Mitt Romney’s tax return problem

Ann Romney (L) introduces her husband, Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, at a campaign stop in Bethlehem, New Hampshire December 22, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

The folks at BusinessInsider.com point out that Mitt Romney’s biggest problem might be his tax returns. So far he has refused to release his tax returns and he reiterated that position in a recent interview with Chuck Todd.

Romney’s campaign team has clearly decided that the political risk of releasing the returns outweighs the potential problems of not doing so. No one knows for sure what the documents would say, but by the candidate’s own admission, the bulk of Romney’s retirement income from Bain has been from capital gains, which are subject to 15% tax rate.

That means that for the past 10 years, Romney has likely been paying a lower tax rate than most middle class voters. If this is the case, that information could be devastating to Romney’s presidential bid.

The issue of tax fairness is huge right now, and Romney might become the poster-child for that problem. Warren Buffet has famously come out strong on this, saying that it’s not fair that he pays a lower effective tax rate on his income than his secretary.

I think this is a huge problem for Romney. If he makes it to the general election, the Obama campaign and the Democratic PACs are going to hammer him on not releasing his tax returns. If that issue catches fire and he ultimately releases them, then the story is huge.

But it’s huge regardless of when he releases them. He might want to just get it out of the way and have a response ready.

Either way this one can be problematic.

Joe Scarborough and the Iraq War

Joe Scarborough just wrote a column for Politico in which he discusses the Iraq War. As he acknowledges in the article, he was a supporter.

Like 75 percent of Americans and most of Congress, I supported the war with Iraq. Much of that support was the result of selected intelligence from the Bush administration. The White House suffered a systemic breakdown, with a vice president and secretary of defense more focused on justifying a war than showing the type of caution our troops deserve before being sent to fight in a foreign land.

George W. Bush was also guilty of gross negligence, in part, by failing to reach out to the two greatest living experts on warfare in the Persian Gulf. Eight years later, it is still hard to believe that the commander in chief refused to seek the advice of his father or his secretary of state, who had run a searingly efficient military campaign a little more than a decade earlier — in the same region, against the same dictator. But as Bush told Bob Woodward, there was no reason to ask Colin Powell’s advice because he knew the general opposed the invasion. Bush 43 also told Woodward that there was no need to seek out Bush 41’s wisdom since he had his “Heavenly Father” to consult.

George W. Bush’s decision to remain isolated and willfully ignorant of these great leaders’ insights led to a disastrous war that could have been avoided. Instead, the invasion of Iraq was launched on March 19, 2003. And despite what media outlets and Democratic politicians would like you to believe, the war began with greater bipartisan support than the 1991 Gulf War.

I guess it’s nice to hear Scarborough acknowledge that he supported this fiasco, but this statement is somewhat misleading. Notice how he mentions that 75% of Americans supported the war. If you didn’t know Scarborough’s past, you might assume he was just one of many Americans who went along with the President. But he was much more than that, as he had his own cable show on MSNBC at the time, Scarborough Country, and he used that platform to become one of the loudest cheerleaders for the war. And, he enthusiastically mocked people who were against it. Joe Scarborough contributed to a climate that made it more difficult for rational voices who opposed the war and questioned the Bush/Cheney/Rove propaganda machine on WMD. He didn’t just go along; he helped lead the parade.

It was obvious to some of us that Bush was cherry-picking the intelligence. If you dug a little, there were journalists who were questioning the intelligence, but most people on network television and in the newsroom of The New York Times were either too stupid o

Effective ad against Gingrich

A super PAC supporting Mitt Romney has unleashed this ad against Newt Gingrich in Iowa. The focus on Newt’s “baggage” seems to be resonating.

Meanwhile, the PPP poll now has Gingrich in a free fall in Iowa, as he has slipped to third place.

Newt Gingrich’s campaign is rapidly imploding, and Ron Paul has now taken the lead in Iowa. He’s at 23% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Gingrich, 10% each for Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry, 4% for Jon Huntsman, and 2% for Gary Johnson.

Gingrich won’t even spend time in Iowa, so I can’t imagine how he’s going to hold on against candidates who are betting their campaigns on the caucuses.

If this trend continues, you’ll see Santorum, Perry or Bachmann possibly get into the top three, so this race is still very fluid. Romney benefits from having the anti-Romney vote split up. The Iowa vote often breaks late, so anything can happen here.

The Radicalism of Newt Gingrich

How crazy is this guy?

Newt Gingrich loves to accuse his political opponents of being “radical,” and yet he tosses around radical statements on a regular basis. His latest comments on judges even have conservatives howling.

Now he’s talking about using the capital police or U.S. Marshals to arrest judges that he deems to be out of line. Here’s a statement to FOX News from Michael Mukasey, a former U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush, who said Gingrich’s comment were “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle.”

The man is a complete buffoon, and it’s easy to see why the conservative establishment is horrified at the thought of this clown becoming the nominee.

Mitt Romney stumbles in last night’s debate

I didn’t watch the debate, but the clip above shows Newt Gingrich swatting away Mitt Romney’s attack the Newt is a career politician, whereas Mitt is a businessman.

Romney also got in trouble for challenging Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet.

Romney has generally done well in the debates, and yet he still couldn’t break through. Now that he’s slipping and Newt is surging, he picked the wrong time to finally have a bad debate performance.

Things aren’t looking good for him.

Rick Perry runs for Bible-thumper in chief

Rick Perry really is a caricature of George W. Bush. This ad is just hilarious as he makes a desperate plea for religious conservatives in Iowa.

Perry and Michele Bachmann are part of the Dominionism movement. Interesting stuff.

Another devastating ad against Mitt Romney

Yesterday, I saw a clip of Mitt Romney ripping Newt Gingrich for being a flip-flopper. Of course it was only a matter of time before one of his opponents used Romney’s own words against him. The Jon Huntsman campaign produced this ad.

It’s hard to think of a major candidate in modern history who comes across as more opportunistic than Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich has plenty of problems and he’ll be a disaster for the GOP, but his flips and flops come more from his flaky mind and his constant desire to come up with creative proposals to puff up his ego. With Mitt, it’s all calculated, and then he makes things worse by lying about it.

George Will is getting desperate

Donald Trump (L) speaks to members of the media after a meeting with Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich at Trump Towers on 5th Avenue in New York, December 5, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Burton (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS BUSINESS)

Newt Gingrich spent some time today kissing the ring of reality TV star and goofball birther Donald Trump. Meanwhile, establishment conservatives like George Will are recoiling in horror watching these clowns hijack the conservative movement.

This past weekend, George Will actually suggested that conservatives ought to take a second look at Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman given the prospect of Newt or Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee. Yes, he’s desperate. Rick Perry sounds like George W. Bush after downing a 12-pack, and Huntsman is stuck in single digits in the polls after trying to run as a moderate.

But Will has to turn somewhere, as he has no use for flip-flopper Romney and he can’t stand Newt. With his usual rhetorical flair, Will eviscerates the former Speaker:

Gingrich, however, embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive. And there is his anti-conservative confidence that he has a comprehensive explanation of, and plan to perfect, everything.

Granted, his grandiose rhetoric celebrating his “transformative” self is entertaining: Recently he compared his revival of his campaign to Sam Walton’s and Ray Kroc’s creations of Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, two of America’s largest private-sector employers. There is almost artistic vulgarity in Gingrich’s unrepented role as a hired larynx for interests profiting from such government follies as ethanol and cheap mortgages. His Olympian sense of exemption from standards and logic allowed him, fresh from pocketing $1.6 million from Freddie Mac (for services as a “historian”), to say, “If you want to put people in jail,” look at “the politicians who profited from” Washington’s environment.

His temperament — intellectual hubris distilled — makes him blown about by gusts of enthusiasm for intellectual fads, from 1990s futurism to “Lean Six Sigma” today. On Election Eve 1994, he said a disturbed South Carolina mother drowning her children “vividly reminds” Americans “how sick the society is getting, and how much we need to change things. . . . The only way you get change is to vote Republican.” Compare this grotesque opportunism — tarted up as sociology — with his devious recasting of it in a letter to the Nov. 18, 1994, Wall Street Journal (http://bit.ly/vFbjAk). And remember his recent swoon over the theory that “Kenyan, anti-colonial” thinking explains Barack Obama.

Gingrich, who would have made a marvelous Marxist, believes everything is related to everything else and only he understands how. Conservatism, in contrast, is both cause and effect of modesty about understanding society’s complexities, controlling its trajectory and improving upon its spontaneous order.

Most people would agree with Will, as Newt is widely regarded as a mean-spirited buffoon. But in today’s Republican Party, the fear and loathing caucus calls the shots, and contempt for Obama and the left is by far the most important quality. In that area Newt is unmatched and he has a long track record, so his flaky deviations from conservative policies are more easily forgiven by those eager to see someone stick it to Obama in the debates.

Perry is toast, so Will won’t get his wish there. As for Huntsman, Will and other writers like Erick Erickson of RedState.com have been pointing out how conservative Huntsman is when it comes to policy. Yet Huntsman shows more contempt for the far right than he does for Obama, and that’s why he’s been going nowhere. Perhaps he can change the tone of his campaign, but he has mocked conservatives for not believing in global warming, and stuff like that will make it difficult for him to win GOP primaries.

I think Will is stuck with Mitt or Newt.

Cain train gets derailed

Gloria Cain (L), wife of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, watches as Cain announces that he is “suspending” his Republican presidential campaign at his Georgia campaign headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia December 3, 2011. REUTERS/John Adkisson (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

The Herman Cain candidacy had become a joke over the past several weeks. The allegations of sexual harassment took their toll, the the alleged affair probably hurt him even more, but his utter lack of knowledge of the issues made all of this personal stuff a sideshow.

Herman Cain is a radio personality, and he ran his campaign like one. He wasn’t serious about the issues. Instead, he had a bunch of handy slogans that appealed to the angry right. When he was pressed on specifics, he usually answered with more slogans, or just said he would sit down with smart advisers and come to a decision.

He mocked the notion that he needed any working knowledge of foreign policy issues, and simply offered contempt for those who would actually take the time to study these sorts of things. This caught up to him, however, when he looked like an uniformed fool in the face of a simple question about his Libya strategy. Unfortunately for the Herminator, this pathetic exchange with the uncomfortable long pause was caught on tape.

His 9-9-9 plan got plenty of attention, but he was utterly incapable of explaining it. He seemed to not understand how adding a 9% national sales tax would result in a huge tax increase on the poor and the middle class. When the notion finally sunk in weeks later, Cain meekly offered a 9-0-9 plan for the working poor.

Sex scandals will destroy most politicians, and Herman Cain is no different. Ginger White came across as a believable woman as she didn’t seek the public eye. Rather, she came forward when a local TV station threatened to expose her affair with Cain.

Cain of course tried to paint the media and the Democrats as the villains, but he had nothing but his charm to fall back on. By the time he “suspended” his campaign today, Cain was plummeting in the polls as evangelical voters started to abandon him.

Today’s announcement was classic Herman Cain – all fluff and zero substance. He announced his “Plan B” decision to suspend his campaign yet fight on for the issues (slogans) he cares about. Cain is probably in for a rude awakening as the media will start to ignore him again. Losers and quitters don’t get much press. Just ask Sarah Palin. She was a media sensation as long as she was a potential candidate. Now she’s just another shrill commentator. Sure, she has a following and can generate news, and Cain will probably get enough press to help him sell some books and book some paid speeches, but the frenzy will end.

The Herman Cain reality show is over.

Ron Paul goes after Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is quickly becoming the GOP frontrunner as Herman Cain implodes and Mitt Romney continues to be . . . Mitt Romney.

I’ll have more on Newt later, but Ron Paul is going after Newt with a scathing video. Basically, Newt is just as much a flake as Mitt Romney as he’s flipped and flopped all over the place. But Newt is also a right wing icon so maybe he’ll get more of a pass. Frankly, when you look at the field, who else can conservatives turn to?

That said, the video titled “Serial Hypocrisy” is very tough and it shows areas where Newt is vulnerable. In terms of effectiveness, however, I’m not sure why the Ron Paul team added clips in there from MSNBC. That isn’t going to sway conservative voters and there’s so much material to work with. Maybe Fox News has been ignoring some of the payoffs Newt has been getting from Freddie and Fannie along with the health care industry.

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