While following Mitt Romney on the campaign trail, the Times has noticed some interesting quirks about how the candidate attempts, often unsuccessfully, to interact with voters. The paper of record analyzes these odd habits today in a piece that treats Romney not merely as a generally awkward person, but possibly as an alien or robot struggling to navigate the world of man and all of his complex social norms and expectations. Here are the five moments in the piece where Romney appears most un-human:>
5. Romney’s insufficiently nuanced assumptions about human relationships cause him to cluelessly stumble into uncomfortable situations:
“Daughter?” he asked a woman sitting with a man and two younger girls at the diner in Tilton, N.H., on Friday morning. Her face turned a shade of red. “Wife.”
Oh, Mr. Romney said. “It was a compliment, I guess,” said the woman, Janelle Batchelder, 31. “At the same time, it was possibly an insult.”
4. Romney likes to congratulate people, but “[f]or what, exactly, is not always clear,” as if this is just something he has noticed humans saying to one another.
3. Romney’s forced, robotic laughter is transcribed multiple times as “Ha-ha.”
2. When Romney can’t compute an acceptable response to a comment directed at him, he will quickly shut down the conversation, like a web browser that crashes when loading a complicated program:
In Bedford, N.H., a woman walked up to him after a speech and declared: “I have a lot [of] friends who say you are the robotic type. And I am like, no, you need to stay that way because you are a leader.”
Mr. Romney’s mouth arched into a somewhat pained smile as he rushed to conclude the conversation. “Nice to see you guys,” he said as he walked away.
1. Romney has trouble with the uniquely human trait known as “humor,” sometimes falsely detecting it when it does not exist:
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Elizabeth Warren has a plan for universal child care
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will unveil a major new initiative on Tuesday designed to make sure every family can afford high-quality child care, according to several people who have heard about the proposal or seen material describing it in the past week.
The plan seeks to make access to child care universal, the sources told HuffPost, by offering federal funds to providers that offer care at their facilities on a sliding income scale.
No family would have to spend more than 7 percent of its household income on child care, no matter the number of kids. Families with incomes below twice the poverty line, which is roughly $50,000 a year for a family of four, would pay nothing.
Meredith Watson, who has accused Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax, details her experience since coming forward
Since I came forward less than two weeks ago, certain politicians offered to support me if I made it a partisan issue. I refused. Likewise, I have refused to make this a financial issue by suing for compensation. I have refused to make it a law-enforcement issue. Despite nearly 100 offers to be interviewed, I have refused to make my rape a media opportunity.
My motivation was never for personal gain.
And what have I gained? I have endured relentless scrutiny of my personal life and an unending, bitter flood of hurtful misinformation trumpeted by the media.
This occurred precisely because I sought to protect my privacy and the privacy of my family. There were inquiries into my years in elementary school. Personal medical records were probed, and financial information was revealed. None of this is relevant.
A little radiation on your vacation
For nearly two decades at the Grand Canyon, tourists, employees, and children on tours passed by three paint buckets stored in the National Park’s museum collection building, unaware that they were being exposed to radiation.
Although federal officials learned last year that the five-gallon containers were brimming with uranium ore, then removed the radioactive specimens, the park’s safety director alleges nothing was done to warn park workers or the public that they might have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.
In a rogue email sent to all Park Service employees on Feb. 4, Elston “Swede” Stephenson — the safety, health and wellness manager — described the alleged cover-up as “a top management failure” and warned of possible health consequences.
A protester celebrates Presidents’ Day in front of the White House
Roger Stone is at it again
Roger Stone posted a picture on his Instagram Monday of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the federal judge presiding over his case, with crosshairs in the corner.
In the post, he accuses “Deep State hitman Robert Mueller” of ensuring that his case landed in her hands, since she’s an Obama appointee – the implication being that she’s out to get him. He ends his post with his classic digital panhandling for his legal defense fund.
The post comes just days after Jackson instituted a partial gag order against Stone and advised him not to make comments that would endanger his own case.
More than a dozen AGs will sue over Trump’s national emergency
California and a dozen other states are filing a lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
“The president admitted that there’s not a basis for the declaration, he admitted there’s no crisis at the border, he’s now trying to rob funds that were allocated by Congress legally to the various states and people of our states,” Becerra told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Monday afternoon.
“The separation of powers is being violated, we’re going to go out there and make sure that Donald Trump cannot steal money from the states and people who need them, since we paid the taxpayer dollars to Washington, D.C. to get those services,” he said.
Sorry, Knicks fans
Joe Biden tends to lead in 2020 polls. That might be meaningless.
Joe Biden’s big lead in early Democratic 2020 polling might be a bunch of malarkey.
While most polls show the former vice president hovering around 30 percent of the Democratic primary vote, well ahead of second-place Sen. Bernie Sanders, two recent surveys paint a starkly different picture — raising the question of whether Biden is a real front-runner or just has big name-recognition. Those polls show far more Democratic voters undecided about which candidate to support, and they pegged Biden’s backing at a much less intimidating 9 to 12 percent.
The results are so varied partly thanks to different methodological choices by the pollsters. But parsing the results is more than an academic exercise: While Biden weighs a third campaign for the presidency, he and his allies must consider whether polls a year before primary season really reflect Biden’s true strength — and his potential rivals have to calculate whether the former vice president could overwhelm lesser-known challengers in 2020.
If you know a Flat Earther, they probably started on YouTube
Researchers believe they have identified the prime driver for a startling rise in the number of people who think the Earth is flat: Google’s video-sharing site, YouTube.
Their suspicion was raised when they attended the world’s largest gatherings of Flat Earthers at the movement’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2017, and then in Denver, Colorado, last year.
Interviews with 30 attendees revealed a pattern in the stories people told about how they came to be convinced that the Earth was not a large round rock spinning through space but a large flat disc doing much the same thing.
Of the 30, all but one said they had not considered the Earth to be flat two years ago but changed their minds after watching videos promoting conspiracy theories on YouTube. “The only person who didn’t say this was there with his daughter and his son-in-law and they had seen it on YouTube and told him about it,” said Asheley Landrum, who led the research at Texas Tech University.
Cory Booker is trying to woo Amazon to Newark
The anger and finger-pointing hasn’t let up in New York City over Amazon’s decision to abandon plans to local a new headquarters there, but Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey sees a clear next step: bring HQ2 to Newark.
Booker, who was once Mayor of Newark and is now running for president, said that ever since Amazon announced its retreat from New York, officials in New Jersey’s largest city have reached out to the retail and technology colossus.
“We want HQ2,” Booker declared emphatically in an interview with Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin. “We’ve sent that message out already. And everybody from the Governor to the Mayor to local leaders have been reaching out to Amazon.”
NYC to institute nation’s first ban on hair-based discrimination
Under new guidelines to be released this week by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination.
The change in law applies to anyone in New York City but is aimed at remedying the disparate treatment of black people; the guidelines specifically mention the right of New Yorkers to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”
In practice, the guidelines give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force internal policy changes and rehirings at offending institutions.
An 11-year-old faces charges after refusing to stand for the pledge
A sixth grader in Florida was arrested after his refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance escalated into a confrontation with police and school officials, authorities said.
The unnamed boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence on Feb. 4, the Lakeland Police Department said in a news release.
A local news outlet, Bay News 9, reported that the confrontation began after the student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, near Tampa, called the flag racist and described the national anthem as offensive.
The president celebrates Presidents’ Day with a gift to himself
Bystanders caught in cross fire of police shoot-out in New Orleans
Five people waiting at a bus stop in New Orleans were shot during a police shootout with a robbery suspect Sunday, police said.
The suspect was fatally shot by a Louisiana State Police Officer at the end of foot chase with gunfire throughout, Chief Shaun Ferguson said.
Ferguson said detectives had been investigating two armed robberies in the city’s 6th district when they identified a person of interest near a bus stop at the intersection of Canal Street and Elk Place at 6:43 p.m. Sunday.
The detectives called uniformed officers to help question the suspect, but when they attempted to engage, the individual pulled out a weapon and began firing, he said.
A detective and one of the officers returned fire and five bystanders – all adults – were struck during the exchange of gunfire, Ferguson said.
Seven Labour MPs jump ship
Seven Labour MPs, including Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger, have resigned from the party over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, saying they will sit as a new independent group.
In a press conference on Monday, the MPs – who also include Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey – delivered a scathing attack on the party for being “institutionally racist” and betraying its members over Brexit.
Japan’s prime minister nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize at White House’s request
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last autumn after receiving a request from the U.S. government to do so, the Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday.
The report follows Trump’s claim on Friday that Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening talks and easing tensions with North Korea. The Japanese leader had given him “the most beautiful copy” of a five-page nomination letter, Trump said at a White House news conference.
The U.S. government had sounded Abe out over the Noble Peace Prize nomination after Trump’s summit in June last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president, the Asahi said, citing an unnamed Japanese government source.
Anthony Weiner is no longer in prison, but will need to register as a sex offender
Convicted ex-congressman Anthony Weiner has been sprung from prison — and is now part of a federal re-entry program in New York, records show. Weiner has been transferred from Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. where he served a bulk of his 21-month sentence for sexting a 15-year-old girl from North Carolina, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records.
The 54-year-old is now being supervised by the federal Residential Reentry Management, which has a field office in Sunset Park and operates multiples facilities, the records say. He is either in a halfway house or in home confinement, TMZ reported. It’s not clear when the transfer took place. Weiner is set to be released from federal custody on May 14, thanks to good conduct behind bars that shaved about three months off his sentence.
Vetting a new contender in Mason City
Meanwhile, in real national emergencies …
Student-loan delinquencies surged last year, hitting consecutive records of $166.3 billion in the third quarter and $166.4 billion in the fourth. Bloomberg calculated the dollar amounts from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly household-debt report, which includes only the total owed and the percentage delinquent at least 90 days or in default.
That percentage has remained around 11 percent since mid-2012, but the total increased to a record $1.46 trillion by December 2018, and unpaid student debt also rose to the highest ever.
Delinquencies continued to climb even as the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent, suggesting the strong U.S. job market hasn’t generated enough wage growth to help some people manage their outstanding obligations.
And if that’s not enough, maybe Mitch McConnell can find some wall money at all those overfunded schools at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina
Face the Nation anchor Margaret Brennan, on Sunday: The president just declared a national emergency in regard to getting the funds for his border wall. In terms of getting those funds though through this emergency action and there’s about three point six billion of it that could come from military construction efforts, including construction of a middle school in Kentucky, housing for military families, improvements for bases like Camp Pendleton and Hanscom Air Force Base. Aren’t you concerned that some of these projects that were part of legislation that you helped approve and Congress are now going to possibly be cut out?
Senator Lindsey Graham: Well the president will have to make a decision where to get the money. Let’s just say for a moment that he took some money out of the military construction budget. I would say it’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We’ll get them the school they need. But right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands.
A record number of women running for president will provide a record number of chances to avoid sexism in how they and their campaigns are covered
“There is a narrow universe of acceptable behavior for women,” explained [media consultant] Heidi Moore[.]
In politics — as in so many other spheres — women get bashed far more than their male counterparts for personality quirks, vulnerabilities and actions of all sorts. Not to mention their appearance and speaking voices. Think of how far a female candidate would get if she came off like the rumpled and ranting Bernie Sanders.
“We see in coverage of women lawmakers that even minor flaws are treated as disqualifying,” Moore told me, “while men’s flaws get brief attention but are glossed over as a case of ‘nobody’s perfect.’ ” …
Society and journalism conspire, Moore noted, creating an unfair standard: “While men get to be flawed and human and complex, women are mostly allowed to audition only for pedestals, for sainthood, for absolute purity.”
So far, no one in this field looks like a candidate for sainthood. And if such a woman could be found, surely her unbearable piety would disqualify her immediately.
Be it business or politics, this emperor has never been wearing clothes
It was inevitable that Trump would refuse to be stymied by Congress, and that he would take a victory lap regardless of what happened in the real world. In that context, his border-wall machinations are only partially about appeasing conservative pundits or his political base; for the most part, they’re about appeasing his sense of himself. He’s been doing this sort of thing his entire life: Spinning victory yarns from incontrovertible losses was a hallmark of his troubled business career.