Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Horse's Ass Race

Mitt can't keep his story straight, and Barry doesn't even have a story to tell. 

And both of them claim to really stink at juggling.

Romney went on a marathon of talk shows Friday to try to untangle his web of deceit, and succeeded only in continuing his exhausting tarantella, trapping himself even further in a snare of his own making. Nixon saved his vice presidential candidacy with his famous Checkers speech. Romney can't even fall back on a Seamus speech, because Seamus outsourced himself to Canada after his car-roof ride from hell. What would Mitt even say? That Ann confines herself to driving two plain Republican Cadillacs with cloth seats instead of Corinthian leather? This is a man who doesn't even try to pretend to be humble. Any speech about his tax returns, tenure at Bain, and offshoring and outsourcing will contain only one phrase, repeated ad infinitum: "I Won't I Won't I Won't I Won't and You Can't Make Meeeeeeeeh." 

To hear Mitt tell it, he had a hard enough time juggling his various duties running the Salt Lake City winter Olympics during his Bain leave of absence to be able to manage juggling the Giant Slalom schedule with the Giant Offshoring schedule at the exact same moment in history. In fact, Mitt was so overwhelmed being Mr. Olympus that it was like jumping into an empty elevator shaft, according to Ann Romney. The guy is way too much of a nebbish to multi-task.

And Obama apparently can't walk and chew gum at the same time, either. In a cringe-worthy clip of a White House interview with Charlie Rose, (to be aired Sunday) he said his main mistake in his first few years was that he didn't spend enough time juggling his bullshit artistry skills with his other fantastic skills. Turns out he's just as lousy at juggling as Mitt:
When I think about what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done well, the mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.
It’s funny – when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job? And in my first two years, I think the notion was, ‘Well, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?’ And I think that was a legitimate criticism.
Yeah, Barry. Your policies -- or really the lack of policies -- which resulted in one out of every seven of us without health insurance, one out of seven of us on food stamps, stagnating wages, epidemic unemployment, continued corruption on Wall Street, never-ending wars -- would have been easier to swallow with just that one extra spoonful of your propaganda sugar. You backstabbed us behind closed doors, when you should have bullshat us to our faces. We don't need no food, we don't need no stinking jobs. In your book, we just need a goddamn bedtime story.

Somebody turn out the lights before I get accused of false equivalency.


James F Traynor said...

Charlie Rose. Barrack Obama. God!

Pearl said...

When I read that comment of Obama's about his major mistake being remiss
about telling a story to the American people, I thought I was reading a
satirical column. And if he really believes that was a huge mistake (compared to all the other huger mistakes and decisions) there is no hope for him. How did he get through Harvard? And how will we be able to stomach an Obama presidency for another four years???? It is a story alright, a horror story.

Where has 'you can fool the people some of the time' etc. gone? I'm waiting with baited breath.

Kat said...

How did he get through Harvard? I'd say that he has shown all the skills needed to get through Harvard-- chief among them being a defender of the status quo.
The idea of Charlie Rose and our president together is more than I can stomach.

jhand said...

With this remark about his biggest mistake, Obama joins George Bush in making dumbass comments that no one with a brain will ever take seriously. When asked about his biggest mistake in public service, Bush said that his greatest error was trading Sammy Sosa from the Texas Rangers to Chicago. Boy, did David Gregory, Wolf Blitzer, David Brooks, et. al. get a chuckle out of that one.

spreadoption said...

Beautifully said, Karen. Your surgical insights to the realities and your ability to express what you see are gifts to your devoted readers.

So, here we are - is it a quagmire, the doldrums, over the cliff, a living hell (it is, for growing numbers of us)? - there’s rot scattered all through the system - and I keep asking myself, How do we get outta here and back on track? How can we even begin to fix all the things that are broken?

Some say we just need to re-regulate, or we need to break up the Big Banks, or we need a Constitutional amendment, or we need new trade policies, or we need a third party, or we need to bring back the unions, or ... Yes, yes, and yes to all of the above. (But, tell me, how exactly?) Others say, Have patience, it's one little victory at a time, seek agreement, remain non-violent, Occupy!, and it's not so bad, it could be worse, learn to love Obamacare.

When, as you remind us, Karen, Barry and Mitt are basically cut from the same mold, just different colors, and there is no leadership anywhere in sight (at least, none with any power), how can we really change anything?

A pragmatic idealist sees where we need to go but can't find any way to get there from here.

Pearl said...

Kat: You mentioned that Obama had all the skills to get through Harvard by defending the status quo. I realized this is Harvard's point of view, but how about their standards for general learning and ability for example, to correctly read and understand the Constitution which was his major study? And who was to blame for that lack?

I looked up George W. Bush's education history. He graduated from Yale but also from Harvard's Business school. Not a good recommendation for either of these "scholars" or their place of learning. I wonder of Harvard ever boasts about graduating these two great recent presidents.?

Denis Neville said...

Speaking of horse’s asses…

The ultimate elitist sport and business investment:

Rafalca, the Romney's Olympics-bound dressage horse, yielded them a $77,000 tax credit in 2010?

The tax credit for a child is only $1,000, but the Romney’s horse is 77 times more valuable?

I’m not familiar with the tax laws, but is investing in dressage horses a legitimate business venture?

Being a non-elite, I have no idea what a dressage horse is.

And Mittens scolded NAACP members for wanting "free stuff" from the government, yet gets a $77K tax credit for this horse?

Anne Lavoie said...

Obama doesn't need to tell a story - he is one. As Bill Clinton once said, Obama is One Big Fairytale.

James F Traynor said...


You don't have to belong to the elite to know what dressage means. My mother's side of the family, when they came to this country, were servants to the same elite. My maternal uncle was a horse trainer. It is an ages old, elaborate routine of horse tricks. I can't imagine him teaching these things and, if he did, it would have been an embarrassment. He died when I was very young.

Pearl said...

Oh my god! Mitt graduated from Harvard Business school also with a combined doctor and masters!

I am cancelling my million dollar contribution to Harvard immediately. Will devote my wealth to the
ASPCA. They deserve it.

spreadoption said...

Interesting train of thought, How did Barry get through Harvard? Yes, it is very much about defending the status quo.

Acquiring a JD or an MD or a CPA is mostly a matter of memorizing vast quantities of information and learning accepted routines. There are precedents and clinical protocols and accepted standards. What there is not, in practice, is any room for new thinking, innovation, or variation. It's following a cookbook. Changing the formula opens one up to malpractice, censure, loss of license, expulsion from the patriarchy.

Leadership, on the other hand, begins with a vision. Then comes communicating that vision to your people until they share it. Management is not the same as leadership. Managers are handed a job and told to get it done, one way or another.

Romney and Obama are managers but not true leaders. Romney makes money, period. Obama works at getting something, anything, past the Republicans; that's the best he says he can do. They both work for the same owners - Big Money, Big Banks, Big Business. In the beginning a lot of us thought Obama was a leader, and just the kind the world needed, but then a few of us quickly figured out he was just the manager. Winning the presidency was another feather in his cap, like one more prestigious degree or the editorship of the Harvard Law Review, but it revealed a personal achiever who is not also a true leader.

Doing some of this and some of that, forward backward, America is left foundering in decline, without any clear idea about where it's headed. We seem to have decided that in the meantime it's every man for himself. (Oh, and bring along the women and children, too, if you can.)

Denis Neville said...


I have Goolged "dressage horses" to learn. There is quite a shit storm going on about this. Lord! One could literally step in “it” by going where angels fear to tread on this topic.

There were only mules in my family heritage. I have old photographs of my grandparents using teams of mules to do the planting, tilling and cultivating on their South Dakota farmstead. One of my uncles, who walked for a day to buy seed and carry it back, didn’t even have mules. He used a hand plow.

My Irish ancestors lived on rented pieces of land only large enough for their tiny thatched roof house. One common crime of their times was to "bleed a horse." The Irish were not allowed to own horses without permission. Most horses were owned by the English. Many Irishmen carried small knives and, at night, would "bleed" a horse (collect the blood) so that they could make "soup" for their families. My great-grandmother was a servant to the British elites in Dublin before coming to America.

Pearl said...

googled the Harvard Business School pages and came up with a myriad of
smiling faces of graduates, now obviously wealthy, who were donating to the Business School for students joining the ranks. Strong emphasis on business importance was mentioned as well as the purposes of the school, worded carefully but indicating the important role that business interests should take in U.S. affairs.

By coincidence I just came across an article in an Ottawa, Canada newspaper
about a scandal developing in Carleton University, Ottawa, where one of my granddaughters is a student. It seems that a wealthy Conservative citizen organized a secret donation of 15 million dollars to set up a family charity for the political graduate program and was to have a steering committee appointed by them to oversee and have control of the budget, teaching curriculum and
other important requirements of this graduate program. When this was leaked, the Canadian Association of University Teachers threatened to boycott Carleton University unless it changed the provisions involved and consider cancelling acceptance of this huge donation. There was tremendous negative response to this event which had been kept secret for over a year until the news media got wind of this and it came to light. Evidently other universities here have tried to make similar unethical arrangements with private interests and it will be interesting to see how this is resolved and whether it will be an effective warning to other schools.

I am sure this is probably de rigueur in the U.S. educational system where
money continues to talk very loudly.

spreadoption: Thank you for an interesting analysis between managers and leaders in power positions. However, I don't believe that Obama is even very good at his managerial job either. It is obvious that Harvard does not invite thinking outside the box unless an errant teacher exists who is able to get a few different ideas out before being muzzled.

As to your concerns about what to do in order to see change? We all just have to have the patience to wait until events force it upon everyone in order to survive. Meanwhile, as Zinn said in my recent post, even doing small things in times of turmoil have effect and all the voices speaking up more and more will begin to be heard eventually. We personally may not live to see it but our descendents or others we know will, especially if they become part of a better future. Keep talking and sharing is the answer for now and if they begin any street marches and the like, join in. I think that is coming soon.

Zee said...


Guess I'll have to go where angels fear to tread...

I don't understand the ins and outs of our insanely complicated tax codes, but if Mitt Romney was legally able to get some kind of tax credit to the tune of $77,000 for a dressage horse, I'm not surprised. Nothing would surprise me about what's hidden in the U.S. tax codes, just waiting like buried treasure for armies of lawyers and accountants to uncover for the enrichment of their already-rich clients.

So maybe it's the tax code that needs reforming, not Mrs. Romney's past-time of choice.

One need not be an “elite” to understand what “dressage” is. One only need watch the Summer Olympics. While you could not persuade me to get near a horse—I had one roll on me once, and it's a miracle that my leg was not broken—I find the “sport,” if you can call it that, to be quite beautiful.

Yes, @James, it is all just a bunch of clever horse tricks in the end, but the hidden communication between rider and horse, and the horse's faithful execution of the complicated maneuvers, I find to be exquisite. I take the same pleasure in watching the extraordinary, oft-unspoken coordination between working sheep dogs and their handlers. As long as the horses are well cared for, I have no objection to the sport, its cost, or the people who choose to participate in it, all dressed up in their funny, elitist clothes.

@James, I can't know how your horse-trainer uncle would have felt had he spent time teaching a horse to do beautiful tricks, but the sheep dog handlers that I have listened to seem genuinely proud of what they have accomplished in partnership with their canine friends. Perhaps your uncle would have felt the same way, rather than embarrassed.

There are plenty of reasons to castigate Romney—and Obama—as out-of-touch elitists, but picking on Romney and his wife because they enjoy horses and the old sport of dressage is as silly as was the effort to portray John Kerry as elitist simply because he enjoyed windsurfing instead of bowling.

I used to enjoy windsurfing before my back went out, as do millions of other “non-elites” across this country and, indeed, around the world. An elitist sport? Hardly. Yet apparently this bogus accusation stuck because an unimaginative middle-America simply wasn't familiar with the activity.

Any interest or activity that's seen by the nation's average populace as a bit out of the ordinary or “weird”—as I hear dressage being called today—becomes a potential weapon to be used by those with lesser imaginations who feel a desperate need to characterize the more interesting opposition as “out of step” with those same “average folks.”

God forbid that anyone should stand out from the crowd and dare to be “interesting.”

Surely, they must be elitists!

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee

Of course, one only need watch the Summer Olympics.

It turns out that I have seen dressage horses before, the Lipizzaners of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which is the oldest and last Riding School in the world where classic “dressage” is still practiced in its purest form. Their elegant and quite complicated performance is something to behold. I was just not familiar with the term “dressage.”

No, I wouldn’t begrudge Mrs. Romney her past-time of choice.

The armies of lawyers and accountants, who uncover buried treasures in the tax code for the enrichment of their already-rich clients, are another matter. I know it’s all legal, but it is amoral.

We got near a horse once (never again!) at the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. While watching the blacksmith shoe this horse, it spooked and started bucking and kicking (one little girl was hit in the head). People, including my wife and me with our boys under our arms, were running from it in all directions. Those who sought sanctuary in the nearby saloon were followed by the horse, which destroyed the place.

James F Traynor said...

Let's face it, I'm a hard-assed pragmatist. And not nearly as hard-assed as my immigrant family (they looked askance at my fly fishing) . You train a sheep dog to herd sheep. Good. You train a horse to do pretty tricks. Bad. You're embarrassing the horse and yourself (at least you should know better). That's the difference between them and me. And the difference between you and me.

Zee said...


"Amoral" is a good word for it.

Zee said...


From the “hard-assed pragmatist perspective,” one might also say:

Van Gogh (hypothetically) painting houses to earn a living: Good. Van Gogh wasting his time producing more than two-thousand works of art of which, legend has it, only one sold during his lifetime, and which were really only appreciated posthumously: Bad.

And I think that your hard-assed pragmatist family saw right through your professed pragmatism when you took up fly-fishing.

I don't know if it's the same in your neck of the woods—Florida, I think you have said—but in my part of the country, fly-fishing denotes an art, and connotes gentlemanly/gentlewomanly catch-and-release even where it's not legally required. If the same holds true for you, well, then you are certainly not a “pragmatist;” you're an “artist”—and maybe even an idealist—of sorts.

I mean, what could be less practical than catching fish and then turning them loose for someone else to catch?

Me, on the rare occasions that I've gone fishing, I'm a catch-and-eat kind of guy. That's pragmatism.

More pragmatic still was my mining-engineer father, who fed himself and his colleagues and miners during tough times in the remote Pacific Northwest and South America in the '30s by blowing fish out of lakes with calcium carbide “bombs” or dynamite. He got a lot of bang—and fish—for his buck, and I'm sure that the fish didn't taste any worse for the method of harvest.

Still, for all my father's pragmatism, when I was cleaning up after his death I found both ancient fly rods and “indexes” (I don't know what else to call them) of flies squirreled away in dark corners of the garage, though he never taught me to fly fish, or, indeed, ever mentioned that he had done so. We always went “lake fishing,” and you can bet that we ate what we spent the time catching. But Dad must have appreciated the art of fishing, too. So was he a pragmatist or an artist?

I just don't see that I'm embarrassing myself for expressing appreciation for the utterly useless, living art-form of dressage—because that's sort of what it is—any more than I embarrassed myself for enjoying the sight of fly-fisherpeople working hard in the Eagle River a couple of weeks ago to catch something that they were only going to throw back anyway.

But to each his own opinion.

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee and James – re: fly fishing

I am reminded of Norman Maclean’s book, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, and Robert Redford’s film version.

“Fly-fishing stands for life in this movie. If you can learn to do it correctly, to read the river and the fish and yourself, and to do what needs to be done without one wasted motion, you will have attained some of the grace and economy needed to live a good life. If you can do it and understand that the river, the fish and the whole world are God's gifts to use wisely, you will have gone the rest of the way.” – Roger Ebert

Norman Maclean wrote:

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

In my few experiences fly-fishing, the beautiful surroundings, the shimmer of sun on the water, the rush of the stream, and mountain air were good. It was the catching (zero catches) that was bad. As Maclean wrote: “Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.” - Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Zee said...


Beautifully said!