romney-Ryan ticket has created an undeniably thick scrim, too thick to see through to the real Romney and the true machinations of Paul Ryan. 

Of course, it's been a laugh riot worthy of the Marx Brothers, and, to their credit, they gave America a rollicking good show by bumbling and blundering their way through a series of quotes and events, creating the most work for late night stand-ups and looking more like Crosby and Hope in a Road film. Take for instance, these wonderful musical numbers:

"Tax Returns, What Tax Returns?"

"The Road To The Caymans"

"Getting Out Of London Without Getting Hung"

"Oh, Those Beautiful Binders Of Women!"

"Costco, That's Me!"

"I'm Pumped Up, Bro And Ready To Go!"

"You People!"

"The Photo-Op Clean Pot Shuffle"

"Candy's A Snitch!"

...and who could forget:

"Firing Big Bird Isn't Immoral, But Funding Him Sure Is!"

The finale, however, might not match the merry mayhem done on stage. Let's hope, however, that it truly IS the finale.

"Let's All Do The CRUT!"
"When individuals fund a charitable remainder unitrust, or “CRUT,” they defer capital gains taxes on any profit from the sale of the assets, and receive a small upfront charitable deduction and a stream of yearly cash payments. Like an individual retirement account, the trust allows money to grow tax deferred, while like an annuity it also pays Romney a steady income. After the funder’s death, the trust’s remaining assets go to a designated charity."

Jonathan Blattmachr, a trusts and estates lawyer who set up hundreds of such vehicles in the 1990s before the loophole was closed, explained CRUT fully in the Bloomberg article, but the gist of it is:

1. Romney used the tax exempt status of the LDS to defer taxes for 15 years.

2. He received a small upfront yearly deduction

3. He also received yearly cash payments.

Like an individual retirement account, the trust allows money to grow tax deferred, while like an annuity it also pays Romney a steady income. After the donor's death, the trust’s remaining assets go to a designated charity.

The problem is, the charity can invariably suffer if the assets of the trust are invested in less-than stellar investments or left to dwindle from payouts. Romney's CRUT of $750,000 in 2001 is now worth only $421,000. Some CRUTs are structured in such a way as to give the "donor" maximum tax breaks and cool "annuity" while leaving the charity next to nothing.

Paul Ryan would have loved this arrangement if he could have taken advantage of it: "give" to charity without actually giving much of anything! Hey, it's kinda like cleaning clean pots and pans!

The Romney campaign has not commented on the recent disclosure accept to say that "it was legal."

Over they years, Romney has "donated" millions of dollars in stock of Bain-owned companies. How much you want to bet that these were companies slated for unloading anyway?

Just a thought.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Irony Of Being Demonspawn

Today was the most gorgeous day in San Francisco: the air was crisp and clear - glowing from the SF Giants' sweep of the World Series. It was a day to remember, a day to cherish. I stopped by that gay mecca, the Castro, where some people strolled shirtless, men hand-in-hand, delighting in God's gift of the marvelous day.

As I gazed upon The City from the upper reaches of its infamous gay mecca, I though back to "prophet" Lou Engle's descriptive words of its local demizens: "...those people who embrace the darkness." I hoped Engle was somewhere - anywhere - on the East Coast.

For it was not a beautiful day anywhere along the East Coast, not in New York, Washington, Atlantic City, Baltimore, or even Virginia Beach. That's right, not even Pat Robertson's Virginia Beach escaped the wrath of Frankenstorm's  God. The almighty Pat Robertson who once boasted that he had prayed away a hurricane was powerless against Frankenstorm. Perhaps his encroaching senility had something to do with it. 

San Francisco has always been an anomaly to the Christian Right: the bastion of sin with the best of taste, sophistication and ...compassion. It is unconquerable in its fight for human dignity and rights. Many have tried to scale its walls of liberalism and failed, simply because the only kind of people it cannot tolerate is the intolerant. And while it will give succor to the lowest of the low, it will not harbor the highest purveyors of righteous arrogance.

It fairly glows amidst contempt by the radical Christian Right. 

Home to the only "Emperor of The United States", to washer-women-turned-society matrons, to drag queens, to political prostitutes, to architectural oddities and to porn shops, San Francisco is certainly a candidate for the ultimate disdainful sobriquet "demonspawn." It is a town of the devil and one which the Christian Right prays daily for two or three more shake-ups along the San Andreas (preferably more than 8.0 to be thorough). 

Maybe God Has Changed His Mind

If anyone is tired of the incessant carping by the Christian Right about San Francisco's sinful status, it might just be ... God. After all, after Colorado Springs (the Vatican of the West in Christian Right Circles), Virginia Beach is the cornerstone of morality, with Pat Robertson and his CBN empire at its center. Why, Pat Robertson is on a one-on-one basis with God every day, it seems. But God may be tired of having His name used in vain: against people instead of for them, as a weapon against enemies as opposed to a support for friends and neighbors. He might be tired of the incessant invocation of His name to do harm to people (ala imprecatory prayer). He might look at wickedness in a completely different light these days and might consider a prosperity pulpit pimp not quite the worthy proponent of the kind of righteousness He envisioned.

Mark Twain once said "God made Man because He was disappointed in the monkey." 

Maybe Frankenstorm is a demonstration of God's contempt for Pat Robertson and His admiration for those "people who embrace the darkness."

Just a thought.

Post Frankenstorm: Will God's ambulance Chasers Be Out In Full Force? Will Romney Help Them?

As one third of America begins to suffer from the onslaught of the "Storm of the Century", people are preparing to help disaster victims. The President has prepped FEMA to the greatest degree and the disaster will prove his mettle more than anything else in the course of his Presidency. The aftermath, however, may prove to be as devastating as the storm itself in terms of compassion - who doles it out and how.
It will provide great photo-ops to the Romney campaign just days before the election, but... Romney's campaign has gone into overdrive calling to hamper FEMA funding, and unless the Obama Administration screws up big time (which, so far, it hasn't), Romney will have a tough time politicizing this natural disaster.
Think Progress:

"Last year, after a major tornado and flood struck the United States, Romney was asked in a debate about federal disaster relief funding. Romney not only suggested shuttering FEMA and sending responsibility for disaster relief “back to the private sector,” but also said it would be “immoral” for the federal government to fund disaster relief efforts without cutting the budget elsewhere. “It makes no sense at all,” Romney concluded. Watch it:

Huffington Post:

"Obama advisers say they've learned the lessons from President George W. Bush's widely criticized response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush was seen as ineffective and out of touch, and his presidency never recovered."
The message is clear: Obama is President and Commander-in-Chief first, and a candidate for the Presidency second. It may be sublime irony for those Romney supporters who need government disaster relief to realize that the same assistance would not have come under Romney's watch.

The Real Immorality Of Frankenstorm - God's Ambulance Chasers

World Net Daily:

"Journalist and White House correspondent William Koenig explained to WND that some of the United States’ most catastrophic storms and events have correlated closely with the nation’s God-defying attempts to divide the land of Israel."

Yes, the radical Christian Right is going into overdrive to explain why Frankenstorm exists and why relief for such a huge natural disaster would merely be giving succor to a nation who defies the will of God. Of course, churches will dole out relief supplies and whole denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention will organize some relief efforts, but the righteousness with which they do it may truly be the most immoral thing about the situation: looking at neighborhood victims with a kind of benign contempt, or blaming a catastrophe on groups such as gays and pro-choice (which you know is forthcoming, ala Jerry Falwell and 9/11) may be the most righteously arrogant act of a group that trumpets its acts and predictions first, rains Bibles on victims second, then distributes food, clothing and medical supplies as an afterthought.

In the coming days we will hear how the East Coast is shaped like a devil, how it signed a pact with the devil, how Obama is the Anti-Christ and how gay marriage in New York beckoned Frankenstorm. The disaster will bring a field day to moralists everywhere and they will not stop until everyone gets the message: liberal America is evil - vote your conscience, vote conservative, vote Romney ... and vote out Obama. They may have only a few days to get the message across, but God's Ambulance Chasers work fast: there will be videos and FOX News pieces (via Mike Huckabee) galore.

Fred God-Hates-America Phelps will gloat ...and the Westboro Baptist Church will probably send out child picketers to victims' funerals.

Whither Romney?
The ties that bind Romney to the Christian Right may be tenuous, but they are ties that Romney wants desperately to strengthen: he may stop short of calling Obama the cause of the storm, but he will certainly feature a strong religious element. He may even distribute Bibles for a photo-op (certainly not the Book of Mormon). 

And if Obama weathers the storm as a true Commander in Chief, distributing Bibles may be the only thing Romney can do: politicizing it would certainly be ...immoral.

Friday, October 26, 2012

You Can't Be Christian If You Don't Own A Gun

Notice how this joker makes light of his premise.


His attitude covers up the fact that Jesus Christ told us to be kind to our enemies and that Christ was the ultimate pacifist. Make no mistake about it, Rev. Gary Cass wants people DEAD. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Tragic Results Of Paul Ryan's Phony Photo Op: Charity Loses Money But Gains In Right Wing Hate

THIS just posted by Crooks and Liars:
In the wake of Rep. Paul Ryan's embarrassing soup kitchen photo-op last week, the organization that runs the facility tells The Huffington Post that donors have begun pulling their money out of the Youngstown, Ohio charity.

Ryan may have suffered a few late-night jokes, but the fallout for the soup kitchen appears to be far more bruising. Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, confirmed that donors have begun an exodus in protest over Ryan's embarrassment. The monetary losses have been big. "It appears to be a substantial amount," Antal said. "You can rest assured there has been a substantial backlash."[..]
Antal's charity represents the kind of organization that conservative Republicans might champion. But that was before the Ryan incident went viral a few days ago. [..]

Ryan supporters have now targeted Antal and his soup kitchen, Antal said, including making hundreds of angry phone calls. Some members of Antal's volunteer staff have had to endure the barrage as well, he said. "The sad part is a lot of [the callers] want to hide behind anonymity," he said, adding that if someone leaves their name and number he has tried to return their call. In addition to phone calls, people have posted a few choice words on the charity's Facebook wall, including statements like "I hope you lose your tax [sic] emempt status," Anyone who is thinking about donations to you should think twice" and "Shame on you Brian Antal!"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Some Girls Rape Easy": Hypocrisy, Sex and The Republican Agenda Against Women

The Romney War Against Women hasn't really entered the debate ... yet.

The Republican Party's "war on women" got just two soldiers of hypocrisy: one Wisconsin congressman who says that "some girls rape easy," and another Tennessee politician - a pro-life doctor, no less - who demanded that his mistress get an abortion:

Crooks and Liars:
"A pro-life, family-values congressman who worked as a doctor before winning election as a Tea Party-backed Republican had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to get an abortion, according to a phone call transcript obtained by The Huffington Post.
The congressman, Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, was trying to save his marriage at the time, according to his remarks on the call, made in September of 2000. And, according to three independent sources familiar with the call and the recording, he made the tape himself."

Along with staunch, Christian Right Todd Akin, who argues that women of "legitimate rape" don't get pregnant, that makes three "war on women" soldiers for the battle of keeping women in check.

Oh, and add Paul Ryan to the bunch since he said that women should have their rapists' babies.
"Freshman Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake) in December discussed a case with the Chetek Alert newspaper in which a 17-year-old high school senior was charged with sexual assault for having sex with an underage girl in the school's band room.
The newspaper quoted him as saying his father warned him, "Some girls rape easy" - meaning that after the fact they can change what they say about whether sex was consensual. On Wednesday, Rivard told the Journal Sentinel that the article did not provide full context of his comments and that his father's exact words had been slightly different from how they appeared in the Chetek Alert."

Polls show that President Obama is still in good with women and that Romney (and the entire Republican Party) trails abysmally in that regard - and not only in the issue of abortion, but it is the specific issue of abortion in cases of rape and incest that contribute to the Romney campaign's low polling figures. The matter of rape is an unassailable one as far as women are concerned. It is, in fact, a "hands off" issue, considered in poor taste to make light of it or to put its victims in any form of bad light ("sl*ts", ala Rush Limbaugh). And while the Christian Right (and its "church ladies") has no problem with assigning raped women to the ranks of Mary Magdalene, most of America's women have a tendency to believe the testimonies of the alleged victims over their male aggressors.

Don't Mess With Boadicea

Republicans have not yet been clued in to the fact that issues of rape (especially involving abortion) have never been given any slack by women in history. After she was flogged and her daughters raped in front of her, Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni showed almighty Rome what rage against rape was really like: 70,000 people died as a result oif her subsequent revolt and Rome realized what an untenable situation the Britons really were.

Recently, Elizabeth Warren pummeled candidate Scott Brown as bad choice for women on issues of equal pay and on pro-choice: her impassioned stance gave her a six-point edge over the incumbent Brown:

“This is about their future — and I want to be blunt. We should not be fighting about equal pay for equal work, and access to birth control, in 2012.”

The Vice Presidential Debate And Abortion - Sorta

While the vice-Presidential debate featuring Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan seemed to focus on a wide variety of issues, only the social issues of abortion was addressed and, in no uncertain terms did Joe Biden lay out the Romney "war against women":
Now, with regard to the way in which the — we differ, my friend says that he — well, I guess he accepts Governor Romney's position now, because in the past he has argued that there was — there's rape and forcible rape. He's argued that, in the case of rape or incest, it was still — it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.

Ryan, of course, countered with Romney's flip-flopped position on the matter of abortion in case of rape: rape and incest were now "exceptions". He did not present his own jaw-dropping opinion that raped women should always carry their rapists' fetuses to term.
Cenk Uygur's recent coverage of the Scott Desjarlais situation pointed out that flip-flopping Romney couldn't be trusted to handle women's issues (see below), especially when it comes to angering the Christian Right. 

Will Boadicea have a say in all this?

If candidates like Elizabeth Warren can speak up about the Republican War on Women, time will tell if women's voices will be heard in the upcoming debates. Will Obama make a stance for Boudicea?