George W. Bush ain’t exactly the ghost of Xmas Past for Scrooge Romney

Mitt Romney has a George W. Bush problem.

In fact, that’s Romney’s biggest problem. It’s George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, who has made voters skeptical of many of Romney’s core policies. It’s George W. Bush, not Obama campaign strategist David Plouffe, who persuaded voters that our economic troubles aren’t mainly Obama’s fault. And so it is, in a sense, the electorate’s lingering fear of George W. Bush, as much as its residual affection for Barack Obama, that Romney needs to beat if he’s to become president.

At Tuesday’s debate, Romney was given a chance to do just that. A voter from Nassau County stood up and asked: “Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration. Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?”…

Romney devoted the first bit of his answer to the previous question about contraception. Only later did he turn to address the central question about his candidacy: “Let me come back and answer your question,” he said. “President Bush and I are — are different people and these are different times and that’s why my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done.”

Notice what he didn’t say there. He didn’t say that Bush had gotten anything wrong before leaving office as one of the most unpopular presidents in history. He didn’t say, “You’re right to be skeptical of Republicans, because we didn’t live up to your expectations last time.” He said, rather, “Have you heard about my five-point plan?”…

Romney offered precisely nothing that Bush wouldn’t have proposed in 2000. And Romney left out some of his more salient agreements with Bush. For instance, both the Enron debacle and the financial crisis happened on Bush’s watch. As a result, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley and, later, Dodd-Frank laws to toughen financial regulation. But Romney has proposed rolling back both…

2012 is not 2000. We have deficits rather than a balanced budget. We have historically high unemployment rather than historically low unemployment. We’ve seen what the financial system can do when left unchecked. We’ve watched tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 fail to spark economic growth and seen a rising stock market fail to lift middle-class wages. We do need new thinking. But Romney isn’t offering any.

One reason you won’t see any differences in the worst plans offered by Romney is his advisors are exactly the same people that did the grunt work for Bush. From John Bolton advocating foreign policy roughly akin to Attila the Hun to Glen Hubbard who laid out Bush’s tax cuts and now proposes screwing things up about 400% worse – it’s the same old song.

Air Canada flight finds disabled yacht in Tasman Sea

Glenn Ey happy to be alive

An Air Canada passenger flight bound for Sydney has helped locate a yacht in distress in waters between Australia and New Zealand…Flight AC033 was diverted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) after it spotted an emergency beacon activated in the Tasman Sea.

Pilots descended to 1,800m altitude and used a passenger’s binoculars to find the vessel.

The boat and its lone sailor was found about 500km east of Sydney.

The yachtsman reportedly left the Sydney area about two weeks earlier and had been drifting for about one week after losing his mast and running low on fuel…

The Air Canada flight from Vancouver, with 270 passengers and 18 crew aboard, was diverted about 12 hours into the flight. It flew an additional 400km as a result of the diversion…

We’re really pleased we could help,” spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said, adding that weather conditions – and not the diversion – had been the main cause of delay.

Later, an Air New Zealand Airbus 320 en route to Sydney from Auckland was also diverted before an Australian rescue plane arrived and dropped a life raft and satellite phone down to the stranded seaman.

A merchant vessel was also asked to shield the boat from strong winds until a police vessel could reach the sailor.

An AMSA spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the help of the passenger jets had been needed because of the remote location of the yacht.

“The location of the beacon was within a flight path, so we needed to assess the situation and the Boeing 777 was the closest asset available to us,” Jo Meehan said.

Bravo! Lots of good stories about people aiding people in need, lately.

Think we’ll find one that includes Congress?

I know, I know.

Owner gets back $750 painting missing since 1970 — and it’s now worth about $4 million!

Barbara Castelli holding back a broad smile

A multimillion-dollar Roy Lichtenstein painting of an electrical cord that was sent out for a cleaning 42 years ago and disappeared was returned to its owner on Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, calling the recovery of missing or stolen art an “important mission” for the federal government, stood near the 1961 black-and-white painting, “Electric Cord,” as he described how American art dealer Leo Castelli bought it in the 1960s for $750.

“It is now worth about $4 million,” Bharara said. “Returning stolen art and artifacts is an important mission of this office, and it is always gratifying when we are successful.”

It helps when it’s worth more than money in the bank, too!

Castelli sent the painting to an art restorer for cleaning in January 1970 and never got it back. He died in 1999. The painting resurfaced six years after the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation published an image of it on its holiday greeting card in 2006 and asked the art community to help find it.

Castelli’s widow, Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, said she plans to display it in her Manhattan home “if I find a place to hang it.” She said she had never seen it before Tuesday.

Bharara declined to say whether criminal charges will be filed against anyone in connection with the painting’s disappearance.

RTFA for the whole telenovela, the journey of the painting, return to the US and return to Mrs. Castelli.

Pork, the other white meat – except when dyed to look like beef

Sweden’s National Food Agency has issued a warning after as much as 20 tonnes of meat labelled as beef turned out to be coloured pork.

An investigator at the agency, Pontus Elvingson, told the BBC that tests were still being done to identify the dye.

The Swedish firm Heat AB imported the meat from a supplier in Hungary called Filetto. One of the suspect batches originated in Argentina…

It is not yet clear if Filetto also exported doctored pork to other countries. The Swedish agency has alerted EU authorities.

Mr Elvingson said the fake beef had been sold to several Swedish retail outlets, including restaurants. So far about 3.5 tonnes has been removed from sale.

He said, “it’s difficult to tell how much [doctored meat] there is and we don’t know if it has all been sold”.

“The pigmentation of beef is different – this meat is red, but seems not so well dyed in parts, so maybe it was injected with needles,” he said.

If needles were used to inject the dye then bacteria could have been transferred from the meat’s surface to the interior, increasing the risk of food poisoning, he added.

One more feature to worry about when it comes to beef quality. Does it moo or oink?