Buying the 2012 Presidency

The GOP is hip-boot deep in its convention propaganda in Tampa, Florida this week, basking in the media attention which has been only slightly diverted by Hurricane Isaac’s slamming into the Louisiana coast near New Orleans on the seventh anniversary to the day of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The convention actually shortened its first business day from 8 hours to 2 minutes on Monday, August 27th because of the storm.  Evidently, they were worried that if they recessed at 10pm instead of 2:20pm like they did, the after-convention party-go’ers might get wet…or blown away.   🙂

What kind of idiot plans a convention in Tampa, which sits on Florida’s west coast and the Gulf of Mexico, which is “Hurricane Central” at this time of year, anyway??  The answer is the GOP, which realized that Florida is the most “swing” state in the USA, and the convention center is in the most “swing” county in Florida, hoping to swing the undecideds their way.

Not every undecided voter is so stupid that he’s/she’s going to be swayed the GOP’s chosen location, but some may be.  And it’s those “some” that the GOP is hoping to sway their way with luster, lies, limericks, and money….gobs of money.

Mitt Romney is a wealthy businessman who has promised to reduce the tax and regulation burden for all wealthy businessmen…people who have more money stashed in secret offshore accounts than most middle class people make in a lifetime.  They can afford to donate millions of dollars…in fact HUNDREDS of millions of dollars…to the candidates that promise to help them make even MORE millions of dollars.

These megalo-wealthy folks can do that in two ways.  The first way is through donations to individual candidates up to $2500 per person in a calendar year, as regulated by the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) .  There are also other limits depending upon who is donating and who is receiving, but in any combination, the contribution cannot exceed $117,000, or $46,200 to all candidates plus $70,800 to all political action committees (PACs} and/or parties combined.

Although the monetary limits seem a bit high to most middle-class voters, these regulations were designed to guard against lopsided contributions from a conglomeration of special interests buying off an election.  These regulations worked reasonably well until a conservative organization named Citizens United challenged the law.  In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Citizen United’s favor that corporations and unions had a first amendment right to freedom of speech and that limiting their abilities to make political contributions was a first amendment violation.

That decision gave rise to super-secret  Super PACS, which may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the actual candidate campaigns. .They can also raise funds from corporations, unions and other groups, and from individuals, without legal limits.  They need not report their contributors, and can spend the unlimited amount of money received in ads and messages designed to assassinate the character, reputation and political career of any political candidate they chose.

Though they are to be independent of candidate campaigns, it is clear that anyone can talk to anyone about anything, as long as it’s not an official “joint meeting”.  (nod, nod, wink, wink).

The super-duper-wealthy can now buy an election free from annoying government oversight.  And man, are they buying.  They are making the FEC maximum reportable contributions to the Romney campaign, which has out-raised the grassroots contributions of the Obama campaign for three months in a row.  And now they are also able to donate as much as they want to the conservative anti-Obama super-pacs, remaining completely anonymous (and unaccountable) as they do.

To be sure, their are pro-Obama super-pacs as well, but they don’t attract these wealthiest 1% of political contributors.  Instead, middle-class grass-roots voters and union contribute to them, and here is no way they can match the extreme wealth and contributions of the 1%.

The conservative multi-billionaire Koch brothers are worth approximately USD $50 billion.  They’re reportedly going to contribute up to USD $100 million to help Romney and the republicans win in November.  Without the Citizens United decision, they would not be able to contribute more than USD $117, 000…at least legally.

To make matters even more unsavory, political dirt-crawlers like Carl Rove are organizing and running those conservative super-pacs.  These people are known for their use of dirty tricks and smear campaigns.  So they’ll be creating and airing dirt-wrapped political ads to win their way.  Truth has no role to play here.

If the American voter was bright enough and/or diligent enough to do his or her own research into what is and isn’t true, and if they took the time to fact-check, these super-pacs would lose their influence.  But many people just listen to the voice yelling the loudest, longest, and most often.  Scary.

Remember when “He with the most votes wins”?  It’s been warped by Citizens United to

“He who buys the most TV ads wins”.

VERY scary.

“Legitimate Rape” and Other Weird GOP Policies”

If you’re reading this, you are probably reasonably well-informed on current events, which means you probably know all about republican US congressman from Missouri, Todd Akin.  He’s the staunch ultra-right-wingnut who religiously opposes any abortion for any reason, including in cases of rape, incest, of even to save the mother’s life.

As luck would have it, last Saturday he told a TV station in St. Louis, Missouri that  a woman who is the victim of a “legitimate rape” (evidently as opposed to an “Illegitimate rape”, whatever that it) mostly likely could not get pregnant because she has an internal system that shuts down during a “legitimate rape”.

What you may not know is that Akin is on the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology!!

Yep.  This evangelical is a graduate from the Covenant Theological Seminary.   He evidently learned about the female reproductive science during soulful prayer sessions at college.  That speaks volumes about the republican vetting process for congressional committee memberships, even under the theoretically watchful eye of republican Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio.

By Sunday opposition to Akin across the political landscape was almost unanimous.  Republicans broke their normally closed protective “wagon train” circle to criticize Akin and distance themselves from him, even calling for him to drop our to the race for US senate against democratic incumbent senator Claire McCaskill.  Up until this incident, Akin was leading McCaskill in the polls. But now even the Ryan-Romney team came out against Akin, albeit first issuing a wishy-washy statement about how they would support abortion in the case of rape, but later more forcefully calling for Akin to withdraw from the senate race.

Interestingly, Paul Ryan, Romney’s pick for vice-president, is a staunch anti-choice guy as well.  Earlier this year he actually co-sponsored a bill with Akin to redefine rape as only occurring if violence was also part of the action, i.e. “forcible rape”.  This would limit a woman’s ability to have an abortion if she was raped without violence.  Ryan was later forced to modify that language somewhat, but not before showing his true colors on the issue of women’s reproductive rights, i.e., that they shouldn’t exist.

Democrats were almost unanimous in their call for Akin to withdraw from the Missouri senate race, with one very notable exception:  Claire McCaskill herself, whom, after Akin began his now endless apologetic backtracking Sunday, issued a statement acknowledging that Akin had apologized and it was time to move on.  Of course, she had to be aware that Akin’s chances of unseating her have dropped to somewhere between microscopic and non-existent.  Even republicans picked up on that fact, repeating their calls for Akin to step out of the senate race.

But true to the unshakable faith that provides total belief that the Earth is flat and global warming is a myth, Akin didn’t budge in the face of all those demands.  Instead, he said that his faith in the voters’ ability to see beyond his “small” misstatement on “legitimate rape”is keeping him in the race, and he will not withdraw, which defied the latest call from even the Ryan-Romney conglomerate.   Akin had until the end of last Tuesday to withdraw without penalty;  now any attempt to withdraw will require a court order, and he will most likely be ordered to pay the state of Missouri to have new ballots printed up.

This is just another example of unshakable, unprovable, emotionally-charged fact-rejecting faith (with a little ego added in) trumping math, science, engineering and technology.

Oh, wait.  He’s on the US House Science, Space and Technology Committee, so maybe he’s right and all those round-Earth fools are wrong.

In fairness, Akin has acceded to one GOP demand:  he will not attend the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida next week.  Considering that Florida is a gun-totting state, the GOP convention planners probably fear a shootout led by women in Annie Oakley outfits if Akin shows up.

Of course, this bizarre incident is just more proof that the republican party is being highjacked by people like Akin who espouse all kinds of weird policies based upon fundamental religious principles.  In fact, a number of right-wing organizations such as the Family Research Council have expressed total support for Akin.  These ultra-extreme-religious-right-wing organizations oppose abortion, sex outside of marriage, gay rights in any form, and they believe in “traditional roles” for people, particularly women. They have a lot in common with other fundamentalist belief systems that demand total dedication and unquestioning loyalty from their followers, much like the Taliban does.  That’s dangerous.

But selecting someone who believes that rape shuts down a woman’s reproductive system to serve on the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology is also dangerous…and incredibly STUPID!!!

And who’s responsible for that kind of stupidity?

REPUBLICANS!!!

(you know…the same folks that brought you the recession?)             🙂

How Paul Ryan Helps the Democratic Political Campaign

Late last week Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan to be his vice-presidential running mate in the 2012 general elections.  Ryan is serving his seventh term as a conservative republican congressman from Wisconsin.

Since January 2011 when the republicans took over control of the US House of Representatives, Ryan has served as chairman of the House budget committee.  As such, he has the authority to propose the yearly budget to run the US government.   He did exactly that, in what is now infamously known as the 2011 Ryan Budget Plan.  Although he claimed that his plan would reduce the US budget deficit by US$6 trillion over a decade, factcheck,org disputed that, claiming that Ryan’s plan would actually increase the budget deficit.  No matter, though, because his plan made Ryan the fiscal darling of the Tea Party movement in the USA.

Mitt Romney became the presumptive GOP presidential nominee following a bruising primary season.  Yet, while the other GOP primary candidates were still in the running, Romney was never able to garner more than 25% of the vote in multiple primaries, even though he won those primaries anyway due to the large number of competitors.  It wasn’t until the last primaries when all but two or three candidates had dropped out of the race that Romney was able to climb beyond that 1/4 mark.  And even after Romney’s last competitor had “suspended” his campaign, the tea party and their ultra-extreme-right-wing supporters still had great difficulty wrapping themselves around Romney’s candidacy.  After all, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney had embraced every liberal political position that conservatives hated.

Romney mysteriously appeared to have had an “epiphany” coincidentally at the time that he began his run for the GOP presidential nomination:  Every liberal position he held as governor magically reversed itself.  Suddenly, he only held ultra-conservative views.  Yet, the Tea Party remained largely lukewarm to Romney’s candidacy.  They obviously would NEVER vote for Obama, but their lack of enthusiasm for Romney might just make them stay home in November.

This is the math that his campaign staff charged with vetting and selecting a vice-presidential candidate did, resulting in Ryan being anointed the “one”.

The reasons are clear:  Ryan, as the sweetheart of the ultra-socially-conservative and the fiscally selfish, would galvanize support in the GOP’s conservative base.  Not only was he incredibly austere in believing that the federal government serves little or no purpose outside of national military defense and offense (he’s voted for war at every opportunity), but he is also a young, attractive, energetic religious family-oriented individual, much as Sarah Palin, the GOP vice-presidential nominee of 2008, is.  And Ryan is more intelligent and articulate than Palin could ever hope to be.  As such, he can spin every conservative view he has much more effectively and eloquently.  Put another way, he can easily outsell Palin at the snake oil booth, a plus in the math used to select him.

Alternatively, Ryan’s selection moved the entire Romney/Ryan ticket way over toward the extreme right.  While the party base (which was never going to vote for Obama anyway) LOVES it, that swing to the right is scaring some undecided independents and other moderates.  After all, Ryan, in his now infamous “2011 Ryan Budget Plan” proposed to privatize both Social Security and Medicare, two extremely popular federal social safety net programs.  Imagine the disaster if social security had already been privatized when the 2007 recession hit:  it would have been decimated!

And even in his modified 2012 budget plan, Ryan still sees these and other entitlement programs as fair game for privatization, which is nothing more than a way to provide private industry with profit-making opportunities.  In both 2011 and 2012 he proposes to convert Medicare into a “voucher” program which seniors would use to help pay for private-industry-for-profit health insurance.  And we all know how well the for-profit private health insurance companies work to provide complete and affordable medical care to all citizens, don’t we?

And finally, he embraces tax cuts for the wealthy, but those cuts would have to be paid for by the middle class.  Romney has a very similar plan as well.

Obama’s campaign has been uncharacteristically (but wisely) quiet since Ryan’s selection as Romney’s running mate.  It will continue to do so until the end of the GOP convention in Tampa on August 30th.  It’s pointless for the dems to blow bubbles into the wind right now. Instead, president Obama is doing the next best thing:  he’s on the campaign trail in battleground states previewing the coming political ad onslaught coming our way in the Fall.

Once the Tea Party-dominated GOP exposes all its extremist conservative positions during their convention, watch the democrats turn on the heat and come out swinging.  And when they do start, expect to see an ad that exposes every liberal position ever supported by Romney…

…and that Paul Ryan was voted “Biggestbrown-noser” when he was in high school!

No kidding!  🙂 

 

Watergate’s Sequel: Romney-gate? Tax-gate? You Pick…

For those old enough to remember, five obscure member’s of republican US president Richard Nixon‘s re-election campaign broke into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC on the night of June 17th, 1972, with the intent of stealing democratic campaign planning documents.  They were caught in the act and arrested.

What followed over the next two years was a relentless investigation which became universally known as Watergate.  While the Watergate investigation was unfolding, Nixon repeatedly denied any knowledge of, or connection with the issue on any level.  But then one day it was revealed that Nixon had previously installed a secret recording device in the White House that taped every conversation where business was conducted by the president.

Investigators made demand for those tapes.  But Nixon continuously refused to provide any tapes other than a small number which revealed nothing, citing executive privilege. Ultimately, the case went before the US Supreme Court, where Nixon lost that battle in an 8-0 decision.

The moment that decision was made public,the handwriting was on the wall.  Nixon was all done.  Facing an impeachment trial in the US senate, he chose instead to resign the US presidency on August 9, 1974, the only US president ever to do so.  he tapes revealed not that he had any known role in the burglary itself, but that he had participated in the resulting cover-up of the link between the burglars and the republican Committee to Re-elect the President” (CREEP).  That was the organization responsible for Nixon’s re-election campaign.   Additionally, 43 members of Nixon’s administration were convicted and served time in prison for their roles in the Watergate scandal.

No wonder Nixon didn’t want the tapes released.  Without the conclusive evidence on those tapes, it might not have been possible to prove conclusively that Nixon was lying repeatedly about the link between him and the cover-up, and the Nixon presidency might have survived.   After all, he had just won a landslide re-election victory and he was riding a wave of misguided popularity, although it was starting to drop in the increasingly intensity of Watergate investigation.  He had even gone on national television to proclaim to the nation that “I am not a crook!” which you can see for yourself:

Fast forward 40 years and 7 weeks after the Watergate break-in, and 38 years almost to the day since Nixon resigned,

August 2012:

Republican Mitt Romney is trying to unseat first-term president Barack Obama.  Romney’s main claim to fame is his years as the CEO of Bain Capital, a company that among other business practices often bought distressed companies, broke them up into pieces and then sold the pieces off for a profit.   In doing so, countless American jobs were either lost as their jobs were either eliminated outright or outsourced to foreign countries.  But big money was made by the company’s shareholders as well as by Romney himself.

Big money buys a lot of tax avoidance lawyers and specialists for the very rich so they can pay as little taxes as possible.  Part of that is done by “sheltering” money, such as, for example, sending it offshore.

Romney thinks the rich pay too much in taxes, even with all those tax experts diverting all that money into tax shelters, so he has a plan to reduce marginal tax rates for the rich.  He also claims that his plan will not reduce overall tax revenue for the USA, but he doesn’t explain how reducing taxes on the rich isn’t going to result in a tax revenue shortfall.  However,  the non-partisan Tax Policy Center figured it out:  the tax revenue deficit can only be made up by increasing taxes on the middle class.

Clearly, Romney believes the rich, who generally pay a lower tax rate now than the middle class does anyway, needs even MORE tax breaks.  But wait…there’s MORE:

According to a reliable source providing data to US senate majority leader Harry Reid, (democrat from Nevada), Mitt Romney did not pay ANY taxes for a period of at least 10 years, even though he admits to a huge income for every year of his adult life!

Predictably, Romney and the GOP are screaming that this is totally false.  But unlike his dad, George Romney, who as a GOP presidential candidate in 1968 released 12 years of his most recent tax returns, his son Mitt Romney has only released one year (2010) with a claim that he will release his 2011 tax return once it is completed (why his tax firm needs so much extra preparation time is anyone guess).  Instead, like Nixon with the Watergate tapes,Romney has refused to release any more tax returns, even though the claim of his no-taxes-paid-for-ten-years is starting to hurt his credibility and campaign.

It begs the obvious question, which is:

Why won’t he release them and put the claim to rest?  Is he hiding something?

Well..read this and then figure it out:

Why didn’t Nixon release the Watergate tapes until he was forced by the Supreme Court?  Was he hiding something?

Yep.  Romney-gate or Tax-gate.  Remember you heard them here first.  🙂

‘Twit’ Romney’s World-Bashing Tour: Not Ready for Prime Time

Informed republican leadership in the GOP must be thanking their lucky stars (or whatever deity they believe in) that Mitt Romney is back on USA soil.  After all, the USA is where they at least know what to expect to flow out of Romney’s mouth on domestic issues…since he has already held every possible position on every domestic issue at one time or another.

They are surely happy that his world tour of last week, which was intended to demonstrate that Romney is ready to be commander-in-chief as well as US-ambassador-to-the-world-in chief, is mercifully over.  Unfortunately for the GOP and the trip planners, Romney’s trip to England, Israel and Poland didn’t showcase him as anywhere near ready to take over the presidency on January 20th, 2013.  Instead, it harkened back to the horribly misguided selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s pick for vice-presidential nominee in 2008, a selection that even former USA vice-president “Tricky Dick” Cheney has called a “mistake” because she was not ready to become president if the call came.

Romney took this trip to at least try to close the gap between his and president Obama’s standing in the polls on foreign policy, which showed him trailing the president by 52% to 40%, a 12 point spread.  But after the gaffs and misstatements Romney made in England and Israel, and the pissy way a Romney’s press secretary handled a reporter in Poland, it is VERY unlikely that Romney scored any brownie points in “world affairs”, unless one is referring to a “fun” relationship two people in different countries.  No, wait.  He probably isn’t real smart on that subject, either.  🙂

Romney’s “not-so-excellent-foreign-adventure” started going south when he made statements regarding London’s lack of preparedness for the Olympic Games which began last week.  That alone had the London newspapers dubbing Romney “Mitt the Twit”.  Regardless of how his campaign people tried to spin it, the first day of Romney’s tour set the unfortunate tone for the rest of his trip.

During the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, Romney and his wife Ann got to watch an elaborate tribute to the U.K.’s National Health Service, a socialized universal health care system that the Brit’s LOVE!!  The irony of this was not lost on the British press any more than it was lost on the US press.  Romney, who as governor of Massachusetts signed “Romneycare” into law, thinking it was good, only later found out that the GOP thinks it’s really bad.  So he had to run against his own plan, which served as the model for Obamacare“, which the GOP hates even more.  Then he had to sit through a ceremonial salute to England’s “Romney-Care/Obama-care” on steroids, namely the National Health ServicePoor Mitt the twit.  He was “shaken…but not stirred”.

While on the flight to Israel after departing the UK, one might have thought that Romney’s on-board campaign directors would have told him to cool it with insulting indigenous people in a foreign land, and also to make it clear that universal health care won’t work in the USA.  But Mitt would have none of that.  Once in Israel he made the statement that the Israelis’ very socialized universal health care system was clearly working better than health care in the USA since the Israelis spend only 10% of their gross domestic product on health care, while the USA (without universal healthcare) spends 18%!  And the Israelis live longer than Americans!!  So Romney went well beyond watching a tribute to universal healthcare as he did in London, to actually praise it in Israel!!

You just can’t make this stuff up.  🙂   And it’s a sure bet this is going to come up in the final fall campaign push to the November elections.

He also managed to severely insult the Palestinians while pandering to a group of very rich and extreme-right-wing-Israelis and Americans at a fundraiser hosted by none other than the ultra-conservative anti-Obama casino & hotel magnate gazillionaire Sheldon Adelson.  By doing so, he actually weakened the USA’s influence and flexibility to help broker a real and sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Not exactly what one might want in a diplomat-in-chief….

Then on to Poland, where Romney played it safe and didn’t answer any questions from the press.  In fact, his campaign’s traveling press secretary, Rick Gorka, told an American reporter asking Romney a question (which he didn’t answer) to “Kiss my ass!”.  Yep.  you can watch it HERE!

Many conservatives probably think that foreign policy isn’t very important, just like GW Bush did.  But thankfully, the latest polling shows president Obama pulling ahead of Romney in the most important swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.   So much for the Palin/Romney fan club.

And as former president Bill Clinton and vice-president Joe Biden have recently stated, Mitt (the twit) Romney as president would be like having George W. bush…

...ON STEROIDS!!!!

THAT’S a scary thought.