The long-term problem with Swiss bank accounts!

MONDAY, JULY 9, 2012

We agree with Drum, add a key point: “Who but the hearty Swiss could throw the giant oonder stone?”

We recall the line from Ovaltine commercials of the 1950s. (We’re guessing at the spelling.) In the ads, the hearty Swiss tossed a boulder around in some sort of athletic event.

Suggestion: We kids could toss the giant stone too—if we just drank more chocolate milk!

The Swiss were “hearty” in those days. That’s not the way they play today. In this pithy post, Kevin Drum rolls his eyes at Governor O’Malley, who offered this repetitive comment on Sunday morning’s This Week:
O’MALLEY (7/8/12): I’ve never known of a Swiss bank account to build an American bridge, a Swiss bank account to create American jobs, or Swiss bank accounts to rebuild the levees to protect the people of New Orleans. That's not an economic strategy for moving our country forward.
“I believe that O'Malley has won the competition for most references to ‘Swiss bank account’ in a single sentence,” Drum incomparably quipped, live and direct from the comfortable couch where he had been watching tennis.

We think we had the same reaction as Drum. We winced as we watched O’Malley struggle to keep repeating that phrase.

And we like O'Malley here!

Mitt Romney has a Swiss back account! (At 6 PM, substitute "Willard.") For all we know, it’s an effective talking-point. That said, here's the reason we winced:

When Democrats push a point like that, they do it because they don’t know how to win a debate on basic policy points!

He strapped his dog to the roof of his car! Just last week, he went jet skiing!

And not only that! Noun verb Swiss bank account!

In the short run, this approach may work (or not). In the long run, you ought to know why the liberal team is forced to recite such points.

Regarding those Ovaltine commercials: This web site recalls a different form of that hoary old Ovaltine pitch.

We stand by our recollection of a hearty people—a hearty people who could be seen on Saturday mornings throwing the oonder stone.

The Swiss inspired American children then. Today, with little else to say, our team makes a different pitch.

51 comments:

  1. You mean "Unspunnen Stone"? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unspunnenfest

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    1. Looks like this is right.

      And hearty indeed! Your link claims the stone is roughly my weight (184 lbs).

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  2. "We winced as we watched O’Malley struggle to keep repeating that phrase."

    Too bad, Bob, about the wince! But, in that case, isn't it incumbent on you to spell out exactly what sort of campaign language is acceptable, in the typical 10 seconds or less?

    But Bob apparently expects we Dems -- if we are Dems? -- to win because of our superior truthfulness(?) Voters appreciate that, don't they? History proves as much!

    In any event, we're nitpickers, and will happily go to hell, as long as we can continue picking nits. And Somerby apparently expects to win elections on this basis -- in a country where 90% claim believe in the active intervention of angels in daily life -- just like the TV show -- and where the voters who will decide the election can't tell you which party currently runs Congress.

    This is too funny for words.

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    1. What's hilarious is how you antiBobians never can seem to figure out what Bob's trying to say. It's as if reading comprehension is completely lacking in your skillset. Otherwise, you'd have seen this:

      That said, here's the reason we winced:

      When Democrats push a point like that, they do it because they don’t know how to win a debate on basic policy points!


      Criticism: you're doing it wrong.

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    2. Anon 2:07

      Speaking of reading comprehension -- since you Bobettes endlessly harp on the supposed inferior intelligence of Howler critics -- perhaps you this missed this:

      "Isn't it incumbent on you to spell out exactly what sort of campaign language is acceptable, in the typical 10 seconds or less?"

      Not to mention, of course, a media which is intrinsically friendly to plutocratic interests, because it is one itself.

      So how, anon 2:07, do you want to pose the "debate", given the constraints? Or is it lost on you that we here in the U.S. don't actually hold debates and that election campaigns are in fact advertising campaigns?

      It could be, of course, that Swiss bank accounts aren't the best advertising approach. I wouldn't know. But since you and Bob evidently do, why are you keeping it a secret?

      Or is it your view that would-be Republican voters need only read The Howler to be instantly converted -- say, like David in Cal and any number of other Howler defenders?

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  3. Bob bitches and moans constantly about dems not standing up for Gore. But all forms of painting these loons as the out of touch representatives of the 1% that they are is always met with the same scorn. The Howler has really grown tiresome with this out and out nonsense. Bob's opinion suggests unilateral disarmament for the dems while idiots like trump and coulter are constantly paraded around the dial as people with legitimate views. This site has become a joke.

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    1. This site has become a joke.

      Yet here you are.

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    2. Bob's goal is much like that expressed on Aaron Sorkin's new show The Newsroom. It is not to win elections for Democrats but to elevate public debate by expecting journalists to inform the public about issues relevant to the vote. Simple issues can be readily absorbed but many of the issues facing us are very complex. Journalists are paid to explain these to people yet they take their huge salaries and do not do their job in return. Instead they provide entertaining but useless stories that do not prepare the public to understand what is happening in our world. That is a kind of fraud.

      Those who criticize Bob seem to fall into several categories. Some are liberal or progressive partisans who question whether he is furthering the cause of electing Democrats. Others are fans of the elite pundits criticized here (Maddow, Collins) and object to their being singled out. Yet others are conservatives or Republicans who applaud the idea of criticism of these elite pundits but want it to go further and reflect their own memes.

      None of these people are getting the point. Fortunately, feedback is not changing the content of this column. I am glad it exists because I believe it not only serves as a gadfly to journalists but because it helps me be a better consumer of opinion. There are too few sites devoted to helping us develop critical thinking.

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    3. Except, anon 3:11, Bob's usual targets are aren't actually journalists. They're talk-show hosts and columnists with obvious political allegiances or, as in this post, actual politicians.

      Bob, rather remarkably, claims the right to dictate election strategies and personal comportment (such as, for example, the language used by these people when being interviewed).

      And lots of people could tell Gail Collins or Rachel Maddow how to cover issues of substance. But that requires a certain suspensions of disbelief -- or do they it's a coincidence that MSNBC didn't hire Noam Chomsky instead? Or that Gail Collins and Tom Friedman have columns at NYT?

      So perhaps people do get the point. As for feedback changing the content of the column, one doubts that's a serious possibility. If anyone is deafer than Somerby, he'd be a national marvel.

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    4. "while idiots like trump and coulter are constantly paraded around the dial as people with legitimate views. This site has become a joke."

      If you feel these two are idiots, then isn't media bolstering of them the very essence of what Somerby bemoans here?

      What you are saying is that this type of thing gives liberal the coinage to be just as vapid and superficial in their approach to politics. And that they SHOULD be.

      You may not agree with the man who disdains such compromises, but do recognize that for whatever... great and wonderful cause...what you're endorsing is an intellectual and moral compromise.

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    5. So CeceliaMc, you propose that Democrats, to prove themselves virtuous in a way you'll never accept anyway, simply must avoid the sort of tactics needed to win, otherwise they're just as bad as the Republicans you do in fact vote for?

      Is this beyond funny, or what?

      As for the class warfare thing raised elsewhere -- we musn't say mean things about Repubs! -- you really have to laugh at these absurdities -- Republicans giving Democrats advice on how to run losing campaigns. Which in fact, is what TDH has become.

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    6. "Bob's goal is much like that expressed on Aaron Sorkin's new show The Newsroom. It is not to win elections for Democrats but to elevate public debate"


      Sure, as long as you don't use too many big words.

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  4. You're off base again Bob. The Swiss bank account thing is nothing like the dog thing. The dog thing is about nothing at all. It symbolizes nothing, means nothing, affects nobody except (maybe) the dog, who is presumably long dead. It is inane and pointless. The Swiss bank account thing underscores the class issues that are at the heart of our problems, and in particularly, the whole "job creator" bullshit -- money in Swiss bank accounts aren't creating American jobs. It IS a policy issue, in addition to being a political winner. IT's BECAUSE OUR SIDE HAS REFUSED TO TALK ABOUT THINGS LIKE THIS THAT WE'VE LOST THE MESSAGE WARS. How you can miss this point is beyond me. Drum missing it I can understand, because he doesn't notice anything that might make him get his fat ass off a couch and change out of his sweatpants and velcro strapped shoes, but I thought you had more gumption as well as alertness.

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    1. Our side has not refused to talk about this Unfortunately this tactic has only given more ammunition to Obama's critics & reinforces the already held belief that those attacking on this basis are just jealous anti capitalists It might even create sympathy for Romney-as it did for Bush The argument that Romney is bad because he's rich is counterproductive & you can't control how people react They've already called it class warfare

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    2. @AnonymousJuly 9, 2012 5:10 PM

      Who in the fuck, anywhere or anyplace, said "Romney is bad because he's rich." Show me this person, so I can laugh at their idiocy as much as I'm grimacing at yours now.

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  5. I think Bob's off base with this one (despite presumably being among the loathsome "bobanistas").

    Swiss bank accounts are synonymous for "tax dodge." A tax dodge that only the wealthy can afford. That's not entirely fair. Swiss bank accounts used to be secret but obviously this one isn't. No secret, no tax dodge. But the thing is you have a guy who wants to be president of the United States investing a lot of his money in a place that's not America. A lot of people aren't going to like that. I say push that meme, baby!

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    1. But doesn't that meme play into the nationalism and borderline xenophobia that liberals accuse Republicans of fomenting?

      Isn't this sort of liberals-as-dumbed-down-mirror-images-to-conservatives the "meme" that Somerby expands upon here, and the meme that you generally defend?

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    2. So, CeceliaMc, objecting to tax shelters is now xenophobia and nationalism? Obama is anti-Cayman Islands!

      And even if objecting to tax shelters and $100 IRA accounts was xenophobia and fomented nationalism, when was the last time you lectured Repubs to lay off the flag waving?

      If the Dems have friends like you, what do the enemies look like?

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    3. The concern trolling here is gut wrenching. This, coming from people who claim to represent the interests of common people. "Don't talk about Swiss bank accounts because it might be construed as xenophobia, and liberals aren't xenophobic!" And liberals just loooooove to think about how smart they are -- yet they type out absurd horseshit like that over and over, on a variety of subjects.

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    4. "Tax shelters" was not the context that engendered my reply.

      This was:

      "But the thing is you have a guy who wants to be president of the United States investing a lot of his money in a place that's not America. A lot of people aren't going to like that."

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    5. "But doesn't that meme play into the nationalism and borderline xenophobia that liberals accuse Republicans of fomenting?"

      Cecelia, in this humble progressive's opinion, nationalism should be a much more prominent part of the left if it wants to gain a more solid foothold.

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    6. I don't disagree with that, majneb, and I certainly don't ascribe to any notion that a Swiss bank account constitutes some sort of foreign investment holding.

      However, there is a decided irony in a liberal (and Bobinista...) encouraging a polemical meme of it being less than patriotic to invest money in a place "that's not America".

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    7. CeceliaMc,

      Braintree here from a public computer.

      Conservatives keep touting themselves as uber patriots and us liberals as America-hating elitiest snots. They do this while sending what used to be our jobs overseas and screwing as many non-1-percenters as possible. (This, I believe, is the main reason they keep getting mainstream Ameircans all worked up over the comparatively paltry problem of illegal immigration.) I sympathize with your concerns but politics ain't bean bag in addition to which I simply get a big fat kick out of knocking the plaster off of would-be saints.

      People need to know that Republicans aren't the friends of average Americans they pretend to be. Anything reasonably true that promises to help destroy that pretence is aces as far as I'm concerned.

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    8. You've just quoted the rational these people give for suggesting that Somerby is a stealth Republican and that you area Bob-bot.

      Almost line-by-line.

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    9. "Oh, dear god, Bob finally turned off MSNBC and tuned in where news and national policy is actually made.

      So he's probably unaware that most Americans not part of the Fox brigade are so accustomed to, and dismayed by, the hourly lies of Fox et al., that correcting them is seen to be an impossible and hopeless task. Indeed, we see an enormous apparatus funded to promote such lies -- the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Inst., talk-radio, the Republican party and to a large extent, the commercial networks -- and a certain Mitt Romney is currently running on the lies. Kill them one day, and they're up and eating flesh the next. It's called the news cycle.

      Of course when self-described "liberal" bloggers focus for months on whether $.77 is the penny-accurate figure for undeniable wage discrimination against women, there's not a hell of a lot of time left for examining anything of consequence in the culture. You know, whether we live or die."


      I'm starting to think that you'd be more aptly named Braindeadtree.

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  6. "So CeceliaMc, you propose that Democrats, to prove themselves virtuous in a way you'll never accept anyway, simply must avoid the sort of tactics needed to win, otherwise they're just as bad as the Republicans you do in fact vote for?"

    No, I propose that you understand exactly what sort of compromise that you're proposing.

    I believe that if you truly did, you'd be less openly derisive of someone who does not chose that route, and a hell of a lot more subtle.

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    1. "I'm so subtle, so smart, so liberal, so goooooood!!!"

      So disgusting. Normal people despise liberals for good reasons. CeceliaMC is a good example.

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    2. I'm not a liberal, TIL.

      They despise me for other good reasons...

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    3. @TIL

      I think we need to give Cecelia the benefit of the doubt. By no stretch is she a Democrat, much less as liberal.

      With that proviso, her posts make far more sense. Her concern for Democratic ethics is hilarious of course, but some people (or is it entities) have to play these games....

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    4. And here I thought ethics was a registered Independent...

      A concern for ethics is also hilarious to you when it comes directly from your fellow liberals as well.

      Aren't you here to disparage the liberal who runs this joint, for being so pathetic and weak as to care about restrictive things like ethics?

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    5. @CeceliaMc

      Well, I'm also a registered independent, because the thought of being associated with either party makes me sick. But of course there's no question that, these days, I'd ever vote Republican -- any more than you'd vote Democratic.

      As for the liberal who runs the joint -- it's not at all clear he *is* a liberal or, at any rate, a liberal who's prepared to do what's required to govern.

      I'd say that Bob, as the president and sole member of the Clinton/Gore Mythological Society, is his own party.

      What the rest of us are doing here, after years of his infuriating commentary, is another matter.

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    6. I'm an Independent, I'm a registered Republican.

      I've voted for Democrats many times.

      That's not a pronouncement of credibility, it's merely a correction of your assumption.

      There are regional differences between the members of both parties.

      I'd venture to say that Somerby is decidedly not prepared to do what you happen to think is "required to govern".

      I'd AVER that this is very much to his credit and to that of liberalism, in the way that is utterly untrue of you and yours.

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    7. NOT a registered Independent, rather.

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  7. Yea, the problem with this post is that, in endorsing the eye-rolling and snarking of Drum (and engaging in a bit of it himself) towards the message discipline (nice to finally have some!) of O'Malley and Dems, Bob is engaging in the very sort of vacuous Versailles foppishness that he has so long derided in the conduct of beltway and liberal pundits.

    Bob snarks mightily on O'Malley with "Noun verb Swiss bank account!"
    To which I must add, in true Bob fashion - "MEOWW, HISS, SPIT!!"

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    1. Also -- "Darlings, its just not done!!"

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  8. So, wait. Why is "Swiss bank account" qualitatively different than "looting," the word Bob insisted everyone should invoke when discussing Bain Capital?

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    1. Because nobody's paying Bob to say it?

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  9. Blogger Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has a pithy reponse:

    We’re supposed to be more angry about what Romney has done with his own money, than about what Obama has done with ours.

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    1. David is right -- that is the response.

      That response has some (a lot) traction with the electorate.

      It has traction in part because we have indeed surrendered the policy debate.

      Mockery is great. I mock the right constantly myself.

      But it won't carry the day alone.

      Is it so wrong for someone like Bob to point that out?

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    2. It might win an election here and there (eg Sarah Palin) but it won't improve public understanding and therefore is unlikely to lead to substantially improved policies over the long run

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    3. The answer to that question, David in Cal, would be all too obvious to you if, as Cecelia advocates, you were a patriot and loved your fellow Americans.

      What Reynolds refers to as "his own" [Mitt's] money would not have been possible with untold trillions in infrastructure investment paid for by previous generations whose taxes were far higher than Mitt's; and by current taxpayers who shoulder a far higher burden in tax than does Mitt Romney, based on percentage of income. One of these previous taxpayers was, of course, Romney's father, who's marginal rate was something like 8 times Mitt's, and from whom, nonetheless, Mitt inherited a huge fortune which again, facilitated Mitt's current wealth.

      So when Mitt comes up with tax-sheltered $100 million IRA, when the annual contribution limit is $6,000, perhaps ordinary people just might take offense at how Mitt so remarkably manages "his money"?

      It's apparently a feature of modern Republicanism, however, that no further obligation to the national welfare is felt. Having gotten wealthy, current day Republicans are apparently determined to prevent anyone else from doing so.

      We'd love to see how well, for example, Mitt Romney or Grover Norquist did in making a fortune in the bush somewhere, without family connections, no police or fire protection, etc. Until then, this notion of "his own" money is more than a little ridiculous.

      As for Obama spending "our" money -- the rise in government spending under Obama is far lower than it has been for any Republican administration since Eisenhower, so it's to hard understand exactly what Reynold's is so worked up about. Other than the fact, of course, that there's a Democrat in the White House.

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    4. I don't need you to put words in my mouth.

      My post that you obliquely reference was a response to the notion that people are wildly unreasonable simply by not having come to a certain conclusion about Mitt Romney.

      As for your other spiel, I don't know enough about Romney's financial affairs to assume that they are in order. However, and IN GENERAL, I seriously doubt that people get up in arms over anyone availing themselves of legal tax shelters.

      Those who do should know that we live a democratic society and they have a right to vote against the pols who effect such structures.

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    5. @CeceliaMc

      "However, and IN GENERAL, I seriously doubt that people get up in arms over anyone availing themselves of legal tax shelters."

      Really Cecelia? Even when those "legal tax shelters" are the result of lobbying by millionaires and billionaires like Mitt Romney, for their own sole and express benefit and of which the public is largely kept in the dark? (Can *you* explain how it is Mitt Romney has a $100 million tax-sheltered IRA, in what's supposed to be a middle-class retirement tax break?)

      And when candidates like Romney use perhaps a billion dollars in campaign contributions to put themselves into office to codify more loopholes, on the pretext that making themselves and their campaign contributors still richer is somehow good for the country?

      Is this what a "democratic society" is all about? I take the risk of asking a rhetorical on the certain knowledge that you'll insist on responding anyway. The operatives never sleep.

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    6. Well, that "certain knowledge" might be the only true understanding that you have about much of anything.

      For my part, I now nostalgically look back on my surprise over the cynicism evoked from a simple declaration in an Arizona newspaper about believing people (even politicians)to be on the up-and-up, until it's proven otherwise.

      While candidates should be scrutinized, and while our institutions aren't perfect....your level of cynicism is so vast, that it is the black hole of faith. It a dark-mirror faith. An evil twin faith. Where true faith goes to die and is then resurrected as some Frankenstein, needy, alienated, feeling ever angry and ever unloved.

      This "faith" is the surety of avarice, corruption, and men who come with a price. It's an anti-faith faith, a self-righteous need of control. It makes honesty into an indulgence, and a laying down of arms into surrender. It is ever dire, ever bleak, ever available for justifying just about anything that it imagines to be necessary.

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  10. While liberals argue the ethics of framing their message, Republican leaders are forcing expert framers into Mitt's campaign.
    These people know, from decades of success, the exact language to keep their base in line.

    Liberals can't understand that facts don't matter. The truth doesn't matter.

    Whipping up strong emotions with colorful language wins elections.

    A recent letter writer to The Arizona Republic said he would take Mitt Romney at his word until proven otherwise.
    What liberal could top that?

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    1. "A recent letter writer to The Arizona Republic said he would take Mitt Romney at his word until proven otherwise.
      What liberal could top that?"

      The people who love policy, politics, ideas, ideology, and their FELLOW AMERICANS, enough to try to logically and sincerely "prove otherwise"?

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    2. Cecelia, you're too much. If a liberal wrote a parody of Republicans, nobody would believe you were credible, not even a Republican -- except may a Republican operative -- could say such things.

      But glad to hear it's a sign of patriotism and love of one's fellow Americans to believe everything out of the mouth of political candidates, including a candidate who's changed his views on everything -- several times.

      And the same of course applies to Clinton and Obama?

      Man oh man, nobody could make this stuff up.

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    3. You did read the part about logic, sincerity, and "proving otherwise".

      More likely, you just jumped to the conclusion that I had defended Romney as being pristine and above reproach.

      Whether it's Pres. Obama, Mitt Romney, or your grocer, it should come naturally to assume the best of anyone until it is "proven otherwise".

      Anything less is cynicism.

      That's hardly a controversial or over-the-top opinion, and this letter in the Arizona Republic was hardly that either.

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  11. Thread TL;DR:

    Elections and their outcomes aren't about changing people's minds with facts about candidates and policies.

    Worrying about that stuff is so cute -- but a waste of time.

    Elections and their outcomes are about pre-existing tribes, the members of which cannot be convinced of anything that their approved voices don't tell them.

    The only recourse is slime throwing.

    Slime throwing will decide the election: The free-thinking non-tribal group will choose the candidate with less slime stuck to him at the end.

    Somerby should stop getting in the way of the quest by "our" tribe to find the magical slime which only sticks to Republicans.

    We're gonna find it, I know!!!

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