Tuesday, July 31, 2012

John Stewart Critiques Romney in London


LOL ~ Romney will wake up someday and wonder why he didn't have someone who would tell him the truth on this trip. Maybe then he wouldn't have trashed the London Olympics and offended our closest ally.

Romney Camp plays "Curse the Press" in "Ass-Gate"


Romney rode on the plane with a Press entourage all week, but his handlers didn't treat them well.
  • On Friday outside 10 Downing Street Romney only took questions from the British Press.
  • On Saturday, he told both the U.S. and Israeli press that they were shut out of a fundraiser.
  • On Sunday after an uproar, he allowed the press into the fundraiser after all.
  • On Monday, Greta Van Susteren of Fox said they were being held on the bus in Poland like "animals in a petting zoo" and not allowed to ask questions.
  • On Tuesday in Warsaw as Romney was leaving a soldier's tomb to go make his speech in Warsaw, frustrated reporters shouted questions and were told off by a Romney operative named Gorka.

This "Curse the Press" thing can only go so far, although I'm sure it's resonating with the far-right who loved Sarah Palin's characterization of the "Lamestream Media." The problem is, some of the people in the press are far to the right of mainstream.

And if Romney is going to talk about Israel and Poland as beacons of democracy, he's going to have to accept that a free press is crucial to a free society.

They also should have realized that when people like Rupert Murdoch, Charles Krauthammer, and Greta from Fox are complaining about the candidate, they should try to be nice once in a while and answer questions, even if Romney has to say "no comment." In fact, that's what he should say sometimes, but he doesn't know how.

Today more newsprint hit the fan, so to speak. :)

Talking Points Mem ~ Romney Aide Curses at Press in Poland

CNN: “Governor Romney are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip?

NYT: “Governor Romney do you have a statement for the Palestinians?

Washington Post: “What about your gaffes?

NYT: “Governor Romney do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?”

CNN: “Governor Romney just a few questions sir, you haven’t taken but three questions on this trip from the press!

Gorka: “Show some respect”

NYT: “We haven’t had another chance to ask a question…”

Gorka: “Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.”

Hey, Gorka ~ respect works both ways!!! And you should have more faith in your candidate and let him practice answering questions before you tick off more journalists. Things are not going to get easier after this trip - Romney has seen to that will his gaffes.

Of course now the Romney camp says they are sorry it happened, and they've rolled it back. As David Corn of Mother Jones said on Hardball - "They should call this the 'moonwalking tour' because every time Mitt Romney speaks he has to walk backwards while seeming to go forward. How many remarks can you walk back?"

And yet here's another one . . .

From Politico
Gorka subsequently called a pair of reporters to apologize, saying he lost his cool. “It was inappropriate,” Gorka said. Romney was at the square to visit the Polish Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After he did that, laying a wreath and greeting Polish military veterans, the GOP hopeful decided to walk down to a monument on the other side of the square. Romney has not held a media availability for his traveling press corps since taking three questions outside 10 Downing Street in London last Thursday.

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Romney Warsaw Speech: "Pulaski" a Ku Klux Klan Dog Whistle?


I debated whether to write this down, but after reading Mitt Romney's Warsaw speech several times, a possible racist dog whistle jumped out at me. I do not know if this was intentional or unintentional, but I bring it up since everyone from Cokie Roberts to Chris Matthews has mentioned that Romney is trying to get the white Polish American vote in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

But my theory now is that the goal is bigger than that -- What if he is trying to seal the deal not just with European ethnic groups, but with all the white supremicist voters in the United States? After all, he has to have them to win because he's alienated so many other groups in the country, such as Hispanics.

I'm talking specifically about all those people who hate Barack Obama just because he is African American, the ones outraged that he was ever elected President in the first place, the birthers who view him as "foreign" or un-American - as Romney spokesman John Sununu was blabbing about a few weeks ago.

Sometimes for the racist factions, "European" is as much a dog whistle as "Anglo-Saxon," which Romney threw out in a statement just last week before his London debacle.

And NOTE: I realize there are lots of other places called Pulaski in many states. I'm discussing just one in particular. Stay with me here, and follow Romney's own words . . .

Let's look at what Romney said, then study some history:

I, and my fellow Americans, are inspired by the path of freedom tread by the people of Poland. Long before modern times, of course, the Polish and American people were hardly strangers. The name "Pulaski" is honored to this day in America, and so is the memory of other Poles who joined in our fight for independence.

Complete Text of Speech Here

The "fight for independence" is a reference to the Revolutionary War, correct? That could just be a shout out to the "Patriot" movement connected to the Tea Party, but there's more . . .

Who is he talking about specifically? Who is the person called "Pulaski" who helped us in our fight for "independence" from the British?

Here's the answer: Casimir Pulaski, native of Warsaw, who fought with George Washington.


From the Polish American Center

Casimir Pulaski, son of Count Joseph Pulaski, was born in Warsaw, Poland, on March 6, 1745. At the age of fifteen, he joined his father and other members of the Polish nobility in opposing the Russian and Prussian interference in Polish affairs. Outlawed by Russia for his actions on behalf of Polish liberty, he traveled to Paris where he met Benjamin Franklin, who induced him to support the colonies against England in the American Revolution. Pulaski, impressed with the ideals of a new nation struggling to be free, volunteered his services. Franklin wrote to George Washington describing the young Pole as "an officer renowned throughout Europe for the courage and bravery he displayed in defense of his country's freedom."

In 1777, Pulaski arrived in Philadelphia where he met General Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Later, at Brandywine, he came to the aid of Washington's forces and distinguished himself as a brilliant military tactician. For his efforts, Congress appointed him Brigadier-General in charge of Four Horse Brigades. Then again, at the Battle of Germantown, Pulaski's knowledge of warfare assisted General Washington and his men in securing victory for American forces.

All well and good - he was a Revolutionary War hero. Nice.

But here's the Dog Whistle part: there's a town named precisely for Casimir Pulaski here in my home state of Tennessee.

Pulaski, Tennessee, in Giles County.

But beyond the European/Polish/Revolutionary War connection, what is is Pulaski, Tennessee, MOST famous for? Do you know? Well, here's the dog whistle part: Pulaski is where the Ku Klux Klan was founded.

From PBS, Jim Crow Stories
The Ku Klux Klan was originally organized in the winter of 1865-66 in Pulaski, Tennessee as a social club by six Confederate veterans. In the beginning, the Klan was a secret fraternity club rather than a terrorist organization. (Ku Klux was derived from the Greek "kuklos," meaning circle, and the English word clan.) The costume adopted by its members (disguises were quite common) was a mask and white robe and high conical pointed hat.

According to the founders of the Klan, it had no malicious intent in the beginning. The Klan grew quickly and became a terrorist organization. It attracted former Civil War generals such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, the famed cavalry commander whose soldiers murdered captured black troops at Fort Pillow.

The Klan spread beyond Tennessee to every state in the South and included mayors, judges, and sheriffs as well as common criminals. The Klan systematically murdered black politicians and political leaders. It beat, whipped, and murdered thousands, and intimidated tens of thousands of others from voting. Blacks often tried to fight back, but they were outnumbered and out gunned. While the main targets of Klan wrath were the political and social leaders of the black community, blacks could be murdered for almost any reason. Men, women, children, aged and crippled, were victims.

The Klan occasionally still marches in Pulaski, although most of the locals aren't happy about it.

Klan Rally in Pulaski, TN, 2009


The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Pulaski the "white supremicist epicenter of the nation" in this article about a Klan march there back in 2010:

Racist Event in Pulaski
Although it’s a small town of about 7,800, Pulaski, Tenn. may well be the white supremacist epicenter of the nation — at least if the number of rallies held there by bigoted groups is any indication.

The mayor and other residents aren’t pleased. “There’s never been a local person involved in these marches or rallies,” Mayor Daniel Speer told Hatewatch this week. But they’re resigned to being a favorite locale for the haters on the American radical right. Speer’s town is more than one-quarter black, but it has for decades been a favorite place for white supremacist groups to rally because of one unfortunate historical fact: This was where the Ku Klux Klan was born.

“It’s a great place to come and learn about the heritage of European Americans,” the festival’s website says. The site includes links to racist individuals and groups including David Duke, who founded Robb’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1975; the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity” and opposes “race mixing”; and The Barnes Review, the leading American journal devoted to denying the Holocaust.

The European Heritage Festival follows by three months a “White Unity Day March and Rally” in Pulaski conducted by the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations. A year earlier, in July 2009, the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan staged a birthday march in Pulaski for their hero, Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. There have been many other Klan rallies in Pulaski over the decades.

. . . “It’s frustrating,” the mayor says. “[We’re associated with] the Klan. It’s a stigma. Unfortunately, I just don’t see it going away.”

"A great place to . . . learn about the heritage of European Americans." Yep - just like Casimir Pulaski, the guy referred to in Mitt Romney's Warsaw speech.

More Here: Southern Poverty Law Center and Hate Watch

NOTE: I do NOT in any way, shape, or form mean to insult anyone named "Pulaski" or any Polish Americans, nor anyone living in present-day Pulaski, Tennessee. My goal is just to point out that Mitt Romney may have made a racist reference in his Warsaw speech, whether intentional or unintentional. If it is unintentional, then he really needs a new speechwriter because it is unbelievable that they would let the candidate unintentionally invoke the history of Pulaski, TN, in the United States.

If it is intentional, then Romney is just as cynical and cut-throat as everyone thinks, since he also quoted Condileeza Rice and Pope John Paul II, who make strange bedfellows with the Klan. My feeling is that his political team will do or say anything to win, and that's why this speech is a jumbled word salad aimed not at Europe, but at the Tea Party and even the Aryan Nations in the U.S. He is name-dropping this and that to get the couple hundred thousand votes he needs to win, ironically along with the help from the new Jim Crow-style laws in the swing states. Does this sound strange? Well, stranger things have happened - remember the election of 2000?

I'm only talking here about the way that reference might be taken by certain factions, and given the fact that Romney needs the Southern White or Midwestern White vote to win this election, this is a fair topic. I don't seek to insult anyone or any place either, but history is history, and considering how many borderline racist comments Mitt Romney has made in the past few months, let alone the past few days with the Israel/Palestine comparison, I'm just throwing this out there . . .

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Place Diversion: A Perfect Ten


I have a sixteen-year-old son who is obsessed with the Olympics right now. He's never been "into sports" before, but this time is different because he has a new-found interest in learning languages and more curiousity about other cultures. We watched every minute of Opening Ceremony on Friday, enjoying the spectacle of London and the pageantry of each country's team as they walked in the procession. And my son has been glued to the tv set watching the Olympics ever since.

I also saw Michelle Obama's speech to the Olympic athletes talking about watching Nadia Comeneci from Romania win her "perfect ten" score in Gymnastics, and how thrilling it was. I also remember watching those performances with my parents and my brother, transfixed on this little girl doing something almost impossible, almost magical. I was no athlete either, while Nadia was balance and grace personified, a true champion. Michelle is right - this is why we watch the Olympics, to see people doing feats of skill we can only dream of doing.

I went to look for some videos of Nadia, and I realized that Nadia actually made more than one perfect 10, and she did it all in 1976, the year I turned 16, the same age as my son who loves the Olympics now. That's cool, and that's my Happy Place Diversion for today.

Palestinians are "Those People" to Romney


We would think that Mitt Romney could hide his class consciousness for just a little while on a foreign policy trip in the most volatile area of the world.

Nahhhhh . . . he just can't do it. His sense of "us" versus "them" is just too ingrained. There's always the "in group" and the "out group," very cut and dried to him, as when he attacked another student with long hair who "didn't look right" in his old school. I'm sure this comes from his wealthy upbringing, and perhaps his sense of moral righteousness as a Mormon. He seems to believe, and it is shared with many Evangelicals, that the Jewish state is so important to the fulfilling of some Biblical prophecy that they should get whatever they want. And Palestine is in the way of that prophecy, so they don't matter.  Therefore, Romney feels he can diss the Palestinians in favor of his rich Jewish donors and God will smile down on him and make him President of the United States. *gag*

Here is the worst part of his Jerusalem speech, in which is compares the West Bank to Mexico.

As you come here and you see the GDP [gross domestic product] per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality." Mr. Romney told a group of donors gathered at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. He added: "And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other: Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States

But wait, is Mexico an occupied country? They have problems, yes, but mostly of their own making. No one is bombing Mexico or keeping citizens from looking for jobs in Mexico City.

And then after bringing up this volatile issue in his Israeli speech, today Romney told CNN that "the issue of settlements is something which should be discussed in private by the American president and our allies."

Okay, that sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Romney once again mentions that "quiet room" he referenced once before when, not surprisingly, he was discussing inequality between two groups - rich and poor Americans. I think these are code words - "private" and "quiet" - that show he is embarrassed by inequality and injustice, but the rich just don't speak of such things, else they might have to feel guilty about their vast wealth, and that is an unacceptable idea.  He doesn't have much empathy for those "beneath" his status, but maybe he has learned over the years that he lacks that human feeling that would connect him as a human. This is why some refer to him as "Romneybot" - something is missing in the emotional intelligence department.

January 2012, from the Matt Lauer Today Show Interview:
I think it's about envy," Romney replied. "I think it's about class warfare. I think when you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent vs. 1 percent, and those people who've been most successful will be in the 1 percent, you've opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.

. . . Lauer asked, "Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?"

"You know I think it's fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms," Romney said. "But the president has made this part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It's a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach."
If Romney likes the "quiet room" approach so much, why is out there at the Wailing Wall making speeches about Israel without once mentioning the plight of Palestine? Why is it "class warfare" when Obama points out inequality, but off-limits to question when Romney compares the Palestinians and the Israelis?

Is he implying that all the problems of the Middle East are economic, and that perhaps the Palestinians are just envious? That's the way Romney's mind seems to work, with money and privilege being the only goals people aspire to in his private world.  What about just having enough to take care of your children? What about keeping your ancestral land?

He loves to invoke all that weight of the Holy Bible, plus the Book of Mormon in a roundabout way, but forgets that the Palestinians are vastly more connected to Jerusalem than his mythical Lost Tribe of Israel here in the United States.  I think most people who comment on Romney are missing that crucial point - Romney thinks he and his wife have more "divine right" to be there in Jerusalem than a people who have lived there for thousands of years.

Romney is just way out of his depth on the international stage, and sounds more like Sarah *doofus* Palin every day.

The White House had this to say through Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, via MSNBC:
"One of the challenges of being an actor on the international stage, particularly when you’re traveling to such a sensitive part of the world, is that your comments are very closely scrutinized for meaning, for nuance, for motivation," Earnest said, adding, "and it is clear that there are some people who have taken a look at those comments and are scratching their heads a little bit.”
When pressed, Earnest stopped short of elaborating on the larger implications of Romney’s comments.
“I would leave it to Gov. Romney to explain them, to the extent that there’s some measure of confusion."

You can say that again! Confusion reigns, although spokesperson Andrea Saul says Romney's words "grossly mischaracterized" although it's difficult to see just how Romney was misunderstood. Perhaps if the Romney advisers were doing a better job of helping their guy choose his words more carefully, and avoid all these racist dog whistles, everything would make more sense.

Mr. Romney, please go into a "quiet room" and think about it!

Wall Street Journal: Romney Irks Palestinians
Mr. Romney's figures Monday were inaccurate and underestimated the actual GDP gap between the economies. Per capita GDP stood at $31,400 for Israel last year, while Palestinians' per capita GDP was $1,500 in 2010, according to an April 2012 World Bank report, which attributed the figure to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Palestinians also rejected the comparison as inappropriate, pointing out their lack of sovereignty and the limitations enforced by Israeli military authorities.

"If he checked his facts, he would know why the Palestinians actually have to build an economy when they have no freedom of movement, no human rights, no fundamental freedoms," said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator and a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organization. "We can't even control our natural resources, including our human resources; and then he compares us to our occupiers?"

Romney Runs from Tax Transparency


Yesterday Mitt Romney was interviewed by ABC News and said this about his taxes:

"From time to time I’ve been audited — as it happens, I think, to other citizens as well — and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job, pay[ing] taxes as legally due."
. . . "I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president. I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."
. . . "I haven't looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes and [have] every year since the beginning of my career, so far as I can recall."

Yep, there you have it . . . "so far as he can recall."

It never ceases to amaze me that a man running on his sterling background in business and high finance can be so blatantly obtuse and vague about his own personal finances.

That interview must have raised new questions and we know how much Mitt hates those, so he must have put his little foot down. Ann Romney will get the last word when she said "We've given all you people need to know" about their income taxes. As of today, they just aren't going to answer any more of these persnickety tax questions, so there!

Now all you journalists and snoopy people, please slink out the back servant's door and leave us alone in our counting house!

CNN Reporting:
Mitt Romney's campaign said Monday they would not release any more of the candidate's personal income tax information, despite an acknowledgement from Romney that he had been audited in the past.

"Mitt Romney has paid his taxes in full compliance with U.S. Law, and he has paid 100 percent of what he has owed," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams wrote.

. . . He continued, "As has previously been reported, in 2011, the Romneys will pay more than $3.2 million in taxes on $20.9 million in mostly investment income and will have donated more than $4 million to charity. In 2010, The Romneys paid more than $3 million in taxes on $21.6 million in mostly investment income and donated nearly $3 million to charity."

Romney has disclosed his income tax returns from 2010, and released an estimate of his 2011 tax information in April. He has vowed to release 2011's full return one it's completed by his accountant.

Ron Paul Supporters in . . . Poland?


No other group is as determined as the Paulites, LOL. And they will literally follow Mitt Romney anywhere. And like the roadrunner, they got there way ahead of Wile E. Coyote (Romney).

When Mitt Romney and family got off the plane in Gdansk, Poland today, they were met with the sight of Ron Paul supporters holding up a banner with his name on it.

And another demonstration is planned tomorrow for Warsaw, where Romney is set to make a major speech:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

100 Days to Move Forward


Let's get going! Whether you are putting boots on the ground, blogging for Obama, making calls, giving rides to the polls, or just donating money, there is still time left to make a huge difference. Stay informed, and let's do whatever we need to do to keep President Obama in office.

Click Here to Donate to the Obama/Biden Campaign 2012

Romney Warmongering in Israel


In a speech that will delight Jewish extremists and Evangelicals alike, Mitt Romney stated that he believes Jerusalem is the "capital of Israel," trying to sound like the guy who is going to rebuild the Temple of Solomon single-handedly while also fulfilling the Mormon White Horse Prophecy, which will save the Constitution of the U.S. but also bring about the Rapture and Armegeddon.

Isn't that special? The problem is, he hasn't been elected to anything yet.

So mainly Romney wants to get that sweet money from Sheldon Adelson, and everything else is secondary. By the way, the Romney camp has reversed their policy of yesterday and will now allow journalists inside the fund raiser in Jerusalem. Apparently that includes both the American Press Corps, as well as the Jewish Press. But stay tuned in case another etch-a-sketch happens.

Romney's Complete Speech Here

From the Boston Globe
JERUSALEM—On Israeli soil, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States has "a solemn duty and a moral imperative" to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.

"Make no mistake, the ayatollahs in Iran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object and who will look the other way," he said. "We will not look away nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."

The presidential election hovered over the speech, with the Old City forming a made-for-television backdrop behind Romney, while some of his campaign donors listened in the audience.

Romney Shambles Day One: Disconcerting London Gaffes
Romney Shambles Day Two: British Press Pounces
Romney Shambles Day Three: On to Israel
Romney Shambles Day Four: Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Romney Bans Press Coverage in Israel ~ Updated & Reversed


Oh really? The Romney campaign has a large press entourage following them in Israel, but today the journalists were told that they would be shut out of a major fundraiser to be held on Monday, which violates an agreement Romney had with the press. Is this wise?

UPDATE: On Sunday, the Romney camp reversed their policy and will now allow journalists inside the fund raiser in Jerusalem. Apparently that includes both the American Press Corps, as well as the Jewish Press. But stay tuned in case another etch-a-sketch happens.

Sheldon Adelson, who once backed Newt Gingrich in the primaries, is a fabulously wealthy casino owner from Las Vegas. He also developed casinos on the island of Macau off the coast of China, one of which is the second-largest building in the entire world. Long-story-short, after the 2008 crash, Adelson bribed a local official on Macau with a ton of money so he could keep making sweet deals, and that was against a law called the "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act." Rachel Maddow did a great background story on him, and the fact that Adelson would love to have a new Justice Department installed by the candidate of his choice, Mitt Romney, so that all his legal problems will go away.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
From The New York Times
Though there have been a few occasions when the campaign has tried to limit access — citing an especially small venue or the fact that Mr. Romney was not giving formal remarks — this is the first time that a public fund-raiser has been closed without any explanation. Mr. Romney’s high-dollar event in London on Thursday, held at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, was open to a press pool. . . . “Closed press, closed press, closed press,” a Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said when asked for a comment or explanation.
The Washington Post
The campaign’s decision to close the fundraiser to the press violates the ground rules it negotiated with news organizations in April, when Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination and began opening some of his finance events to the news media. Under the agreement, a pool of wire, print and television reporters can cover every Romney fundraiser held in public venues, including hotels and country clubs. The campaign does not allow media coverage of fundraisers held in private residences. Campaign spokesman Rick Gorka declined to explain the campaign’s decision to violate protocol with the Jerusalem event. Pressed repeatedly by reporters to offer an explanation, Gorka said only that the fundraiser was “closed press.” “That’s all I’ve got for you — it’s closed press,” Gorka said.
PhotobucketFundraiser Invitation Via BuzzFeed

Poor Romney Victim of "Bad Media Prep" ~ Are You Kidding Me?

I'm a little steamed about the way the Romney campaign is explaining all the "London Shambles" gaffes the past few days. Instead of admitting that Romney has problems with diplomacy and tact, they are blaming jet lag and those "odd, eccentric" Brits.

Come on, really? You want us to believe Romney can be a world leader "better" than Obama even while he complains that every little thing throws him for a loop, from baked goods to grits, from jet lag to meeting the press? Candidates are often unprepared, and so are Presidents, but they have to be able to think on their feet, to go with the flow, to play it by ear, and to wing it. Romney likes to talk about "sport" - well, that's the "sport" of politics. If he can't do it, he just can't do it.

Romney has been running for months as an international businessman. Hasn't he ever been to London before this? Doesn't he know what manners are appropriate in such settings? Or were his trips to Europe before this just about fine hotels and dining, with servants who said "Yes, Sir" whenever he snapped his fingers?

He cannot have it both ways - that he is an "innocent abroad" but also a savvy politician who "connects" with both Cameron and Netanyahu.

The Romney camp needs to quit this apologetic crap because they are insulting our collective intelligence. Romney can't expect us to believe he's on the same level as Obama in human relations, then have his anonymous sidekicks excuse-away muliple snafus as "bad briefing." How much briefing does a grown man who attended some of the best schools in the country need in order to not piss-off our closest ally? You've got to be kidding us, right?

The New York Times:
. . . the British press devour(ed) Mr. Romney like a pile of mushy peas. His campaign was slow and flat-footed in recognizing it had a problem, and unable to improvise a quick response.
Afterward, the campaign said that Mr. Romney had misspoken because he was tired and jet-lagged. “Even the Energizer Bunny needs new batteries once in a while,” said an adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a delicate topic.

From an "Unnamed Source" in the Daily Mail UK
The official said that Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘wisecrack’ about it being harder to stage an Olympic Games in London than ‘in the middle of nowhere’ – an apparent reference to Salt Lake City, where Romney oversaw the 2002 Winter Olympics – was ‘probably appropriate, albeit awkward’ and unfortunate for Romney
‘Johnson on the other hand lived up to his reputation as an eccentric, odd fellow. It was unbecoming to attack Governor Romney in that way. There really was no need. But Johnson made it clear in 2008 that his vote would have gone to Obama.’
. . . The campaign official, who was not directly involved organising the London trip, that that the Romney campaign had not prepared sufficiently for ‘a visit of this magnitude’ and that the candidate had not been briefed properly on how to answer questions about the staging of the Olympics.
‘What he gave was the honest assessment of the situation based on his previous experience. Unfortunately in a diplomatic context that's not the sort of thing that should have been coming out of the candidate's mouth. It was bad messaging and media prep.’
The trip should have been a straightforward one, he said. ‘You show up, you smile, you do photo ops, you talk about the special relationship, the deep bonds that connect us and then you go home, or in this case on to Israel and Poland.
Unfortunately, it shows that the campaign by solely focussing on jobs has really neglected foreign policy and international affairs.

London Olympics Tribute to National Health Care


The opening ceremony of the London Olympics is an extravaganza par excellence - you've got to see it!!! It was everything I hoped it would be, eccentric, trippy, colorful, historical - all of it, from the Shakespearean reference to "The Tempest," to the Queen arriving with James Bond, to the flights along the Thames and all the little hat-tips to Pink Floyd, Monty Python, Harry Potter, Mr. Bean, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and of course, the Beatles.

We enjoyed every minute of it, but especially the democratic aspect, the idea that everyone got to participate even in a small way, which is the brainchild of designer Danny Boyle. In an interview following the ceremony he told Meredith Vieira of NBC that he loved the idea of the Olympic Torch being carried past the very people who built the Olympic arena, which is built on the once-wasteland of East London. And indeed, an Olympian ran with the torch past rows of ordinary people in hard hats, connecting them to what they had built, and as he put it, connecting them to the Queen herself.

But the heart of the whole show for me, and the part which really shamed the U.S. was Boyle's spectacular tribute to the National Health system in the UK, which rendered me speechless for a few minutes. It was all about doctors and nurses protecting children from their worst fears and nightmares, symbolized by literary characters such as Voldemort, Captain Hook, the Child Stealer from Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang, and the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. When I recovered my senses, I assured my own children that they will probably never see such an outpouring of creativity to celebrate a social program in the United States, more's the pity.


I hope that most Americans were watching and got an eyeful, especially everyone in Congress or the Senate who voted against President Obama's healthcare plan, everyone who held hysterical prayer groups on Facebook in hopes the Supreme Court would strike it down, and every member of that Court who wanted to trash our only safety net for the uninsured. Our flawed system in such a rich country is the shame of the world, and while Britain's health plan may not be perfect, most people there have grown up with it and never had to choose between buying glasses or going to the dentist, between buying food and buying medicine. No one suffers because they don't have insurance - everyone has it!

Because of National Health, the Brits have a different reality than we have in the United States, and it made me think that instead of scary literary characters, we have scary lawmakers and judges who don't care whether children are protected. Mitt Romney was in the audience watching, and I hope the words "repeal Obamacare" were ringing in his ears.


Director's Tribute to "Amazing" NHS

More than 600 real-life nurses and other healthcare workers joined Boyle's army of volunteers during the extravaganza.

. . . Boyle said: "One of the reasons we put the NHS in the show is that everyone is aware of how important the NHS is to everybody in this country. We believe, as a nation, in universal healthcare. It doesn't matter how poor you are, how rich you are, you will get treated.

"One of the core values of our society is that it doesn't matter who you are, you will get treated the same in terms of healthcare. We all end up there. You can be in all these private hospitals - if anything serious happens to you, you are in the NHS. And that felt like something that we thought was a great thing to celebrate.

"We are almost unique in having universal healthcare. It is something that is very dear to people's hearts. All types of government fight like billy-o, to control it, to cut it, to deal with it. But there is something about it - it is so embedded in us that we have decided to keep it. It is an amazing thing to celebrate."

Boyle said that the volunteers who came from the NHS were "proud people", adding: "They work for something that they truly, truly believe in. We're delighted to add to that by saluting them. All of the volunteers have made a special sacrifice to be with us but these guys are extraordinary.


"They turn up after shifts - you know what they are dealing with every day, they are dealing with mortality and sick children - yet they turn up and they have made it absolutely amazing."

. . . Lottie Pink, from Kingston, south west London, was one of the patients from the hospital who took part in the show. The 10-year-old was treated for a brain tumour two years ago and returns to the hospital every few months for check-ups.

She said: "I am proud to represent all the great work the hospital does. Without them, I would not be here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

What is a "Derecho" Anyway?

"The Line Storm," by John Steuart Curry, 1897-1946

Lately there have been several lines of devastating storms moving through the Ohio Valley, and meteorologists have been referring to them as a "derecho." I've lived in the U.S. all my life and never heard that term, even though we routinely get straight-line winds and severe weather here in the Southeast. They never mentioned it last year on the day of the April tornadoes, although that line of storms lasted for hundreds of miles, which makes me think that tornadoes trump derechos. Officially, the terrible line of storms that passed over the Northeast last week were not part of a derecho:

LA Times Story
Joey Picca , a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times from his office in Upton N.Y. on Long Island. “What we saw yesterday wasn’t a derecho in the traditional sense because it wasn’t widespread enough. Although we did see a large line of thunderstorms, it was lacking the true intensity you would like to see in a derecho.”
A derecho is defined as an event that has wind gusts of at least 58 mph and leaves a swath of damage for a minimum of 240 miles, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center.

So the phenomenon is actually rare, but with global warming raising the mercury it it could certainly happen again, so let's get educated by going directly to NOAA for the definition:
Definition of a derecho
A derecho (pronounced similar to "deh-REY-cho" in English, or pronounced phonetically as "") is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath. As a result, the term "straight-line wind damage" sometimes is used to describe derecho damage. By definition, if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles (about 400 kilometers) and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length, then the event may be classified as a derecho.
Origin of the term "derecho"
The word "derecho" was coined by Dr. Gustavus Hinrichs, a physics professor at the University of Iowa, in a paper published in the American Meteorological Journal in 1888. A defining excerpt from the paper can be seen in this figure showing a derecho crossing Iowa on July 31, 1877. Hinrichs chose this terminology for thunderstorm-induced straight-line winds as an analog to the word tornado.

"Derecho" is a Spanish word that can be defined as "direct" or "straight ahead." (Click here to hear a pronounciation of the word "derecho"). In contrast, the word "tornado" is thought by some, including Hinrichs, to have been derived from the Spanish word "tornar," which means "to turn." Because derecho is a Spanish word, the plural term is "derechos;" there is no letter "e" after the letter "o."

A web page about Gustavus Hinrichs has been created by Ray Wolf of the Davenport, Iowa National Weather Service Forecast Office. The page provides information on Hinrichs' background, and on his development of the term "derecho" in the late 1800s. Wolf's page also briefly discusses how the term "derecho" has come into more common use in recent years.

Michelle Obama at the London Olympics


Now this is how to arrive at the Olympics and be diplomatic and encouraging to our allies. Got that, Mitt?

From the Evening Standard
As a lesson in good natured statesmanship - if not to say simple manners - it was a masterclass.
For Michelle Obama cast aside stuffy protocol to join in the fun and games to celebrate today’s opening of the Olympic games with more than 1,000 children.

The First Lady met the children - most of them from U.S. military families - in the grounds of Winfield House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador in London.

She was joined by David Beckham and Olympic gold-medal sprinter Carl Lewis who signed autographs.

She said: “I’m so excited,” after jogging to the stage as a marching band played the University of Florida fight song.
“I am thrilled to be here on London for the 2012 Olympic games. I am proud to be leading the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony.”

Mrs Obama, who later tried out sports including tug-of-war and football alongside the children, offered a tribute to military families who had been invited to take part in the event.


The Romney Shambles in Britain

gif via tumblr

"Romney Shambles" is a descriptive hashtag on Twitter to describe Mitt Romney's trip abroad, which started in Great Britain yesterday. He made so many gaffes in such a short amount of time that without instant news on Twitter no one could keep up with them.

My collection of quotes on Snark Amendment

In just one day, Romney managed the following:
More Here: Guardian UK: Oh, Mitt, Those Romney Gaffes In Full

Edited to Add: This video from the DNC taking full advantage of Mitt's misfortune.

By the end of the "longest day" people had dug up this gem, from Romney's book No Apologies:
England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth's land and a quarter of the earth's population

So I guess Mitt once thought of himself as an expert on "England," someone who could explain the  British Isles better than the people actually living there. I wonder if he feels that way after yesterday?

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Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Obama vs. Romney on Guns


These two candidates couldn't be more different. You can't tell me that "both sides are exactly the same" or "both sides are just as bad." There's a fundamental difference between a thinker like Barack Obama who actually cares about people, and a glib businessman like Mitt Romney who seems to have no convictions or opinions of his own beyond what the Neocons tell him to say. And at least the President has his facts straight. Romney still thinks the Aurora shooter bought weapons illegally, when actually everything he had was legal under the laws of the state.

Obama at the Urban League Convention in New Orleans:
. . . we’ve been reminded recently that all this matters little if these young people can’t walk the streets of their neighborhood safely; if we can’t send our kids to school without worrying they might get shot; if they can’t go to the movies without fear of violence lurking in the shadows. (Applause.)

Our hearts break for the victims of the massacre in Aurora. (Applause.) We pray for those who were lost and we pray for those who loved them. We pray for those who are recovering with courage and with hope. And we also pray for those who succumb to the less-publicized acts of violence that plague our communities in so many cities across the country every single day. (Applause.) We can’t forget about that.

Every day – in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater. For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans. For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland. Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns. It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different races, and it’s tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short.

And when there is an extraordinarily heartbreaking tragedy like the one we saw, there’s always an outcry immediately after for action. And there’s talk of new reforms, and there’s talk of new legislation. And too often, those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere.

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. . . I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -– that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage. But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals – (applause) – that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. (Applause.) These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense. So I’m going to continue to work with members of both parties, and with religious groups and with civic organizations, to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction – not just of gun violence, but violence at every level, on every step, looking at everything we can do to reduce violence and keep our children safe -– from improving mental health services for troubled youth – (applause) – to instituting more effective community policing strategies. We should leave no stone unturned, and recognize that we have no greater mission as a country than keeping our young people safe. (Applause.) And as we do so, as we convene these conversations, let’s be clear: Even as we debate government’s role, we have to understand that when a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government alone can’t fill. (Applause.) It’s up to us, as parents and as neighbors and as teachers and as mentors, to make sure our young people don’t have that void inside them.
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Mitt Romney with NBC's Brian Williams
Political implications, legal implications are something which will be sorted out down the road," Romney told NBC's Brian Williams during an exclusive interview here in London. "But I don't happen to believe that America needs new gun laws. A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law. But the fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening.

Romney, who enacted an assault weapons ban as governor of Massachusetts (with the support of a Democratic legislature) would not say whether he still believes that weapons like the AR-15 assault rifle used in the Colorado shooting were "instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people," as he described them during the bill signing ceremony in 2002.

When Williams followed up later in the interview on the Aurora attack, Romney argued that it would take a change in heart, not laws, to stop future violence.

"And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won't. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people."

More on Romney's "Gun Flub" as Salon calls it:
. . . As Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates explained: “All the weapons that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the clips that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the ammunition that he possessed, he possessed legally.”

Holmes used a handgun, a shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle in his massacre — all legal, thanks to the expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, which had previously prohibited some versions of the AR-15. Holmes also had body armor, tear gas grenades, a gas mask and tactical gear. All are legal and widely available online at minimal cost (one website sells tear gas grenades for just $16 a pop). The only way it would have been illegal for Holmes to have his guns would be if he had been diagnosed as mentally ill or was a convicted felon, but neither was the case. His only record was a speeding ticket.

“Background checks, as required by federal law, were properly conducted, and [Holmes] was approved,” said a spokesman for Bass Pro Shops, where he bought one of his guns. Holmes had also booby-trapped his apartment with homemade explosives, but there’s no evidence yet that any of these devices were illegal either, as he made them himself with common materials like gasoline.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Romney Flubs His British Invasion

I have been enjoying the heck out of Romney's British Invasion so far, even before he landed in the country. One (or possibly two) of his surrogates went nuts yesterday and told the British tabloid Telegraph UK a few bizarre things about what Romney wants from British relations, including several racist dog whistles about how Romney is "more Anglo Saxon" than Barack Obama, who "hates NATO." You can't make this stuff up.

Updates on this ever-evolving story from Think Progress

More humor, quotes and tweets on Snark Amendment
Mitt Goes Brit (Anglo-Saxon, That Is)
Mitt's Epic Anglo-Saxon Fail
Romney Dog Whistles: Foreign, Anglo-Saxon, Atlanticist

Original Article in the Telegraph UK
We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.
. . . Obama is a Left-winger," said another. "He doesn’t value the Nato alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him. He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory'.”
. . . He is naturally more Atlanticist.

Comment by Vice President Joe Biden
Despite his promises that politics stops at the water's edge, Gov. Romney's wheels hadn't even touched down in London before his advisers were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy.
. . . The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Gov. Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage. Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign.

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams quoted in the LA Times: The Vice President of the United States used an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign. We have very serious problems confronting our nation and American families are hurting, yet the Obama campaign continues to try to divert voters' attention with specious shiny objects. We have more faith in American voters, and know they will see this latest desperate ploy for what it is.

Obama Spokesperson Jen Psaki: One of his advisers violated exactly what they said they wouldn't do which is criticize the president beyond the borders of the U.S.
This is a case where there is a continuous fumbling of the foreign policy football here, and it does raise a question as to whether Mitt Romney and his team are ready to have serious conversation about a foreign policy

Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg in a statement to ABC News: It's not true. If anyone said that, they weren't reflecting the views of Gov. Romney or anyone inside the campaign.

Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law: "A Solution in Search of a Problem"


Pennsylvania has a problem with their voter ID laws, but it's not because of rampant voter fraud as the Republicans want us to believe. In fact, as in most states, everyone agrees that voter fraud is almost non-existent. Yet state legislatures keeping passing laws forcing everyone to get a picture ID or lose their right to vote in the Presidential election this year. This will put the burden mainly on urban dwellers who use public transportation and therefore do not have a driver's license, as well as the elderly who have been voting for years, thank you very much, without a picture ID.

Unlike Florida and Texas, Pennsylvania is not a state covered by Section 5 of the Voters Rights Act which requires preclearance from the Justice Department before voting laws can be changed. Only states that had low voter turnout under 50% in the early 60s were required to follow the preclearance rule. So Pennsylvania will be a test state, and possibly ground-breaking for other "swing" states that might try to suppress the African American vote using Voter ID Laws.

The ACLU is taking the State of Pennsylvania to court, while the Feds are looking into whether the law will impede voting.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Voter ID Fight Heads to Court
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and other groups will spend the next week in Commonwealth Court trying to persuade a judge to grant a swift and immediate injunction. The Republican-controlled legislature passed the law four months ago with the stated purpose of discouraging election fraud.


The ACLU is suing on behalf of 10 Pennsylvanians who do not have driver's licenses and who contend that the photo-ID requirement violates the state constitution, depriving them of their right to vote.

In legal papers filed last week, the civil liberties group says that those 10 are the tip of a human iceberg, that as many as a million or more Pennsylvania voters lack the types of photo ID that the law requires.

The ACLU included in its filing a surprising concession from state officials: a written stipulation that the state cannot pinpoint any instance of the kind of voter-impersonation fraud the new law aims to prevent.

The state stipulated that it is "not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania," and has "no direct knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere." State officials also said they would offer no evidence that "in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the photo ID law."

Talking Points Memo: DOJ Investigates ID Law

In a three-page letter sent to Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele on Monday, DOJ requested state data on registered voters as well as the state’s list of individuals with driver’s licenses and ID cards.

Additionally, DOJ requested information on the state’s efforts to educate voters about the new law as well as documents and records supporting a March 14 statement from the office of Gov. Tom Corbett (R) which claimed “99 percent of Pennsylvania’s already have acceptable photo IDs.” (The state’s own data did not support that figure.) Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez requested Pennsylvania send the information to federal authorities within 30 days.

Pennsylvania has said that over 750,000 voters lack an adequate form of voter ID, a number greater than President Obama’s margin of victory in the state in 2008. One top Republican even said the voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win the state. As TPM reported, the public relations firm contracted to educate the public about the new voter ID law is stacked with Republicans.

Good discussion of this story on Hardball yesterday:

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Obama Ads Feature . . . Obama!


Edited to Add . . . another one!

World Markets Watching Spain


For a long time, market watchers have predicted that Spain might be the next economy to crumble after Greece fell apart and needed a bail-out. Don't you hate it when the doomsayers are right? It just doesn't bode well for the world economy to see all this instability in Europe, and unfortunately it's nowhere near over because Italy is next in line. The pain continues, and could leave the rest of Europe ~ and the world ~ overwhelmed.

 Ezra Klein on Rachel Maddow
. . . If you're picking one indicator to watch to see if it was going to survive or fall, you would pick Spanish bond yields because it would be bad if Greece had to leave the euro, but it would be survivable. There is no world where Spain goes down and the euro endures. If Spain goes down, the euro is going down. Spanish bond yields, the thing you need to remember is the higher a bond yield is, the higher a country has to pay when they borrow money.
Spain can't afford to borrow the money necessary to finance itself, and the Eurozone is going down. and that means our economy might be going down, too.
Well, Spanish bond yields have kept going up. This is way above the level which Spain and the euro can survive.
Tonight's Ezra Klein challenge is to explain why this happened. . . . Austerity isn't working! . . . Spain has been doing what the Eurozone has asked them to do, austerity, cutting budgets. They're trying. everybody agrees they have been a good faith actor. but that treatment is driving them deeper and deeper into recession, and these bond yields are the market . . . saying 'this is not working.'

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From MSN Money UK:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after falling 239 points earlier in the day, ended down 101.11 at 12,721.46. Yields for US government bonds sank to record lows as traders sought the safety of American debt.

Borrowing costs rose sharply for Spain and Italy after news that the Spanish economy contracted by 0.4% in the second quarter. Falling economic output makes it more difficult for Spain to deal with its debts. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12.14 points to 1,350.52. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 35.15 points to 2,890.15.

"Increases in Spanish borrowing costs have brought back questions about the health of Europe," said Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia. "That's driven a flight to safety."

More Scary Stuff from Bloomberg
Now, that worst-case scenario has re-emerged. The catalyst is Greece. Over the weekend, Germany’s economy minister, Philipp Roesler, said he doubted that Greece would keep the fiscal promises it made in return for its bailout. If help for Greece is cut off, a disorderly exit from the euro becomes much more likely. For the rest of Europe and the world, that’s alarming less in its own right than because of the risk of contagion.

Spain would probably be the first to suffer, and as things stand there’s nothing to stop the situation from unraveling. With anxiety about Greece rising again, it was reported that Spain’s regional governments were seeking bailouts from Madrid, threatening to add to the central government’s debt burden. The Spanish economy is contracting, the latest figures showed last week. At the same time, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sparked protests when he said he would press on with further fiscal tightening, which is likely to slow growth even further.

On Monday, Spain’s 10-year bond yields rose for the first time above 7.5 percent. Rates sustained at this level are unaffordable and, in effect, make the Spanish government insolvent. Disturbingly, yields rose sharply at shorter maturities, too, and the cost of insuring against a Spanish default set a record -- both signs that confidence is evaporating.

Spain is the fourth biggest economy in the euro area. If it has to be bailed out, the EFSF and ESM will be overwhelmed. Then comes Italy, whose 10-year bond yield just climbed to a six- month high, remaining well above 6 percent. That’s no less crippling than Spain’s cost of borrowing, because Italy’s debt burden is far greater.

If Europe’s governments continue to stand aside, they will sink not only Greece, Italy and Spain, but the wider European and global economies as well. Europe’s leaders must either greatly expand the ESM and start to use it more proactively, or urge and empower the ECB to buy or somehow guarantee distressed sovereigns’ debt. One way or another, bond yields have to be capped at a supportable level.