Cutting Through The Crap
First Movement: Show me where it hurts
Say what you like about Joe Biden, I have quite a soft spot for the guy. Put him on a platform with a justification for righteous indignation and he delivers with a vengeance in language that works.
Typical of a bunch of callow, immature big-baby bullies we’ll no doubt all have encountered in our time—aided and abetted by their mouthpieces in the rightwing blogs, not to mention a mainstream media that needs to slapped around repeatedly before it finally starts asking some realistic and not unreasonable questions of the Romney campaign—the Romney camp’s continual fainting-couch sensitivity handily and reliably points to where it hurts when they pee.
In this case, it’s the mystifying outsourcing/offshoring distinction they’re intent on drawing when discussing (not that they want to—Mitt’s all about the economy, after all, and anything else is just a distraction) Mitt’s record at Bain. Biden knows where it hurts, and he’s not going to let up in a hurry:
Vice President Joe Biden kept up the heat on Mitt Romney’s investments at Bain Capital in companies that outsourced on Wednesday, telling a crowd in Dubuque, Iowa, that it went to the core of the governor’s economic philosophy.
“After days of saying nothing in response to our criticism for that policy, the Romney campaign responded, I think yesterday, by saying we just don’t get it, we don’t understand the difference … between offshoring and outsourcing,” Biden said. “If you’re looking for work, that’s a pretty cruel joke.”
He continued with an image straight out of a New Yorker cartoon: “I can picture one guy in my old neighborhood standing next to another guy in the unemployment line and saying, ‘Hey John, did you get offshored or outsourced?’”
Arguing that Romney put outsourcing into practice in public policy, Biden went into an extended riff on a bill he vetoed in Massachusetts as governor that would have prevented state contractors from farming out operations overseas. At issue was a $160,000 contract with Citigroup, which used call centers in India to help manage the state’s food-stamp program. Biden called the measure a “cruel irony.”
“You pick up the phone to call the state of Massachusetts line, a woman picks up, she lost her job, picks up the phone to call the state of Massachusetts about her unemployment benefits and she ends up talking to someone in another country who has a job she could be doing and not have to seek unemployment,” Biden said. “I know it sounds so crazy, but that’s literal. Literally!”
The Romney campaign is so scared of this issue and the fact that a number of polls show it’s not going away in a hurry, as they’d prayed, that it’s resorting to shrieking in quiet rooms:
Mitt Romney campaign representatives will meet with The Washington Post today to seek a formal retraction of its June 21 report that Bain Capital invested in firms that specialized in outsourcing American jobs, POLITICO has learned.
The representatives will meet with executive editor Marcus Brauchli and other senior Post staff at 2 p.m. today at the Post’s offices in Washington.
The group intends to argue that the Post’s allegations against Bain Capital and the firms in question are either incomplete or inaccurate, sources familiar with the meeting say. Specifically, the group will argue that the Post misinterpreted the SEC filings it examined for its report and failed to adequately account for the support these firms gave to U.S. exports or U.S. businesses through foreign hiring. The campaign raised similar objections to the story prior to its publication.
The group has prepared defenses for each firm mentioned in the Post’s article — including Chippac, Corporate Software, GT Bicycle, Modus Media, SMTC Corp., and Stream International — on a case by case basis.
“The Post’s editors take all complaints seriously and are always willing to listen to concerns and look into them,” Post spokesperson Kris Coratti told POLITICO, when asked about the meeting. She did not provide any further details.
Romney campaign officials did not respond to repeated requests for an interview or confirmation.
As we wait with bated breath to measure the diameter of the WaPo’s cojones in the face of this armtwisting, there’s other matters afoot.
Second Movement: Fast and Furious IS about gun control after all
On the eve of the NRA-sponsored House vote on allegations of Eric Holder being in contempt, Fortune magazine’s r Katherine Eban goes where Darrell Issa has apparently feared to tread, as CNN reports:
A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust.
Quite simply, there’s a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.
Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that [ATF group leader Dave] Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.
“Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with these reports that are patently false,” says Linda Wallace, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit who was assigned to the Fast and Furious team (and recently retired from the IRS). A self-described gun-rights supporter, Wallace has not been criticized by Issa’s committee.
The ATF’s accusers seem untroubled by evidence that the policy they have pilloried didn’t actually exist. “It gets back to something basic for me,” says Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). “Terry was murdered, and guns from this operation were found at his murder site.” A spokesman for Issa denies that politics has played a role in the congressman’s actions and says “multiple individuals across the Justice Department’s component agencies share responsibility for the failure that occurred in Operation Fast and Furious.” Issa’s spokesman asserts that even if ATF agents followed prosecutors’ directives, “the practice is nonetheless gun walking.”
John Cole’s summary of all this is satisfyingly pithy:
The other takeaway from this piece is here we have more evidence of Republicans causing the problem (in this case resisting any gun laws or prosecutions) and then screaming when Democrats don’t clean up their mess the way they want them to…
If you don’t mind my sticking my nose in, what I think you folks need is a specially constituted body called, oh I don’t know, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, that can take a dispassionate look at cases like this and do some proper digging to uncover the truth, rather than leaving it to the likes of Fortune magazine to do all the heavy lifting.
Oh. That’s right. Silly me. You’ve already got a body with that title. Shame its Chairman is too busy swanning around and tweeting with the wingnuts to do his job.
More: In response to this, Robert VerBruggen at NRO’s The Corner reports that Issa’s office is sending up a cloud of squid ink:
Fortune’s story is a fantasy made up almost entirely from the accounts of individuals involved in the reckless tactics that took place in Operation Fast and Furious. It contains factual errors — including the false statement that Chairman Issa has called for Attorney General Holder’s resignation — and multiple distortions. It also hides critical information from readers — including a report in the Wall Street Journal — indicating that its primary sources may be facing criminal charges. Congressional staff gave Fortune Magazine numerous examples of false statements made by the story’s primary source and the magazine did not dispute this information. It did not, however, explain this material to its readers. The one point of agreement the Committee has with this story is its emphasis on the role Justice Department prosecutors, not just ATF agents, played in guns being transferred to drug cartels in Mexico. The allegations made in the story have been examined and rejected by congressional Republicans, Democrats, and the Justice Department.
As far as the bona fides of “individuals involved in the reckless tactics” are concerned, the same article observes:
The only actual incident of gunwalking the investigation turned up, apparently, was allegedly the brainchild of John Dodson, one of the whistleblowers who now says he resisted the tactic. This use of the tactic was approved by an ATF supervisor, but it was not part of Fast and Furious.
More more: Something tells me that Robert VerBruggen may no longer be on Issa’s christmas card list:
Fast and Furious is a horrific scandal. The public deserves answers as to who devised the operation and what they hoped to accomplish. But the theory that Fast and Furious was devised to promote gun control goes far beyond the evidence, as Issa basically admitted to ABC this weekend, and it does not withstand scrutiny. The chairman should be ashamed to have dabbled in it, and should fully retract his initial comment, unless he has a considerable amount of evidence he has not shared with the public.
It’s hard to see why the gun-control-conspiracy explanation is more believable than the botched-sting-operation one, even if the latter seems like it could be the work of the Underpants Gnomes from South Park, and even operating under the assumption that the Obama administration cares not a whit for human life.
Unless far more evidence surfaces to support it, we should put this theory to rest.
More more more: Well, waddya know, the WaPo does have some cojones of visible proportions in this case:
The Washington Post’s top editors just wrapped up a meeting with Romney officials to discuss the campaign’s request for a retraction of the paper’s story on Bain Capital’s outsourcing.
“We are very confident in our reporting,” Washington Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti told TPM after the meeting, adding that appointments with people concerned about coverage are common.
Wonder how the Romney spin doctors who pre-leaked the meeting to the rest of the media are feeling right now?
Spin 101: Don’t make your whining the story, bullyboys.