ProgressiveCowgirl

About ProgressiveCowgirl

Colorado native, young professional, progressive cowgirl. 4-term FPE (aka masochist).

Thank Goodness Mitt Romney Opposes Wind Energy!

Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, CA, caught fire last night, forcing area residents to “shelter in place” and sending dozens to hospitals with smoke inhalation. According to the local news affiliate:

The fire started at the refinery’s “4 Crude Unit” at 6:15 p.m. Monday, according to a statement from Chevron. The company said a small leak in the diesel processing unit grew and caught fire.

A shot time later, at least two steady eruptions of flame were visible from CBS 5 cameras. A pair of thick plumes of smoke were also rising into the skies of the East Bay well into the night.



Refinery officials were quick to apologize for “inconveniencing our neighbors.” Meanwhile, a midnight deadline expired for Chevron to pay $19 billion in damages to Ecuador for environmental damages in the Amazon region.

Oil prices are expected to rise as a consequence of the refinery fire, although Chevron will presumably continue to earn $85 million per day in profits (not gross earnings, profits) — an amount which could pay many times over for the hospital treatment of Bay Area residents suffering from smoke inhalation, but which presumably won’t.

Meanwhile, Mitt Rommey continues to explain to wind energy supporters in his own party why wind energy tax credits are really dangerous to America. Because, you see, the free market should be allowed to pick the winners in the energy wars. And if a few grandmothers with lung disease in the Bay Area are losers? Well, you can’t make a free market without killing a few 99%ers.

Romney Adds More Evidence to the “Maybe He’s Just a Sociopath?” File

Mitt Romney is a confusing candidate sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean most of the time. Maybe all the time. From “corporations are people” to calmly dissing London’s handling of the Olympics, in London, during the Olympics, the presumptive Republican nominee frequently demonstrates a bizarre and perplexing disconnect from the feelings or reactions of others. His lack of empathy, even years later, for family dog Seamus is equally curious, as is his claim he doesn’t remember bullying a gay classmate.

The latest Mitt-doesn’t-get-people video features the Republican candidate walking away from a dying man who is a wheelchair user, apparently unaffected by the young man and unwilling to answer his question:

I tend to shy away from any pop-psychology attempt to diagnose from a distance, but this is becoming impossible to ignore. Romney does not react to other people in the way that most individuals–even politicians, and even extremely wealthy individuals–do. Could Romney simply be one of the 2% of human beings (according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in On Killing) who are without what we call a “conscience?”

Diagnostic criteria follow:


ICD-10

The World Health Organization’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, tenth edition (ICD-10), defines a conceptually similar disorder to antisocial personality disorder called (F60.2) Dissocial personality disorder.[4]

It is characterized by at least 3 of the following:

Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.

Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.

Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them.

Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.

Incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment.

Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior that has brought the person into conflict with society.

There may be persistent irritability as an associated feature.

The diagnosis includes what may be referred to as amoral, antisocial, psychopathic, and sociopathic personality (disorder).

The criteria specifically rule out conduct disorders.[5] Dissocial personality disorder criteria differ from those for antisocial and sociopathic personality disorders.[6]

It is a requirement of ICD-10 that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.

DSM-IV

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV-TR), defines antisocial personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:[1]

A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:

failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;

deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;

impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;

irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;

reckless disregard for safety of self or others;

consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;

lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;

B) The individual is at least age 18 years.

C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.

D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.

The individual must be at least 18 years of age to be diagnosed with this disorder (Criterion B), but those diagnosed with ASPD as adults were commonly diagnosed with conduct disorder as children. The prevalence of this disorder is 3% in males and 1% from females, as stated in the DSM IV-TR.

Obviously, none of us is Romney’s psychologist, but there’s a lot here that rings true about behaviors like his teenage bullying habits, his mistreatment of a family pet, and his actions at Bain Capital. There’s also his complete willingness to change his beliefs when it’s politically advantageous to do so. Most candidates flip-flop here and there, but retain a few core beliefs that are especially important to them. Romney appears simply to calculate the political benefit of a stance and then adopt it.

I have a personal interest in personality disorders and have done extensive reading on the subject of antisocial personality disorder. Forensic psychology is a career path I considered seriously. In my reading on the subject, I have found it consistently noted that many individuals with characteristics consistent with this personality disorder are extremely successful in business and do not commit the violent acts typically associated with the popular perception of “sociopathy.” Lt. Col. Grossman even notes in On Killing that these individuals are highly valuable in certain parts of the military, so long as they are willing to memorize and follow rules. In The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout describes several cases of successful executives whose sociopathy is an advantage, as they are not burdened or stressed by their decisions in the way that a typical person would be, so they do not suffer negative health consequences or emotional distress upon making a necessary business decision that causes harm to others.

Of course, this begs the question: If a politician who happens to be sociopathic becomes President, will this be an advantage or a disadvantage?

In my personal opinion, there are reasons not to elect Romney that are far more firmly based in fact than the theory–albeit one I’m hearing more and more often, including from some conservative friends–that Romney is not neurotypical. However, it’s an interesting question.

Had you asked me prior to the Romney campaign, I might have leaned toward the “advantage” side, because advisers can provide a rule set to the President which effectively synthesizes the benefits of conscience to the President and the country. Meanwhile, this theoretical sociopath President would not be prone to make illogical decisions based on sympathy for one or another group of people over others. The example that comes to mind is Truman’s description, in his autobiography, of an old friend’s emotional appeal which convinced then-President Truman to support Israel’s petition to be granted a country. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of that decision, it’s clear that a sitting President admitted to making a decision which led to one of the most violent conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily based on his emotional reaction to a friend’s appeal to his conscience.

However, Romney’s behaviors seem to suggest some disadvantages that might be less immediately obvious. He doesn’t convincingly mimic empathy behaviors, even when he’s talking to world leaders. He does not take advantage of opportunities to appear caring, relatable, or ordinary. In other words, he’s the anti-Bush: Nobody, even a Republican, wants to have a beer with Romney. George W. Bush was praised by some conservatives for being genuine, forthcoming, and making decisions from his “gut.” He was the red-blooded conservative male archetype, or at least an effective approximation of one.

Some news outlets have attributed Romney’s failure to appeal to Bush’s biggest fans to a “wimp factor”. But could a guy who hard-heartedly cuts and outsources jobs really be considered a “wimp?” I don’t think so–a wimp wouldn’t have gone so far in the cutthroat corporate world. Romney has demonstrated that he is decisive in the moment, although prone to waffling and revisionist history afterward.

Rather, it seems to me that it’s possible Romney isn’t connecting with the Bushites because of something a little harder to prove: He does not have moral convictions, gut instincts, or anything that could convince voters that President Romney is “just like them,” “genuine,” or “a real upstanding kind of guy,” as Bush was described by his supporters. They can’t relate to him the way people could to Bush, because Romney can’t relate to them the way Bush could.

This is in no way my own, original theory. For a few other takes on the question, click here, here, here, and here.

“Romney sociopath” yields 295,000 Google results, though it’s worth noting that “Obama sociopath” nets 768,000, including this vituperative condemnation in Mother Jones magazine, followed up by a colleague’s rebuke in the same publication. None of the first page of Google results for “Obama sociopath” makes a serious argument based on DSM criteria; this letter to the editor is the closest thing.

So, I don’t think people simply tend to accuse politicians they don’t like of sociopathy. There are a few results out there even for Bush, but most focus simply on his foreign policy and that he appears to feel no meaningful guilt for starting multiple wars in which lives were lost. Romney is the only modern candidate I could find who attracts calculated, expert analysis that suggests he may simply be a person without conscience.

Worth discussing? I think so, at this point, following his disastrous “world tour” in which he offended nearly everyone on Earth once, something that would impress even Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged.

Shooting/Bombing At Aurora Town Center Century 16 Theater

POLS UPDATE 12:05PM: At a press conference moments ago, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates reported that at least 71 people were shot in total, and 12 have died.

—–

A serious shooting and/or bombing incident with probable loss of life has occurred at the Century 16 theater at the Aurora Town Center mall, during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. From our own Andrew Bateman on Facebook:

I work across the street from the century 16 theater where the shooting/bombing took place tonight. I’m seeing helicopters and bomb squads. Estimates are between 20 and 40 injured. The scene here is crazy.

News outlets are reporting that police are not calling back with information and the only source of news for even the reporters is police/fire scanners like this one. There’s also a live feed here. I’m currently listening and hearing discussions of bringing a bomb dog to the scene.

The International Business Times is reporting 12 dead, but states that report is “unconfirmed.”

Police scanner is currently stating 20 patients at the University hospital, three are at Denver General, at least three at Children’s, two to Swedish. Victim’s advocates are being brought to the scene and Red Cross is being paged to assist evacuees being bused to a nearby high school. The University total of 20 includes one tough-as-nails patient who walked in with a gunshot wound under his or her own power. Another officer reported a pregnant woman was shot and transported to the hospital. All officers not currently on assignment are being paged to the command post at Century 16. No vehicles will be allowed to leave the scene–all evacuees are being transported by bus.

Opening up a thread for discussion and so that Polsters in the area can check in as alive and unharmed.

Praying for the victims and wounded, and hoping that there will be opportunities for community members to do more than pray as it becomes clear who is in need following this incident. Those wounded will have a long road to recovery, and if indeed–G-d forbid–there has been loss of life, survivors will need their community’s support.

Next Up in the 2012 Class of Horrible Republican Lit

When Republican candidates aren’t failing kindergarten math in their lit, they’re failing first grade English by using implied three-letter cuss words to sling mud at, ironically, one of the most eloquent Democrats in the legislature. Observe:

That’s a mailer from Brian Watson, the Republican opposing Democratic incumbent Representative Daniel Kagan, running in the brand-new HD3. Watson, a political novice whose website is long on buzzwords like “accountability” and “transparency” but hasn’t published a single concrete policy proposal (how transparent of him!), seems to have nothing to say about Kagan that can be said to your grandmother or in church. That’s probably because there’s really nothing to attack Daniel on, even if you’re a desperate Republican newcomer.

Pretty much the same point, in Kagan’s own words, after the fold:

An email from Kagan responded to the slimy mailer:

I am saddened that my opponent has chosen to begin his campaign with name-calling. We have come to expect divisive, ugly politics from Washington DC, but that’s not the way we do things in Colorado.

I was proud last year to receive support from members of both parties to pass the “Skills for Jobs Act”, legislation which will help Coloradans have access to the skills that will lead to high paying jobs. I believe in Colorado. We have a great future ahead of us if we put politics aside, work together, and solve the very real problems Colorado families are facing.

Name-calling and game playing by ambitious politicians is the wrong recipe for our future. As your state representative, I believe that we can work together to address the challenges facing our families. I have been proud to serve my district for four years, and with your support, I promise to continue solving roblems, improving education, and fostering innovation to strengthen our economy. Together, we can make Colorado the best place to live, work and raise our families.

During my four years in the Colorado House, I have been proud to be part of a legislature that holds itself to a higher standard. I am more interested in solving problems than playing politics. That’s why I entered the Colorado House – because the families of our community deserve real leadership, not petty name calling.

Wash that mouth out with soap, Brian Watson, and call Dan Kagan back when you’ve got something interesting to debate. Meanwhile, Colorado voters can regale themselves with fascinating, informative statements like this one, from Watson’s website:

Brian Watson will work to remove government red tape and give employers some breathing room to create new, well-paying jobs.

Compare to Kagan’s policy statement on the same issue:

Instead of catering to big corporations, Daniel is looking out for you. He closed corporate loopholes that benefit wealthy special interests, and passed legislation holding government accountable. He also championed legislation that is projected to create 23,000 clean energy jobs. [HB10-1001; HB10-1119; HB10-1189]

Brian Watson: Platitudes and mudslinging from the peanut gallery.

Daniel Kagan: Actual legislative accomplishments, and numbers to go with them.

Shouldn’t be a tough choice for voters, even with reapportionment adding a hefty chunk of Republicans to Kagan’s territory.

Colorado Peak Politics Displays Credibility By Accusing Me of Hating Women and Dressage

Check it out!

I’ve officially become an official part of Colorado Pols, officially. I have my very own Peak post accusing me of hating women, using a single isolated quote from my lengthy post defending Ann Romney and her horse. I’ve arrived!

Anyone accusing Peak of originality should take time to note that they even embedded in their post one of the same videos I used, without noting that it was also included in my diary. They also got their points in defense of Ann from–guess what–my diary defending Ann.

But in Peak-land, supporting policies that deny essential human rights to women is feminist because it gives women the chance to stand on their own, without even those pesky, patronizing civil liberties that men enjoy. Meanwhile, devoting a couple thousand words to defending a tone-deaf rich bitch (and yes, Ann Romney is that, despite Peak’s decision to remove the citation that quote linked to) is misogyny.

Not putting this on the front page, because, well, LAWL ATTENTION GRAB. No thanks, Peak, you’re still boring and still couldn’t get Pols-level comment counts even if you convinced Mitt Romney that SteriCycle would dump a human fetus in a landfill, thereby making a few cents for Bain, every time he commented.

Romney Against Women’s Right to Choose, but for Profiting from Aborted Fetus Disposal

Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that Mitt Romney was a key player in Bain Capital’s decision to invest in Stericycle, a company that disposes of medical waste, including aborted fetuses and the bodies of animals used for medical testing. Stericycle is a favorite target of pro-life protesters, prompting boycotts related to their operations as recently as this February.

Bain Capital previously denied that Romney was involved in the Stericycle investment, according to Mother Jones:

Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.

But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission-and obtained by Mother Jones-list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents-one of which was signed by Romney-also contradict the official account of Romney’s exit from Bain.

Exactly HOW those fetuses were sometimes disposed of, and why it’ll turn conservative activists’ stomachs, after the jump.

Stericycle describes its services in appropriately vague and sanitized terms on its own website, but various other sources paint a clearer picture. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for instance, hires Stericycle to incinerate animal carcasses following their use for various forms of medical research. Even more disturbingly, Stericycle was fined by the state of Texas for dumping aborted fetuses in a landfill, in violation of state codes. Specifically, Stericycle:

Failed to dispose of pathological waste according to approved methods of treatment and disposition, in violation of 30 TEx. ADMIN. CODE § 33o.1219Q,)(3), as documented during an investigation conducted on May 12, 2011. Specifically, the Respondent allowed pathological waste, including fetuses, to be  treated by steam disinfection treatment followed by deposition in a municipal solid waste  landfill.

(emphasis mine)

So, Romney’s signature is on documents relating to Bain Capital’s investment in a company that dumps aborted fetuses in municipal solid waste landfills. At the time, Romney was more sympathetic toward pro-choice views than he is now that he’s running for President at a time when there’s a “War on Women” going on around the country. Occam’s Razor dictates that the most acceptable explanation is the obvious one: Romney, tasked with making as much money as possible for Bain Capital, signed off on an investment that he viewed as potentially lucrative and morally acceptable.

The question is, will socially conservative voters see it that way when Romney makes his campaign stops, ostensibly as a pro-life candidate, this fall? Or will it strike a sour note with pro-life activists to see the GOP nominee touch down in their hometowns to stump for his campaign, when they’ve seen Stericycle trucks stop at the very clinics they picket? Let’s be clear: Bain Capital helped Stericyle make a whole lot of money. Bain made a lot of money on the deal. And Romney could have called it off:

Another SEC document filed November 30, 1999, by Stericycle also names Romney as an individual who holds “voting and dispositive power” with respect to the stock owned by Bain. If Romney had fully retired from the private equity firm he founded, why would he be the only Bain executive named as the person in control of this large amount of Stericycle stock?

I don’t have a problem with a privately held capital firm investing in a business that does the the necessary dirty work of disposing of medical waste. However, pro-life voters who use abortion opposition as a litmus test almost certainly will be troubled by Romney’s decision to continue Bain’s investment in a company that trashes human fetuses is municipal landfills.

As for voters who don’t use abortion as a litmus test, there’s the little matter of Stericycle’s safety record and its unfortunate habit of spreading lethal diseases around:

In 1991, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited its Arkansas operation for 11 workplace safety violations. The facility had not provided employees with sufficient protective gear, and it had kept body parts, fetuses, and dead experimental animals in unmarked storage containers, placing workers at risk. In 1995, Stericycle was fined $3.3 million-later decreased to $800,000-by Rhode Island for knowingly exposing workers to life-threatening diseases at its medical-waste treatment facility in Woonsocket. Two years later, workers at another of its medical-waste processing plants in Morton, Washington, were exposed to tuberculosis. In 2002 and 2003-after Bain and its partners had bought their major interest in the firm-Stericycle reached settlements with the attorneys general in Arizona and Utah after it was accused of violating antitrust laws. It paid Arizona $320,000 in civil penalties and lawyers’ fees, and paid Utah $580,000.

We all know that Romney was okay with abortion before he was against it, but conservative values voters should ask him why he let Bain lie about his involvement in the Stericycle deal, and how he feels about his role in generating big profits for a company known to place human fetal remains in landfills alongside household and industrial trash. Even as a pro-choice activist myself, I don’t feel that’s a fitting end for something that once had the potential for human life. Stericycle itself provides a more respectful disposal method for animal carcasses.

Golf with a House Republican for Just $10,000!

Members of the Colorado Republican Party will demonstrate their accessibility to and compassion for the American middle class this Thursday, June 28, with a miniature golf tournament featuring Speaker Frank McNulty and other House Republicans.

The Republican representatives in attendance, whose time, attention, and votes cannot be bought for any price, will play on your miniature golf team for just $10,000. For just $1,000, you can mingle with these defenders of the working man over barbecue food and cocktails. Golf, however, costs at least $5,000 (two entries), a small sum considering the opportunity offered to share what’s on your mind with the folks responsible for defending the working family from the Democratic Party’s destructive agenda of offering workers living wages and the right to bargain collectively.

More details on how you can see for yourselves that Republicans just can’t be bought, after the jump:

Demonstrating Republicans’ commitment to individual rights, the event will offer corporate persons various sponsorship options, ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. These options all include the featuring of a corporate person’s logo in various official materials–or would have, had they not announced the event in an email dated June 26th and carrying the following fine print:

*Logo’s must be received no later than June 25th to be included

Here, the misuse of an apostrophe demonstrates that Republicans aren’t elitists, like those awful Democrats. Only liberal snobs use possessive forms correctly. Ordinary everyday people like Republicans can’t be bothered with elitist socialist grammar. They’re too busy exercising their right to the pursuit of happiness on a golf course, and you, too, can join them, for just a measly ten grand. Cut back on the caviar for a month or two if you must, but don’t miss this exciting event supporting the party of the working American!

Full details follow:

Mini Golf Majority Challenge

Join Speaker Frank McNulty and members of the House Republican Caucus for the best golf tournament of the year.   (ONLY 18 teams available!)  For those of you interested in networking and having a burger or brat hot off the grill, join us beginning at 4:30pm.  

We look forward to seeing you!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adventure Golf and Raceway

9650 North Sheridan

Westminster, CO 80031

3:30 pm            Team sponsors and golf participants meet at the Adventure Golf

                        Adventure Club Room

3:45 pm            Miniature Golf Tournament PROMPTLY Begins

4:30 pm            BBQ and Cocktails Begin

5:30 pm            Awards and Remarks

For questions and to RSVP please email Julie Herrmann at julie@julieherrmann.net

or call 720-217-7846

********************

As a 527, the Colorado Leadership Fund accepts Corporate, LLC, LP, PAC and individual checks.  Contributions are NOT tax deductible.

You can bring your checks with you or send your checks in advance to:

Colorado Leadership Fund

PO Box 238, Denver, CO 80201

Make checks payable to: Colorado Leadership Fund, Tax ID# 84-1664434

Or, you may go to www.coloradoleadershipfund.comto make your contribution on line.

***********************

2012 Summer Sponsor Levels

2012  Event Title Sponsor

Logo on Welcome Sign at Tent entrance *

Logo at Entryway of miniature golf course *

Verbal recognition during awards ceremony

Corporate Sponsor Entry for Speakers Club, 2012-2013

One Golf Team – 3 people to golf with Speaker Frank McNulty **

Team Picture with House Leadership

6 entries into Cocktails and BBQ

$25,000

Logo at Entry of Miniature golf course *

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Verbal recognition during awards ceremony

One Golf Team – 3 people to golf with a member of leadership

Team Picture with House Leadership

5 entries into Cocktails and BBQ

$10,000

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Logo at One Hole of 18 hole golf course *

Verbal recognition during Awards Ceremony

One Golf Team – 3 people to golf with a member of the House

4 entries into Cocktails and BBQ

$5,000

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Logo at One Hole of 18 hole golf course *

2 entries to play golf AND into Cocktails and BBQ

$2,500

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Two entries into BBQ and Cocktails

$1,000 – Personal Contribution Level ONLY

One person entry into BBQ and Cocktails

*Logo’s must be received no later than June 25th to be included

**First Company to Commit to Sponsor Level

You may notice that “event title sponsor” doesn’t have a price listed. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

….Okay, I blogged about one of your events, now will whoever is adding me to Republican email lists please knock it off already? I’ve gotten two invitations to meet Mitt Romney in Florida this month! I don’t even LIVE there!

Ann Romney’s Fancy Horse: Myths and Facts

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless it’s an unforgivable betrayal of the American working class.

Ann Romney co-owns Rafalca, a mare headed to the London Olympics to compete in dressage. This has sparked no small amount of mockery and even some righteous outrage. How dare Mrs. Romney spend so much money on a dancing hay burner? It’s not like Democratic presidential candidates ever buy $7 million yachts; 28,200 square foot mansions on 100 acres; or private jets, right? And it’s not as if the last Republican presidential nominee had a wife with a drift racing hobby requiring multiple expensive vehicles, right?

Even Barack Obama–one of few presidential candidates in recent memory to neither descend from nor marry into hereditary wealth–has an expensive hobby or two. He recently played his 100th round of golf since taking office.

That said, if you’d really like to object to Ann Romney’s horse habit, that’s your right, but you might as well have your facts straight. Let’s start with the big one:

Myth: Mitt Romney took a $77,000+ tax deduction for Rafalca’s upkeep.

Reality: Mitt took a $50 deduction after reporting $77,731 in losses from “Rob Rom Enterprises, LLC,” a corporate entity formed to own and pay for Rafalca.

Myth: Rafalca will one day earn millions in the breeding shed, allowing Romney to carry hobby losses forward, offset them against future hobby income, and take that $77,000 tax deduction.

Reality: Rafalca is female. At most, she’ll have one foal per year (and maybe a few more by embryo transfer, I guess). Selling foals is a much less lucrative business than selling breedings. A good chunk of mares aren’t even fertile by Rafalca’s current age of 15, so it’s very possible she’ll never foal.

Myth: Ann Romney owns Rafalca.

Reality: Ann Romney co-owns Rafalca with two other women: A “Beth Meyer” and Amy Ebeling, the wife of Rafalca’s rider, Jan Ebeling. The horse’s purchase price is not known, nor is the percentage of the horse owned by Ann Romney a matter of public record at this time. Jan’s wife has been described as a “family friend” of the Romneys. Syndication is common at the upper levels of equestrian sports, in order to share the substantial expense of importing and maintaining a top equine athlete.

Myth: Ann Romney owns Rafalca for the prestige and isn’t herself an athlete.

Reality: After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Ann Romney took up dressage for its therapeutic benefits, which have been recognized by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. According to Ann Romney, when she began riding, her condition had weakened her muscles so badly that she could barely sit on a horse. Ann eventually received her gold medal rider award from the United States Dressage Federation. This isn’t a terribly unusual story; many MS patients, including a dear friend of my family who runs marathons, have found that intense and regular exercise is their most successful therapy.

From Dressage Daily:

Ebeling’s partnership with the Romneys began when the couple was living in Utah while Mitt was overseeing the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Jan was traveling to Salt Lake City to do clinics and Ann began to ride with him. At the time, Ann’s multiple sclerosis was so severe she could only ride for five minutes.

Myth: We’ve always been at war with East Asia, I mean always made fun of horse dancing!

Reality: Okay, even us fellow equestrians make fun of dressage sometimes. “Dressage Queens” are a barn favorite for their comedic value, as they carefully pick tiny shreds of manure out of the arena footing on the theory that their precious Hanoverian won’t be able to pirouette in anything less than perfect footing, even as that same Hanoverian is busy voluntarily rolling in manure in her stall. Also, this shit is hilarious:

But not so long ago, many of the same people now dismissing Rafalca as a useless “dancing horse” were oohing and ahhing over this famous dressage performance:

The mare pictured is now deceased and won’t be competing against Rafalca in London, but here are a few comments on her performance:

what a stunning partnership between man and mare and music .. just perfect

This performance is beyond any compliment and I can come up with. I know next to nothing about horses, but the dance he does when the rock music comes on, is so impressive.

Most beautiful thing I have seen .. not just spectacular in the timing and movements – but actually beautiful .. certain sections even brought tears to my eyes

I don’t generally watch this type of thing, but this is truly a thing of beauty.

So basically, dressage is deeply moving and a thing of stunning beauty when we’re passing around YouTube clips, but if the Romneys have anything to do with it, it’s useless horse dancing and just another way to flaunt their wealth. Got it!

Myth: We’d be better off if Ann gave her money to charity.

Reality: Guys, don’t give her any ideas! Shhh! The more she spends on her horse, the less she’ll have for a long list of anti-gay and right-wing organizations supported by the Romneys, whose $3,000,000 in 2010 donations amounted to 15% of their income. More than half of that went to the Mormon church, which requires generous tithing by all members. (To be fair, they did also give to cancer charities, a group building homes for veterans, camps for children with disabilities, and various other laudable organizations, through Romney’s personal Tyler Foundation.)

Myth: All equestrians are rich.

Reality: The average salary of a horse trainer is $34,000. On that money, you kinda need a few out of touch trophy wives to buy and keep up your horses if you’re going to get to the Olympics.

Myth: Jan Ebeling is some kind of out of touch elitist like the Romneys, and/or Rafalca is a dirty secret nobody talks about.

Reality: If you want to know about Rafalca’s personality, dressage scores, or general doings, you can read about it straight from Jan on a regular basis in the Chronicle of the Horse. Seems like a nice guy, at least in writing, and anyone involved in sports will recognize the attitudes and vocabulary of an athlete. There’s also an interesting interview with Jan here, where he discusses his childhood dreams of playing professional soccer, and how he ended up as a horseman instead.

Horses are an expensive hobby. Like yachts, 100 rounds of golf at exclusive courses, private jets, and luxury homes, they’re often out of reach for working class families, unless they’re willing to sacrifice an awful lot (as I have in order to keep my equine kids, who are about as close to the Olympics as I am to being Queen of England).

Ann Romney is an elitist, tone deaf rich bitch who genuinely thinks she’s just like you, despite her family’s estimated net worth of $200 million. Her husband’s economic policies would benefit Ann Romney and harm just about everyone else.

But do Romney’s policies matter, or do his wife’s hobbies matter?

The world’s most generous philanthropist, Bill Gates, spent $28,000,000 on this:

Ann Romney spent some portion of $77,000 plus a purchase price that might be some portion of $150,000 or so on this:

I don’t like Ann Romney any more or any less because of her six-figure horse, any more than I think more or less of Bill Gates, who has personally saved 6,000,000 lives through his charitable works, because of his eight-figure painting of a horse and some people.

Mitt Romney is wrong for America because Mitt Romney is a vulture capitalist, was a terrible Governor, and can’t propose a damn thing that would benefit anyone but the 1% to save his life. His wife’s horse has nothing to do with it, and I hope we’ll get back to talking policy after everyone’s had their laugh. Some more dressage videos, to help you get it out of your system:

Hip-Hop Horse Dancing:

Born this Neigh?:

Just a really good freestyle:

Dressage with no bridle:

Taking “Dressage Queen” too literally:

(Note: I’m not front-paging this myself because it’s more of a personal rant that’s too long for a comment, and this is a pretty small issue in a huge campaign. I just figured I’d put my thoughts down in one diary instead of 10 more comments.)

Tracy Kraft-Tharp Eclipses Ramirez’s 2010 Fundraising and It’s Only June

(crossposting from Jeffco Pols)

Democratic challenger Tracy Kraft-Tharp has blown incumbent Representative Robert Ramirez (R-29) out of the water in fundraising, surpassing the incumbent’s 2010 fundraising total with more than four months left to go in the campaign. Keep in mind that Ramirez unseated a Democratic incumbent, Debbie Benefield, in 2010. If Kraft-Tharp has already raised more than Ramirez needed to win against an incumbent in the last election cycle, could anything short of an act of God keep Ramirez in his seat for 2012?

The press release just gets uglier for the Ramirez campaign:

In just the latest two-week reporting period, Kraft-Tharp more than quintupled the $1,038 Ramirez raised over the same period with over $5,000 raised. Kraft-Tharp also has more than a two-to-one cash on hand advantage.



With a fragile one-seat House majority, Republicans should be sweating bullets. In her first campaign, newcomer Kraft-Tharp has already drawn rave reviews and big endorsements. Her respectable cash flow is a symptom of her success, not its root, as anyone who’s seen Tracy canvass can testify.

I’ve volunteered for most of the Democrats running in Jeffco, and Kraft-Tharp is especially impressive in nearly every area important for electoral success. She connects at the door; she works hard; she makes the right hiring decisions for her campaign; she thinks before she speaks; and she makes anyone who gets involved with her campaign feel truly appreciated and heard. The ability to convey a sense of ownership in a political campaign to hundreds of supporters is something that can’t be bought or taught.

Call those interest groups and issue committees, Republicans, because if you don’t stop Tracy Kraft-Tharp in this campaign, you’re going to have  another Perlmutter on your hands: A popular incumbent who knows everyone in their district and dismantles one of your “rising stars” every two years like clockwork.

[Added disclaimer: I know Tracy. I like Tracy. I also know and like most every other Democratic candidate in the area. Tracy does not pay me to do anything for her campaign and my only volunteer role involves knocking on doors, which I also do for numerous other candidates.]

At Least He’s Not Your Speak–Well, Actually, We’d Probably Be Willing to Trade

Michigan’s Speaker of the House, Republican Jase Bolger (currently under investigation for misuse of public resources), sure has a funny definition of “decorum.” Consider this:

Decorous: Introducing a bill that increases the difficulty of obtaining an abortion and burdens abortion providers with the additional liability of yet another unenforceable criminal law relating to abortion.

Failing to Maintain Decorum: Saying “vagina” while discussing a bill that directly affects one’s own choices concerning one’s uterus, ovaries, and vagina.

If you find that distinction annoying and offensive, you may wish to mail Speaker Bolger a postcard with the word “vagina” on it. Here’s his mailing address:

MAILING ADDRESS

164 Capitol

P.O. Box 30014

Lansing, MI  48933

Details after the jump:

State Reps. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, and Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga were gaveled down and prevented from speaking in the debate on an anti-abortion bill, which ultimately passed 70-39. Brown’s crime was a pithy comment to supporters of the legislation: “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no.”

Byrum was ruled out of order for complaining when the majority floor leader did not recognize her to speak on her own amendment to the bill. Analogous to a Republican amendment banning abortions past 20 weeks unless medically necessary, Byrum’s amendment would have required proof of medical necessity for vasectomy procedures.

A statement from the Speaker’s spokesman (what, the Speaker can’t speak for himself?) clarifies his thinking, as much as is possible:

Ari Adler, spokesman for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said it was the prerogative of Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, to maintain order and decorum during session of the House.

They “will not be recognized to speak on the House floor today after being gaveled down for their comments and actions yesterday that failed to maintain the decorum of the House of Representatives,” Adler said.

“House Republicans often go beyond simply allowing debate by welcoming open and passionate discussion of the issues before this chamber,” he added. “The only way we can continue doing so, however, is to ensure that the proper level of maturity and civility are maintained on the House floor.”

Funny how it’s acceptable and even encouraged to introduce a whole piece of legislation focused on preventing women from deciding which intimate medical procedures are “necessary” for themselves, but it’s out of order, un-decorous, immature, and uncivil to introduce an amendment doing the same for intimate medical procedures concerning male organs.

I’m proud of both of my sisters for teaching their children to call body parts by the correct names. Good thing none of my nieces or nephews serve in the Michigan state house, where the mature and responsible habit they’re learning would get them gaveled down and condescended to.

Perhaps Speaker Bolger would prefer “hoo-ha,” “vagoo,” or “no-no-square?”

Liberal and Moderate Women Stand with Conservative S.E. Cupp Against Sexual Shaming

When Weird Al Yankovic sings, “I Love Rocky Road,” that’s satire.

When Lord Dark Helmet crotch-zaps someone, that’s satire.

When Hustler Magazine punishes S.E. Cupp for being both an attractive woman and opinionated by putting a Photoshopped penis in her mouth in their magazine, that might be protected as satire, under Larry Flynt’s famous Supreme Court ruling, but it is–”satire” or not–an example of unacceptable, misogynist sexual shaming of an outspoken woman. S.E. Cupp’s opinions may be as repulsive as her use of this scandal to slam reputable women’s rights organizations, but neither her opinions nor her opportunism justify Larry Flynt’s behavior.

The following text accompanied a “Celebrity Fantasy” photo of S.E. Cupp, edited to appear as if Cupp had a penis in her mouth.

S.E. Cupp is a lovely young lady who read too much Ayn Rand in high school and ended up joining the dark side. Cupp, an author and media commentator, who often shows up on Fox News programs, is undeniably cute. But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood. Perhaps the method pictured here is Ms. Cupp’s suggestion for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

A disclaimer follows:

No such picture of S.E. Cupp actually exists. This composite fantasy is altered from the original for our imagination, does not depict reality, and is not to be taken seriously for any purpose.

Let’s break this down:

S.E. Cupp is a lovely young lady

Cupp is a conservative political commentator employed by Glenn Beck’s GBTV. She is an adult, and her loveliness, while certainly an asset in seeking media commentator jobs, is hardly the first thing one should mention when describing who Cupp, fundamentally, “is.”

read too much Ayn Rand in high school

Pair that with the above, and the juvenile, condescending characterization of S.E. Cupp is clearly based on her gender. “Oh, look at the cute little girl with a high school education trying to talk politics!”

Cupp, an author and media commentator, who often shows up on Fox News programs, is undeniably cute

She doesn’t just “show up” on TV, like a streaker during the Olympics. Cupp is invited to appear as an expert media personality on Fox programs. Her cuteness probably doesn’t hurt her chances of getting an invite, but there are quite a few cute women in the world who are not authors, media commentators, or frequently invited to opine about politics on a national network.

But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood.

That’s her real crime, huh, Larry Flynt? Why do cute girls have to open their mouths, anyway? It’s also worth noting that he uses the word “dumb,” not “misguided,” or “morally wrong.” Among all the ways one could characterize a desire to defund Planned Parenthood, “dumb” is one of few that’s also a typical characterization of women by misogynists.

Perhaps the method pictured here is Ms. Cupp’s suggestion for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

I doubt one would have to go very far into the Fox or GBTV archives to find Cupp declaring, on the record, that she suggests sexual abstinence as a method of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. Whether or not one disagrees with her on that point, there’s no need to guess.

As usually happens with this kind of thing, the faked photo of Cupp will spread like wildfire around the Internet, without its accompanying disclaimer. If Cupp weren’t already a seasoned media personality capable of controlling her Google results, it could easily follow her from job application to job application. As it is, a certain number of people will believe it’s a real photo even when told otherwise, or will believe a forwarded email (“LEAKED private photo shows Glenn Beck’s CUTE sidekick putting something tastier than WORDS in her mouth!!!1!”) without bothering to do a quick online search to find out if the photos is legit.  

More disturbing still is the example Flynt sets here. By openly defending this photo as an acceptable satire, he’s suggesting a couple really creepy things:

1. It’s okay to respond to women having opinions you don’t like by creating pornography featuring them without their consent.

2. It’s okay to profit by selling a pornographic image of someone who hasn’t even performed the act depicted while in range of a camera.

The First Amendment gives Larry Flynt the right to publish even material that is offensive, disgusting, and grotesquely sexist. However, Flynt obtained his favorable ruling about obscene satire based on a satire of Jerry Falwell–hardly someone whose theoretical sex life would sell magazines. An image of “undeniably cute” S.E. Cupp with a penis in her mouth? Yeah, that’s gonna move a few issues. Legal though it is, this “satire” is faked pornography with a condescending caption about Cupp’s views slapped on as an afterthought. It’s a blow even to Flynt’s more ethical fellow pornographers, who’ve been working for decades to disabuse the media of its notion that porn always damages women.

Cupp is a misogynist herself, a vituperative anti-feminist commentator, and a tool of Glenn Beck. She does not deserve the respect of progressive women. She does, however, deserve our support as she copes with this unacceptable, sexist attacks. Sign a petition here to send your message to the world: Misogyny is not an acceptable weapon in the political arena, whether you aim it at a liberal, conservative, or moderate woman.


We don’t expect Hustler to change. Degrading women behind a thin curtain of legally-protected “satire” is the way they have sold magazines for decades. But the boundaries of taste and conscience are drawn much more narrowly than the boundaries of legality. We call on women and men, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, to stand with S.E. Cupp against media misogyny against outspoken women. No matter where they are on the political spectrum.  

How Republicans Treat an Independent Thinker: Nikkel Bullied Mercilessly

An interesting FOX31 story details a bullying campaign targeting BJ Nikkel before and after her courageous vote to move Senate Bill 2 forward.

After she cast her vote in favor of civil unions two weeks ago, Nikkel was shouted down by religious protestors at her church in Loveland the following Sunday; and the next week, as the bill continued to move through the legislative process, a rickety old pickup truck circled the Capitol carrying homemade billboards advising “Nikkkel” – yes, it was spelled with three “k’s” – that she was going to hell for her vote.

Mind you, this is the party so averse to “political correctness.” Maybe it’s time to redefine that term. After all, most things to which the phrase currently refers–gender neutral language, avoiding hate speech, etc.–are simply “correctness,” with nothing especially political about it. A counter-proposal follows:


Politically Correct [adj.]: A vote, buzzword, action, or concept deemed by the GOP establishment to be a moral obligation of all Republican representatives, above and beyond their own consciences and capacity for independent thought. A Republican who refuses to vote according to this “politically correct” ideology will be shamed, bullied, harassed, threatened, intimidated, and told she is going to Hell. She will be bullied in church, at home, and at work, until and unless she falls back into step with the far-right leadership.

There, now. Isn’t that much better than confusing “correctness” with “political correctness?” Not being a racist is correct. Voting to keep your own gay son a second-class citizen so that Frank McNulty doesn’t make a mean face at you is politically correct.

Ron Paul Exactly As Likely to Become President As He Was Yesterday

“News” today from the doomed Paul campaign, as the Conngressman ends his active campaign but declines to endorse Mitt Romney.

Instead, Paul will pursue a “delegate strategy” — as seen at the CO GOP state convention already — intended to give his “liberty movement” legs at this year’s RNC.

So, essentially, the status quo continues for Paul. I’m not even putting this on the front page, it’s so non-news.

At Least He’s Not Your Junior High School Bully Masquerading as a Senator


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That’s so GAY!” giggled Rand Paul in several places during a special showing of The Avengers. After each reiteration, Paul turned to his viewing companions, elbowed their ribs, and gazed expectantly at them, awaiting the flurry of appreciative chuckles he was sure were deserved by his wit. Favorite targets included Captain America and the Incredible Hulk, both of whom are believed to be heterosexual. Paul was also observed nodding rapidly and repeating, “Am I right, or am I right?”

…OK, not really, but Paul did bring political discourse down to a seventh-grade level at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition Meeting when he said, “The president recently weighed in on marriage and you know he said his views were evolving on marriage. Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer.”

Paul followed up this high point of his oratorical career by complaining, “He said the biblical Golden Rule caused him to be for gay marriage. I’m like, ‘What version of the Bible is he reading?’”

Thanks to bible.cc, here are some possible answers to Paul’s question.

English Standard Version:


“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

King James Version (Cambridge):

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

English Revised Version:

All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Biblical scholar Clarke says:


The general meaning of it is this: ‘Guided by justice and mercy, do unto all men as you would have them to do to you, were your circumstances and theirs reversed.’

If anyone was still wondering what’s really behind the Ron Paul “reLOVEution,” look no farther than the juvenile and repulsive behavior of Paul’s most politically successful son, while campaigning for his father’s unlikely presidential bid. In a household that teaches true civil libertarianism, one could expect to find, if not gay marriage proponents, opponents of governmental regulation of marriage in any way, shape, or form. Rand Paul, on the other hand, appears to have been raised to value Christian dominionism–and a brand of it that would embarrass Jesus, Matthew, and most Christians, at that–over liberty.  

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Call on Governor Hickenlooper to Keep Frank McNulty At Work Until His Job Is Done

UPDATE 1:20 PM: Hickenlooper WILL call a special session including civil unions, according to reliable sources including Eli Stokols and Lynn Bartels. Details from the Governlooper’s office at 1:45 PM MST.

I don’t get to go home until I’ve completed my work each day. I certainly don’t get a months-long holiday to work on improving my job security and future career prospects when my job isn’t done. Do you?

I’d wager that most Coloradans would get a pink slip, not a vacation, if they came to work and kept the entire staff waiting for them until nearly midnight, then simply walked off the job, leaving critical work undone. But if Governor Hickenlooper doesn’t act now, Speaker McNulty will get to go home to campaign and fundraise, having killed more than 30 bills just to prevent the Colorado House from granting something resembling equal rights to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples who prefer civil unions over marriage.

McNulty is leaving his job undone, when 62% of Coloradans and a bipartisan coalition of legislators supported SB2. McNulty proposes to walk off the job and spend the next few months focusing on his reelection, without allowing the House to vote on a bill that passed the Colorado Senate and was supported by no less than three House committees. We can give him the pink slip in November, but first, we have a chance to send him back to his desk right now.

What you can do to keep McNulty at work until his job is done, after the jump:

1. Write to Governor Hickenlooper here. Tell him you’re a Colorado voter calling on the Governor to keep the Colorado House at work until SB 12-0002 has passed or failed by an up-or-down vote of the full House.

2. Call him at (303)-866-2471 and tell him the same thing.

3. Write a letter to the largest Denver paper calling on Governor Hickenlooper to call a special legislative session to prevent Speaker McNulty from singlehandedly circumventing the democratic process, leaving his job undone, and returning home to campaign and fundraise.

4. Write and call your state legislator (find them here and tell them, “I’m a constituent, and I don’t want to see my state representatives at home campaigning and fundraising until they’ve voted on civil unions. Please ask Governor Hickenlooper to let you do your job in a special legislative session.” (In your own words, of course.)

We have a chance to make history. Frank McNulty has already secured his place there, right next to Howard Smith, who in 1963 delayed the Civil Rights Act by refusing to grant it a rule. Even though he was obviously fighting a losing battle, Smith let minorities suffer for an extra year to serve his own ego. McNulty wants to do the same–let’s not let him. Colorado’s place in history is with all those over the centuries who have stood up and said, “Enough!” to politicians whose hubris endangered the institution of democracy.

Let’s do this thing.