Parenting Chat

— by Hannah Lee

In the current issue of The New Yorker, there’s an article by Elizabeth Kolbert on why American children are spoiled rotten.

I found it fascinating to read about other cultures that instill responsibility at an early age, such as the subsistence farmers of the Peruvian Amazon, where toddlers heat their own food, three-year-olds practice cutting wood and grass with machetes and knives, and children of six help their fathers with hunting and fishing and mothers with cooking.  By the time, they reach puberty, these Matsigenka children have mastered most of the skills necessary for survival. We all know of spoiled American children, but Kolbert cites case incidents from a study by Elinor Ochs and Carolina Izquierdo of middle-class families in Los Angeles.

In another representative encounter, an eight-year-old girl sat down at the dining table. Finding that no silverware had been laid out for her, she demanded, “How am I supposed to eat?” Although the girl clearly knew where the silverware was kept, her father got up to get it for her.

It later mentions that when American youth go off to college, they’re less worried about the academics than the “logistics of everyday life.”   Gave me much food for thought in wondering whether I’ve prepared my children for life in the 21st century.

What Do Romney And The New York Times Have In Common?

They both take liberties with their “quotes.”

President Obama’s AIPAC speech last week was well received on both sides of aisle, but perhaps the New York Times found it message standing up to the Iranian nuclear program a little too clear, and sought to muddy the waters. Helen Cooper wrote

CAMERA: Mr. Obama, who has often lamented the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, made reference to European and American intelligence assessments that have found no evidence that Iran has decided to pursue a nuclear weapon.

A March 6 page-one story by Mark Landler in the International Herald Tribune made the same claim (in virtually the same words). And, yet, you can watch or read the speech until Ahmadinejad is a Zionist and still you will not find a single reference to European or American intelligence assessments that have found no evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Similarly, Gov. Mitt Romney has earned a reputation for playing fast and lose with his “quotes” when the actual source does not quite fit his narrative.

The Romney campaigns very first television  ad earned a Pants on Fire rating from Polifact. According to Think Progress, Romney

Romney Campaign TV Ad

Thinkprogress Parody Ad

dishonestly presents a 2008 McCain campaign quote as the words of President Obama. The ad features a voice-over of Obama saying “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Then-candidate Obama indeed said those words, perhaps dozens of times during the closing month of the 2008 campaign. The only problem? Obama was actually quoting the words of a strategist from Sen. John McCain’s campaign.

Another eyebrow-raising moment in the ad comes when it attacks “record foreclosures,” despite the fact that Romney’s stated housing policy is “don’t try and stop the foreclosure process.”

Politico reports that the Romney campaign is asserting that its ad was intentionally deceptive and dishonest. “We used that quote intentionally,” Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstorm said.

ThinkProgress has produced a parody ad, using Romney’s own standards for accuracy.

Here is the actual October 2008 Obama quote in context. The portion used by Romney is in bold:

Even as we face the most serious economic crisis of our time, even as you are worried about keeping your jobs or paying your bills or staying in your homes, my opponent’s campaign announced earlier this month that they want to ‘turn the page’ on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead. Sen. McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.'”

Well, New Hampshire, last night we had a debate. I think you saw a bit of the McCain attack strategy in action. But here’s what Senator McCain doesn’t seem to understand. With the economy in turmoil and the American Dream at risk, the American people don’t want to hear politicians attack each other – you want to hear about how we’re going to attack the challenges facing middle class families each and every day. You want to hear about the issues that matter in your lives. You want to hear about how we’re going to bring about the change that we desperately need for our country. That’s what the American people want to hear.

Even when Romney is being endorsed by newspapers, he is very selective in editing the endorsement to remove any sign of hesitation by the newspaper emailing that endorsement to the voters. According to Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker, the Romney campaign “has no better friend than the ellipsis”.

Examples of some of the fine redaction by the eager staff at the Romney Campaign follow the jump.

  1. “Mr. Romney may not be the debater that Mr. Gingrich is (although he’s getting better). And he doesn’t have the same social conservative credentials as Mr. Santorum.”
    Savannah Morning News, March 1, 2012
  2. “He is the son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, attending the prestigious Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills before receiving his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in 1971. He also is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, both in 1975. Following his graduations he worked for Bain & Co. before starting the highly successful Bain Capital, a venture capital and investment firm, in 1984.”
    Midland Daily News, Michigan, February 26, 2012
  3. “Perhaps that is why he sometimes appears so awkward in public, especially when talking about himself and, in particular, his personal wealth.”
    Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 3, 2012
  4. “Yes, out-of-context declarations like ‘I enjoy firing people’ and ‘I don’t care about the poor’ contribute to the caricature of a rich swell, akin to that of Donald Trump. Really? Where are the trophy wives? The ostentatious lifestyle? The garish displays of life among the rich and famous? You will have to look hard.”
    Arizona Republic, February 24, 2012
  5. “We have our issues with Romney, to be sure. His opposition to the Dream Act for illegal-immigrant children raised in the U.S. is not one we support. And his effort to position himself as the ‘toughest’ GOP candidate on immigration issues is a concern.”
    Arizona Republic, February 24, 2012
  6. “In fact, this newspaper does not embrace many of his ideas on taxation, which give too great a reward to the wealthy and not enough help for the poor and middle class.”
    -Times Daily of Florence, Alabama, March 9, 2012
  7. “His stance against government interaction to revive the domestic automobile industry is disappointing. Also disappointing are inconsistencies in his message…”
    Grand Rapids Press, February 22, 2012
  8. “Consistency is certainly a problem for Romney. The one-time moderate has adjusted his positions on so many issues-including abortion and gay rights-that his core beliefs are a mystery. In this campaign, he has tried so hard to prove his conservative bona fides that he has undercut one of his greatest selling points: the pragmatism that enabled him to get things done as a Republican governor in one of the nation’s most Democratic and liberal states.”
    Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 3, 2012
  9. “That has been just one example of some of the shape-shifting Romney has done to appeal to conservative primary voters who believe he is too moderate. So, it’s not unfair to wonder who the real Romney is.”
    Birmingham News, March 7, 2012

Romney and Paul? That’s The Ticket

— by David Streeter

Over the last few months, The New York Times and The Washington Post have reported on the “strategic partnership” between Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and anti-Israel Representative Ron Paul (R-TX). This week, The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein and Slate’s Dave Weigel both noted that the Paul campaign’s latest negative ad is directed at Romney’s main rival-former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)-despite the claims in the ad applying to both Santorum and Romney. Many have speculated that Romney has been courting Paul in order to ensure a unified Republican Party if he receives the nomination. Stein also noted regarding the Romney-Paul relationship:


Mitt Romney gave his big economic policy statement today at Ford Field Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. However, Romney doesn’t draw the kind of crowds that Ron Paul does. However, Romney calculates that his delegates along with Paul’s will be enough to capture the Republican nomination, August in Tampa.

The Texas Republican has refused to attack Romney during televised debates. He’s also devoted a considerable portion of his vast campaign resources to television ads that undermine Romney’s opponent of the week, from Rick Perry, to Newt Gingrich, to his latest foe, Rick Santorum.

Paul and Romney are reportedly friends, but that seemed like only half the story. The most logical explanation for the alliance was that Romney had promised Paul some sort of future role, either at the GOP convention or even in his administration. Some also speculated that Romney might have plans for Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

More after the jump.
Lately though, there has been speculation that Romney could select Paul to be his running mate. The Daily Mail’s Toby Harnden wrote after last night’s debate:

After tonight’s debate, in which Ron Paul and Mitt Romney repeatedly attacked Rick Santorum over his 16-year record in Congress, the former US Senator for Pennsylvania hinted that something nefarious was going on.

‘You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they’ve got going together,’ Santorum told reporters in the spin room in Mesa, Arizona. ‘Their commercials look a lot alike and so do their attacks.’

Santorum’s top strategist John Brabender went even further, charging that the two men had ‘joined forces’ and were coordinating attacks against his man.

‘Clearly there’s a tag team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. For all I know, Mitt Romney might be considering Ron Paul as his running mate. Clearly there is now an alliance between those two and you saw that certainly in the debate.’

There has also been speculation that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) — Paul’s son who shares many of his father’s same anti-Israel views — could be a potential vice presidential candidate. According to WFPL:

Senator Rand Paul first discussed his higher aspirations at the beginning of this year. He said he wouldn’t close the door on being a Vice Presidential candidate. After a speech in Louisville today, Paul held that door firmly open, saying he wants to be part of the national debate.

Paul’s name has swirled as a possible pick that would give Romney points with the Tea Party.

When asked directly what he would say if Romney made the offer, Paul tried to punt.

‘I don’t know if I can answer that question, but I can say it would be an honor to be considered,’ he said.

The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis wrote:

Of course, this could be much ado about nothing – just a politician answering a question. On the other hand, it is sure to spark more speculation that some sort of deal may be in the works between the Romney and Paul camps. It’s not as if Ron Paul’s campaign hasn’t stoked speculation. As the Dallas Morning News reported, Paul’s national campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, recently said: ‘Any Republican should have Rand Paul on his short list.’

On the surface, tapping Paul as veep might not make sense. But conservatives are refusing to go along and eat the dog food with Romney – and adding Rand Paul to the ticket would fire conservatives up – and ensure that Ron Paul drops any plans to launch a 3rd party challenge.

And just imagine if Romney arrives at the GOP convention needing some of Paul’s delegates to win the nomination?

It’s not an absurd idea.

The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh observed that the elder Paul-by being quiescent and cooperating with Romney and the mainstream of the GOP-could be paving the way for a future presidential run by his son:

There is only one politician whom Paul regularly praises in his speeches-a man he coyly refers to as a ‘senator from Kentucky.’ If Paul sees a future for himself in the Republican Party, it is through his son Rand, who might have an easier time than his father in attracting traditional conservatives to his cause. (During his campaign for the Senate, for example, Rand Paul declined to rule out using force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.) Unlike most politicians on the verge of retirement, Paul can’t accurately claim that he has nothing to lose by breaking with the party that has been his home for all but one of his years in politics. Hope for his son’s prospects-and a disinclination to put him in an awkward position-might be enough to keep Paul from ending his political career with another third-party campaign. If he split the vote, indirectly helping to reĆ«lect [sic] Obama, it might be a long time before Republicans were willing to get behind anyone named Paul.

More information on why Ron Paul matters is available here.  

Protocols of the Federal Reserve

Sean Wilentz explores the virulent anti-Semitic roots of Glenn Beck and the rest of the tea party crowd.

On September 22nd, amid a diatribe about House, Beck cited a passage from “Secrets of the Federal Reserve,” by Eustace Mullins. The book, commissioned in 1948 by Ezra Pound, is a startlingly anti-Semitic fantasy of how a Jewish-led conspiracy of all-powerful bankers established the Federal Reserve in service of their plot to dominate the world.

Read more in the The New Yorker