Why Mitt Romney’s Business Experience Doesn’t Matter

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Here’s the Republican dream: A successful businessman – make him a full partner – with a passion for streamlining all organizations following the Efficiency Movement model, including government, is successful in his bid for the presidency. Hallelujah! Or not? Welcome to the Herbert Hoover administration.

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover, partner Bewick, Moreing & Co. and successful consultant

Okay, you probably saw that one coming. There’s a picture of President Hoover posted here for a reason. Let’s try again. I’m sure Republicans would be happy to re-live the presidency of Jimmy Carter, who built a multi-million dollar peanut business. Well, maybe not! Harry Truman is generally favorably remembered by history despite the trying times of his presidency. He ran a clothing store into bankruptcy. One more try? Franklin Roosevelt, the so-called ‘father of American Socialism,’ who Republicans loath founded the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.

There is no evidence in our history books a successful businessman makes a great or even good president. Will Mitt Romney rewrite history?

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is trying to leverage his business experience to pose as a job creator. The affective narrative he promotes is Bain Capital’s investment in Staples. To his credit, Romney took a chance on the business plan put together by founder Thomas Stemberg. The result is an affective campaign ad. However, Mitt Romney didn’t manage Staples day to day. He invested in it and sat on its board of directors. Maybe Thomas Stemberg should be running for president instead.

This isn’t the only reason Romney’s Bain Capital narrative conspires to take away hope of a successful presidency. The other side of the Bain Capital story is the Staples model is only a small bit of the firm’s picture. Picking start-up winners is high risk so Bain Capital evolved into the classic leverage buy-out model. It’s less risky because you pile debt onto the companies you take over to cover your acquisition costs. Then you pile on huge fees to virtually guarantee a profit. If you can spin off the company fine. If you can’t, gut the company for its assets. The only thing separating Bain Capital from fictional Gordan Gekko is, to their credit, they didn’t do hostile takeovers.

Which leads us to the latest Democrats versus Republicans tug of war over when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital and why it is so critical. The paper trail indicates Romney continued a leadership role even after he headed the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee. Bain’s new strategy during this period led to a series of business carcasses and the loss of thousands of jobs. At this juncture, Romney’s Bain Capital story turns sour.

There is no doubt Mitt Romney is a smart guy. You don’t become a Baker Scholar by being a dummy. Nor does one quickly reorganize a failing Bain Capital back into success by being an incompetent business manager. However, his Bain Capital turn-around story is inside baseball business stuff not easily transfered to government. Stuff like restructuring employee stock plans or real estate deals isn’t going to help a Romney administration create jobs.

The hard truth is Bain Capital didn’t really care whether it created jobs or even saved jobs. The path leading to greatest profits, including completely gutting companies, is the one they chose. Shed no tears.

Romney is a salesman. He’s a pleaser. He’s cautious. He’s lived a life of privilege few can identify with nor is there any evidence to suggest he relates to the American working class. These critical personal attributes work against him being an affective president. There’s no solid core to Mitt, aside from his Morman faith. You can see it in his Etch A Sketch political career. He was liberal Mitt to succeed as governor in Massachusetts. Contemporary Republican national politics is much farther to the right so he now declares himself a “severe conservative,” whatever that means.

Mitt Romney

Play-Doh, the sum of Mitt Romney?

Which is the point. What does businessman Mitt Romney bring to the table? He’s a great organizer. He may make the White House run like a Swiss watch. However, he succeeded at Bain Capital largely because of his ability to get along with partners. Judging from his campaign he’s going to simply bend to the whims of the Republican Party and public opinion polls. There’s no personal touch to his platform. It’s just a fuzzy rehash of current Republican platform planks. This might make partisan Republicans happy as long as they can continue to steer voters towards the GOP. They’d be happy to let a Tea Party infused Congress call the shots with Romney providing the rubber stamp of approval. However, I don’t think this radical Libertarian inspired vision of America is mainstream nor is it healthy.

To Mitt’s credit he’s no ideologue but his demise is he’s just the opposite: Play-Doh.

Mitt Romney: The Most Indecisive Man in the World

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Mitt Romney is so indecisive when he goes to a restaurant he orders everything on the menu. Why? Because he’s never sure what he wants. Or is that too ridiculous?

‘I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose.’
‘I never really called myself pro-choice.’

Show me a career politician who has never changed a position and I’ll show you a unicorn. Then there’s Mitt Romney’s two-faced nature that seems to be an order of magnitude worse than any other.

‘I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.’
‘I did not see it with my own eyes.’

Maybe I can sort out some perverse sense from his seemingly contradictory statements. Like the quotes that follow where he both supports an inflation adjusted minimum wage but then goes on to say it’ll cost jobs. One could argue he thinks the job losses, even if excessive, are justified by boosting the economic conditions of those trying to subsist on minimum wage jobs.

‘I think the minimum wage ought to keep pace with inflation.’
‘There’s no question raising the minimum wage excessively causes a loss of jobs.’

Too crazy? Yep. That interpretation doesn’t pass the smell test. So what’s Mitt’s official position on the minimum wage? I don’t know. I scanned Romney’s 87 page allegedly comprehensive economic plan. It isn’t mentioned. Not even once. Best not put it in writing on anything but his Etch A Sketch.

I can see why many conservatives fought hard to defeat ‘liberal’ Mitt during the Republican primary. The YouTube compilation of Romney’s reversal of positions which follows is hilarious but, most interesting, is posted by a far-right personality.

‘I will work and fight for stem cell research.’
‘In the end, I became persuaded that the stem-cell debate was grounded in a false premise.’

‘It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.’
‘I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there.’

So I got a laugh out of that video but there’s a serious side to it. Conservatives are understandably conflicted. They’re motivated by desperation to vote for Romney because of their anybody-but-Obama syndrome. But are they really getting someone different from President Obama? All indications are Mitt Romney bends dramatically with the political winds. As long as those winds favor their conservative platform, all is good.

Yet Mitt will change direction in a heartbeat to be as liberal, perhaps even more liberal if circumstances dictate, than President Obama to save his own political skin. Mitt’s bizarre, changing spin on the Affordable Care Act’s mandate proves that. He even went as far as to shove his campaign staff under the bus on that one.

‘I like mandates. The mandates work.’
‘I think it’s unconstitutional on the 10th Amendment front.’

So we can laugh at Mitt’s shifting sands of positions. Maybe the next pair of quotes show even Romney can laugh at Romney. Again, clearly conservatives aren’t laughing. I don’t think anyone on the political spectrum is.

‘This is a completely airtight kennel mounted on the top of our car.’
‘They’re not happy that my dog loves fresh air.’

Conservatives particularly won’t be amused Romney makes them dizzy running in circles around their idol, Ronald Reagan.

‘I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.’
‘Ronald Reagan is… my hero.’

More disturbing he’s seriously flip-flopped on all of their key issues: gay rights, abortion, immigration reform, the Bush tax cuts, a no new taxes pledge, campaign finance reform, gun control, universal health care, climate change, stem cell research, the stimulus, TARP, even his Republican affiliation if you can believe that. Want more details? Go here.

No wonder Conan O’Brien mocked Romney saying his most serious political rival in this election is the Mitt from 4 years ago.

And that, boys and girls, is what makes Mitt Romney the most indecisive man in the world!

Rush Limbaugh on Race

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People don’t believe me when I tell them that I once was true-red conservative. I voted party line Republican. One day back in the Dark Ages that were the 1990s a conservative friend suggested I listen to Rush Limbaugh. Since I worked during the day I couldn’t listen to his radio show so I caught a couple of his short-lived syndicated TV episodes showing in the wee hours of the morning. Quite frankly, I was appalled by his populist demagoguery.

Sculpting the Martin Luther King, Jr memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr

But what really was the last straw on the camel’s back was Rush race-baiting during a particular episode. I can’t recall much of the details but, I believe, his schtick centered around using monkeys at a drive-through zoo attacking tourists’ cars as a metaphor for rioting blacks. During a subsequent show he proudly waved a small newspaper clipping of the NAACP demanding an apology. Of course, the NAACP’s reaction was exactly what Rush was looking for. Gleefully he re-ran the clip. I think he did his usual routine of carefully parsing what he said with a wink and a nod to prove nothing he said was remotely racist.

True story and what started me down the road to liberalism. More accurately, I was washed down the road by a tidal wave of right-wing populism which endures to this very day.

Rush Limbaugh propelled to the top of the dung heap of conservative talk radio by taking on politically taboo subjects. I know several conservatives who listened intently to him in his early days because they were privately upset at minorities over affirmative action which they viewed as a serious career threat. Rush was their champion. He took the topic head on with a take-no-prisoners head of steam.

These memories and more flooded through my brain as I stumbled upon a cache of Media Matters clips of Rush Limbaugh’s trademark race-baiting on his radio show. The folks I used to know who listened to his crap long ago tossed in their dittohead towels. I have no idea who listens to his vile vomit today but I suspect they’ll be all around me at my polling station when I vote in 2012.

The only thing you’ll learn from Rush Limbaugh is contempt which is why, in my own inadequate way, I feel compelled to mock Mr. Limbaugh with a little bit of my own satire. Jon Stewart remains secure in a job but I had to do it.

Jon Stewart Skewers Fox News’ “World of Class Warfare” Against Poor

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Nobody – but nobody – can cut through Fox News’ right-wing propaganda spews like Jon Stewart.

Fox News has been mega-phoning the talk radio meme half of Americans pay no federal income taxes. The talking point has percolated up to the Republican political ruling class who thump their chests about broadening the tax base, code words for not increasing taxes on the affluent and rich but on the poor, working poor and lower middle class. As Stewart points out the wealth is concentrated at the top. The bottom 50% possess only 2.5% of the wealth.

Taking 1/2 of their wealth merely matches the tax increases on the ‘rich’ over 10 years many Democrats propose. Sticking the ‘rich’ with a $70 billion per year tax tab is too trivial an amount for the Foxies to champion using Foxy logic. Cutting out Michele Obama’s budget, Obama’s tour bus or making federal employees pay for their parking spaces? Worthwhile, if relatively trivial, cost-cutting measures meriting consideration because they jab sharp sticks in the eyes of those they hate. Typical Foxy hypocrisy.

But the brunt of Stewart’s message is, as Fox News’ Neil Cavuto puts it, the bottom half need “skin in the game.” How do conservatives who hate any revenue increase rationalize support for taking more tax revenues out of the pockets of those least able to pay for them? Simple. Conservative admiration is based upon personal wealth and income. The bottom half of America’s wealth demographic are held in complete contempt. This attitude is nicely summed up by Ann Coulter who calls the have-nots “parasites.”

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Big Hearted Rush Limbaugh Mocks Homeless Woman Living in Her Car

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I’m really not going to spend a lot of time blogging on this. The video speaks for itself.

A commentator mocking a woman who’s homeless would be shocking if it weren’t for the source, Rush Limbaugh. Of course, he’s built a huge career verbally abusing the poor like the time he attacked people “fighting off hunger” or suggested children “dumpster dive” if they’re hungry (not to mention he mocks the homeless here as well). It’s brilliant insight like this making him #1 with cultural conservatives who apparently have ripped out all the pages in their Bibles referring to an obligation to the poor.

By his own admission, Rush squirrels away a huge fortune in tax-free Treasury instruments. Oh, if it weren’t for all these parasites he could get a huge tax cut and get a better return in a hedge fund. To think my sympathies have been misplaced all these years. Rush, you unfortunate soul!

Meanwhile, an Annie E. Casey Foundation study finds children living in America in poverty is dramatically rising: up 18% since 2000. Rush is winning.

Is This Any Way for President Paul Ryan to Behave?

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President Paul Ryan? Like the sound of it? Gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Chris Hayes of the Weekly Standard claims Ryan’s considering a toss of the hat into the ring and to expect a decision within 2 weeks. Is there any doubt he’ll quickly become a front-runner in the current Republican field comprised of Tea Party crackpots Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, a way outside the mainstream Libertarian Ron Paul (shocking even to many right-wingers) and establishment phony Mitt Romney? Need I mention the also-rans: Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman?

Paul Ryan holds his plan

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan is the perfect GOP candidate in a way the other’s are not. Simply stated, it’ll take a relatively mainstream, establishment Republican to win a general election. Here’s the problem. Only 1 such viable candidate exists: Mitt Romney. Prior to the Ames Straw Poll Romney looked not only viable but the candidate. Leading in the national polls comfortably but knowing the very conservative Ames Straw Poll would embarrass him, he took a pass on it. His strategy gave him an excuse for his lousy 7th place finish. However, Rick Perry placed 6th as a write-in before formally announcing. Ouch!  The obvious problem for Mitt Romney is he’s not conservative enough for a Republican party drunk on a stiff keg of tea.

So maybe Rick Perry’s the man? The latest Rasmussen poll has Perry jumping to the front of the pack at 29%. That’s 11 points ahead of Romney. Ouch again! Perry skipped the bruising Fox News Iowa GOP debate and largely is untested on the national stage. But put it this way, he’s only been in the race a few days and he’s already making bad gaffs trying to intimidate our independent Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke. Perry may be a wee bit too strong a brew for mainstream Republicans and independents. Not to mention his main claim to fame, Texas being a job-creating machine, is a target rich environment for Perry’s opposition.

Paul Ryan can cross both boundaries. He’s firmly an establishment guy being Speaker Boehner’s right hand budget guy, heading the House Budget Committee. Flip the coin over and you have a Tea Party favorite who doesn’t have to wear the label on his sleeve like, say, Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann. No wonder über conservative NewsMax had Ryan leading all comers in a poll back in April.

What interested me in discussing a Paul Ryan presidential bid is a story that likely will fly under the radar of most. It’s this odd little story that he’s going to charge $15 a head for a town hall meeting. The cover story put together by his staff is it’s a rotory club invitiation and they set the price. Maybe that’s true but it’s curious he hasn’t held a town hall meeting since April.

What’s signficant about April you ask? It’s when Ryan was getting blow-back from constitutents questioning his Medicare reform plan. ThinkProgress has a couple of videos of the events you can see on YouTube here and here. His constituents aren’t the only ones concerned. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform scares the knickers off me – and that’s not a pretty sight!

The first blow I – and anyone under 55 – will take is the eligibility age will gradually rise to 67. While this might not be catastrophe for me, I know a few people in the trades burdened with bodies, quite frankly, that can’t even hold out until 65, the current age limit. However, I realize something needs to be cut to ensure Medicare’s future and see this change as inevitable.

The real gut punch is the meat of Ryan’s plan which turns Medicare essentially into a medical 401K. I’ll save my opinion on 401K retirement plans for another day but suffice it to say I would never be able to retire under one. And, yes, I’m a saver. I save at least 20% of my income for retirement and I earn well over the median household income in America. Basically, I’m in better shape than 1/2 of America and I couldn’t even think of retirement without a decent pension.

Like a 401K plan, Ryan offers typical retirees a match of $8,000.  That’s actually more than my employer’s plan costs. So it’s reasonable, right? Well, I’m not over 67 with my history of cancer asking a for-profit insurance company for an individual policy. Think about it. Insurance is about pooled risk and senior citizens are about as concentrated a high-risk health insurance group you can muster. Assuming I become a ‘typical senior‘ my out-of-pocket costs will rise from $6,150 under current Medicare to $12,510 under Ryan’s plan. My understanding is Ryan’s plan adjusts at the rate of consumer inflation, not medical inflation, so the gap will quickly widen over time. Do I need to start worrying what dog food will taste like?

Oh, yeah. I’m scared. Scared because I view Paul Ryan as the most credible Republican threat against President Obama. And any Republican president, should they win a super-majority in the Senate, will railroad through Ryan’s Medicare reform – or worse – turning my retirement into an absolute nightmare. That’s if I can retire at all. My hope is many Americans like the folks crying out at Ryan’s town hall meetings will be so frightened they pull the lever for the other guy.

The Iraq War: Beware of Morons Claiming Intelligence

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Probably the most appalling example of government propaganda in my lifetime were the lies fed the American public by the Bush administration to urge us into war with Iraq. No matter how your feelings fall regarding the outcome of the war, you expect honesty from your elected leaders in justifying a war in the first place.

You’d think this old news but MailOnline is reporting a comprehensive case on how Britain’s Tony Blair government was an all too willing accomplice feeding the Bushies and the rest of the world bogus intelligence.

We know that based on intelligence, that [Saddam] has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

 

America’s newly found horror in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction is in sharp contrast to the 1980s when it is suspected America blocked the United Nations from condemning Iraq for using mustard gas during the all but forgotten “Holy” Iran-Iraq War. Even if it were true, why the sudden urgency to go to war over it?
The obvious answer is the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

However, while the Bush administration could dust up a room with allegations of a secret link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, no real proof was offered. As former CIA director George Tenet admitted in 2007: “We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period.” Given Iraq’s past track record, the weapons of mass destruction ruse was far more convincing.

George Bush with troops

Why? Enter ‘Curveball,’ an Iraqi defector held by the Germans running from embezzlement charges in Iraq turned ace-in-the-hole informant. He was the perfect useful idiot for the Bushies to leverage in their propaganda efforts shilling the war. The Germans holding him and not offering easy access provided an air-tight excuse for the CIA not to dig to deep into his claims while swallowing whole what they wanted to hear. The fact that the Germans called him “crazy… out of control”? Not relevant.

We have since learned Curveball is Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, an easily proved liar. He claimed to have worked with ‘Doctor Germ’ building mobile biological warfare labs. How is this easily proved false in secretive Iraq? Well, he claimed he was picked for the project because he was top in his class in chemical engineering. Actually, he graduated last. Forgetting even a cursory background check would have revealed him a fraud, his claims didn’t always make sense to the experts tasked with analyzing them and he often sent U.N. inspectors off on wild goose chases proving he was wrong on the details. However, if you’re not looking for proof of a war, merely an excuse, it’s easy to wallpaper over the facts. Hey, the inability to find evidence is wonderful proof of just how devious and dangerous Saddam Hussein really is!

Which is why I like the MailOnline article so much. Based on the release of Gordon Corera’s new book, The Art of Betrayal, it documents how British intelligence has become whores of the political elite. Recall, Tony Blair’s “sexed-up” dossier was a critical component in the sales brochure the Bush administration put together on Iraq. Our expensive and seemingly never ending involvement in Iraq is the price we pay for such purposeful incompetence.

Fox News Wishes President Obama a Happy Birthday or Maybe Not

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President Obama turned 50 on Friday. So did – could – partisan Fox News lay off him about it? Apparently not. It’s like asking a skunk to give up its stink.

Famously (it’s been Tweeted alone over 1,300 times!), their web propaganda organ, Fox Nation, posted the article “Obama’s Hip-Hop BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs.” Note Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder performed, according to their write-up. Neither are known for their hip-hop acts.  DJ Cassidy did play some hip-hop tunes but mixed with a wide variety of musical genres. If the deliberately misleading title wasn’t enough of a conservative race-baiting dog whistle, the accompanying photos might clue in the denser fanboys. All of the photos of attendees are of blacks even though many guests weren’t. Fox Nation doesn’t do subtle.

We found many of the comments to be offensive and inappropriate and they have been removed. We also shut down further comments on this piece.

 

If that were all. Fox Nation also posted some b-day whacks from their Tea Party pals, Michele Bachmann and Allen West. And what trashing of President Obama by Fox News would be complete without Fox & Friends getting their b-day digs in too?

I’ve compiled the complete collection for your viewing displeasure. TPM compiled their own video from which I stole 2 brief clips.

Did Speaker Boehner Outwit Democrats on Debt Deal; Committee Can’t Raises Taxes?

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Now, I’ve said from the beginning that the ultimate solution to our deficit problem must be balanced.

We’ve all heard President Obama’s theme of a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction mixing revenue increases with budget cuts. Despite his insistence for this balanced approach during the budget negotiations he failed to get Republicans to budge and ended up “caving,” as many liberals phrase it, on the revenue side of the ledger. Yet, President Obama continues to insist revenues be a part of the ultimate solution and is calling for the special Joint Congressional Committee of 12 tasked with coming up with more cuts in round two to adopt the issue.

President Obama

President Obama

Yet, Speaker Boehner keeps insisting the committee will be hamstrung by design raising taxes.

It’s easy enough to write this off as typical political posturing. However, I dug a bit and Paul Ryan writing on the Speaker’s blog explains how it is structurally difficult, if not impossible, for the committee to raise taxes, especially in the context President Obama often uses of reversing the Bush tax cut extension on the ‘wealthy.’

Ryan’s explanation is about as interesting a read as the Manhattan phone directory so I’ll sum up my understanding of it for you: Because the Bush tax cuts are set to expire they can’t be used by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for scoring any longer term deficit reduction deal. What clouds the issue and the main reason for him bloviating is the administration seems to think alternative methods of scoring are allowed so it can get tax hikes through the back door. Both Speaker Boehner and Paul Ryan are insisting CBO scoring is the only allowed method of scoring any deficit reduction package.

There’s been a lot of talk of closing loopholes and such to raise revenues so the Bush tax cuts aren’t the only game in town but they are the biggest revenue game in town for the Democrats.

Of course, this may be a moot point because early indications are the Republican selections for the special Joint Congressional Committee will all be anti-tax hardliners while on the Democrats side at least Harry Reid is showing ideological weakness in his picks. Philisophically I think most people would like to see open-minded folks on any Congressional committee to reach a reasonable, bi-partisan agreement but in this toxic, polorized political environment it’s a recipe for one side being steam-rolled.

Matt Damon Takes Out a Libertarian Ambush Journalist

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A blog called Reason has a Reason TV “Hit & Run” offshoot which is pretty much what you’d think it is: ambush journalism. The only thing Reason TV’s ambulance chasers have going for them is they aren’t very good at it so they don’t come off like some sleazy Fox News Jesse Waters pit bull clones. Waters is such a hack even Bill O’Reilly’s right-wing pal Bernie Goldberg won’t defend him against accusations of gross bias.  Yet, I digress.

“Hit & Run” struck gold in chasing down actor Matt Damon who was giving a speech on education at a rally in DC. You see, Matt’s mom is a teacher.

Reason TV’s version of the video is mostly a grab-bag of very brief interviews, including Damon’s. Quite frankly, their piece is a pretty incoherent mash-up of heavily edited clips with the sole point of letting us know the obvious: Libertarians hate public education. If you read the accompanying statistics in their blog post they make the point that private teachers are so much better because unlike the average public teacher earning an average wage, private teachers’ salaries really suck. More evidence the agenda of the right-wingers is to drive down middle-class wages as if we really needed any more.

There is a pleasant twist to all of this. Reason earned a spot on Anderson Cooper’s “The Rediculist” where he has entirely too much fun with the topic. Enjoy!