Political Confirmation Bias

Freedom to not think?

My hate email is increasing in both volume and intensity as the campaign enters its season of denouement. Amid the rest of it today I got a personal email from a senior retired Navy officer who apparently can’t restrain his bigotry over our civilian President. The screed he forwarded to me fit his previously-expressed disdain that derives from Barack Obama’s lack of military experience, something he had previously derided by speculating that “Obama had to be taught how to salute”. So if any of the rest of you out there have not served in the military, you may consider yourself ineligible for high office because of that deficiency.

This latest accusation, an email with a long list of addressees, was that Obama is so inept and unfeeling regarding patriotism that he failed to show proper respect for the shooting victims during ceremonies at Ft. Hood.  The anonymous originator was voluble with outraged indignation.  It was blatantly false of course, and easily proven so by a quick visit to Snopes.com which had documented the photo as real, but completely out of context. The President was not saluting because he wasn’t supposed to.  The picture was taken during (required) honors to him, the President, not to the flag nor to the national anthem. Not only was the accusation false, but its anonymous author had even changed the venue to make it seem like a more recent occurrence! The original picture was taken 3 years ago at Arlington, not at Ft. Hood, therefore my Navy acquaintance was not only duped, but intentionally manipulated, both by his former shipmate who sent it to him without checking, and by its original anonymous author, a fraud.

Political passions are rising and giving way to more blatant forms of deception. The hate shines through, and I submit it is most intense and most deceitful coming from the right. It is one thing to use a possibly inaccurate anonymous attribution about Mitt Romney’s taxes to put more pressure on him to do the right thing, as the feisty little boxer Harry Reid did, and quite another to foment intentionally hateful and bigoted lies. I urge everyone to view their “in” boxes with skepticism. I doubt very much that my Navy source forwarded the item knowing it was false, but he has been a victim of confirmation bias many times before. He believes what he wishes to believe, and his disdain for the truth has ruined his credibility with me.

Not all military officers have the same contempt for our President’s lack of military experience. I came across an item just today that supports that.  Here is the first part of it:

Wesley k clark

Wesley k clark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Thursday he wants the American public to understand what a “great commander in chief” President Barack Obama is.
“He’s made some really great decisions, some tough decisions and he’s been extremely successful,” Clark told the Daily Press. “Not only that, he’s been stronger in support of veterans in actual resources and programs than any president in my life time.”

Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, was part of an Obama campaign roll out of military leaders in Roanoke Wednesday, along with retired Army Maj. Gen. James Kelley and retired Navy Rear Adm. Jamie Barnett. Clark praised the president for ending the war in Iraq, taking down Osama bin Laden and the surge in Afghanistan.
“I think the facts are clearly on the president’s side and that’s what we’re out to show,” said the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces.

I myself served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy for 22 years, but I have to say it disgusts me to hear others demean those who did not serve as somehow being morally, patriotically, or culturally deficient. Such people wear their service on their sleeves, much as others do relative to their religion. It is xenophobic, it is destructive, and it is unAmerican. It is also unbecomingly prideful of them.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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34 Responses to Political Confirmation Bias

  1. John Hester says:

    Great Post. I wish everyone would check with snopes.com before believing any emotional email that claims something outrageous. Virtually all of them are bogus, in my opinion. The funny (yet disturbing) thing I have found is that even when I correct errors sent to me with proof from snopes, most senders don’t care. I think some people just like to send out things that get people’s attention regardless of the veracity of the information.

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I agree, John. There is social pleasure in playing what I like to call “Ain’t it awful?” when two parties share a belief that may or may not be true. I believe it can be a form of bigotry.

      You know, the meaning of words tends to wiggle away from me sometimes, and that was the case with the word “bigotry”, so I was a little surprised to find that it doesn’t necessarily connote racism.

      bigoted
      adjective
      obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions.

      Bigotry, like gossip, I submit is a common social tendency for all people and it takes a willful effort to control it and to evaluate the honesty of one’s statements.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. And then there are the ones, who won’t state their background, who tar entire subsets of service folk due to perceived “rip-offs” over combat-related health problems, right? ;)
    I’m VERY bothered by the amount of stories the right (not necessarily Romney) have been putting out that are either out of context or downright false. The left is not without blame, but their exaggerations seem to be a bit less egregious. And do they REALLY think we’re so stupid, as voters, to accept the fairy tale that candidates DON’T co-ordinate with the whole mess of Super PACs out there?

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Good point, John. That both sides are bound to coordinate is obvious to us and it should have been obvious to the SCOTUS 5 as well. I continue to believe that the Citizens United decision was one of the worst and most damaging of all SC decisions ever.

  3. Slightly off topic I suppose, but I see a huge number of what should be obviously fake e-mail claims about Mr. Obama. I’ve seen pictures of him that are obviously photoshopped, but people incline to agree with the message just uncritically accept them as fact. Amazing.

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Right, Bruce, and not only that – some of the tacky and obviously false stuff I see is forwarded from people whom I know to be intelligent, religious and well-educated. What a piece of work we humans are!

  4. ansonburlingame says:

    Making the record very clear.

    I sent the outrageous email containing anonymous accusations against OUR President to Jim and two others, locally. I was dead wrong in doing so and have apologized to Jim and the other two local addresses.

    The email came from a group of veterans with whom I proudly served 30 years ago, former shipmates on a submarine. I know just about every man on the long list of addess on the original email. It was a picture of a military honors ceremony showing President Obama and others on a platform honoring some dead veterans. Everyone in the picture was rendering a salute, miltary with hand to “hat” or the right hand over their heart, EXCEPT the President who was holding his hands at his “crouch”. The email was entitled the “Crouch Salute” demeaning the President in a formal military “honors” ceremony.

    HOWEVER, the truth as revealed by Snopes was that the picture was first of all taken in 2009, not long after the President took office. For sure it was not a recent picture as the email implied. Second the “music” being played was probably “Hail to the Chief” in honor of the President’s attemdance and thus not requiring a salute from the man being honored.

    I again was dead wrong in forwarding the email to anyone. I immediately apologized to the three locals to whom I sent it and I as well admonished my former shipmates, all of them, for sending me that kind of crap.

    I also agree with Jim that the devisiveness of our current politcal debate is attrocious and should STOP. I contributed to that decisiveness in this instance and was wrong to have done so. But crap is crap, whichever side it comes from and I see as much of that “stuff” coming from the left as I do from the right.

    I also take excertionally strong objection to the way Jim characterizes ME and my service and my political sentiments today. Most Presidents have never served in our military and I certainly do not hold that against them, generally. But almost ALL Presidents are very carefully “handled” by their staffs to do the “right” thing in military ceremonies and related speeches. The “corpseman” remark by OUR President was dead wrong long ago and I remain distainful of his remark, just as an example. But I do not use that remark now to make a fool out of OUR President today during a campaign either.

    I have to personally dig rather deep to find any political support for President Obama. In terms of military matters I believe he is a “light weight” with no experence in such matters and some very poor advice from his TEAM in military related decisions. His 2009 remark during the McCrystal affair that “there is nothing wrong with our strategy (in Afghanistan)” reflects such sentiments, in my view, and only as another example. Our “stragegy” in Afghanistan has been misguided almost since the Twin Towers came down from BOTH administrations. Obama said exactly that during his 2008 campaign as well and then proceed to ESCALATE that same misguided strategy once he took office. How many dead and wounded in that godforsaken country have resulted since Jan 20, 2009. A LOT is all I know and we are still getting our asses kicked over there as a result!!!

    So yes, politically I stand firm is critcizing President’s strategic decisions in many areas and will remain opposed to such throughout the campaign unless “new” information is forthcoming. But to imply that I take such a position because I am some kind of arrogant asshole that used to wear a uniform and hold great distain for those that have never worn a uniform is……

    Just more of the same devisiveness that Jim complains about when it comes from the “right” as well.

    I don’t care what kind of uniform anyone ever wore, be it a mailman’s uniform, a Navy uniform or a janitor’s uniform or the tradtitional coat and tie uniform of a former CEO. It is the political views that I support or challenge today that matters to me.

    I have apoligized for the crap that I forwarded but guess what, I bet Jim does not apologize for the crap above!!!

    Anson

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I stand by my words, which were:

      I myself served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy for 22 years, but I have to say it disgusts me to hear others demean those who did not serve as somehow being morally, patriotically, or culturally deficient. Such people wear their service on their sleeves, much as others do relative to their religion. It is xenophobic, it is destructive, and it is unAmerican. It is also unbecomingly prideful of them.

      When you persist in bringing up an instance of mispronouncing the word “corpsman” and a speculation that “Obama had to be taught to salute”, which you have repeatedly over the past two years, you are indulging in the behavior I describe. What I am now interested to see is whether you stop doing that. If not, your apology will ring false.

  5. ansonburlingame says:

    While typing the above reply, several other comments were posted that I did not see at the time I was typing. In general they correctlydistained diatribes from anyone and I agree. But as well they “cut a few corners” in my view.

    Go back to before 2009 and roll the tapes from the left against Bush II particularly related to military matters. Those old tapes were and remain as outrageous as the ones coming from the right today against Obama, at least to me. But progressives forget those old positions against OUR President a few years ago.

    It would be ridiculous to try to replay old and new tapes showing distain for a President to see which side was or is “worse”. All we do is get into another “yes, but” game and that stinks in my view and has nothing to do with how to decide which man might be the best leader for all of us come Jan 2013.

    Anson

  6. Jim Wheeler says:

    I am indebted to my online friend Henry (Bud) Morgan for bringing to my attention a blog site that lists the military service or lack thereof of various politicians.

  7. ansonburlingame says:

    The military service of politicians is NOT the point, at least for me. But it is a strong point of mine that when misguided political moves involving the military or the use of military force are made, then politicians must be held accountable for such mistakes. Such calls for accountability have nothing as well to do, usually with the morality, patriotism or culture of a politician. It is their lack of the correct use of such powerful forces that I distain, however.

    But that is not to say that some real numbskuills, I prefer the term “radicals” that call for “guerrilla power’ or other force yet disdain the men and women employed to legally apply such force might not well have significant moral, patriotic or cultural flaws! Of course I could provide a list of such organizations.

    One commenter on local blogs insists that Bush still be prosecuted for war crimes, for example and some of you may agree with him. I have yet to challenge him or “you” for moral, culutural or patriotic defects, yet at least. But I would be glad to provide a list of such names if you like, some of whom had frequent contact with the younger Barrack Obama. How much influence such contact had on the younger Obama is for sure unknown and I don’t try to argue the point nor do I accuse OUR President of being morally, culuturally or patriotically deficient for having had such contact.

    Anson

  8. A small part of the schism between military and political thought can be seen in a movie, pre-dating the 9/11 attacks, called “The Siege”. It shows terrorist attacks in NYC, and the political leadership misusing the Army to “police” the city and find the terrorists. It clearly shows a lack of comprehension by political leaders of how an army unit functions (perhaps “interacts” would be better) in its’ environment, and how the same idea can result in wildly divergent results, and more importantly attitudes, between military folk and non-military politicians.
    This comment might seem a bit of a non-sequitur, but I think this movie is an easily-digested exploration of the disconnect between reality and observation, both of military folk for the non-serving public and of the political folk for the military. I feel this disconnect is what has bred a lot of the virulent feelings against various politicians, based on people’s own relationship with the military.
    Well, that’s my opinion, for the fraction of a cent that it’s worth. :D

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Point well taken, John. Every problem is viewed through the lens of one’s own experience. It’s probably more true for the career military vs. civilian case because the two cultures differ so markedly, a difference exacerbated by the demise of the draft and the rise of the volunteer military. Some commenters, I’ve noticed, weave their military experience into virtually every response, sometimes having to employ straw man arguments in order to do so. I think for some subjects this practice sometimes does more to weaken their argument than support it.

      The job of President is challenging: He needs to understand widely varying cultures: military, business and social, and all three can be in conflict.

  9. ansonburlingame says:

    John,

    In my view movies provide a questionable basis for the formation of one’s politics. Some are much better (a very few) than others. For example the most “accurate” war movie I have ever seen is the German film Das Boot reflecting WWII German submarine experiences. At a level far beyond the details understandable to “land lubbers” the details of living and fighting on such vessels was extraordinarily accurate. To a lesser degree The Hunt For Red October provided some accuracy as well at least from the perspective of how a Cold War American nuclear “fast attack” submarine might operate, but again at a level not really understandable to those that have never been there done that. But the “canyons” in HFRO are pure and simple fiction as well!

    Most “military” movies are “action packed” with heros, cowards, etc. all rolled into a 2 hour “experience”. That of course is not “real”.

    I saw a news clip taken during he invasion of Iraq that to me was telling. Some airborne troops parachuted into Nothern Iraq and quickly moved into entrentched positions near a fortified Iraqi Army hillside. They landed, formed up and hiked into an area of danger. They then dug foxholes and started a long wait to see what next. No shots were fired, no really glamore of “charging the hillside” etc. was shown as well. Just muddy men slogging into an area of danger with a nervous enemy peeking over the sandbags down on them..

    I never jumped out of airplane or approached a defended position. But the looks and actions reflected in that clip seemed real to me. With no shots actually fired it could well have been “just another training jump” for that group of airborne soldiers.

    I always, then and now, considered “submarine warfare” to be 95% boredom and 5% sheer terror. For sure it was that way during Cold War submarine operations out on the “tip of the spear” in peacetime. Based on long discussions with my Uncle, a wartime (WWII) submariner, the same experiences were apparent to him as well. It is impossible to capture those long periods of “boredom” (with a sense of uncertainly of when next the shit might hit the fan) in a movie.

    As well the stress of command is shown in movies as the points of command decisions. Rarely if ever do such movies show the long and tenuous periods leading up to such decsionmaking. As well movies rarely capture what Clauswitz called “the fog of war” the uncertainty associated with deciding the “next right thing”.

    Think of it as watching a great Super Bowl showing the momentary “heroics” of such players. But the real world for every one of them is the YEARS of hard work, training, etc. that leads up to those moments. No one wants to watch a movie of “training camps” but that is where Super Bowl champions begin and are formed into a winning team.

    At the very “top” levels of military command, commands held by civilians with only military “advisors” assisting them (read Woodward books) the public wants to focus on the “moments” of decisionmaking as well. Consider the video of the President and staff watching the killing OBL. Not shown is all the time and agony leading up to that moment.

    Such is too boring for Hollywood and the public but it is more real than the moments of triumph or failure in many cases.

    Anson

    • Anson – I wasn’t thinking of that movie as a sole source of info, just a good way to let folks not familiar with military workings, see some of the military mindset and its’ relationship to the government – which often lacks that same familiarity. I have to STRONGLY agree with you, that Hollywood is all about the “bang”. I know I’d probably be the only one in the theatre, but I’d love to see a movie portray the “hours of boredom” in between the “seconds of panic/chaos”. (Hmm – then again, I don’t think I could picture Stallone or Schwarzenegger just sitting around playing cards. Maybe that’s NOT such a good idea, after all. :D )

  10. Alan Scott says:

    Jim ,

    Your definition of bigotry was enlightening . I verified what you said . However, it does lead me to the conclusion that under that guideline, all of us commenting on this board, including me and yourself would be hard pressed to defend ourselves against being called bigots .

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Indeed, Alan, the word bigotry is subjective in nature and reasonable people can disagree about what might fit that definition. I suppose the principal usefulness of the word is to convey the user’s opinion that someone has crossed the line of being receptive to opposing viewpoints, and that is the sense intended in this post.

      Subjective word-smithing is always in play in politics, isn’t it? In today’s news for example, consider the use of the word “several” by senior Romney advisor Bess Meyers:

      In a briefing with reporters in Virginia Saturday, senior adviser Beth Myers, who . . . headed the vice president selection process, declined to specify exactly how many years of tax returns were required, saying only that “several” were requested.

      “Several” is another imprecise word. However, my dictionary defines “several” as “more than two but not many”. Subjective as it is however I find it interesting that at a minimum, Mr. Romney required at least 50% more tax returns of his VP candidates than he himself is willing to provide and 100% more than he has actually provided so far. (Summaries don’t count much because they don’t list interesting details like offshore bank accounts, foreign investments and IRA investment tactics.)

  11. ansonburlingame says:

    I disagree Alan, but your point is symptomatic of our political debate today, calling each side “names”.

    Politial differences are not fundamentally two “bigots” lashing out at one another. It SHOULD be statements of differences and putting down good reasons why the differences exist, logically, not emotionally. Only in the real extreme should that become “bigoted” arguments either way.

    Yet here we are doing it to each other, self-rightously, all the time. Jim has attempted to depict me as some sort of ex military “bigot” with little or no “rational” thought behind my critique of a very inexperienced President. No he did not call me a “bigot” straight out, but the implication is there for sure.

    Admittedly I have done the same to him as well in a variety of blogs and comments thereto.

    Well let me say, emphaticffally, that I do not believe either Jim or I are bigots. But for sure I believe his politcal ideas in general are dead wrong. Well I could challenge a “red neck southerner” on racial matters and never hope to change his mind just as I have challenged Jim on important things like HC reform and i will NEVER change his mind as well.

    In the first instance, the “red neck southerner” MAYBE that guy is a bigot, a KKK-like bigot. But in Jim’s case he, only in my view, is just WRONG, with no bigotry involved.

    There is as well a huge difference between arguing with someone that is “wrong” and a bigot, a huge differencem again in my view.

    Anson

  12. Alan Scott says:

    Anson ,
    I agree with you . I do not consider you, Jim, or myself to be bigots . I find that word used on liberal blogs all of the time . Lately it is used to describe anyone who dares voice their Constitutional right of free speech and comes out against gay marriage . I have pointed out to these bloggers that under their description President Obama until quite recently fit their definition of a bigot . He has since very courageously put his finger into the political wind and reversed himself on the issue .

    I disagree with Jim on the meaning of the word bigot . A word or phrase acquires the meaning intended by it’s usage . Jim is correct that one of the meanings is ” obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions. ” Aren’t we all ? However, when Liberals call others bigots I do not believe for a moment they are intending this definition .

    The English language is an evolving medium . Unfortunately this allows it’s misuse . George Orwell’s 1984 gives clear examples of how big brother uses double speak . War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery .

    My favorite non political phrase is genuine imitation leather . On the political front you have more emptiness than outright deception . Obama’s ” Yes we can “, ” Forward “, ” Winning the future ” meaningless slogans .

    I cannot help comparing Barak Obama’s call for economic equality to the old Soviet Union . The calls to the great unwashed to support taxing anyone who has more than you, down to your level . As though that will raise you up . The appropriate Soviet joke is ” If your neighbor has a cow and you don’t, kill your neighbor’s cow . “

  13. Alan Scott says:

    Jim ,

    I agree that you have a perfect right to raise Governor Romney’s tax returns . I also agree with him that he has a right to refuse . This is strictly politics and falls within President Obama’s refusal to release his original birth certificate until Trump forced the issue . For the life of me I can’t see why Obama stretched that one out . Romney on the other hand knows that Democrats will mine his returns for any advantage and so until forced to he should not give them what they want . Strictly politics .

    Romney should make a deal that he will release all the Democrats have requested when Barak Obama releases all of his college papers and records . We always hear that he is super brilliant . I’d love to see if his collge papers are more coherent than his speeches .

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      There’s a long tradition of presidential candidates releasing tax-return information, Alan. That is information that is subject to legal process and is therefore especially meaningful, so meaningful that Mitt’s own father not only released a dozen years of his own returns but stated publicly that doing so was necessary to dispel public doubt. Financial management goes to character, but grades on the other hand are less meaningful. I really doubt that politicians as a bloc would be in favor of that. Consider Thomas Edison. He was a notoriously bad student, and yet one of the world’s best innovators. You argument, in short, is weak. C’mon, Mitt, what have you got to hide? What? Huh?

  14. ansonburlingame says:

    Again, good thoughts on bigotry, Allan, and I note the above “pass” by Jim related to your views. Strong convictions backed by history, some rational thinking and analysis, etc. are not, in my view bigotry. The KKK rational is bigotry, in my view, today. So are the New Black Panthers views countering those of the KKK. Acorn for that matter was bigoted just like “Nazis” signs carried by early proponents of the Tea Party bigoted.

    Hell I don’t even consider the EC bigoted. Thought I would be hard pressed to show where he ever said, “you might have a good point” when countered in his blog reflecting very strong convictions. I just “dropped” another test case on the EC blog yesterday to see the reaction.

    It was related to comments about my favorite song of all times, My Old Kentucky Home, which was a small subject of exchange “over there”. I showed how political correctness from the left has now changed the words in that old song just as some try to now change or ban Huck Finn. My guess is someone over there is going to sling the “bigot” or racist word right back at me for such an observation. Haven’t check yet today but will later!!.

    As for, again, the tax returns issue, I must ask progressives if they “trust” the IRS? I do in terms of that agency performing “due dilligence” on any millioniare’s tax returns, year in and year out, to confirm that such returns complied with the law. Were Romney’s returns EVER audited by the IRS and what were the results of such audits should be the fundamental question. If the results of such IRS “due dilligence” showed in fact that Romney paid all taxes due then what is the real issue?

    The reason progressives want to see the tax returns is to make their case that he did not pay ENOUGH in taxes. Is that HIS (or his lawyers’) fault or the fault of legal tax codes, put in place democratically???

    Such is pure politics and has nothing to do with legality, morality, patriotism, culutre, etc. in my view. If you want to challenge the politics, then look at Romney proposals (or Obama’s for that matter) related to how to change future tax codes. For sure Dems are trying to “make hay” over Ryan’s proposals to change Medicare while doing NOTHING themselves to do anything with Medicare other than NOT change “Medicare as we know it” which will drive us right over that “cliff”.

    No I suppose that is incorrect for Jim at least. He wants to keep Medicare as we know it and add to it “universal HC” as well. Now go look at that looming cliff and watch it grow and advance in our direction at “warp speed” if we do that.

    Anson

  15. Alan Scott says:

    Anson ,
    Everything at this moment is a political tool. They are calling someone a racist or bigot so often that the returns have diminished . A real racist bigot is now undetectable.

    Jim ,

    We both know that Romney’s tax returns are only valuable as a tool to further the class warfare case . I’m sure that Romney used losses from some years to offset profits in other years and thus Democrats can argue, ” look how this rotten rich guy made millions in certain years and paid no taxes . ” I’m very sure he wouldn’t be running if he had any legal problems in that area . This is why politics is a blood sport .

    Edison is an interesting topic . Brilliant man, but difficult and sometimes amazingly wrong . I love the drama between him, Westinghouse, and Tesla, but you are stretching to link him to any context of Mitt Romney .

    Here is my basic argument for Romney . Mitt managed money for his investors and did a good job . As citizens we are investors and our government leaders manage our tax dollars . Who would you trust your hard earned money with, Barak or Mitt ? Be honest .

    I consider myself financially sophisticated to a certain extent, yet I can’t make sense of the Federal budget details. I read a lot of financial publications, yet I am no economist. My guess is that Romney and Ryan with their backgrounds can run circles around a guy with only an academic and a political life experience, when $ Trillions pass through your authority .

    But you know this, so you wish to make it about character and ethics, fine . Romney never stole money from his investors like Madoff did . Romney apparently used prudent judgement handling other people’s money . Poor Jon Corzine . Mitt has handled crisis’s so he is tested. Obama did not exactly shine when he could not plug that ” damn hole ” in the Gulf .

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      @ Alan,

      “Who would you trust your hard earned money with, Barak or Mitt ? Be honest .”

      I would choose Mitt, but only if the money management were completely transparent to me. You see, Alan, managing a government is not the same thing as managing a business. Government is, or should be, the open process of providing safety and infrastructure for commerce and social functioning, for making rules for fairness and justice. Business is competitive activity in which the objective is to make as much profit as possible with no mercy for one’s competition. You are making a mistake in my opinion to assume that expertise in secretive financial gamesmanship is equivalent to expertise in governance of an open society.

      You are assuming that “Romney never stole money from his investors like Madoff did”, but how can you be sure? I ask because Romney, like many businessmen, prefers a maximum of “privacy”, a.k.a., secrecy in his operations, something facilitated by offshore money accounts which are so secret that even asking about their details is a crime in the Caimans. All you can be sure of, I submit, is that Romney never got caught with his hand in the till, just as Madoff didn’t either – for decades – until he did.

      George Westinghouse was a lot like Romney I think. He was a shrewd businessman and when finances got pinched he pleaded with Tesla to sign his priceless patents over to him, and Tesla foolishly did. Westinghouse never compensated him properly and danced merrily on into his prosperous future while Tesla died virtually penniless. It was just “business” to Westinghouse and it would never have occurred to him to think of it differently. QED.

  16. ansonburlingame says:

    to both,

    I continue to be surprised with the traditional progressive retort that managing household finances or business ones are unlike how we should manage government finances. OPENNESS is called for by government, right?

    How “open” is the FED as it secretly deliberates what to do with interest rates or printing more money. And when the FED “opens up” in “secret briefings” to Congress over imminent actions to be taken what do some Congressmen do, secretly?

    What IF, the government announced the award of a multi-billion contract to XYZ BEFORE the final decision was approved and made public. People go to jail for violation of such secrecy in government, do they not!!!

    Ask any politician, “Have you ever cheated on your taxes and prove it to me when you say no”. Is that not like asking someone if they ever beat their wife?? Try answering that last question and “prove it”. Why don’t you call for the last 10 years of Ann Romney’s health records to make your point!!!

    In the first question one should ask the IRS for the best answer possible, a “third party” answer in my view. Has anyone ever asked that question of the IRS and are not IRS allegations and legal action in such matters “public knowledge”. Had the IRS ever taken Romney to court would it not be a matter of public record, win or lose in such actions?

    As for offshore accounts, as far as I know the vast majority of them are in fact LEGAL under U.S. law to have such accounts. Do you believe Romney has some ILLEGAL offshore accounts around? Do you really think his tax returns would reveal such accounts? Prove to us Mr. Mitt that you have no illegal offshore accounts? Now how would your prove that to an accuser, a politically motivated accuser??

    OK you don’t like offshore accounts. Fine. Change the law, democratically (and watch what happens if you do so to capital resources that finance a lot of things we all use).

    I agree with Alan. You can ask all you like with YOUR political motives and Romney can reply with his own political motives. That is a risk all politicians take. But it is NOT a moral or legal risk or a patriotic one.

    Having said all of that, “Mr. President, have you ever plotted against America with Bill Ayers and please prove to us your reply?”

    There are SOME who still believe or are highly suspicious that Obama was not born in America. There are SOME who believe or are highly suspicious that Romney “cheated” on taxes. Now, Jim, if I raised the birth issue in a blog what would be your response (other than ignoring it)? You would probably call me the equivalent of a “wing nut”.

    I initially had some mild suspicions over the birth issue but left those in my wake a long time ago for sure. Well, you Jim, have been “harping” on tax returns far longer than I held even mild suspicions over Obama’s place of birth. I think I have heard all your reasons now over tax returns and for sure you haven’t convinced me there is a single legal, moral or patriotic basis for what you claim. Enough already, at least for me on this topic, bigot that I am!!!

    Anson

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      @ Anson,

      Seems as if I touched one of your nerves here. Gee, sorry about that. Maybe I can explain.

      First, I have no evidence or even reason to think that Mr. Romney has done anything illegal, but at the same time I think that any job interview of a Presidential candidate ought properly extend beyond assessing whether he has acted legally. After all, who would maintain that all laws are perfect or complete? Even Romney’s father, in releasing a dozen of his own tax returns, indicated that patterns of behavior are important for jobs like the Presidency of the United States.

      The secrecy of the FED deliberations is protected for good reason, just as the results of those deliberations and the reasonings behind them are required to be made public. There’s nothing sinister about any of that. The same is true of contractual matters and public contracts once signed are required to be made public so far as I know. As for Romney’s taxes, there’s no legal requirement for him to release more returns, but as a voter I was interested to find out from the one return he was required by law to release that he would be the first Presidential candidate ever who had secret offshore bank accounts and that he had accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in an IRA that was limited to contributions of only a few tens of thousands a year. It’s just interesting, and I find it just as interesting that he doesn’t want me to find out what might be in his other voluminous tax returns. It’s not every year that we can consider voting for a multi-billionaire to represent the interests and futures of all Americans and I’m just a curious kind of guy.

      Hey, Mr. Romney has every right to keep his returns secret, just as I have every right to ask public questions and to wonder why he isn’t as open as every other Presidential candidate (including his own father) but one. (That one exception as I recall couldn’t remember how many houses he owned.) But if my fascination with the topic has your shorts in a knot, I suggest you read someone else’s blog for a change. After all, I don’t represent the Joplin Globe, nor any other interest than my own anymore. I’m just one tiny voice in the SW Missouri blogosphere, but I will tell you that while I’m not finding much company for my opinions among the locals I am getting a good deal of satisfaction knowing the kinds of people who do agree with me.

      As for the birther issue, chime right in there all you want, Anson. You’ll be in good company with Donald Trump on that one.

  17. Alan Scott says:

    Jim ,

    Romney has quite a bit to proud of .

    He gave away the money his father left him because he didn’t need it . So much for the silver spoon . I trust a man to be honest in government, especially when most of his money was made far away from government. Compare this with many such as Barak Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and others who became much wealthier only after they were involved in politics . I do not allege illegality, but I definitely want your feedback on this .

    Pardon me for shifting my focus , but as I reread your last post, items randomly pop into my mind and I want to write them down as they come to me . You said that in government the process should be open when it comes to infrastructure etc. We agree totally . In business you can’t do that because you can’t allow your competition to know what you are doing . I hope we are on the same page yet ?

    You seem to charge that the Governor cannot do the open style of public business because his experience is in the secret world of private equity . Fair, except that as a Governor he has done it . Also when he salvaged the winter Olympics he had to run an open and fair process. That demonstrates managerial talent far above anything President Obama has ever shown .

    Lastly , I wish you would use the same standard in judging Obama that you use on Romney . The processes for allotting Stimulus money, awarding energy grants, and putting together Obamacare were secret, dark, murky, mysterious, and not open in the least .

    I was up on the Tesla thing a few years ago, but you have said things I either forgot or wasn’t aware of. I seriously doubt that Romney ever stole some poor inventor’s patents . Tesla actually worked for Edison for awhile . He did not like Edison . Tesla bears most of the responsibility for his poverty when he died . He spent a lot of the money he had made with Westinghouse on inventions that did not work out . He was a wild genius who did not care about wealth, only his next project .

  18. Jim,
    You’re not alone, my friend.

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Thanks John, but we need to be careful. If all the liberals and left-leaning moderates in SW Missouri got together, say at a local bar, a single attack could wipe us all out!

  19. ansonburlingame says:

    Let’s see, Jim is worried about Romney’s “secret offshore bank accounts” If they in fact are secret, how does Jim know about them?

    Alan, all government “infrastructure” is NOT open for sure, some of it is classified to beat the band. Try figuring out how to make a “quiet propellor” for a submarine and watch the FBI come down on your head!!! There are plenty of good reasons why some things are secret, in business or in government so a blatant demand for “openness” is crazy, in some things for government or business.

    Alan makes a great point as well of Romney’s “openness” while governing and running the Olympics. Is that NOT proof positive that he knows when and how to be “open” as well as when and how to legally “keep things secret”?

    Does anyone believe that the recent “leaks” concern coming from the WH for politcal reasons were for reasons OTHER than pure politics? Want to investigate a violation of the LAW well have at it!!

    As for my “nerves” Jim, don’t “worry”. there is very little you could say or write at this point that would even surprise me, much less get on my nerves.

    Anson

  20. Alan Scott says:

    Jim ,

    I would not worry about anyone caring enough to take you guys out . The last shooter in the news was a lefty . He thought enough to bring sandwiches along for his victims .

  21. ansonburlingame says:

    Frankly, Alan, liberals will have a hard time finding a bar in Joplin that will serve them!!!

    anson

  22. Alan Scott says:

    Anson,

    Now that I have my last kid out of College I hope to finally put time and money together and do a little out of state travel . Joplin sounds like a nice place to visit .

  23. Jim, this is another bit of inspired writing.

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