In a surprise announcement today, the International Olympic Committee has filed a lawsuit against Mitt Romney and his entire family. Not, as some might have expected, for his recent comments about the London Olympics, but rather because Mitt has been using the term "Romney Olympics" to describe a summer festival held at his palatial vacation home, up to and including this year. The I.O.C. is famously protective of the term "Olympics" and who is allowed to use it, and according to their press release, they are merely protecting their brand. No word on what financial penalty the I.O.C. will be seeking, as an I.O.C. spokesperson told us, "We're going to have to subpoena Mitt's tax returns before we can answer that." He also added, "Mitt's dancing horse will be disqualified from the dressage event, as well."
Well, not really. That whole previous paragraph was not in any way true. But one can dream, right?
I should warn everyone, if you're already sick of Olympic-themed nonsense, then you might want to skip this week's column, because that pretty much sums the whole thing up. That's right, we're going for the gold this week!
But before we get to the rest of this nonsense, we've got our own actual awards to hand out.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid actually got something done this week. In doing so, he may have even faked out Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which (if true) would be an even more impressive feat than just getting a bill passed.
Democrats in the Senate put together a bill which will extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone. The news media, who are infamously bad at math, missed this fact. But under the Democrats' plan, every taxpayer will pay less in taxes than if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire -- even those making over $250,000. Because everyone's income up to that point will be taxed less -- whether you make more than the threshold or not. People who do make more than the threshold will not get a bonus tax cut on the money they make over $250,000, but they will enjoy the same tax break everyone else gets for the money they make up to that point. Meaning everyone will get a tax cut (no matter what the mainstream media says about it).
Republicans, of course, are holding everyone else's tax cut hostage, until the wealthiest get their bonus tax cut for money they make above $250,000. So they had a bill of their own, too.
Neither bill would have gotten an actual vote, due to filibuster rules, until Harry Reid offered McConnell a deal -- neither side would filibuster the other's bill, and both bills would get an up-or-down vote. McConnell reportedly thought that Reid didn't even have the votes to pass the Democratic bill, so he agreed to the plan. Vice President Joe Biden showed up for the vote, just in case he needed to cast a tie-breaking vote.
In the end, though, it was not necessary. Reid was better at counting Democratic votes than McConnell, and the Democratic bill passed while the Republican bill failed.
Now, you can say this is all "just politics," since the House is not likely to pass the Democratic bill that made it through the Senate, and likely won't do anything until after the election is over. But it's good politics for Reid, and good politics for Democrats. This is how you pressure Republicans on an issue -- by putting your own plan out there, getting it through the Senate, and then talking about the "obstructionist Republican House" every chance you get. You also might want to throw in "Republicans just voted against a middle-class tax cut!" just for good measure. Oh, and don't forget: "This is a tax cut for everyone!"
For making it happen, Harry Reid is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. Way to go, Harry! Well done.
[Congratulate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]
You know, it'll be a sad day around Friday Talking Points headquarters when we won't have Joe Lieberman to kick around in the MDDOTW segment anymore. Well, no, actually, it'll be a happy joyous day when we see Lieberman slinking out of the Capitol for the last time, to be quite honest.
Before we get to Lieberman, though, we've got to at least hand out a (Dis-)Honorable Mention to Senator Dianne Feinstein, for stating she knew that the White House leaked classified information to the press. She appeared shocked that Republicans then turned around and started using this politically against the president. Even if Feinstein was right, how did she get this information? Sitting on a Senate committee listening to classified briefings? This would mean that DiFi was doing exactly the same thing she was accusing the White House of doing by leaking this information to the press. Any way you look at it, it would have been better if DiFi had just kept her mouth shut.
This week we have two Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards to hand out, to Senator Joe Lieberman and to Senator Jim Webb, both of whom voted against the Democratic bill. Both men knew that this bill isn't going to become law without significant tinkering, and both men knew that passing the bill this week will give Democrats across the country an issue to campaign hard on from now until November. Knowing that, they both voted against it anyway.
We've come to expect such behavior from Lieberman, but from Jim Webb? Sigh. For almost sinking the Democrats' bill, both men fully deserve their Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards this week.
Volume 220 (7/27/12)
OK, with our awards out of the way, let's get on to our Olympics talking points!
What's that? A phone call? From the I.O.C.? Hang on a minute....
Well, we've just been informed that we're being sued for using the word "Olympics" in today's column. Our crack legal team informs us, however, that since we are holding no sporting competition ourselves and are merely exercising our First Amendment rights in creating satire, that we are under no obligation to obey this cease-and-desist order.
Heh. Well, no, not really. This whole column is getting sillier and sillier, so we're just going to let it all hang out in today's talking points. I really tried to write cutting remarks for the first few of these, but then about halfway through I just got a fit of the giggles and launched off into a sheer flight of fantasy. So don't say I didn't warn you.
Can't even handle Britain
"Mitt Romney stumbled badly on his first attempt at foreign policy. How hard is it to restrain yourself from badmouthing a foreign country while currently in that country? Romney couldn't have even waited until after he left? And he wants to represent America on the world stage? What's going to happen when Romney says something stupid and insulting while in a country that doesn't have a "special relationship" with America? I mean, seriously, Romney can't even handle Britain, so how is he going to handle other countries abroad? Romney certainly has won the gold in the foot-in-mouth race, winning by a mile, before the Olympics even began."
Middle of nowhere
Mitt Romney made things worse today, in responding to the gibe that the Olympics he held were "in the middle of nowhere." When I called Mitt up just now (ahem) to ask him about the insult, he responded:
"The middle of nowhere? Really? I would like to remind everyone that Salt Lake City was the world capital of bribery and graft for the 2002 Olympics. The city showed no shame in buying votes from the I.O.C. in order to win their Olympic bid. Middle of nowhere? Salt Lake City was the gold medalist of corruption back then!"
Gold medal bailout
Sick of the "gold medal" metaphor yet? We aren't even halfway done!
"Mitt Romney says he 'saved' the 2002 Olympics. What he never talks about is exactly how he saved those Olympics. Romney lobbied Washington hard, for every pork barrel dollar he could pry from the American taxpayers to avoid a fiasco in Salt Lake City. Mitt did so well as a lobbyist, he got over a billion dollars from the federal government for the Olympics. Yeah, it's pretty easy to 'save' the Olympics when you get the gold medal for lobbying, isn't it? For all Mitt's talk about the 'private sector' you know what saved his bacon? A big fat federal government bailout. I guess bailouts are good when they help your friends out, right Mitt?"
Made in Burma
"One more thing about the Salt Lake City Olympics. You know, there was a news story about the U.S. team's uniforms being made in China this year. But back in 2002, Mitt Romney was in charge of getting uniforms for the torch bearers, and he didn't go to China to get them made. You know why? Because he got them from Burma. That's right -- Mitt went shopping in one of the worst countries in the world on human rights, so that proud Americans carrying the Olympic torch would be wearing outfits made by a brutal military dictatorship. So I really don't want to hear Mitt say a word about the Chinese-made uniforms this year, because even that is better than wearing clothes tagged 'Made in Burma'."
"This just in! Mitt Romney has settled the lawsuit the International Olympic Committee slapped him with earlier today, after ignoring a judge's order to produce his tax forms. Under the terms of this agreement, instead of being barred from using the term 'Romney Olympics' for his family's summertime fun, Mitt Romney will in fact be purchasing the Olympic Games from the I.O.C. That's right -- the international sporting event will be known from this point on as the 'Romney Olympics' no matter where on Earth they are staged. Per the settlement, the alternative phrase 'Romneylympics' will also be permitted. Mitt Romney, upon announcing this news, stated that from now on he'll have to call his family fun the 'Mitt Olympics' to avoid confusion."
"Coming to you live, from the 2012 Romney Olympics here in London, we have some strange news to report -- athletes who have won their events are reporting that the 'gold' medals they received are not, in fact, made of gold. One world champion showed us that the medals are nothing more than cheap tin, spray-painted a gold-ish color. As he scratches off the gold paint, you can clearly see the dark metal underneath, and if you scratch enough of it off, the words 'Made in Syria' can easily be seen. Mitt Romney was unavailable for comment, as he was last seen boarding a plane to Switzerland with rather large and heavy suitcases. When asked why he was flying to an unscheduled stop in Switzerland, Romney smiled and said he was 'just going to visit my money while I'm in Europe, it's no big deal.' "
"We're here at the Romneylympics for the presentation of the gold medal in dressage, which -- after a financial scandal involving the judges -- has been awarded to the horse owned by Mitt Romney's wife. Ann Romney, when asked about the scandal after a visit to the Queen, said 'You people have seen all the financial information you are going to see. The Queen and I feel quite the same way about this situation. We are not amused.' "
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