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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A "double bubble"? How the Romney tax controversy can hurt Obama

(Note to visitors from Naked Capitalism: The link to this post advises you "Caution: foil ahead." Fair warning. But rest assured that this is the foiliest thing to appear here in a while, and that the shame-filled author pledges to keep these pages mostly aluminum-free henceforward.) 

In our earlier post identifying Jon Huntsman as the likeliest person to have informed Harry Reid about Romney's tax situation, I floated the idea that this whole brouhaha could be what spies -- well, some spies -- call a "double bubble" operation.
This could all be a trick designed to embarrass the Democrats -- an exploding cigar, if you will. It's an old gambit: First you feed false (but seemingly credible) information to an opponent, who goes public with what he thinks he knows. Then you demonstrate, in a very public forum, that what your mark thinks he knows just ain't so. Hilarity ensues.
As readers pointed out, the best-known recent example of the double-bubble technique targeted Dan Rather. I talked about other examples in this 2007 post. Usually, the double bubble involves forged documents which a journalist or other target is allowed to see but not copy.

But you don't need to go to that kind of trouble. One can create a mighty fine bubble through a simple telephone conversation -- especially if the guy blowing the bubble is someone as credible as Jon Huntsman.

So the question before us is this: Did a double bubble operation trick Reid into saying what he said? Did Team Romney employ this tactic in order to make the Democrats look bad when Mitt finally unveils the hidden tax forms?

Think about it.

Under normal circumstances, a release of those hidden tax returns would create a week of bad headlines for the Mittster. No-one doubts that he has socked away a large chunk of change in shady offshore bank accounts. And the mysteriously monstrous IRA is just bizarre.

The only way to avoid those headlines would be to turn the guns around. At this moment, nobody is asking: "Did Romney use legal but questionable means to avoid paying his fair share?" Instead, everyone is asking: "Did Harry Reid lie when he said that Romney paid no taxes whatsoever?"

If Romney can prove Reid a liar, then whatever goop lurks in those tax forms -- however unsettling, however icky -- will seem innocent. Team Romney will be able to control the narrative.

Not only that. Some conservatives (including at least one official Libertarian) are using the Reid controversy to pressure Obama into releasing his college records. The best defense is, as they say, a good offense.

There's a lot of BS in the Libertarian's piece. Wayne Allen Root avers that Harry Reid said what he said at the behest of the White House, even though that presumption comes to us bereft of proof. Root doesn't even claim to have a source of inside information; apparently, a band of angels whispered in his ear.

Nevertheless, Root also raises some genuinely interesting points, ones that I myself have mentioned in previous posts.

After reminding us that no-one can recall seeing Barack Obama on campus during his student days at Columbia, Root asks:
The first question I’d ask is, if you had great grades, why would you seal your records? So let’s assume Obama got poor grades. Why not release the records? He’s president of the free world, for gosh sakes. He’s commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. Who’d care about some poor grades from three decades ago, right? So then what’s the problem? Doesn’t that make the media suspicious? Something doesn’t add up.

Secondly, if he had poor grades at Occidental, how did he get admitted to an Ivy League university in the first place? And if his grades at Columbia were awful, how’d he ever get into Harvard Law School? So again those grades must have been great, right? So why spend millions to keep them sealed?

Third, how did Obama pay for all these fancy schools without coming from a wealthy background? If he had student loans or scholarships, would he not have to maintain good grades?
Root thinks that Obama got into those schools because he wasn't really a citizen. That idea, of course, is crap. Root may not be a birther, but we're definitely in birther territory.

In a series of posts (start here), I have posited another reason for Obama's remarkable college career. Even though many people will consider my theory irredeemably outre, I posit that Obama came from a CIA family; as a young man, he received help from "on high" in return for services rendered. I suspect that Obama's oddly unverifiable career as a Columbia student may have been a cover. Who knows what he was really getting up to during that time? Why else would a very prestigious university (with an undeniable history of close relationships with the intel community) keep a non-student student on the books?

Wayne Madsen picked up on this theory and wrote some long-ish pieces looking into a possible Agency connection. Unfortunately, many people mistrust Madsen because he too often relies on unnamed sources. (Besides, that guy is even weirder than I am.) Perhaps I should be grateful that he did not cite my work.

A few conspiracy-crazed oddballs have also carried this theme into Deep Wackyland: Here's an example and here's another. Just goes to show ya: You can't mention the spooks without bringing on the kooks.

Of course, most righties won't touch the evidence pointing to a CIA connection. Y'see, conservatives just love love love all conspiracy theories -- except for any theories which target western intelligence agencies. Those theories are Thoughtcrime.

(Incidentally, I would not be entirely surprised to learn that birtherism itself originated in a double bubble ploy directed against the Republicans. Over the past few years, we've seen a surprising number of forged "Kenyan" birth certificates with Barack Obama's name on them. Forgeries don't make themselves. It's possible that conservatives did the dirty work -- but maybe the forgers were people who wanted to make conservatives look like dimwits.)
Reid is Right as Rain ...and Willard is all Wet.
‘Cause Americans have a RIGHT to see the tax returns
of anyone who wants to be their President!--the highest office in our land.
NO if’s, ...No and’s, ...and NO big fat but’s about it! Case Closed.
ESPECIALLY with someone like Mitt -whose past and present life is
full of flip-flops, questionable business practices, tax loopholes,
hidden assets and investments, and who knows what else.
Confession is good for the soul, Mitt. Even for someone as soul-less as you.
So just Relax, Repent, and Release your Returns, Mr. Romney
…OR… go back to Playing with your Pet dancing Ponies.
COME CLEAN MITT: Come out of your gold-plated 10-car closet,
and STOP with this “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” nonsense!
No problem -we’ll understand. Unless …perhaps ….just perhaps
…you’re HIDING something, dear Willard? Inquiring minds want to know.

And you want even MORE tax cuts and loopholes for you and your rich buddies, Mitt? 
WHAT GALL! These fat cats aren’t satisfied - they want it ALL ...EVERYTHING!
But tell me Mitt, just how MANY cars and houses can you hog?
And just how MANY silver spoons can you stuff into your smirking mouth?
Mitt baby, you can fool some of the people some of the time,but -please-  take my advice:
IF you just want to run for dog-catcher then KEEP your  precious tax returns,
and clean off your car roof. OTHERWISE, if you wanna be our President, THEN PUT UP,
or shut up and go away ….preferably BEFORE the convention.

The super-rich think that they have the God-given right to do anything
they want in this great country -while the REST of us get screwed!
ENOUGH!!! The divine right of kings ended a long long time ago Mitt.
And so should your sorry excuse for a candidacy.

Nothing personal, guy. Really. Super-Rich, arrogant, power-hungry Republicans are people too!
It's just their "culture" that bothers me Mitt (as you're so fond of saying).
‘ Cause makTng lots and lot of money can be SUCH a dirty business. Right, fella?
It’s Laundry time Mitt! COME CLEAN.
Root thinks that Obama got into those schools because he wasn't really a citizen.

I'm not actually sure what Root thinks. An additional possibility is that Obama lied on applications the same way he lied on his publisher's biography page (claiming to have been born in Kenya when he was in fact born in the US). If he did this on a Federally-guaranteed aid application, then he committed a criminal offense.
"I floated the idea that this whole brouhaha could be what spies -- well, some spies -- call a "double bubble" operation."

As for me, I prefer Bazooka Joe.

Seriously the Rather rat-fuck was a stroke of genius, and I like that Birtherism could be a victory garden for Obama, but I am reticent to declare all such ops, 'designed' any more than a rape victim conceived the dna of the perp, as a plan. I don't think most politicos can plan a trip to the crapper.

I suspect the true architect; Cthulu, is at work.

Ben Franklin
Ben, you're a dude after me own heart. You're right -- most politicos aren't very good at planning these things. But some of them have tricksters and schemers on staff. A fellow named K. Rove comes to mind: Now THERE'S a born double-bubbler. And Axelrod is pretty clever in his own right.
Obama didn't need to lie to claim multiple citizenship. In fact, he himself pointed out that he was also a British citizen through his father, because Kenyan citizenship includes British as well
. I'm sure he blew a whole lotta bubbles to keep this birther stuff going to prevent the real conversation which should've been dual (or multiple) citizenship.

Also, long before Dan Rather, Sen Inouye (HI) was about to hold a press conference on candidate Bush's nonservice in the national guard when his campaign blew a big distracting bubble. They not only revealed Jr's drunk driving incidents in Maine, but then claimed it was a "Dem smear campaign" --- never mind that the "smears" were true. Anyone else remember that bit of fancy footwork?
When a student doesn't have the grades, but does okay with the tests and has the right ethnic background, he/she can enter into ivy league colleges easily. Obama may have had a preferential treatment due to his race. And because he was using the last name of his step father, he may have applied as Indonesian, even if he wasn't born there.

Im pretty sure Kenya citizenship doesnt give you british citizenship. Otherwise the UK would have a lot more Kenyans in it now.

I think Obama does have a british relative - someone from the Kenyan side of the family who moved to the UK. For what little its worth.

Propertius, the editorial assistant who wrote the liner notes for Dreams of My Father stated that she herself wrote that he was Kenyan, and he did not say that.

As the spouse of a minority alum of an Ivy League grad program I can promise you the schools do not just allow minority applicants to waltz in to their programs. Students are still held to very high standards, demonstrating high marks and strong leadership skills in the workplace.
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