Friday, July 27, 2012
On Thursday evening, the mysterious group of hackers known as Anonymous successfully hacked the main database for the Internal Revenue Service. The group appeared to have a singular target- Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Romney has been criticized by both parties for his failure to produce more than one past tax return. According to Ann Romney on ABC’s “Good Morning America” they had no intention of ever disclosing the contents on those returns: “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life”. Anonymous however, seems to have thought that we “the people” might want to know a little more about the man who seeks the White House.
The Anonymous attack successfully retrieved 25-years worth of Romney’s tax returns and published them without permission on major websites throughout the Internet. The majority of these websites removed the returns within minutes, however it was too late to completely protect the candidate’s already tainted image. We at The Orbson Oracle were able to examine Romney’s 2008 tax return and found that he had good reason to fear its release. The 2008 return paints a picture of an extraordinarily wealthy man, whose low tax rate and bizarre itemized deductions will surely raise many questions as to his suitability to be President.
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul stated last week that “there has been no year in which Romney paid zero taxes”. In 2008, this was true. He earned $23,425,316 and paid $412.18 in federal income taxes. This calculates to a federal tax rate of 0.0018%. How did Romney get his tax burden so low? According to his return, he had approximately $23,407,000 in itemized deductions. These deductions ranged from $78,923 for “Toupee Creators Unlimited” and $41,826 for “Spray-on tan services” to a $3.8 million dollar write-off for a trip to Las Vegas with potential campaign donors. The Romney family also paid salaries to their numerous employees including, two yacht captains, three pilots for their private jets, two professional dog walkers, one toupee stylist and a “live-in contortionist”. What someone does with a live-in contortionist, one can only speculate. However, the $891,064 Romney spent on an “EWS Donor Party at the Pennsylvania Mansion” might give us a clue. While the return does not indicate what “EWS” stands for, given that the deducted supplies for the party included “Venetian masks, alcohol, lubricant and various Egyptian leather accessories” it was most likely an “Eyes Wide Shut” party.
In addition to his wild nights, Romney also deducted health related expenses. These included $127,000 for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for a condition termed “Pseudologia fantastica” also known as Compulsive Liar Syndrome. This may explain why the Republican nominee’s views seem to change dramatically depending on his audience. In fact, his recent string of political gaffes may be the direct result of his inability to keep up with the many competing “truths” he has spoken over the past year. According to noted Psychiatrist Bryan King, “Pathological liars seem utterly sincere about their lies, but if confronted with facts to the contrary, will often just as sincerely reverse their story." According to Politifact, a news organization that researches the veracity of politician’s statements, only 16% of Romney’s examined statements were found to be completely true.
While the 2008 tax return only gives us a brief glimpse into the life of Mitt Romney, it is unlikely that the other 24 years would have given us a true complete picture. Given that Romney has several secret tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and until recently Switzerland, we will likely never know the extent of his holdings or of the other unorthodox appetites he quenches with that money. However, the Anonymous hack did succeed in giving Americans a better understanding of the Republican candidate.
Photograph of Mitt Romney courtesy of Adam Glazman
Photograph of Guy Fawkes Mask courtesy of Anonymous Editor
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Mitt Romney, who has been under attack for his numerous offshore accounts and failure to disclose tax returns is apparently hoping to draw attention away from his past by making highly controversial remarks about women in the workplace. During an informal luncheon of campaign benefactors and selected media, Romney was asked about the conservative “war on women”:
“How can there be a war on women when one of them just got promoted to the highest office at Yahoo!? The depressing part is that she’s pregnant and yet still took the position. There is a war, but that war is being waged on good family values. Now I ask you, is it responsible to take on the job of CEO of a billion dollar corporation when you are about to have a child? I think not my friend. Marissa Mayer belongs at home with her baby, not running a company. Her child needs a mother. I know what it is like to be in charge of a company, I ran Bain until 20… ah, 1999. There is no feasible way she can adequately raise her child and be a successful CEO. It’s one or the other.”
Romney’s statements should not come as a surprise as the candidate has been previously been unwillingly to support the Lily Ledbetter Act that would require corporations to pay women and men equally. Clearly, as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of White Men, equality is not something Romney strives for in his personal or professional life. Apparently, he is not the only one who believes women like Mayer should not be mixing business with “motherly duties”. After Mayer’s CEO/pregnancy announcement, numerous articles have been written questioning whether she will be a capable CEO. Not due to her relative youth or inexperience as a CEO, but because of her pregnancy. Many believe as Romney does that Mayer would be better suited in an apron than a power suit.
As for Marissa Mayer, the 37-years-old Stanford graduate has been named to Fortune magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. She was the first female engineer at Google and held the title of Vice President when she departed. In 2009 she was named the Glamour Woman of the Year and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described her as “a powerhouse of creativity and business acumen for one of the world’s most innovative companies. Marissa Mayer is leading the way in keeping America number one.” Mayer is only the 20th current female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, which leads to a rather obvious observation. Perhaps the economy wouldn’t be so pathetic if more women like Mayer became CEOs.
Orbson Answers Why He Chose Today's Topic: I asked myself, "Self, when can we, as a society, honor the accomplishment of strong, intelligent and independent women without minimizing their success with stupid questions about whether it is okay to be a mother and a CEO?" I am still waiting for an answer. In the meantime, I thought I would write about it...
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
“One year ago, Orbson Rice exploded into the world. There are many legends regarding the origins of the Orbson. Some believe he was created by the Gods to entertain, educate and inspire. Others believe that he is the love child of Jon Stewart and George Carlin. Regardless of the mythology, readers have come from all over the world to reach out and grasp his magic Orbs.”
Exposing My Orbs
Today I celebrate the one year anniversary of The Orbson Oracle!!! 82 times I have placed my fingers to these keys for a reason other than looking up Katie Morgan videos. Looking back over my Orbs (no more ‘blog entries’ or ‘articles’) I am pleased to say that I accomplished what I had set out to do. Better yet, I have discovered a newfound love of writing satire. I’ve often worried about being yet another liberal, standing on a homemade soapbox and yelling about the world’s problems. Satire has allowed me to bring to light a real topic (i.e. that idiot Republican who blames kindergarten for high crime rates) and envelop it with ridicule and sarcasm. See Mom, sarcasm pays off!
With that in mind, I will be making some exciting new changes to the Oracle over the coming months. First, it will cease to be a blog and will morph like an Orbson from an attorney-shaped cocoon into a real website. The exact details of this website are currently top secret in order to protect myself from the very real possibility of not following through on every one of my 3,183 ideas (has anyone noticed if my Café Press store is still up). Second, as you may have noticed from the quote above, I have finished writing “Exposing My Orbs”. For those of you who need a refresher, Exposing My Orbs contains every Orb I have ever written. I have added a fair amount of commentary and included some Orbs from my pre-Orbson years for your entertainment. What I had expected to be an easier to read version of The Orbson Oracle has become the tale of my journey as a writer and a satirist. This has made for a fairly lengthy book, so even if you don’t read it you can use it to hit Republicans over the head. At the outset, I will be releasing it as an e-book with a paperback version hopefully to follow. As promised, I will initially offer the book for FREE to my loyal Orbsonites! I am SO not a Republican. I’ll have the exact dates and information for your download in the coming weeks. I’m putting the finishing touches on my Orbs right now and trying to nail down the cover. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have enjoyed writing for you this past year.
Well Katie calls, but before I go I just want to say thank you for taking the time to read my words and for joining me on this journey. I promise to continue writing, continue battling The Stupid and continue being a little obscene, a little crazy and a buckets full of Orbson Rice.
Orbson by the Numbers:
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82 posts on The Orbson Oracle
20 satiric Orbs published on Free Wood Post
Artwork by qthomasbower, check out his other great stuff here!
Thursday, July 5, 2012
One brave Republican has exposed a horrific threat to our nation’s safety- kindergartners. New Hampshire Republican lawmaker Bob Kingsbury (R-Laconia) has been under fire for the conclusions he has drawn from an intensive 16-year study. According to Kingsbury, the “research he has conducted since 1996 shows a connection between the state's kindergarten program and higher crime rates, attributing it to children being taken away from their mothers too soon…. In general, the towns with a kindergarten have 400 percent more crime than other towns in the same county. In every county the towns and cities with kindergarten had more crime.” At first I was dumbfounded by these statements and when I visited Middleton Kindergarten in Maryville, New Hampshire, I was only expecting to get some quotes for an article about another crazy Republican. However, what I discovered was truly shocking. Representative Kingsbury was right. Kindergarteners are being brainwashed to become future criminals.
After walking in to Mrs. Peabody’s classroom, I was immediately struck by a barrage of colors shooting off of every wall. Mrs. Peabody had placed the kindergartners’ “artwork” on the walls for all to enjoy. There was no order to the placement and apparently no rules for their content as I saw numerous pictures of animals that do no exist in the real world. Even more disturbing was the way that the children repeatedly failed to stay within the lines in their coloring. I asked Mrs. Peabody about this phenomenon and she replied “Well, the kids do their best and I let each of them create things that express their individuality and creativity.” This subversive way of teaching will likely lead to non-conformists who feel they have the right to metaphorically color outside the lines in adulthood. This will undoubtedly include criminal behavior.
As I watched America’s youth I noticed that they were finger painting with what I believe were gang colors. Had that been the worse thing I witnessed, I may have let it go, however the day just got scarier from there. Five year olds sharpening their crayons into objects that looked more like prison shivs than coloring tools, games where the winner or hider is able to evade the “seekers” for the longest amount of time and “reading time” books about cats in hats who convinces children to commit various forms of disobedience while there mother is away. This was all done by nap time! I hurried out of the school as they started to a song about babies falling out of trees. Gang colors, weapons, training to evade the police, learning to break rules and get away with it and singing about falling babies to help put them to sleep! Perhaps Kingsley is not just another crazy Republican.
Many people will likely scoff at Representative Kingsley’s findings, but don’t be fooled by their adorable faces and the seemingly harmless classroom activities. Kindergarten is a training ground for the criminal underworld. If it is this bad in kindergarten, I shudder to think what’s happening in our nation’s pre-schools.
Photograph by stevegatto2