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Archive for the ‘mitt romney’ tag

GOP’s identity crisis

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In a series of reversals on issues ranging from gay rights to immigration, Republicans have been implicitly admitting that their platform has been all but outdated and irrelevant for the better part of a decade or more, as they dial back on previously held positions and take stances that were typically identified with the Democratic Party.

Recall that in 2007, former presidential candidate John McCain the supported immigration reform under the Bush administration, saying in his most sincere voice:

I defend with no reservation our proposal to offer the people who harvest our crops, tend our gardens, work in our restaurants, care for our children and clean our homes a chance to be legal citizens of this country.

As if all Hispanic immigrants living and working in this nation only performed menial tasks like cooking and serving at the pleasure of the more affluent. In any case, according to The New York Times, although McCain supported an immigration reform bill in 2007, which he helped author, by 2008 he was saying that he would not support his own bill.

By 2010, McCain was toeing a hard line on immigration, saying that he supported, “No amnesty,” and that “Many of them (immigrants) need to be sent back.” Presumably, he meant back to Mexico. This year, however, he was part of a bipartisan panel consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans that has been working on immigration reform legislation. The panel also consists of Marco Rubio, who gave us this nugget back in 2007 before he was the GOP golden boy:

I am not and I will never support, never have and never will, support any effort to grant blanket legalization amnesty for folks who have entered or stayed in this country illegally.

Yet, by in late 2011, he was striking a different tone, saying that Republicans should tread softer on the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Here’s what he said in October 2011:

The Republican Party needs to be the pro-legal immigration party. We need to say, ‘We believe in immigration, and we think it’s good for America.’ But it has to be orderly, a system based on law, a system that works.

Fair enough, but Rubio is sitting on a panel that is working on a bill that would provide illegal immigrants living in the U.S. a path to citizenship. According to a report from Anderson Cooper, Rubio and McCain’s participation on the panel

seemed to send a signal that mainstream Republicans may be willing to compromise on an issue president Obama calls a top priority for his second term.

And here is John McCain from this January:

Look at the last election. We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons. Second of all we can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows and in an illegal status.

Although Republicans will attempt to borrow the word “evolution” to account for their many reversals on immigration and other issues and how they are adapting to reach broader demographics, those demographics haven’t changed dramatically in the last five years. John McCain has shamelessly shifted in the wind on immigration so much that his changing views can’t even be described as evolutionary because that’s not how evolution works. There’s no room in basic evolutionary theory for complex forms, like ideas, to quickly revert to their pre-evolutionary status and then back again to complexity. Sure, a life form’s existence can slowly digress if their living and social conditions change, but even then, the idea is gradual environmental adaptation, not seismic changes in policy that change seemingly every month.

So, why has the Republican platform been so mercurial?

First, they are clearly losing the message, if they haven’t already lost it. In the aptly nicknamed “Republican Autopsy Report,” members of the GOP already admitted that their message was not reaching younger voters in Hispanic and other minority communities. Also in my view, younger voters are increasingly becoming less gullible and more savvy politically thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, social media, the satire of comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and the availability of information. How can young Hispanic voters and those of other ethnicities not be heavily influenced by this dynamic? According to a CNN exit poll from earlier this year, Mitt Romney garnered only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in the last election, which was down from 31 percent during the McCain presidential campaign in 2008. Bush managed to get 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004.

Second, the GOP is acting like a moving target because they are just trying numerous strategies in the hopes that one of them will stick with younger voters. If the Republican Party had become more, not less, in touch with the needs and desires of the Hispanic community before the wheels came off the wagon, this might not have been the case since Hispanics tend to be religious and would sympathize with many of the standard GOP talking points. It appears that the GOP is attempting to build the party around Rubio, but at this point, I doubt merely throwing up a token Hispanic as your golden boy isn’t going to right the ship.

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The Romney blame game

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Mitt Romney seems to be resolute in his delusion about the election and why he really lost.

This week during a conference call with some big-money supporters, he threw plenty of blame around, most of it involving charges that Barack Obama offered various “gifts” for certain segments of voters, like women, blacks and Hispanics.

According to this New York Times article:

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”

This statement is contemptible for numerous reasons.

First, rather than Obama’s policies being viewed through a lens of necessity and obligation to move civil rights ever forward in order to actually help people — rather than, you know, merely giving lip service to the idea that you care about average Americans — Romney casts Obama as some kind of political profiteer, and indeed the whole election as just one big sales pitch. This approach not only dehumanizes politics; it dehumanizes and trivializes the candidates as well as the voters.

Romney’s statement above also happens to be a wild misrepresentation of what really happened. Obama didn’t just focus on civil rights and immigration during the debates and speeches leading up to the election, and Romney didn’t have anything new to offer on jobs, foreign policy or military strategy. Regarding employment, he said that he would create 12 million jobs in four years, true. But Moody’s Analytics has estimated that 12 million jobs will be created through 2016 regardless of who is president. Job creation estimates are based on policies that have already been implemented. This was Romney’s only substantive claim about job growth.

Further, during the final debate, other than the obligatory Republican call to expand the military, we couldn’t really tell how Romney was any different than Obama on foreign policy and the military. According to this Reuters article:

Monday night’s foreign policy debate between the Republican presidential nominee and the Democratic president was striking for the frequency with which Romney aligned himself with Obama’s strategies rather than distancing himself from them.

So, what was this “strategy” Romney was talking about that was focused on the big issues? On most of the big issues other than health care, he more closely aligned or even agreed with Obama’s policies.

I don’t make a practice of watching a lot of MSNBC because I think that would make me no better than FOX News viewers who tune in every day to have their own views confirmed, but Al Sharpton (He should not be a TV host for many reasons) did have an interesting segment tonight in which he featured a previously unreleased audio recording of Lee Atwater outlining what he thought should be the more modern GOP strategy for taking advantage of white bigotry in the early 1980s. Here is one of the more offensive parts:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Romney, Bill O’Reilly, Paul Ryan and others within the GOP have essentially used this strategy to cater to the uneducated, white vote in the South and other rural parts of the nation. While they can’t say anything approaching the offensiveness of “nigger” anymore, they can play on the same white fears that they have for the better part of a century. It’s a hideous but effective strategy.

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Death of Reaganomics, rise of middle-out economics

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I believe you grow the economy from the middle out. — Barack Obama, 2012 election ad


Michael Tomasky with The Daily Beast argues that supply-side economics, as well as its ugly stepsister, Reaganomics, died on Election Day when Americans largely rejected the general economic platform of Mitt Romney in favor of a “middle-out” philosophy trumpeted by Barack Obama.

Tomasky makes a good case, but I would suggest that Americans began pulling the curtain on Reaganomics earlier in 2008. There was no secret at the time that the McCain/Palin ticket supported a policy of tax cuts for the rich and deregulation, while Obama wanted to go in a different direction. Even during the Clinton years, I don’t think Americans were completely convinced that Reaganomics was indeed suffering slow entropy. While the Gore/Bush race in 2000 was close — remember that Gore actually won the popular vote — a general ideological shift had yet to occur, as Bush was still commanding a lead in key states like Virginia, Ohio and Illinois. Judging by the votes Bush got in those states between 2000 and 2008, plenty of people still bought into the old guard strain of economic thought.

Here are the last four Electoral College maps from 2000-2012

Election 2000

Election 2004

Election 2008


Election 2012

By 2008, the shift had seemingly already begun, and the Democratic Party’s renewed influence in pockets of the nation that previously went for Bush two elections prior was built on three foundations: disdain and weariness about the Bush years, enthusiasm surrounding Obama himself and, most importantly, a collective realization that America’s focus should no longer be on propping up the wealthy, but bolstering the middle class, indeed, that economic growth flourished alongside middle class success. While the shift may have come full circle this election year, a case can be made that it definitely found its impetus in the 2008 election.

I call this growing up. Understanding that many pockets of America are still clinging to the former ideology, the majority of the nation has come of age and, at least in some measure, has recognized that Reaganomics was not tenable in the 1980s — Tomasky calls it “at best half a success” — and it’s certainly not tenable now.

Tomasky sums it up this way:

Supply side was rejected. And in its place, voters went for an economic vision that says: don’t invest in the wealthy in the hope that they’ll decide to spread the wealth around; invest in the middle class, because it’s demand from a prosperous middle class that ultimately creates more jobs, and because doing that makes for a healthier society all the way around.

Bill Maher and Chris Matthews make a related point in this video, that the election was not necessarily about Obama for a lot of people but about continuing on the path that we have been on that will put the middle class and civil rights in the forefront (See 3:45-5:00):

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Romney’s great delusion

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I’m with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wonders how Romney or anyone in his campaign could have possibly been “shellshocked” by the loss on Election Day:

I generally thought that the actual Republican numbers people, and certainly the numbers people in the GOP campaign, were sharper than this. If I were Mitt Romney I would much rather spend the days leading up to the election preparing myself for a punch, then to have myself “sucker-punched” by reality. In other words, it wouldn’t be in my interest to have people around me believe the hype. On the contrary, I’d be really angry if I found out they had. Even buying the argument that the people behind the polling are somehow biased, how do you reconcile that with the fact that polls actually predicted Bush’s win in 2004?

On some level it’s hard to not conclude that the Romney campaign, and Republicans on a whole, were not simply ill-served by their media, and their experts, but they themselves were actually requesting ill service.

This sounds a lot like religion to me. In the absence of any tangible reason to believe in the validity or authenticity of the Bible itself, believers tend to pay attention to arguments that confirm what they want to believe. And so it was with Romney. All the polls and expert opinions to the contrary, Romney and his team still managed to trick themselves into thinking that their version of reality — that every poll in the nation was biased — was the right one and that they actually had a chance. A classic case of delusion.

It must be a wonderful existence spending your entire conscious life in a fantasy world.

Four more years

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If Democrats had doubts about the outcome of the presidential race before Election Day or if the Republicans held any optimism that it would go in their man’s favor, both were about as deluded as Karl Rove proved himself to be late Tuesday night when he was refused to believe that Obama had won in Ohio:

When it became clear about midnight that President Barack Obama was safely on the way to re-election, a handful of cranky and inebriated Republican donors wandered about Romney’s election night headquarters, angrily demanding that the giant television screens inside the ballroom be switched from CNN to Fox News, where Republican strategist Karl Rove was making frantic, face-saving pronouncements about how Ohio was not yet lost.

And hence, as this article shows, GOP supporters quickly ran back to their safe haven, TV land comfort zone FOX News.

Back in reality, where fewer of the Republicans seem to be living these days, no comfort zone existed with regards to Election 2012. Here was a president who took the reins of leadership as the economy was on the path toward fast-track, financial entropy. Call it economic heat death. The real estate heyday was over. Bank executives had made millions in bonuses without having to be held accountable for speculative loan practices. In response to the recession, Obama passed the most expansive piece of financial regulation reform since the Great Depression, as well as an $800 billion stimulus plan to try to kick start the economy. Economists have said that even amid these sweeping reforms, it was not enough (and here) and that we could have done even more:

Nonetheless, it worked. In addition to all that, we finally got a sweeping health care reform bill that had been a vision of progressives for at least 40 years, if not more. Oh and by the way, Osama bin Laden is no more.

So, I would like to meet a Republican who seriously — seriously — thought that Romney had a legitimate shot of winning this election. Yes, the GOP made inroads in certain pockets of the country, but couple a dull candidate who mostly failed to portray himself as someone who had everyday Americans’ best interests at heart with an incumbent who accomplished more in his first year than most get done in four, and Romney didn’t have a chance in blue hell.

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Sullivan’s ‘moral case’ for Obama

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Andrew Sullivan wrote a blog post recently outlining what he feels is the “moral case” for Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney based on Obama’s stance on health care, and Romney’s apparent position on torture and what he may do (We don’t really know) regarding the potential for a nuclear Iran. Based on these issues, as well as the GOP‘s “institutional bigotry” toward the LGBT community, Sullivan, a well-known conservative on most issues, announced that he was withholding his support for Romney. Much of his argument in the post hinges around health care. He concludes:

On the universality of access to healthcare, on torture, and on pre-emptive war, my conscience therefore requires me to withhold support for the Republican candidate. I disagree with him on many prudential policy grounds – but none reach the level of moral seriousness of the above. Yes, a lot of this comes from my faith in the teachings of Jesus and the social teaching of the Catholic tradition in its primary concern for the poor and weak and the sick – rather than praising, as Romney and Ryan do, the superior morality of the prosperous and strong and healthy. But on all three topics, a purely secular argument also applies, simply based on the core dignity and equality of the human person, and the fragile advances we have made as a civilization against barbarism like torture.

That matters. It matters in a way that nothing else does.

I was particularly struck by the lines I have italicized above. First, the argument that Christianity is a religion for the “poor,” “weak” and “sick” is bullocks.  No one denies that the church, for all of the spiritual and physical harm it has caused humanity in 2,000 years, has contributed its fair share of charities and needy causes. But the central doctrine, that we have a loving father in heaven who will nonetheless exercise his absolute power and sit as a judge on the entire world does not exactly denote a meek and mild deity. Nor will this god exercise his absolute power to heal anyone’s sickness, hunger or poverty. The problem with the entire GOP program is that it assumes that people generally want to be and should be left to their own devices and that God and/or or the church or other nonprofit organizations will come along and meet the needs of local communities. Many churches do help, but they help in spite of their god’s utter silence and impotence: the god that wasn’t there and never will be.

In the above passage, Sullivan appeals to his church’s and his god’s apparently benevolent view of humanity to inform his political stance during this election. I don’t see it that way, but he nonetheless goes on to say that the same position could be held based on a “purely secular argument.” So, I must ask: if a person can arrive at the same conclusion, that the principles for which Obama stands are basically moral independent of religion, what’s stopping him from abandoning religion and embracing those principles, as he says, “based on the core dignity and equality of the human person?” Why drag dogma and doctrine into the equation when he admits that in theory, one could just as well arrive at the same conclusion without assuming at god at all? Sullivan is a sharp guy. I fail to understand how a person of his intelligence and insight finds the need (Perhaps it’s more like a desperate desire) to cling to religion like he does.

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Romney pays 14.1 percent in taxes

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Mitt Romney finally released his tax returns this week, along with other documents, to apparently address criticism that he was not being open about his prior financial affairs.

The verdict? Nothing surprising. He paid $1.9 million in taxes in 2011 and made $13.7 million, which amounts to a 14.1 percent effective tax rate. Directly dividing the figures, the rate is something like 13.87 percent. If 14 percent sounds low, you would be right. Most people that I know pay an income tax rate of 20-25 percent, depending on the state in which they live, but Romney isn’t most people. Most of his income comes from long-term capital gains, not income taxes, the latter of which, is taxed at a lower rate.

The Romneys also donated about $4 million to charity, which amounts to be 30 percent of their income. The couple claimed only $2.25. According to this article from NBC News:

That means the Romneys voluntarily paid a higher tax rate than they were legally required, which the campaign said they did in order to stay consistent with Romney’s pledge to never play less than a 13 percent tax rate.

Never pay less than 13 percent? Really? I don’t see how you could look a lower- to middle-class voter square in the face and claim that you are being so humble as to declare you are going to pledge not to pay at least 7 percent less than most Americans pay and be taken seriously. How about a pledge that you are going to be pay your fair share to society, a la Warren Buffet, and pay 30 percent? Nah, that wouldn’t be right. Romney needs the money. Long live trickle down economics.

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Written by Jeremy

September 21st, 2012 at 4:52 pm

NY Times: Romney the revisionist

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In my opinion, here is one of the best editorials about the election, or possibly on any topic, that The New York Times has produced in quite awhile: Mr. Romney Reinvents History.

I found it a solid read because it juxtaposed two important ideas: that Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention was his most important to date and that said speech was most noteworthy for its utter failure, both in presenting a truthful account of the GOP’s general direction these last four years and in mapping out a pathway going forward if Romney wins the election.


As the editorial pointed out and against what Romney claimed, the GOP didn’t rally behind Obama after the 2008 election; Republicans played a four-year long game of cockblock, proving that they are more concerned with Obama failing than America succeeding.

Senate Republicans blocked Obama’s jobs bill. Not one single Republican voted in favor of providing 30 million Americans with health care and have offered no plan of their own. They tried to shut down Obama’s stimulus plan that has helped erect millions of dollars worth of infrastructure across the nation, with only three Republicans voting in favor, one of whom (Arlen Specter) later changed party affiliations. Drive anywhere in Boston, for instance, and signs are up everywhere showing how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has provided support for various roadway projects.

So, that’s one myth. Another was that Romney has any plan whatsoever that may be different than Obama’s, other than proposals that may lead us into messy ordeals in places like Iran and Russia. According to The Times:

… no subjects have received less attention, or been treated with less honesty, than foreign affairs and national security — and Mr. Romney’s banal speech was no exception.

It’s easy to understand why the Republicans have steered clear of these areas. While President Obama is vulnerable on some domestic issues, the Republicans have no purchase on foreign and security policy. In a television interview on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, could not name an area in which Mr. Obama had failed on foreign policy.

For decades, the Republicans were able to present themselves as the tougher party on foreign and military policy. Mr. Obama has robbed them of that by being aggressive on counterterrorism and by flexing military and diplomatic muscle repeatedly and effectively.

Yet another is that Obama is soft on his support for Israel. The editorial concludes:

The one alliance on which there is real debate between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama is with Israel. But it is not, as Mr. Romney and his supporters want Americans to believe, about whether Mr. Obama is a supporter of Israel. Every modern president has been, including Mr. Obama. Apart from outsourcing his policy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on settlements, it’s not clear what Mr. Romney would do differently.

But after watching the Republicans for three days in Florida, that comes as no surprise.

In fact, it’s not clear what Romney would do differently on anything involving domestic policy. A recent report from The Washington Post highlights some of the “facts” that Romney present during the convention speech, including one of the more ludicrous ones about creating 12 million jobs.

News flash, Einstein: the economy will add about 9.6 million jobs between 2013-17, according to the Congressional Budget Office, regardless of who is president. Moody’s Analytics estimates 12 million by 2016.

Romney’s atheist father-in-law

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So, yeah, Ann Romney’s family posthumously baptized her atheist father, Edward Roderick Davies, into the church with the understanding that his “soul” had the option of accepting or rejecting the “offer” of salvation. If there were any doubts left about how odious Mormonism is, I think they can resoundingly be silenced:

Edward Davies, shown here in his youth, was a staunch atheist and believed organized religions to be 'hogwash."

Edward Roderick Davies was Ann Romney’s father and died in 1992 after living as a staunch atheist all his life.

Recently-discovered records show that, in keeping with their controversial tradition of posthumously baptising non-Mormons, a ceremony was held to invite Mr Davies into the Church of Latter Day Saints one year after he died.

The practice of performing baptisms for the dead has drawn criticism after the Mormon church began doing so for well-known Catholics- including former popes- and Jews- including Holocaust survivors.

According to the religion’s official website, the baptisms are seen as a way to offer those souls an option of joining the Church even once they have died. A key point is that it is seen as an option- as the souls are believed to have the ability to either accept or reject the baptism.

All this just in case Davies “soul” had a change of heart.

While alive, Davies viewed religion as “drudgery” and “hogwash.” So drudging, in fact, is religion that his legacy can’t escape it even in death. Religion poisons everything.

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GOP convention: 1600 edition

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From The Borowitz Report:

Republicans Move Convention to Seventeenth Century

TAMPA (The Borowitz Report)—With the threat of Hurricane Isaac hitting Florida next week, the Republican National Committee took the extraordinary step today of moving their 2012 National Convention to the seventeenth century.

While the decision to send the convention four centuries back in time raised eyebrows among some political observers, R.N.C. spokesperson Harland Dorrinson downplayed the unusual nature of the move.

“After exploring a number of options, we decided that moving to the seventeenth century would cause the least disruption,” he said. “We’re not going to have to change a thing.”

Mr. Dorrinson added that despite recent controversy involving the U.S. Senate candidate Representative Todd Akin (R., Miss.), there would be no modification of the Party’s official platform: “After we ban abortion in cases of rape and incest, we’re going to focus on America’s spiralling witch problem.”

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