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141 Responses to “TOM THE DANCING BUG: Mitt Romney Repudiates President Roosevelt's Fear of Syrup Shelves”

  1. Aloisius says:

    Debating an empty chair is a pretty good strategy as long as you can keep people convinced the imaginary person you’re debating is the same as the real version. Republicans so successfully debated an empty chair for years now and their base seems none the wiser.

  2. gaultfalcon says:

    Uh.  Obama really did say “You didn’t build that.”

    • foobar says:

      The “that” in context was all the public infrastructure businesses use to succeed, not the businesses themselves as Romney implies ad nauseum.

      • anwaya says:

        However…

        Did he build it? Really? Without help?

        No. Romney did not build Bain and Co, and go on to become fabulously wealthy, without help from the Federal Government, in the shape of the FDIC, in the 1990′s. He preserved executive bonuses, of course, while exacting $4m in consulting fees for his services, for Bain Capital.

        http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-federal-bailout-that-saved-mitt-romney-20120829

        • gaultfalcon says:

          Let’s be clear.  The government did not build ANYTHING without us FIRST paying taxes.  So yes.  Even the infrastructure.  WE did build that.

          • anwaya says:

            I am saying that Romney built Bain with Federal help, and that is us. He could not do it without: Bain would have been bankrupt.

          • UFIA says:

             We did. 
            Like the president said. 
            You didn’t build that on your own. 

          • eeyore says:

            Nope, sorry!  YOU didn’t build @#$%.  You fought tooth and nail AGAINST building that!  

          • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

            Taxes used to pay for the things you wouldn’t bother doing due to the lack of immediate profits, like national defense, highways, health care, education for those who lack the means to pay, etc.  These in turn allow society to thrive and further tax revenue, etc.

          • Snig says:

            There are not a plethora of true stories of children being raised by wolves who then tame the wilderness and become captains of industry.  Nobody established anything without the preceding generation educating them.  Part of the reason the US is a fertile land for industrialists is the preceding generations having defended the country, working and paying taxes and having left us a starting infrastructure.  Unless you’ve mastered time travel at a young age, you don’t first pay taxes and build society, you live off the extant society, then use it as a springboard to do something with you life. For America to continue to succeed in the future, it is neccesary to continue maintaining education and developing infrastructure so that future generations may continue to innovate and progress. That is clearly the intent of Obama’s speech. 

          • Deidzoeb says:

            Skrreekkkk, grmblrmblrunch = the sound of the goalposts that you just moved.

          • Prinzrob says:

            “The government did not build ANYTHING without us FIRST paying taxes.  So yes.  Even the infrastructure.  WE did build that.”

            Yeah, that was Obama’s whole argument in the speech: YOU didn’t build that, WE (business owners with help from the American people and their representative government) built that. Private businesses did not create the economy on their own, so everyone owes a debt to the system that made their success possible, instead of using the system to c@¢k-block all up-and-comers from doing the same.

            The strawman argument you are describing, that the government is solely responsible for everyone’s success, is only a misinterpretation of the message in that speech courtesy of the Romney campaign, which is the whole point of the cartoon.

          • eviladrian says:

             Except for Romney: he doesn’t pay taxes :-P

          • Colin Curry says:

             Obama’s point exactly?

          • gaultfalcon says:

            Well, this is as good a hill to die on as any.

            There have been a number of respondents who have indicated my point is the very one that Obama was making when he said “you didn’t build that”.  Meaning that it is the tax payers that built all of the infrastructure that helps make a great business great.  Or, at least that a successful business owes a part of their success to the current and previous tax payers that paid into the system.

            Let’s assume that I accept this logic.  Using that logic should I then be thankful to all of the single celled organisms that existed in the past for evolving, eventually resulting in me being able to walk upright as a primate?  It just seems silly.

            What about the failed businesses?  There are thousands of those every year that shutter their windows because they were a failure as a business.  Should the tax payers take credit for the failures as well?  I really don’t see this logic working for me at all.

            And, Obama doesn’t exactly strike me as the kind of person that believes in taxpayers as much as he does big government.  Like most single parent politicians of his ilk he is looking to provide everyone with the fair minded parenting he never got as a child.  And, he intends to use an expansive government to provide just that.  Taxpayers are simply a means to an end for Obama.

            You collectivists can get pissy with me all on your own now.  I’m going to do something successful now and blame it on myself.

      • realityhater says:

        Finally another code cracker ………. the implication I love is the 700 million that obama care takes out of medicare – they never disclose the FACT these cuts are not touching the benefits of medicare for the recipients – just the reimbursements and payoffs to corporations and drug companies would be less a whole lot less ……hmmm  benefits for the people  or benefits for the corporations….such a difficult decision……. Republican leaders : “lets not discuss the pesky part where were rooting for corporate payments to stay the same , lets just say the money will be robbed from medicare and its obama who is the thief”…….what Bullshit !
        anyone who does not check facts during the election process, might as well be brain washed – both sides tend to bend the truth a little,  our job is to discover for ourselves  just how much bending is going on before casting a vote

    • Sagodjur says:

      Hence the phrase “an INTENTIONAL MISUNDERSTANDING of an Obama statement…”

      He’s not saying Obama didn’t say that. He’s saying Romney is intentionally interpreting the statement in a way other than was intended.

      • gaultfalcon says:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKjPI6no5ng

        Pretty sure he got the interpretation spot on.

        Some have said that Obama was referring to the infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) when he said “you didn’t build that”.  Even in that interpretation he is again wrong.  None of the infrastructure got built without business and individual tax payers surrendering a part of their earned income to the government in the form of taxes.

        • dark says:

          our tax dollars built something? i find it strange to think that a paper currency has the ability to pave a road or construct a bridge. dollars don’t even have opposable thumbs!

        • UFIA says:

          Don’t you play a ukulele?  Badly? 

        • Clifton says:

           Ah, so you’re saying Romney didn’t build Bain Capital, and the government didn’t build Bain Capital, I built Bain Capital!  Thanks for letting me know.  In that case, who would you suggest I contact to collect my personal share of their profits, in recompense for my hard work?

        • jere7my says:

          None of the infrastructure got built without business and individual tax payers surrendering a part of their earned income to the government in the form of taxes.

          I think you’re taking a singular you as plural. Obama said “You (alone) didn’t build that” — i.e., every businessperson had help from teachers, government, and, sure, other taxpayers. Just like people on welfare get help from taxpayers. You’re trying to make Obama say “You (the American people) didn’t build that,” which doesn’t fit with the rest of his statement. He’s clearly addressing a putative single business owner.

          • jere7my says:

            The more I think about this, the more interesting I find it. When I hear Obama say “You didn’t build that,” it’s very natural for me to parse it as a singular you — you didn’t build it alone, we built it together. It’s an attempt to unite, to remind us that we’re all in this together.

            But if you’re listening with an “us vs. them” mentality, and Obama is one of “them,” then my interpretation doesn’t make sense. There’s no “we” he could be referring to that includes you, because you and he are on different sides of this massive divide. For someone with an “us vs. them” mindset, the line comes across as “You people didn’t build that; we built it for you” — where “we” is the government, East Coast liberals, whatever. That’s offensive. That’s why Romney’s “WE BUILT IT” response makes sense to them — “No, your team didn’t build it; we, the real Americans, did!”

            That “plural you” interpretation is clearly wrong if you give it a moment’s thought, but the initial, visceral reaction doesn’t always get that far.

        • senorglory says:

          -1.

        • regeya says:

          “None of the infrastructure got built without business and individual tax payers surrendering a part of their earned income to the government in the form of taxes.”

          You could say we all agreed to surrender a part of our earned income to the government, so we all pay to build things that individual businesses are unlikely to build on their own.

          That might explain why he said this a few seconds later:

          “he point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
          “So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together.  That’s how we funded the GI Bill.  That’s how we created the middle class.  That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam.  That’s how we invented the Internet.  That’s how we sent a man to the moon.  We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea.  You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

        • robuluz says:

          OK, so to summarise.

          - In reponse to the assertion that the Republicans are deliberately misinterpreting something Obama said, you argue that he did say it.

          - In response to the assertion that Obama was talking about how business uses public infrastructure to succeed, you argue that the infrastructure is public.

          You know, the phrase ‘fucking idiot’ gets bandied about a lot.

        • jess says:

          “None of the infrastructure got built without business and individual tax payers surrendering a part of their earned income to the government in the form of taxes.”

          You’re trying desperately to make a point, but the point itself is pedantic to the point of absurdity. You might as well say that Bain Capital owes its existence to King George, because if he hadn’t been such a righteous prick, the Founding Fathers wouldn’t have been motivated to declare independence.

          So yes, your point is technically true. It’s also completely meaningless.

        • TheKaz1969 says:

          “None of the infrastructure got built without business and individual tax payers surrendering a part of their earned income to the government in the form of taxes.” 

          Wait – aren’t republicans the ones arguing that the government is spending money it doesn’t have?  it is possible that our tax dollars haven’t yet paid for it…

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          None of the infrastructure got built without business and individual tax payers surrendering a part of their earned income to the government in the form of taxes.

          And no citizen or corporation alone could build (and share) that infrastructure that we all use, never mind that corporations and the wealthy often are contributing much less in taxes than what they get back from infrastructure in return.  Next strawman?  Or do you get it now?

    • Larry says:

      And as the cartoon states, that quote has been intentionally taken out of context. The overriding message was that businesses are built with both individual initiative AND a good amount of help from the government: government insured loans, tax breaks, government funded roads, etc., etc., etc. But you’d have to listen to more than two seconds of Obama’s statement to comprehend that.

    • Sam Bayne says:

      But he didn’t say ” You didn’t build your business” he said you didn’t build the roads to your business, the education system that teaches your workers(and you), the police and fire departments that protect your property, the regulated clean water and sanitary systems that keep you and your customers healthy, the system of contract law that keeps you from getting randomly ripped off by everyone you do business with, etc.

      Sometimes when politicians mendaciously defend the stupid crap they say by accusing their opponents of pulling quotes out of context. In this case, there is legitimacy to the claim.

      Go listen to the whole paragraph from the actual speech. If you still feel that was mr. Obama’s meaning, (and are a native speaker of English), you are probably a shill for the Republican party. (Even then, I suspect you know what the president meant, you just don’t care.)

    • giantasterisk says:

      In today’s news, gaultfalcon responds to Obama statement, “You didn’t build that” by saying, “Obama really did.”

      See? Context doesn’t matter one bit!

    • theophrastvs says:

      and you really typed “Uh.” there.  what if we characterized you with endlessly repeating “Uh.”?  context is important, even with political cartoons.  the term used by “Tom The Dancing Bug” was “Intentional Misunderstanding” which is apt.  Then the joke extended to include intentional ‘misheard lyrics’.

      Here’s the operative quote from Obama, it’s not his best as it begs quibbling, but, i think, the message is one of positive social awareness:

      If you are successful somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet, so then all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

    • Avram Grumer says:

      Yeah, he said those words, in that order, but the Republicans have taken them out of their original context to pretend he was saying something other than what he said. 

    • jere7my says:

      Yes, in much the same way gaultfalcon said, “Uh. Obama really did build that.”

    • Karl Oakes says:

       Yes, but the “that” referred to the infrastructure he mentioned in the previous sentence.

    • Ian Wood says:

      Yes. Yes he did. And he said a whole bunch of other words in the same speech which, collectively, are called “context.”

    • JammitTimmaj says:

      The only thing worse than ignorance is willful ignorance.

  3. apenzott says:

    The evil side of me wants to see the presidential debates become a three-way race with the third candidate being “the empty chair.”  I could see the moderator choosing questions for this third candidate where no response is a perfectly valid and correct answer.

  4. Teller says:

    Premeditated Mondegreening would be the technical phrase.

    edit: Also, that “somebody” who invested in roads and bridges, etc – isn’t that somebody we, the taxpayers? Where else does the gov’t get its money? Income taxes, sales taxes, state taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, municipal taxes, school bonds, permits, tolls, licenses, etc. The taxpayers HAVE paid for these things – those before us, us, and those who will follow. imo, he could have stated that a lot differently if he wanted to get to ‘we do things together.’

    • dark says:

      you mean something along the lines of this: “The point is, is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

    • jerwin says:

      It depends on whether you think the government adds value to those tax dollars. If the government simply gives that money to a construction company with the instruction– build a road, somewhere, somehow, at some point, it’s not adding anything of value to society. But if it’s analysing the economic needs of its citizens and making sure that a road gets built, at the right time, in the right place, to the right standard, then it is arguably adding value to the equation.

      • Teller says:

        Just to roll with your comment, we also pay for those analyzers and for their analysis. They may add value; they also add cost. The good news: those analyzers also pay taxes. It’s Escherian!

    • SamSam says:

      Also, that “somebody” who invested in roads and bridges, etc – isn’t that somebody we, the taxpayers?

      Yes… that’s Obama’s point.

      Romney didn’t built the roads that lead to Bain Capital. We The People did.

      • Teller says:

        First of all, even Mr Romney is part of We The People, so he ‘did built’ the roads to Bain and elsewhere as much as anyone else. Secondly, the President’s ill-chosen words, in my opinion, fall in line with his thinking, or from his personal experience, that the gov’t is The Great Provider, rather than the recipient of our trust and taxable labor, which provide the largesse by which the gov’t operates, whether for road-carving, Guantanamo maintenance or drone attacks.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          I’m sure he’s funded some roads in The Caymans..  ;)

        • SamSam says:

          First of all, even Mr Romney is part of We The People, so he ‘did built’ the roads to Bain and elsewhere 

          No, *he* didn’t, *we all* did.

          Yes, he’s included in “we all,” but if someone on your construction crew says “I built that skyscraper,” you’re completely right to turn around and say “no, we build that skyscraper.”

          Why the heck is this so hard to understand?

          Secondly, the President’s ill-chosen words fall in line with his thinking that the gov’t is The Great Provider

          What on Earth are you talking about? Where does Obama say that the gov’t (and not we the people/society) is “The Great Provider”? Where is this strawman speech you’re reading from? Where is Invisible Obama sitting when you’re hearing him?

          Here is the actual section of the quote:

          Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. … The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

          If you yank Bill O’Reilly from out of your ears, do you hear him saying the the government built everything, or that the society that you live in did?

          Stop arguing against a stupid strawman.

          • Teller says:

            The actual section:

            “If you are successful somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet, so then all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

            Below, what you actually call the “actual” section, truncated by you, expunging sentences. You got plenty of invective; not much integrity.

            “Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. … The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

            Nevertheless, the President’s view of the gov’t as The Great Provider is MY opinion. Not helped by statements like this (in the true actual statement): “Government research created the Internet, so then all the companies could make money off the Internet.” Is that really how it happened? First, taxpayer-funded ARPAnet research then, voila – Etsy? All because of The Great Provider? I understand the President can’t give a stem-winding history in each speech, but clearly, he’s glossing the gov’t for bequeathing the business world the web.

          • SamSam says:

            Teller:

            The two lines I “expunged,” thus lacking in “integrity” according to you:

            “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

            Yes, for God’s sake, we’ve said this line 500 times. It’s what the discussion is about. I shortened the speech (with an ellipsis) to show all the surrounding context describing who made it happen.

            “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet, so then all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

            You say: “Is that really how it happened? First, taxpayer-funded ARPAnet research then, voila – Etsy?”

            Yes… that’s pretty much how it happened. The ARPANet was funded by DARPA (DoD). Merit Network was created through government grants. NPL and CYCLADES were created by British and French government research labs. TCP/IP were developed by DARPA. What…. exactly are you arguing against?

            The government didn’t create Etsy, but it, along we We The People, created all the roads that lead to it. That’s the point of the speech. Etsy didn’t build the internet, and Romney didn’t build the roads. We all did — both the people and the government of and by the people.

            Nevertheless, the President’s view of the gov’t as The Great Provider is MY opinion.

            Your opinion that you’ve pre-decided on, but not supported by the speech.

        • UncaScrooge says:

          Romney is arguably a part of They The People Who Use Tax Havens.  They The People do not actually build anything. They The People are essentially tax parasites.

  5. millie fink says:

    Surely someone has created a Rule about this problem in political campaigns, in a country which has such subservient news media?

    Something to this effect: “Lying in campaigns is effective because while 100 million or so will hear the lie, only 100,000 or so will ever hear the correction.”

    • ldobe says:

      But…But… Broadcasting fabrications, falsehoods, and judging comments out of context on the air is my First Amendment Right!

      If I can’t get mad about an intentionally misinterpreted quote on the air, how will I ever maintain my following of ideological extremists?  I can’t possibly keep ratings up without feeding foul bile to the people!  They have to rely on me in order to know what to be mad as hell about!

  6. I don’t understand Romney’s interpretation in the third scenario. What is he thinking that Truman said?

    • Nothing, hun, that’s the joke — he doesn’t CARE what Truman said, and by that point in the strip he’s given up on even trying to pretend. You didn’t really miss anything, it’s a deliberate total non sequitur!

    • Robert Drop says:

      I’m going to assume your comment is not a meta-joke.  He’s thinking that Truman said, “The buck stops here.”  (That is, he’s understanding what’s being said in all cases.)  He’s just more wildly distorting the message such that it can’t plausibly be seen as a misunderstanding of the original statement.  Kind of like what he’s actually doing in the real world.

      • I understand that much. In the first scenario “fear itself” becomes “syrup shelves”, then “do for your country” into “do do on your country”, and then finally “buck stops here” into “spazzes” who suck at Madden and pick their noses? Is that the full joke? The first two were (possibly clever) homophonic (in that they are pronounced similarly) misinterpretations, but the third one seems totally unrelated to what was said.

  7. This strikes me as one of Ruben’s less inspired strips, but to be fair to him, how the hell do you satirizing something as crazy as a presidential candidate out and out lying and getting away with it? You have to bid HIGHER than the source material when you’re doing comedy, and Romney’s rhetorical absurdity level is hard to match.

    • ImmutableMichael says:

      There is clearly an underlying force here that should explain both this situation and encompass Poe’s Law - some kind of Unified Theory of Satire.  As absurdity merges with reality, reality merges with satire.

  8. Preston Sturges says:

    http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/dear-gop-you-may-have-built-it-government-p
    About that “failed stimulus” and “you didn’t build that.”
    Steve Cohen was the “small businessman” who spoke at the GOP convention to remind America that “he built it” all by himself and that small business needs to get out of the way of small business. Steve forgot to mention that his company got $2,000,000 in federal contracts and $220,000 in direct stimulus funding. 
    “I think it would be irresponsible for an American manufacturer not to go after their fair share,” Cohen told The Associated Press this week. “The question is whether it was a wise investment. That’s for someone else to answer.”
    But Steve said not to blame Romney because it would hard to find any businesses that Obama had not helped. “There was a tremendous amount of money that went to all sectors. It would be very hard for a Mitt Romney, or a presidential candidate from any party, to go to any manufacturer and find someone who was not directly, or indirectly, affected somehow,” said Steven Cohen, president of Ohio-based Screen Machine Industries, which hosted a Romney event in July. 

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      To add to this:

      The RNC was held in a venue that was publicly financed and is publicly owned
      They get about 18 million in public grants to fund the convention
      Tampa spent millions in public dollars to prepare the city for the convention
      50 million in public funds to pay for security

      Over at Next New Deal, Jordan Fraade, Sarah Pfeifer and Jeff Madrick have a nifty back-of-the-envelope calculation estimating that for the public infrastructure costs alone—which total about $100 million for the arena costs and area improvement projects—each delegate would have to kick in $43,745 in order to accurately say “We Built It.” Checks can be made payable to the City of Tampa Bay and the US Treasury.

      http://www.thenation.com/blog/169623/rnc-tampa-they-didnt-build#

  9. nachoproblem says:

    Hey kettle, this is Mitt Romney. Your statements can be misread, and you’re black. (rimshot) (extra rimshot for good measure)

    See, it’s funny because this is the same Mitt Romney who said that corporations are people, and he likes being able to fire people. AND because if we thought about it for a second it was perfectly clear that he meant 1) that corporations are composed of and employ people, and 2) that as a consumer he should be able to “fire” corporations — and BOTH of those are perfectly valid statements if he could just parse them using his brain instead of his rectum.

    BUT (speaking of butts) he said the things that sound totally stupid out of context, and now he’s hucking a whole bag of rocks at that glass house.

    • ldobe says:

       Except corporations are NOT composed of people.  Corporations are constructed out of LAW whole cloth.  Without the law, corporations cannot exist at all.  Without law, people are still people, even if not equally people in treatment.  Saying a corporation is a person or should have personhood rights is equivalent to saying that a human should be classified as a microbe, since we have an order of magnitude more microbial cells than human cells in our bodies.  Or a car should be called petroleum, because it runs on gasoline, and is made mostly of parts that require petroleum to be made.  It’s the fallacy of composition.

      • nachoproblem says:

        No, the law is NOT the whole cloth, that’s the same fallacy of composition. They are constructed by means of law, but they cannot exist without employing people. A corporation is not a person, which is why what Romney said sounds stupid, but he went on to say that what affect a corporation affects people, that for instance if a corporation evaporates all those people are out of work, which is ALL TRUE. Romney screwed the pooch because he doesn’t grasp the distinction between this and the argument for corporate personhood, which is all a bag of crap as you say. Or more likely his campaign puppet-masters would never want him making that distinction. And therefore his answer, while true, was irrelevant to the question that was put to him about corporate personhood being a bag of crap.

        I, on the other hand, can’t let this distinction go by because I am a liberal and I also want people to be able to be employed by private enterprise.

      • Scratcheee says:

        Romney was responding to a specific suggestion that he should raise taxes on corporations but not people.  It is impossible to tax a corporation without eventually getting the money from people.  Put another way, any money that a corporation has after taxes eventually makes its way to people.  If the corporation has less money after paying taxes, then less money makes it to the people.  This would probably be fine with the person who asked the question, but it’s not what he (the questioner) said.

    • In the “corporations are people” situtation, you have to interpret the phrase “correctly” to get to Romney’s supposed actual meaning. In the Obama, “you didn’t build that” case, you only have to read the preceding four or five lines to get the context. These are apples and oranges really: Romney’s intended views on what corporations are and aren’t are a matter of whether or not you are ideologically aligned with him. What Obama meant by use of the pronoun “that,” according to the rules of the English language, is fixed and not open to interpretation.

      • nachoproblem says:

        Yes, Mitt Romney’s semantic butchery was worse than Obama’s normal use of the antecedent rule for pronouns. I’m comparing them for a different reason, which is that they both violate the Media’s rule of people not being able to think past one sentence, or one independent clause. 

        Now, if I were a crafty politician or speechwriter, I might try to avoid pronouns all together in statements such as, “You didn’t build all the things you used to get ahead.” But I can’t imagine what a pain in the ass it would be to do that extemporaneously.

      • Scratcheee says:

        What Obama meant by use of the pronoun “that,” according to the rules of the English language, is fixed and not open to interpretation.

        I disagree.  My reading is that his use of the word “that” was referring to the business.  If you want to use the rules of the English language, then you must consider that the word “that” is not an appropriate choice to refer to “roads and bridges” and the several other (plural)  things listed in the paragraph.

        • cjporkchop says:

          “then you must consider that the word “that” is not an appropriate choice to refer to “roads and bridges” and the several other (plural)  things listed in the paragraph.”

          “That” is a perfectly appropriate choice to refer to “infrastructure.”

    • Scratcheee says:

      Romney was 100% correct, and this has nothing to do with corporate “personhood.”  He was responding to a person who asked about raising taxes by saying that he wasn’t going to raise people’s taxes.  The questioner came back with (paraphrasing,) “Don’t raise people’s taxes, raise corporations’ taxes.”  But it’s a fact that if you raise corporate taxes, some person or group of people eventually pay those taxes (eg, stock holders, employees, or customers.)  That’s OK with some people and not OK with other people, and that’s a legitimate disagreement to have, but it’s a mistake to think that a corporation has any money of its own to spend on anything, taxes or otherwise.

      • Torn says:

        Except it’s insulting. Don’t raise our taxes anymore, instead raise the taxes of those other people who can afford it. The response is patronizing and ignorant both. Yep, raise the taxes on THOSE people asshat!

  10. MrJM says:

    And Paul Ryan’s marathon time totally beats FDR’s.

  11. rastronomicals says:

    For Obama, the regrettable thing is that he wasn’t able to paraphrase Elizabeth Warren’s words any better than he managed.  I remember a similar gaffe about Joe the Plumber in 2008, when I was convinced that his inability to explain the somewhat obvious imperilled the whole shebang.

    I don’t get that feeling this time though.  Because . . .

    For Romney, this is just another way to fire up his base, who DON’T CARE what Obama meant.  They are convinced that Obama has spent trillions of dollars, that he has cost the economy jobs, and that he is just a goddamned socialist, and the truth of the matter, and the actual intent of his mischosen words that day, will not sway them from this deep-seated belief. 

    The good thing is that while Romney has careened toward the right in pursuit of the GOP base, there are not enough of them in that base to swing the election.  It’s close, which keeps things fun here, on CNN, and on 538,  but there are just not enough.

  12. Doug Black says:

    A parable which illustrates the difference between GOP lies and Democrat ‘lies’:

    Republican:  “The sun rises in the west.”
    Democrat:  “No it doesn’t.  The sun rises in the east.”
    Republican:  “HAH!  The sun doesn’t rise at all; it’s really the earth rotating.  You Democrats never stop lying, do you?”

    • Sagodjur says:

      Except the Republicans wouldn’t say that because the Good Book doesn’t mention that the earth rotates around the sun, so it’s clearly not true! Heliocentrism is just another socialist scheme to kill seniors, take our guns, and force straight men into gay marriage!

  13. Scratcheee says:

    If it’s false to say that Obama was denying credit to people who built businesses, it is also false to say that he was simply talking about infrastructure like roads and bridges.  A clear minded and non-partisan reading of the paragraph in question clearly suggests that what he meant to say–and should have said–was, “You didn’t build that in a vacuum.”  But he didn’t say that, and so the logic of what he actually said applies equally to a student who earned a degree, an athlete who won a race, or a writer who earned a Pulitzer.   Romney isn’t twisting Obama’s words at all, he just isn’t giving Obama the benefit of the doubt.  You know, like Obama does to Romney (“Corporations are people,” anyone?  Go back and read THAT transcript with an open mind.)

    • jere7my says:

      You know, like Obama does to Romney (“Corporations are people,” anyone?  Go back and read THAT transcript with an open mind.)

      There’s a false equivalency there. Obama tweaked Romney for a few days after he said that. Romney turned “WE BUILT IT” into a day-long theme for his convention, got half a dozen speakers to build their speeches around that misinterpretation, and has, along with Ryan, been hammering that lie home in stump and convention speeches.

      Yes, both sides do it, but I don’t think the first-day theme of the Democratic convention is going to be “CORPORATIONS AREN’T PEOPLE.”

      • UFIA says:

         “CORPORATIONS AREN’T PEOPLE.” 
        I’d be cool with that. 
        You know, because corporations are actually not people and money is really not speech. 
        If the Dems made that their theme, I’d be stoked. 
        Because “government for the people by the people” only works when people are people and nothing else is. 
        If corporations are people we have “government for the corporations by the corporations”. 

  14. leidentech says:

    Even if you were to (incorrectly) parse Obama’s statement as “we” did build this because “we” paid taxes -  no – most of us didn’t build “this” even if our tax/fee money paid for it.

    • UFIA says:

      Don’t know about y’all. 
      Most of us build and maintain public and private infrastructure. 
      And pay taxes. 
      Romney and his ilk don’t pay taxes worth mentioning. 
      Banking on bets is not infrastructure. 

  15. royaltrux says:

    Build your factory on an uninhabited island in the middle of the ocean and then you can say I did it all by myself. Bonus points for not using loans, inherited wealth or under-paid workers.

    • Sagodjur says:

      And without using any engineers or workers who received a public education at any point in their lives and without using any manufactured materials that were created or refined by any business that received a government subsidy or bailout or tax break at any time and without using satellite technology for navigating your ships and without using the internet.

      I’d suggest contacting the Amish to find out how they would build something like this, but the Amish probably received some kind of benefit from the government at some point as well.

      • silkox says:

         Re Amish and government benefits: for one thing, it would suck to drive those buggies on unpaved roads. Or without any roads whatsoever, for that matter.

        • Kevin Pierce says:

          They would probably recall that the dirt roads they had were along property lines, and that the government came in an insisted they be paved, and oh, btw, we own the land under them too.

          • Ito Kagehisa says:

             Kevin’s right.  I own the land under the road past my house, but the government won’t let me shoot out the tires on the Google Street View car when they drive on to my property and take pictures through my children’s windows.  I would prefer a dirt road if it meant I could have my property rights back, and I imagine the Amish would prefer dirt roads if they could get rid of the English cars when they got rid of the tarmac.

  16. joeposts says:

    The government didn’t build all that infrastructure. God put it here. #TCOT

  17. Romney went full Romney. You never go full Romney. 

  18. fabius says:

    On we built it day I wandered into the room with the TV and heard the multitudes chanting “Weevil tits.” I like my version much better than theirs. 

  19. Preston Sturges says:

    Another apt phrase to describe the GOP is “defiant ignorance.”

  20. rocketpjs says:

    Well, I doubt the plutocrats like Romney built much of anything with their tax dollars.  Do they even pay taxes anymore?  I mean really pay them, not just shuffle them about into various shelters, expense accounts, ‘foundations’ and bogus ‘losses’ that ultimately result in them making practically nothing (as far as the IRS is concerned) yet somehow living lavish lifestyles.

  21. interpolatingblur says:

    Aren’t these supposed to be funny?

  22. Melted Crayons says:

    Let’s get to what’s really important:  Jesus died so that Corporations would not perish, but have everlasting life.   And He loves loves loves businessmen.  And UN-regulated capitalism.  Cuz, ya know, REGulated capitalism is of the Devil, cuz it stops a businessman from having free choice and doing what he wants with his own business.

    Friends, Jesus is a Republican!  I think you kind of figured that out by now.  

  23. glaborous_immolate says:

    If Obama meant to say the totally ordinary pedestrian thing the Republicans claim he didn’t say, why say it at all. Everyone agrees with the banal point Obama was making. So would Obama make a banal point? Or what use was he making of this banal point?  He’s trying to ‘sell’ something, so how does a banal point everyone agrees with differentiate himself from his opponents and make his own case?

    • jere7my says:

      I agree that it’s an obvious point, but not everybody does. There is a vocal wing of the Republican party that maintains that successful people don’t owe anything to the society that enabled their success, because they got where they are through gumption and hard work and self-reliance, not government handouts. Obama’s point is that we all rely on “government handouts” — schools, roads, the internet, public safety — to make our way in the world, so we all owe back into the system. We just don’t think of those things as handouts the way some people think of, say, welfare.

      “Everybody agrees” is not something you can say in today’s political climate. Yes, Republicans probably believe that too — but their rhetoric necessitates that they don’t, because they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy. Suddenly, when it’s coming out of Obama’s mouth, the thing “everybody agrees” on is socialism. Or class warfare.

      • Gilbert Wham says:

         Yup. I’m all for socialism. And class warfare.

      • glaborous_immolate says:

        But the wealthy PAY TAXES. Obama would need to make a case that the amount of tax the wealthy pay (and they pay more, in both percentage, and absolute share of tax revenues than any other cohort) is OBVIOUSLY unfair and wrong relative to the ‘help’ they have received from a ‘teacher’ or a ‘road’. But unfortunately, there does not seem to be a set of tax rates for income cohorts delivered from on high that is obviously just, to all.
        How can Obama make the case “really now, you had a teacher, you simply MUST pay 2.7% more in tax, anything less is unjust”

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          Any working class person who isn’t a mindless conservative realizes that their tax burden is tougher to bear than a wealthy person who may pay a higher percentage. These are the basics of an argument for fair taxation. There are more progressive tax systems to look to, including our own in which the extremely wealthy once paid much higher rates. 

          Joe Worker’s tax burden has a real affect on his life, Mitt Romney’s does not, unless you consider buying 9 yachts instead of 10 a serious hardship.

          • glaborous_immolate says:

            So the actual justice goal of taxation is to make the wealthy feel a bite? They go through life avoiding various hardships as a result of wealth, but by gum, we’ll make sure the government makes them suffer like the rest of us? 

            I’ve heard a repub talking point that actually the US has a highly progressive tax structure compared to most other industrial nations. Refutation?

            (wikipedia sez ” For example, when refundable tax credits and other tax incentives are included across the entire income spectrum, the United States has the most progressive income tax code among its peer nations; although its overall income tax rates are below the OECD average.[11]“)

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            So the actual justice goal of taxation is to make the wealthy feel a bite? They go through life avoiding various hardships as a result of wealth, but by gum, we’ll make sure the government makes them suffer like the rest of us?

            What an extraordinarily bizarre interpretation of that statement. The point is that people with less money may go hungry by paying a higher percentage of their income to taxes, not that anyone is calling for the rich to be ‘punished’. It’s this sort of knee-jerk emotional response that has turned economic debate in the US into fire and brimstone rhetoric.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            It’s to make them pay back an amount that’s in line with the riches they’ve garnered, so yes it’s to make them “suffer” like the rest of us, because the rest of us suffer for the lack of revenue lost by their amazingly low rates.  The gross inequality that the U.S. suffers (third world-ish inequality) makes things harder for everybody.   As you may recall, a guy like Romney pays around 15% thanks to his kind of income (dividends) not being subject to regular taxation rates.  So indeed we have a “progressive” system, in that we don’t have a flat tax, and it’s incredibly complex and full of loopholes, especially for wealthy individuals that make their income off moving money around.

            http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/09/20/does_the_us_tax_its_billionaires_less_than_other_rich_countries?page=0,0

          • glaborous_immolate says:

            @Antinous_Moderator:disqus  Sure, but NOBODY in america is impacted in their ability to eat by their tax level: in fact, we give back through tax credits so that the poorest among us have a *negative* effective tax rate. In that context, what possible justice reason would there be for making rates for the rich higher?

            And Romney pays a lower rate because the corps he runs pay a higher rate already, and his money is pre-taxed.  

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Sure, but NOBODY in america is impacted in their ability to eat by their tax level: in fact, we give back through tax credits so that the poorest among us have a *negative* effective tax rate.

            You are completely out of touch with reality if you believe that there aren’t tax-paying Americans who are suffering fundamental economic woes, such as hunger or malnutrition.

          • glaborous_immolate says:

            @Antinous_Moderator:disqus  if your talking payroll taxes and local taxes, fine. Restricting to income I think I’m still not delusional, but feel free to point me to studies showing what income levels are affected by hunger. If you can make more than 40K taxable income (limit for EITC with 3 kids) and still be malnourished you may have other issues that inadequate income. 

          • glaborous_immolate says:

            http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/us-taxes-really-are-unusually-progressive/252917/
            “Why, according to the OECD, is the US system so progressive? Not because the rich face unusually high average tax rates, but because middle-income US households face unusually low tax rate “

    • Snig says:

      There has been considerable opposition to Obama’s proposed legislation regarding maintenance and improvements to infrastructure and  to projects designed to modernize education.   It may seem banal to you, but half of congress is fighting tooth and nail against what seems obviously helpful to developing a stronger economy, and is instead fetishizing taxcuts and austerity.   

      • glaborous_immolate says:

        Some of that is due to a preference for local control of education.  I will say I only recently read THIS 

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crumbling_constitution_avenue_to_be_rebuilt/2011/03/21/ABsftM9_story.html 

        and it was far more compelling than the banal repetition of ‘crumbling infrastructure’. (which, like ‘scarce resource’ seem to be redundant: a world of entropy means all things are immediately crumbling)

        • Snig says:

          I live in DC suburbs, and I think that DC, as far as road repair itself, often has it better than other patches of the country, local examples being Virginia and Pennsylvania. “Crumbling Infrastructure” is a good description for our mass transit, whereas other countries often describe their’s as “High Speed Rail”. Other countries are also putting more investment into schooling and universities, whereas ours are getting less support. I think we can have American Exceptionalism, but only if we fix things like this. Otherwise, the sun will set on us and someone else will go first.
          Edit:
          “Local Control” of education is often a buzzword for “lets see how much we can lower local property taxes” and sometimes, “we really need to help out the football team, but why the hell do we kids need science labs and computers and skilled teachers?” Sometimes there are influential power brokers can afford private school, and there’s others who homeschool and don’t really believe in public schools. Enough people not believing in public schools is a self fulfilling prophecy.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          Say that the next time a bridge collapses or a levy breaks..

    • Deidzoeb says:

      How refreshing, to imagine that politicians would avoid banal statements.

    • pantsu says:

      “Everyone agrees with the banal point Obama was making.”

      That would send sales of Ayn Rand books into a tailspin.

    • Deidzoeb says:

      ‘… the smart play for a firm in a duopoly is to act like the other firm, not to differentiate itself.

      ‘C.B. Macpherson was among the first to understand modern electoral politics—the two-party system—in terms of oligopolistic and duopolistic market practices. “Where there are so few sellers,” Macpherson wrote concerning political parties, “they need not and do not respond to buyers’ demands as they must do in a fully competitive system.” This means the parties, like oligopolistic firms, can “create the demand for political goods” and largely dictate the “demand schedule for political goods.” In Macpherson’s argument, a duopolistic party system in a modern capitalist society like the United States will tend to gravitate to providing a “competition between elites,” which are the driving force and “formulate the issues.” The basics in the political economy are agreed upon by the two parties and off the table for public debate or discussion.’

      – from “The Bull Market: Political Advertising” by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols
      http://monthlyreview.org/2012/04/01/the-bull-market

  24. Deidzoeb says:

    This would have been so much easier if Obama had been speaking redneck. If he had said, “Y’all didn’t build that,” we would know that he meant second person singular. If he had meant second person plural, he would have said, “All y’all didn’t build that.”

  25. Bink Binkerson says:

    The Repuglicans:   They Bilked it.

  26. Prinzrob says:

    What I can’t wrap my mind around is what the Republicans are trying to convince us about what they say the President meant: “You (singular business owners) didn’t build that (your business).” Of course business owners built their business! How does stating otherwise make any sense at all? It’s like saying “Those pants you’re wearing? You didn’t wear those!”

    Even without bothering to read the context of the ENTIRE rest of the speech which makes it plainly clear that the President was referring to individual businesses, but the shared investment that everyone in the country makes to provide a climate which made those businesses possible, one should at least read that quote and think “Hmm, that doesn’t make any sense at all on its own, there must be some missing context.”

  27. snagglepuss says:

    What IS it with conservative businessmen, that they so desperately need the whole Neitzschean kapitalist ubermensch myth ? 

    “I emerged from a snowbank, naked and helpless, alone in the Arctic, overcame wolves and polar bears to single-handedly conceive of and invent capitalism and electricity, before inventing the telecommunications industry and thereby the necessity for an ‘Angry Birds’ app !”

    For an economic model so dependent on the concept of never-ending debt, you’d think that it’s practioners would be a little more aware of the debt they owe to others. But then, that’s what egomania, blind avarice and the neurotic hoarding of wealth will do for you.

  28. Thad Boyd says:

    Some site or another did a contest a few years back for the best intentional misunderstanding of a President’s speech.

    The winner was Abe Lincoln’s statement that he “cannot stand” America.

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