Basements and non-taxpayers on the campaign trail

If, during his Chief Executive quasi-election campaign, Hong Kong’s ex-Chief Secretary Henry Tang had been caught on video saying “It’s not my job to worry about those people [who don’t pay salaries tax]” no-one would have been remotely surprised or given a damn. He was to run Hong Kong for the city’s (non-taxpaying) tycoons, and we all knew it. And if Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney had been found with a 2,000 square-foot luxury basement, it would barely have rated a paragraph on page six. After all, he’s already got a 3,600 square -foot subterranean cavern complete with car elevator.

But it was not to be. The revelation about Henry’s underground den caused public outrage, which one way or another led Beijing to re-write the script at the last minute and put CY Leung into office. And it was Romney who got recorded at a fund-raiser last spring dismissing the 47% of Americans who are retirees, students, low-paid or unemployed as dependents who expect handouts and refuse to care for themselves. He also revealed his election strategy: attract the roughly 7% of voters who are independent and voted Obama in 2008 by convincing them they made a mistake then. As well as the 47%, he also insults that target group in the video, explaining how his campaign would condescendingly help them accept that they had been fools last time. He goes on to reject any possibility of a two-state solution in the Middle East.

How much will this actually damage his campaign? Romney already had ‘loser’ written all over him. Forget opinion polls: British bookmakers say so. Like insurers, these companies make money by calculating probabilities with cold accuracy. Romney’s offshore bank accounts and refusal to reveal earlier tax returns already hurt him. If Obama’s team can’t shred a multimillionaire opponent who pays relatively little federal income tax and who badmouths poor people who pay none, what can they do?

Henry Tang grinned, blamed his wife and just carried on safe in the knowledge that Beijing would hand him the job of CE on a plate. Romney has to try harder to recover. He’s doing quite well. Rule one: don’t apologize – don’t, that is, concede that you made a mistake (which, as his comments on the independent 7% made clear, he knows makes you look stupid). He has also explained the comments half-convincingly: he was talking about focusing campaign resources, and non-taxpayers won’t be receptive to messages about tax cuts, and that’s why he “doesn’t worry” about them, though of course he loves and respects them deeply in every other way. But it’s all a bit complicated and detailed for most people’s tastes. The Democrats could argue that Obama’s performance has been pretty good given that the alternative was a 1930s-style bout of debt deflation. But then you have to explain what debt deflation is. The basic default subliminal message is that Obama means well even if he’s learning on the job. So you just attack Romney the multimillionaire, and bingo – now he even gives you more ammo to do it with.

Has anyone sampled Romney’s comments in a rap/hip-hop/whatever song yet?

Closer to home, World War III still hasn’t started, but it seems the Germans have won. Mainland consumers are turning away from Japanese brands of vehicle, and Teutonic, and Korean, manufacturers will benefit. All these products are, of course, built in China by partly Chinese-owned, yes state-owned, ventures. This is shooting-yourself-in-the-foot cannibalization to make yourself feel good.

As part of China’s perhaps overly strenuous and elaborate propaganda efforts, state TV has now started to show a weather forecast for the Diaoyu islands (the TV screen shot here also shows the outlook – storms – for Nansha, the new ‘city’ covering China’s bits of the Philippines and Vietnam.) This undoubtedly useful new service started last week. And it raises one tiny, nagging question: why weren’t they already doing it? 

Click to hear ‘Uncle Henry’s Basement’ by the Jesters!

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13 Responses to Basements and non-taxpayers on the campaign trail

  1. Bela Returns says:

    Romney is far too honest to be President. Honest but evil of course. Unlike O’Bummer, he cannot feign concern for the people living on mayonnaise sandwiches in trailers all over the US of A.

    I was in Macau yesterday, witnessing the world’s most overtly corrupt society. When you can reduce a third of your territory (Taipa) to concrete Hell in twenty years, you cannot be matched. But most of Coloane hangs on precariously, although swimming from Hak Sha at times evoked wading through a sewage farm.

    I came back to Hong Kong where the sub-racists, neo-racists and downright racists were in full cry in their own little concrete and marble Hell: 2012 Central. Living as cypher nodes in a degrading urban environment which no longer serves human needs is what they should all be demonstrating about.

    I went up to one anti-Japanese protester, a prominent one, and said:

    “Everyone needs someone to hate. Why don’t you try loving people instead.”

    At the very least they should follow Graham Greene’s remark: “You can only hate your equals. You despise everyone else.” Hate is ugly and is unworthy of even vaguely civilized people.

  2. Sir Crispin says:

    Of course Mitt rejects a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. He has to pander to the Religious Right, who wet their pants in anticipation of the second coming…which can only happen when/if Israel is wholly intact. Wankers!

  3. Real Tax Payer says:

    What puzzles me is how and why the religious right ( except the mormans themselves) can vote for a morman .

    And I wonder if Mitt Romney pays 10% of his income to the morman church ( and is that calculated pre-tax or post-tax ? … not that it makes much difference )

    PS : @ Bela – although we have often crossed swords, I heartily agree what you wrote today.

  4. Old Timer says:

    @RTP
    I suspect that most of the Religious Right, like your good self, can’t even spell the word Mormon. To them it’s just a vague concept, which at least has “The Lord” in there somewhere, and was invented in the US of A.

  5. Headache says:

    Marmots shouldn’t be allowed to run for office.

  6. Maugrim says:

    Mitt and his magic underwear is a train wreck waiting to happen. However, Obama has hardly set the world on fire, he’s never had a job and has made gaffes that a fawning media would have leapt upon had it been Bush. The guy even thanked his drug dealer in his high school year book, neglecting to mention the grandmother who raised him. A pox on both their houses.

  7. Sir Crispin says:

    Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster the Republicans turned their backs on Santorum.

    As I heard it said, “Santorum has a great mind . . . for the 12th century.”

  8. Aghast says:

    Merman, Dad. Merman.

  9. Claw says:

    RTP makes a good point. Although it hasn’t been mentioned very much in the news (Political Correctness?) I have seen a couple of interviews with right wing Christians, who would normally be solid Republican voters, stating that they could not bring themselves to vote for Mitt because he is a Mormon. The question is: how many of these voters will not turn out for the GOP on the day? I imagine the answer is giving the Romney election team some sleepless nights. One of the problems is that they not only can’t do anything about it but also they can’t even mention it out loud.

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    Sorry ….. morMON

    (or flying spaghetti monster / manster – same thing)

  11. Prodigal_Son says:

    Don’t put too much store in the Bookmakers. I made quite a decent sum in 2004 out of that lot during the Presidential Election.

  12. Bangkok Lurker says:

    Hemmers, how can I get a copy of that “Henry Smile” collage? It would make a great blotter for my latest batch of acid, man!

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