Showing posts with label Mitt Romney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mitt Romney. Show all posts

Nov 3, 2012

RNC Scandal Includes Wisconsin

Nathan Sproul
Nixonian. One could say Reince Priebusian, Wisconsin's own voter obstruction operative now atop the RNC.

Criminal Investigation of GOP Voter Registration Worker Arrested for Destroying Forms in Virginia Expands to Broader Probe of RNC-Hired Firm

Brad Friedman has a must read this morning on Nathan Sproul's Strategic Allied Consulting firm that suppressed Democratic-leaning voters in a far-reaching program of illegal, political dirty tricks committed by a shady outfit hired by the national Republican National Committee and state Republican parties.

Friedman has broken numerous stories on Sproul and his Strategic Allied Consulting:

When the RNC invested $3 million to hire Strategic Allied Consulting, a company quietly created this August by Sproul, a paid political consultant to Mitt Romney, and then instructed state GOP affiliates in seven key battleground states (Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin and Ohio) to do the same, they knew very well about his companies' long documented history of alleged electoral misconduct and voter registration fraud.
Nixonian. One could say Reince Priebusian, Wisconsin's own voter obstruction operative now atop the RNC.

Mar 25, 2012

Paul Ryan, Romney and GOP: Phase out Social Security and Medicare

Money for GOP, not for thee

The 14 scariest words in American politics: 'We're from the Republican Party, and we're here to save Social Security and Medicare."

"If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren't after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté. They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be 'forced' to make 'hard choices' - and that doesn't mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked."
- Mike Lofgren, who retired on June 17 after 28 years as a Republican Congressional staffer (TruthOut, Saturday September 3, 2012)

Lofgren is brilliant, but seeing what Ryan, Romney and the GOP are up to is like wondering if we were going to war with Iraq in January 2003—the decisions were made, and ideology and propaganda led the way to disaster.

The GOP has always hated the Medicare and Social Security, and now they want the presidency to save it, not to bury the social insurance program though their asserted reason—debt is the achieved objective of the Bush-Cheney administration and unregulated Wall Street speculators.

"Romney insisted on Wisconsin radio [last[ Friday that Ryan's plan does not balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the elderly ... It instead preserves Medicare and preserves Social Security." (The Paul Ryan Watch)

Reviews are not kind to these unpopular GOP positions, as noted by Xoff:

A Christian Science Monitor column by Howard Gleckman calls it Ryan's "mystery meat budget" saying he "airily promises both trillions of dollars in tax cuts and a nearly balanced budget within a decade, but never says how he’d get there."

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones says:
Paul Ryan has released the latest Republican budget, and it's a blizzard of numbers, gimmicks, weird comparisons, and obfuscation. It's no more serious than any of Ryan's other budget proposals, no matter how many PowerPoint slides he includes... 
Dana Milbank, in the Washington Post, says Ryan's idea is to help the poor by hurting them:
Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is on record as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” And Ryan has just written a budget that supports Romney’s boast.
In an editorial, the Post calls Ryan's plan "dangerous and intentionally vague."

The Post also says Democrats want to know how much taxpayer money was spent to produce those slick videos with Ryan to try to sell his budget.  So far, no one's saying.

Jan 19, 2012

Bain Capital Spells Big Trouble for GOP

Mitt Romney the Tax Cheat - Image: Haraz N. Ghanbari

Update: See Matt Taibbi's masterpiece in Rolling Stone: "[W]hat most voters don't know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America's top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth."

By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. The result has been a brilliant comedy: A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself. If Romney pulls off this whopper, you'll have to tip your hat to him: No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big of a lie."

ABC News reports Willard Mitt Romney has parked millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven.

The last few weeks of the Republican Presidential road show has been dominated by discussion of Mitt Romney's career as head of a Wall Street private equity firm -- Bain Capital. Most people who enter politics have some previous career in the private sector -- especially if they're wealthy.

By Robert Creamer

But Mitt Romney's career on Wall Street -- which he apparently hoped would allow him to tout his credentials as a "job creator" -- will instead weigh down his election hopes like a massive millstone. There are six reasons why:

1). First and most important, attacks on Romney's history at Bain are not "attacks on free enterprise" -- or being "anti-business." They are important for what they communicate about Mitt Romney and his values and the contrast that it poses with President Obama.

Barack Obama - like Mitt Romney -- earned a degree at Harvard -- and all of the opportunities that afforded. But when he graduated from law school, Obama went to work helping workers in the shadow of closed -down steel mills. Romney made millions for himself closing down steel mills.

The point is not just that workers were laid off, or jobs were outsourced -- though they were. The point is not whether some of the ventures Romney funded succeeded and others failed. The point is that the impact of Romney's business activity on the lives of ordinary people was incidental to his one and only goal: making huge sums of money for himself and a small group of his partners and investors.

Willard Mitt Romney with friends at Bain
Romney's idea of success was embodied in that picture from two decades ago, with Romney at the center, surrounded by a squadron of Wall Street sharpies with money coming out of their pockets, their mouths and ears.

The point of the Bain story is that Romney would do whatever he could legally do to make money for himself and his crew. The effect of his decisions on the lives of ordinary people -- or even the businesses in which they invested -- was simply irrelevant. If shifting jobs overseas would make him and his friends more money - fine. If Bain could make millions by loading up a business with debt and bleeding it of cash -- that was fine too -- even if it meant that the business itself was ultimately forced to close. If buying a business and chopping it up into parts for resale would make him more money -- so be it.

Improving the lives of ordinary workers -- or of local communities -- was never his goal. His goal was to make millions and millions of dollars for himself -- often at other people's expense. Instead of viewing ordinary workers as human beings who were parts of a team, he viewed them as "factors of production" -- assets to be used when they helped him make money -- objects to be discarded when that would fatten his bottom line.

Americans want a President who understands and cares about ordinary people -- that's not the Mitt Romney of Bain Capital.

2). If you were the Republican Party, you couldn't pick a worse time to nominate a candidate with a resume as one of Wall Street's "Masters of the Universe."

Even today, most voters are acutely aware that the recklessness of the big Wall Street Banks -- and a complicit Bush Administration -- caused the 2008 financial crisis that cost eight million Americans their jobs and worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.

The GOP will have to go some distance to convince everyday voters that they should trust their economic futures to a guy who was part of precisely the same crowd whose greed and recklessness just sent the economy crashing in flames.

After all, not many people would be keen to sign up for a cruise managed by the same team that commanded the Titanic.

3). Over the last year, Americans have become increasingly focused on economic inequality -- and on the fact that the gang that caused the economy to collapse kept making billions while everyone else paid the price. The message of the Occupy Movement doesn't resonate solely on the left of the political spectrum. Occupy speaks to many independents and conservatives as well.

And let's remember, the Occupy Movement started out as "Occupy Wall Street." Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with the exploding role of the financial sector in the American economy. They are not uncomfortable because of theoretical or "policy" concerns. It just doesn't make sense to them that a relatively tiny number of people -- who don't build a product or create a service -- can make massive amounts of money, while ordinary people who work hard and play by the rules see their incomes flat-line.

Their view is simple. They create cars, or food, or houses or computers -- or they provide police protection, or care for sick people, or teach our kids. Why should they be asked to sacrifice when guys who basically gamble for a living -- as Wall Street speculators -- make incomprehensibly large sums of money?

It makes no sense to them that 400 families control as much wealth as 150 million of their fellow Americans -- that the top 1% control 30% of all of the wealth in America.

It makes no sense that a hedge fund investor like John Paulson can make $5 billion in income and pay a lower percentage in taxes than a secretary. He makes $2.4 million per hour -- or $40,000 a minute. Paulson makes as much in the first 1.25 minutes of the work year as the average worker makes all year long.

That kind of excessive wealth might not upset everyday Americans so much if their own incomes were growing. But those incomes have stagnated for decades. And over those same decades, the incomes of the top 1% have increased by almost 300%.

And perhaps most galling to everyday voters, is the fact that the wealthiest Americans have such an outsized influence setting the rules -- cutting their own taxes -- making their own regulations -- and are rarely held accountable for the recklessness that has cost everyone else so dearly.

Americans feel that the middle class is in dire jeopardy -- that it is under attack. They worry that the American dream will be snatched from their own families -- and those of their children.

Not a great time for the Republicans to nominate a poster boy for the one percent.

4). The impact of Romney's record at Bain is magnified by his own personality.

Romney comes across as a cold, calculating guy -- precisely the kind of guy who doesn't blink an eye when he orders up hundreds of "pink slips." He is about as empathetic as a rock.

He has a hard time connecting with people in public -- and on TV. And he seems to have a tin ear -- a hard time understanding how his remarks will be interpreted by ordinary voters.

He "enjoys" firing people who don't give him good service. Really?

He doesn't understand how it might sound for a guy who has a fortune of $200 million to say that he is actually "unemployed" too. Or when -- having graduated from Harvard, born into a family of the CEO of a big auto company, he says he has been worried about getting a "pink slip"? Sure.

He doesn't even have to stop and think when he offers to bet $10,000 on who is right in a televised debate? Ten thousand dollars is two thirds of the average annual Social Security benefit.

That kind of tin ear sends a message to ordinary voters that he is simply out of touch - that he doesn't understand or empathize with the lives of ordinary Americans.

Then there is the story of the 12-hour trip with the dog in the kennel on top of the car. The story about how when the dog got sick riding on top of the car -- had an attack of diarrhea. Romney hosed down the car -- hosed down the dog -- put the dog back on top of the car and continued the drive.

These personal characteristics just reinforce the picture of Romney as a Wall Street baron who doesn't understand or care about the needs, or lives, or interests of ordinary Americans.

5). The fact that Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have joined in defining Romney's Bain years absolutely inoculates Democrats from charges that they are "anti-free enterprise" or "anti-business" when they make the same charges.

Probably not very likely that Gingrich or Perry would volunteer to attack Romney's history at Bain next September -- but they just did. All Democrats need to do is put a clip of Rick Perry in an ad where he accused Romney of being a "vulture capitalist.".

6). Finally, in so many respects, Romney's Bain history makes him the perfect antagonist in the campaign narrative set out by President Obama last month in his Kansas speech.

The President will, quite correctly, frame the upcoming election as a battle for the future of the American middle class -- a choice between a society where we're all in this together or all in this alone.

He will offer a vision of America where we look out for each other -- where everyone is called upon to play by the same rules -- and everyone gets a fair shot, a fair shake and contributes their fair share.

The Willard Mitt Romney who ran Bain Capital is the perfect foil for the Democratic narrative this fall. That's why the Bain Capital narrative is so important for defining Romney and setting the terms of this year's election campaign.

Just visualize the national political debate that features the Mitt Romney we've seen on TV the last several weeks and the Barack Obama who made the speech in Osawatomie, Kansas last month.

At the close of his Kansas speech -- which took place in the same town where Theodore Roosevelt had announced his "New Nationalism" a century ago. Obama said:

"We are all Americans," Teddy Roosevelt told them that day. "Our common interests are as broad as the continent." In the final years of his life, Roosevelt took that same message all across this country, from tiny Osawatomie to the heart of New York City, believing that no matter where he went, no matter who he was talking to, everybody would benefit from a country in which everyone gets a fair chance.

And well into our third century as a nation, we have grown and we've changed in many ways since Roosevelt's time. The world is faster and the playing field is larger and the challenges are more complex. But what hasn't changed -- what can never change -- are the values that got us this far. We still have a stake in each other's success. We still believe that this should be a place where you can make it if you try. And we still believe, in the words of the man who called for a New Nationalism all those years ago, "The fundamental rule of our national life," he said, "the rule which underlies all others -- is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together." And I believe America is on the way up.

Oct 12, 2011

Mitt Romney Slams Saving Auto Industry Jobs

Growing Manufacturing with the
Auto Industry Turnaround - A good thing

By Phil Scarr

It nearly slipped by, but Mitt Romney [GOP frontrunner this week] bashed the Obama administration for the wildly successful bailout of the auto industry.
[[W]e decided to do more than rescue this industry from a crisis. We decided to help it retool for a new age, and that’s what we’re doing all across the country – we’re making sure America can out-build, out-innovate, and out-compete the rest of the world.
- Remarks of President Barack Obama; Saturday, June 4, 2011 Toledo, Ohio
As Jonathan Alter points out, if he’s the nominee, he can kiss Michigan goodbye. The Dems will use that clip over and over and over to hammer him.

Sep 2, 2011

William Galston: Memo to Mitt Romney: You Have to Attack Rick Perry, and Here's How to Do It

Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme and lie

Every successful presidential campaign faces at least one defining moment when choices spell the difference between victory and defeat. Your first one has come earlier than just about anyone expected, and much depends on how you respond.

Up to now, you've pursued a steady-as-you-go, above-the-fray strategy, ignoring your Republican rivals and training your fire on President Obama. And for six months it worked well enough to keep you in the lead. Your campaign ignited little passion, but a majority of the party was willing to settle for you if no one better came along. And no one did: Many Tea Party favorites declined to enter the race, as did potential challengers for mainstream Republican support such as Mitch Daniels. And it was hard to regard the people in the race who excited the most grassroots enthusiasm--Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain--as plausible Republican nominees. You were on track to grind out an uninspiring victory.

Then Rick Perry changed everything. Within two weeks he has established himself, not just as the Tea Party's champion, but as a figure who could potentially unite all the party's factions, including the business community that constitutes your base. Perry is a mortal threat to your candidacy. What should you do?

It will be tempting to keep on doing what you've been doing. After all, you're comfortable with it, and you've gotten good at it. Some of your advisors will say that changing tactics now would give off an air of desperation. Others will say that your best course is to allow Perry--volatile, undisciplined, the distilled essence of Texas--to self-destruct. After all, he has already used the language of treason to denounce a third round of quantitative easing. Surely there are many more unguarded moments to come. So let's let others help him take himself down, while we do as little as possible to antagonize people whose support we hope to get down the road.

Seductive, isn't it? And dead wrong. Perry's entrance into the race has highlighted your key weakness: People still don't know who you are and what you stand for. They're yearning for clear, strong, unapologetic leadership, but they don't know where your red lines are. And efforts to placate opponents--such as fudging your long-held views on climate change--will only make matters worse.

But Perry's emergence also gives you a unique opportunity to define yourself--against him. If you take it, you have a fighting chance of prevailing. If you duck it, you'll lose, just as Tim Pawlenty did when he booted away his chance to take you on.

How should you do it? Well, to the extent that the Republican nominating contest is a rational process, it's a search for a candidate with three characteristics. The nominee must be competent to serve as president, reliably conservative, and electable. You're never going to be able to make your party believe that the longest-serving governor in Texas history isn't fit to serve as chief executive. And despite some facts to the contrary, it won't be any easier to challenge Perry's conservative credentials. That narrows it down to one option: You must persuade the decisive portion of your party that Rick Perry is too extreme to be elected president.

Here's your theme: Rick Perry wants to repeal the 20th century. I don't. And neither do the American people.

That terrain of battle offers a target-rich environment. Where to begin? With Perry's stated desire to repeal the 16th amendment? With his opposition to the 17th amendment, based on the odd view that taking the power to elect senators away from state legislators and giving it to the people of each state somehow amounts to a national power-grab? Maybe. But if I were you, I'd begin with Social Security. Here are Governor Perry's considered views on the subject:

Certain [New Deal] programs massively altered the relationship between Americans and their government with regard to critical aspect[s] of their lives, violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles of federalism and limited government. By the far the best example of this is Social Security ... . Social Security is something we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now ... . By any measure, Social Security is a failure. (Source: Rick Perry, Fed Up!, pp. 48, 50, 62))
So ... Perry believes that Social Security is (a) unconstitutional, (b) an undemocratic imposition on an undefined "we," and (c) a failure, however you look at it.

To be sure, there are real problems with Social Security, and lots of us have spent a good deal of time figuring out how to address them. In the long term, significant adjustments are necessary and unavoidable. But if you can't figure out how to refute Perry, you don't have the political intelligence to be an effective candidate. And if you're not willing to say it, starting in September's debates, you don't have the guts to be an effective candidate. And you won't be your party's nominee.

Why should you pay any attention to me? After all, I'm a lifelong Democrat, even though my credentials have been questioned from time to time. Two reasons. First, I've been through six presidential campaigns, five of which went down to defeat in deeply instructive ways. When it comes to failure, I know what I'm talking about.

The second reason goes to my motives. Because I regard you as the most electable Republican with a serious chance of winning his party's nomination, this memorandum might appear to be what the lawyers call an argument against interest. Why then would I give you what I sincerely regard as good advice? Answer: If the current mood of economic desperation persists for another year, which it might, then candidates who wouldn't be electable in ordinary circumstances might capture that mood and ride it to victory. Not to put too fine a point on it, but a Perry presidency would be a catastrophe for the country. Not only does he have bizarre views on just about everything that has happened since the 1890s; if you think American politics is hyper-polarized now, just wait.

Bottom line: I'll vote against you and do what I can to assist President Obama's reelection effort. But I also want to take out an insurance policy: If Obama loses, I want the country to be in hands I regard as responsible--even if I'll end up opposing most of what you propose.

In the end, what I think doesn't matter that much. But I strongly suspect that millions of Americans feel the same way, even if you won't be hearing from them in the next few months.

May 26, 2011

GOP Pres Candidates Breaking Bad

Pols for GOP nomination are lame, or not sufficiently crazy

Update: See also Sarah Posner's Christian Zionists, Bibi, Obama, and Armageddon at Religious Dispatches.

The weakness of the field at this point is comparable to December 2007 when many on the right were trashing Mike Huckabee in the twisted objections then twirling in leading Republican minds.

Sarah Palin is the recipient of similar derision today, though from different players.

As Chris Cillizza wrote then of the GOP field: "Someone Has to Win the GOP Nomination."

McCain won and lost, the target of McCaincon—a plot by authortarian (ostensibly religious) Movement officers to sabotage the GOP nominee for not being sufficientally crazy, though McCain tried mightily and got a bum rap by the right in this respect.

The parallels between the '08 and '12 nomination race are striking.

The most striking analogue is Mitt Romney.

The Ken Silverstein cover story of the November 2007 issue of Harper's seems like it could be rerun today without anyone noticing.

November 2007
Writes Silverstein: “(Romney) says all the right things, his speeches run through the litmus test on conservative issues, but there’s no conviction behind it. …,” said Cyndi Mosteller, a social rightwinger and GOP politico in South Carolina.

Add to this lack of conviction a dose of Christian religious bigotry against Mormons and you have a political Loser, now leading the current pack of crazies. [Palin, Paul, Gingrich, Cain, Pawlenty, and Bachmann]

Let's say Romney wins the nomination. Will he then pull a McCain and court the endorsement of John Hagee, another whack who says the Holocaust was part of God's plan, among other charming nonsense?

ADL in 1994 Hits Crazies
Being Christain Zionist and anti-Tolerance, anti-Pluralistic and just plain nuts, as Hagee is, sits fine with elements of the Lobby now-a-days—now making noise to align with the GOP nominee [certain to be anti-pluralistic] as long as the Christian right-endorsed candidate advocates war against Islam or at least employs the term "Islamofascism" with some frequency.

The ideologues—who may fall together into a motley coalition looking for an endless war against terror, Satan, Muslims, [maybe even South America]—look to conjure some GOP chimera.

But they may find that the vast majority of Americans are not apocalyptic, war-mongering nuts who, as Noam Chomsky wrote in 2002, do not accept the "increasingly desperate claim that everyone is following them in their depraved subordination to power" and more war.

One aspect of the American political culture persisting is the hope that people can compete with power; that the remnants of our democracy are sufficient to knock down a religious zealot like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Medicare-destroying ideologue like Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), rightwing billionares like the Koch brothers, and the eventual Republican nominee for president.

Feb 1, 2008

McCain More Vulnerable than Rudy

Political prognostication is a sport destined to achieve a non-perfect record.

Ask Kevin Drum, and he's damn good.

Drum agreed with predictions made last November that after Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, other rightwingers would jump on board the Rudy train. Drum wrote, quoting Rich Lowry:

Just talked to a top social conservative. He says, hinting that more prominent social cons will end up going with Rudy, 'There's plenty more where this comes from.' On the impact of the Robertson endorsement on the race: "What it does for Rudy is it says, 'It's OK to vote for Rudy.' I think there will be more of that, pre-nomination and post-nomination." On conservative evangelical voters and Giuliani: "If Rudy is the nominee, they're going to vote for him — period."
"This strikes me as right. The real core issue of the Christian right has always been 'moral decay,'" wrote Drum.

Did not work out that way with Rudy. No mass of Christians leaped behind him because Pat Robertson said so. And let-them-eat-cake McCain presents even more problems than Rudy, never mind that the GOP establishment hates the guy.

Drum's contention that the religious right voters focus on their conception of moral decay is accurate to a point, but religious right voters are sufficiently independently thinking (I know) that they will not, in overwhelming numbers, automatically and on command fall in line for a GOP candidate who does not speak their language and who is insincere.

As much as I personally disagree with the religious right on just about every aspect of their descriptive views, these voters hold much more nuanced world and ethical views than Drum and Lowry would have you believe; and, more than some Republican operatives may realize: Genuine views.

George W. Bush connected with these voters, and as much as W. is a truly repulsive political and ethical leader, he is genuine in his religious convictions.

In enough churches of the religious right, it's not all authoritarianism and 'our leaders say we must vote for this man to save the world from Satan'.

The churches are a community: People coming together to help an elderly lady paint her house; people coming together and talking about a personal problem; sharing a success; comforting a church member in a crisis; and solving non-political issues about quality of living.

I spoke to several people in Wisconsin at the fundamentalist Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) church in 1998, and wrote a piece scathing and somewhat mocking in tone for a Milwaukee LGBT civil rights periodical.

But as noted then, the church was very community-oriented and a lot of people did a lot of work to help one another out.

Sure, there will be some, possibly many (especially in the south), among the religious right voters who will pull a lever for the Republican nominee, when enough political propaganda and brand pressures are applied.

But there will also be many more, and more than enough to sway an election, who will dedicate their energies in places other than a polling place and political campaigns when they feel insulted and used by John McCain or Mitt Romney; and they may be found in the political offices where you might not expect them to be residing, like in the Democratic nominee's.

[This article appeated in a slightly different version entitled Rudy Can Fail on Nov. 9, 2007.]


Jan 10, 2008

Novak: Romney Campaign at Death's Door

After spending millions of dollars and contorting himself to appeal to the GOP's religious right, Mitt Romney is being declared all but dead by a rightwing political pundit.

From the Evans-Novak Political Report:

Romney's core tactic in New Hampshire of attacking McCain on immigration fell flat partly because McCain reduced the issue to a squabble over the definition of "amnesty." Also, the negativity seemed to hurt him here as it did in Iowa. Finally, as a well-off corporate raider, it's hard for voters to believe Romney really cares about the issue. It comes across as opportunistic and purely political. Immigration has not proved a winning issue in recent years. ...

While Romney can dig into his own massive fortunes to stay alive, it's hard to imagine where he can win if he can't win in two states where he has spent huge amounts of money and time. The voters who know him best -- including those in his neighboring state of New Hampshire -- aren't quite sold on him.


Jan 6, 2008

John McCain's Whopper on Meet the Press: Bush United Us

Senator John McCain for reasons beyond understanding still gets the red-carpet treatment from the media covering the campaign.

On Meet the Press, after distancing himself from Bush on the salient issues pertaining to Katrina, Iraq and corruption, McCain said this:

"(Bush) led this nation after 9/11 and united us."

Tim Russert let the statement go unchallenged.

Reality check: Were Americans just sitting around waiting for Bush to unite us after 9/11?

Americans were united, the world was united; and Bush took that unity and divided the United States and spread ill will throughout the world to an extent that no American president has ever done in history.

The straight-talking McCain is a joke, and we can expect more political honesty from even the Huckster and Romney than the phony John McCain.


Jan 4, 2008

Iowa Caucuses Take-aways: Change and Sincerity

- A white Iowa electorate and increased youth participation has Obama looking like a winner. (Results at right from The Politico)

- A highly energised Democratic party allies with independents looking for change. Democratic turnout doubles Republican turnout, 240,000 to some 115,000 people participating in the caucuses.

- A still-critical religious right segment of the electorate for the Republican nominee catapulted Mike Huckabee to a solid victory.

- Rudy G. underperforms even the dismal expectations for Iowa.

- Mitt Romney's insincere pandering combined with lots of money still will not play in the heartland with large segments of the Republican electorate.

- Hillary is alive and fighting, Edwards less so.

- John McCain and Fred Thompson holding on, so far.

- Republicans operatives are scared as no one is able to unite the fragmented GOP coalition.


Jan 2, 2008

Reminder on Romney's Support for Gays

Update: Jim Talent: Romney will stop ‘the militant gays’ [Good, we certainly have to watch for those guys!]
I wonder if GOP presidential aspirant and aspiring bigot Mitt Romney's campaign will be handing out a flier like this in Iowa declaring Romney's support for equal rights for gays when he was governor of Massachusetts.

From Huffington Post (via The Note in 2007):
"As that shakes out, ABC has obtained one flier Romney doesn't want you to see. It's from 2002, with Romney was running for governor with Kerry Healey as his running mate. 'Mitt and Kerry Wish You a Great Pride Weekend! All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.' (It's even pink.)"


Novak's Iowa Predictions: Romney and Obama

Update: Iowa's not over, but gearing up for South Carolina, the GOP is sliming its own. Crooks and Liars reports: A holiday card that falsely claims to be from “the Romney family” and highlights Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith was anonymously sent to Republican mailboxes across South Carolina earlier this week.

On to Iowa predictions:

From the Evans-Novak Political Report:


1st Place: Mitt Romney
2nd Place: Mike Huckabee
3rd Place: Fred Thompson
4th Place: John McCain


1st Place: Barack Obama
2nd Place: John Edwards
3rd Place: Hillary Clinton
4th Place: Bill Richardson

MAL's Prediction


1st Place: Mike Huckabee
2nd Place: Mitt Romney
3rd Place: John McCain
4th Place: Fred Thompson


1st Place: Hillary Clinton
2nd Place: John Edwards (tie)
2nd Place: Barack Obama (tie)
4th Place: Bill Richardson


Dec 28, 2007

Huckabee Blasts Romney for Negative Ads

Mitt Romney is getting desperate. If Romney gets a poor showing in Iowa, he will go into New Hampshire smelling like a loser, quite possibly dooming his campaign.

So Romney is going negative on Mike Huckabee entering the last weekend before Iowa's caucuses.

A big risk for a faltering Romney campaign with no real choice or promising direction.

Huckabee is using Romney's negative tactics to raise money; and the perceived personal qualities of Huckabee's that have catapulted him into a frontrunner are precisely those lacking in Romney: Positive, sincere, kind-hearted and principled.

From the Huckster's fundraising e-mail:

With only days to go though, we still have a lots of work to do to overcome Governor Romney's organization and his negative attacks. He has outspent us 20 to 1 and nearly everyone I meet has seen one of his negative and false attack ads about me or has received a desperate piece of direct mail from his campaign that makes me sound like I should be run out of Iowa all of the way back to Arkansas.

In political consultant lingo, Governor Romney's campaign is trying to "define me" for voters. The thinking goes, if you run enough negative attack ads, people will begin to believe what they hear and will decide to stay home on Caucus night. It is an old trick in politics and probably one of the worst. Wouldn't it be better if Governor Romney spent his energy and money trying to define himself?


Dec 21, 2007

GOP Pres Candidates Looking Bad

Update II: The GOP is not so hot on the Huckster:
- National Review's Rich Lowry: "Huckacide"
- Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer: "overdose of public piety," "scriptural literalism,"
- Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes: Huckster "seems to believe the best foreign policy is one guided by the Golden Rule;" [maybe the Huckster is dangerous; if the guy starts campaigning on human rights and compassion, look out, though I doubt that will happen].
Update: Arianna Huffington has a piece comparing the Huckster to Frankenstein running amok and leading the pack in the GOP primary. Writes Huffington:

With Mike Huckabee's continuing surge, the Republican Party now has an Iowa front-runner whose religious beliefs are virtually identical to those of George Bush. He's anti-choice, born-again, against gay-marriage, and gets political advice directly from God.

So why is the Republican establishment suddenly in a state of near-apoplexy about Mike Huckabee? Shouldn't they be happy? They've been cultivating evangelicals and fundamentalists for 30 years. Now they finally have a candidate who's truly part of the movement. So what's the problem?

Actually, that is the problem. The evangelical crowd was fine when it was just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns. But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP's Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles, fled the lab, and is currently leading in Iowa. And the party doesn't know what to do.
In the 2008 election that is indisputably a challenging historical period for the GOP to begin with, the top five candidates for the GOP presidential nomination all present major problems in assembling a winning GOP coalition in the general election, and even two weeks away from the Iowa caucuses no candidate looks like a winner.

But as Chris Cillizza says: Someone Has to Win the GOP Nomination.

Below is Cillizza's take on the top five GOP presidential candidates with additional weaknesses (most previously published) added in brackets.

Rudy Giuliani isn't positioned to win a single state before Florida's Jan. 29 primary. [James Dobson, the leading religious right leader of the Focus on the Family group that self-consciously rallies religious right voters has made clear that Rudy is political anathema; hence Rudy will perform badly with the religious right; and Rudy’s past positions on affirmative action, abortion, civil right for gays, and immigration will kill his candidacy, no matter how often he portrays his inner-jerk persona in an attempt to appear tough.]

Mitt Romney has fallen behind in Iowa and his flip flops on issues like abortion and gay rights make him unacceptable to the Republican base. [As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney was even more pro-choice and pro-civil rights for gays than Rudy. The massive effort underway to convert him into a rightwinger won’t fly (detailed in a Harper’s (November) piece by Ken Silverstein). As quoted by Silverstein: “(Romney) says all the right things, his speeches run through the litmus test on conservative issues, but there’s no conviction behind it. …,” said Cyndi Mosteller, a social rightwinger and GOP politico in South Carolina. Add to that Christian religious bigotry against Mormons and you have a political loser.] Update: Romney drawing heat for falsely claiming he and his father marched with Martin Luther King, adding to the growing perception that Romney will do and say much anything to further his political ambitions. See also NYT's Romney Learns That ‘Facts Are Stubborn Things’.

Mike Huckabee is surging in Iowa but doesn't have the money or organization to take advantage of a win in the Hawkeye State.
[The rapist-pardoning Huckster is a divisive fake just dying to be found out. Even the Republican establishment has blasted the guy. Provincial, ignorant of foreign affairs, his success in the GOP race thus far has depended directly upon his below-the-radar-and-ascending appeals to the religious right, and his ability to mount a positive, above-the-fray campaign as the other Republicans competed for who is the most mean-spirited in advocating for draconian measures such as more torture, more Gitmo prisons, more war, more fences, and more trashing of Mexicans as Karl Rove's dream of a GOP appeal to Hispanics evaporates. Add to this that he would be deficient in traditional GOP political strengths in foreign affairs and tough-on-crime appeals, and the Huckster would be a goner in the general election.]

John McCain is running a single-state strategy in New Hampshire, but in that state he trails Romney by double digits. ["Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances," said James Dobson. Few religious right leaders have forgiven McCain for his wildly unpopular (in Republican circles) McCain/Feingold bill, and his April 9, 2000 speech trashing the religious right (that’s the Robertson/Falwell “agents of intolerance” speech). McCain would perform worse than Rudy; let's hope for Joe-mentum for McCain.]

Fred Thompson doesn't seem to care much whether he wins or loses. [As a late September piece in The Politico notes, quoting Dobson: "Isn’t Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won’t talk at all about what he believes, and can’t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson asked in the message, obtained by The Associated Press. "He has no passion, no zeal and no apparent ‘want to.’ And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!" Grandpa Fred is dead, and he comes across as tired and wooden: An older version of an unenergetic John Kerry.] And as Cillizza notes: Apathetic.


Dec 19, 2007

Religious Right Still Potent in GOP Circles, Buffoonish Elsewhere

With the rise of Mike Huckabee to the top of polls in the race for the Republican nomination for president, the pile of candidates rejected by the religious right is a roster of formerly regarded GOP front-runners or political saviors: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.

[John McCain's recently acquired Joe-mentum is a joke, and McCain, of the top four Republican candidates, remains the least acceptable to the religious right, as he deviates slightly from being mean-spirited and dogmatic.]

So, will Huckabee sustain his frontrunner status, propped up by the religious right?

Let's hope so, because the religious right has worn out its welcome among the center of American politics.

As Harold Meyerson writes today in the Post:

As Christians across the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it's a fitting moment to contemplate the mountain of moral, and mortal, hypocrisy that is our Christianized Republican Party. ...

The most depressing thing about the Republican presidential race is that the party's rank and file require their candidates to grow meaner with each passing week. And now, inconveniently, inconsiderately, comes Christmas, a holiday that couldn't be better calibrated to expose the Republicans' rank, fetid hypocrisy.

As fans of the popular television series House and Bones attest, heroically free-thinking, compassionate and secular American archetypes remain admired figures in the American consciousness.

I mean who wants to see a Gastroenterology specialist who isn't brilliant and rational-minded? And a brilliant and rational president has its advantages too, even imperatives, as the ruin of Bush/Cheney becomes clear and irrefutable.

Craig Unger puts the conflict between reason and religion this way:

(As discussed in the new book, The Fall of the House of Bush), most secularists, who refer to the culture wars or the red state-blue state conflict, still don't understand that what is really going on is an age old battle between faith and reason. After all, America is not only the country that put a man on the moon, that unraveled the human genome, that invented the iPod. It's also a country with tens of millions of people who don't believe in evolution, who think the earth was created 6,000 years ago and who think that the Final Conflict may bring the world to an end any day now.

The religious right remains powerful on Planet GOP, but is faltering badly in the greater reality-based American consciousness.


Dec 17, 2007

Fleischer and Romney attacks Huckabee for criticizing Bush.

Ari Fleischer ('Lie-sure') and Mitt Romney dutifully spill the talking points about George W. Bush:

- He keeps us safe,

- And the safe course for Republican presidential candidates is to repeat the above, and not criticize the performance of George W. Bush, endangering his legacy :).

Romney defended Bush Sunday on Meet the Press, blasting break-out candidate Mike Huckabee for branding Bush's foreign policy as arrogant, and demonstrating a "bunker mentality."

"That's an insult to the president, and Mike Huckabee should apologize to the president," Romney said.

And from ThinkProgress:

President Bush’s former spokesman Ari Fleischer today called Mike Huckabee’s Foreign Affairs comments ["... American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude...") “unwarranted and unwise“:

There is much to like about Mike Huckabee. But he will serve Republican primary voters, and our nation, better if he focused his criticisms on the Democrats who will run against our eventual nominee and not on the President who has kept us safe.

Yesterday, Mitt Romney also said that Huckabee “ought to be saying thank you to the president for keeping us safe these last six years.”

Dec 9, 2007

Dec 8, 2007

Juan Cole: Romney Says Some Beliefs are More Equal than Others

Juan Cole has an insightful piece pointing out that Mitt Romney is all for instituting a religious test for president, the one you have to pass to win the GOP presidential nominaiton.

John Nichols has a similar piece in The Nation.

Writes Cole:

Mitt Romney's speech in Texas on Thursday was supposed to be an attempt to fend off religious bigotry. Instead, it betrays some prejudices of its own (against secular people), and seems to provoke others to bigotted statements. It has been likened to the speech of John F. Kennedy on his Catholicism. But we knew John F. Kennedy, and Mitt Romney is no John F. Kennedy. Kennedy strongly affirmed the separation of religion and state.

Romney wants to dragoon us into a soft theocracy (not as a Mormon but as a Republican allied to the Pat Robertsons of the world). Kennedy wanted to be accepted as an American by other Americans. Romney wants to be accepted as a conservative Christian by other conservative Christians.

This conundrum is the price the Republican Party is paying for pandering to the religious Right. Can a secular person even win the Republican nomination any more? If you make yourself captive of the Protestant Right, then you will discover that they believe Mormons are heretics. The Republican Party has established its own litmus test, and since it has been a dominant party in recent years, we've all been affected by it. Romney's plight in finding it hard to be accepted by that constituency mirrors the plight of secular and unchurched Americans, on whom the very people Romney is sucking up to want to impose their narrow and sectarian values.