Showing posts with label Election 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Election 2012. Show all posts

Friday, November 9, 2012

Leadership: A Study In Contrasts

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. Sirius Black

They say you can judge the true character of a leader by how he behaves toward those who have served under him when times are tough. Most of us agree that a man who stands tall and generously thanks those who stood by him in defeat is a man with integrity. John McCain is one such man.  But even more revealing, sometimes, is how a man behaves when he has achieved a cherished goal with the help of many others. When the temptation to see himself as a conquering hero must be very great, a man who shares the credit for victory - indeed who gives the credit almost entirely to his supporters - is rightly regarded as a man of sterling character. A truly great leader has no need to stand on the backs of other people and declare himself a self-made man. A great leader - a great president - has the quiet confidence and steady character that allows the generousness of spirit to show appreciation for the aid that all great leaders receive from other people along his way. By his example this week, President Barack Obama showed us what true integrity and great leadership really means.

John McCain to campaign staff: "A lost
election will never mean more to me than
 the privilege of your faith and friendship."
After the lights go down and the confetti is swept up in the wee hours of the morning after an election night, political candidates may take a few moments to gather themselves and consider the future. As they prepare to move into the next phase of their lives, most recognize that they have one last campaign-related duty which leadership, integrity and common courtesy demand: to thank their campaign workers for their months of hard work. Win or lose, most acknowledge that their many accomplishments over the preceding months were not theirs alone. They know that their candidacy would have been impossible without the sustained effort, through months of hard slogging on the campaign trail, of a multitude of people whose commitment to the candidate and the ideals which they believe he represented was unwavering. Weary candidates longing to rest have long understood that before retiring from the campaign, their final duty is to thank their campaign staffers with the respect and gratitude that those men and women have surely earned. Most go on to urge their supporters to continue to fight for their shared ideal of a stronger America by finding renewed energy to work with their former adversaries on solutions for the good of the country.

Well, hang on a minute. It is true that that is what most candidates would do after a grueling campaign. It is, after all, what most decent men and women do when they owe an enormous debt of gratitude to people without whom they could never have come close to their own ambitious goals. John McCain understood that very well and, being an honorable man, he rose to the occasion even in the face of a devastating defeat.  His humble and heartfelt remarks to his gathered supporters after the 2008 election were intended to uplift and encourage them, to express his gratitude and to affirm their shared love of this country. In spite of his own crushing disappointment, Senator McCain knew his duty to his supporters - knew that in their hour of disappointment, it was his duty as a leader to show them the way forward - and he performed it willingly with grace and honor.

But in 2012, the Republican who postured as a "values" candidate exhibited no such grace or honor.

When the time came to thank the legions of tireless campaign workers who, for the better part of a year (if not longer), had lived and breathed loyalty and devotion to their candidate and his cause, Mitt Romney failed them miserably. He had a chance to step down off the stump, look his exhausted staffers in the eye and thank them for a herculean effort in the face of tremendous challenges, but the opportunity was utterly lost on the "caring" candidate. Romney's supporters gave their hearts and minds and boots on the ground - they sacrificed, their families sacrificed; their personal lives and careers were willingly put on hold for his cause -  and win or lose, this was the moment for their candidate to offer them sincere gratitude and much deserved congratulations for a job well done.

Romney to campaign staff: Thanks for nothing, Suckers!
"My job is not to worry about those people."

Let them find their own way home.
Instead, Mitt Romney hurried through a brief, painfully perfunctory concession speech and then he walked right out of that ballroom and out of their lives. Before daybreak on November 7, he had also made sure that his staffers' campaign credit cards had been cancelled - before many of them had even finished the night's work and dragged their tired bodies into a taxi to go back to their hotels. One can only hope the campaign workers were not also stiffed with their hotel bills, although they almost certainly were left with any remaining expenses incurred while they made their weary way home after nearly a year serving on the campaign of the most stunningly callous political ingrate in recent memory.

The contrast between Governor Romney's abrupt concession speech and his predecessor Senator McCain's gracious and patriotic remarks points belatedly to the answer to an important question: How will the candidate react under duress? Will he respond with measured grace and wisdom, or will his reaction show that he is unprepared for leadership? But it was Romney's unseemly, hasty severing of connections with his campaign workers - he literally left them in the lurch in the middle of the night! - compared to McCain's genuine appreciation of his supporters which will forever remind Americans of the stark difference in character between the last two Republican presidential candidates.

Even more pronounced is the contrast between Mitt Romney's reaction to defeat and Barack Obama's reaction to victory. Apparently under the mistaken impression that the usual rules of candidacy for the most powerful office on the planet do not apply to him, Romney refused to answer questions about his secret financial dealings or to discuss his plans for America. His barely concealed sense of entitlement to the presidency meant he was ill-prepared for the outcome of the election. When the American people declined to elect him as the 45th president, Governor Romney was visibly stunned. His subsequent response exhibited all of the suppressed rage and frustrated ambition that such hubris often entails.

In telling contrast, the incumbent Obama - taking nothing for granted - laid out his plans for the future and then asked the American people for their support. When they gave it to him on November 6th, he accepted their decision not simply as a vindication of himself, personally, but as a confirmation of the spirit of community and fairplay in America. His remarks late that night made clear that he saw the election result, not as a personal triumph, but as a victory for the country itself and for the ideals upon which it is founded. As for the test of principled leadership, President Obama's heartfelt appreciation of his supporters could not have been more revealing:

Obama to campaign staff: Thank you. You are the
"source of my hope...my strength and my inspiration."
"So I come here and I look at all of you, what comes to mind is it's not that you guys actually remind me of myself, it's the fact that you are so much better than I was in so many ways," he told the volunteers.

"Whatever good we do over the next four years will pale in comparison to what you guys end up accomplishing for years and years to come and that's been my source of hope. That's why in the last four years when people ask me how do you put up with this and that, the frustrations of Washington, I just think about you, what you guys are going to do.

"That's the source of my hope, that's the source of my strength and my inspiration." President Barack Obama in a moving speech to his campaign workers, November 7, 2012.

President Obama calls Chicago home, and although that city has been unceasingly reviled by the right wing as a den of iniquity, the truth is that the 'city of broad shoulders' can lay claim to a great leader whose actions live up to the words of one of its spiritual leaders:

It is the way one treats his inferiors more than the way he treats his equals which reveals one’s real character. —Rev. Charles Bayard Miliken, Methodist Episcopal, Chicago. 1910

These final scenes of the 2012 presidential campaign highlighted the main theme underlying the ideological battle being fought on America political stage today: the question of whether success is a personal or a societal achievement. Are we all in this society together? Or are we rugged individualists whose successes and failures occur entirely separately from the privileges or disadvantages we are born into within a hugely diverse society? Are the wealthiest Americans rich because they deserve to be rich or could it be that there is an element of luck in success? Some people are luckily born into privilege, luckily born with high intelligence or exceptional abilities, luckily not struck down by illness or injury while others are unluckily born into poverty, unluckily cognitively challenged or unluckily physically disabled.  Do we acknowledge that some of us begin the race for success on the starting line while a few begin life already halfway to the finish line and a few others never even make out of the locker room or do we insist that everyone starts on the same starting line and the ones who do not reach the finish line before all the prizes have been scooped up were simply not trying hard enough?

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made it clear that they believe that there are makers and there are takers in this world of ours; winners and moochers. Romney claimed that his tremendous wealth was the result of his own hard work alone, and not because he was born into wealth and privilege, was able to buy his way out of military service and had the backing of the most powerful and wealthy church in America. Another man born into poverty, unable to avoid being drafted to Viet Nam, a wounded veteran physically unable to avail himself of the GI bill which would have been his only possible way to afford a higher education and subsequently dependent upon public assistance for survival would be, in Romney and Ryan's worldview, a taker: a moocher who deserves to live in poverty. The failures of other people are their own fault, while their modest successes are the result of taking from their betters. Yet, the successes of a Romney or a Ryan - by their lights - are the result of their own efforts independent of the advantages they enjoyed, while their failures are the fault of the mistakes of lesser people. Those lesser people felt the sting of Mitt Romney's cold-hearted rejection on Wednesday morning.

The President, on the other hand, has a different view of the world, and in particular of this exceptionally promising country we call our United States of America, which he laid out clearly once more this week. In his Acceptance Speech early Wednesday morning, Barack Obama reminded the American people what it is that he believes makes this country great:

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great...

The American people made a choice on November 6.
Watch the speech again to understand just why they chose Barack Obama.

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!






























Good Day, Humans.

What a to-do this week! Anxiety! Elation! Celebration!

I do not know how humans endure it.

On Tuesday night there was a hush all over the city. Puurrrrfect, in my opinion.

Then, in the wee hours of Wednesday, a shout went up in the street below!

My Human raised her head from her writing. Smiled. Then went beck to work.

What a to-do this week! I do not know how my Human endures it.

She writes. She works and she studies and she writes and writes and writes.

World events intrude. She takes note, joins briefly in the celebration,

and then she gets back to her work.

I am always at her side. Puuurrrrrfect.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

America Goes Forward!
























The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote.
America’s never been about what can be done for us. 
It’s about what can be done by us together 
through the hard and frustrating,
but necessary work of self-government
That’s the principle we were founded on.


I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else...

The spirit of ordinary Americans moves the President.
"It's big. It's important. It's what politics can be."
You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity.

You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift.

You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse whose working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.

That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
(Full transcript of President Barack Obama's acceptance speech, The Washington Post, November 7, 2012.)

The New York Times' contributor, Thomas L. Friedman writes eloquently about why he believes the President was re-elected in an economic environment which historically should have spelled disaster for him at the polls: the Republican party "lost an election that, given the state of the economy, it should have won because of an excess of McConnell-like cynicism, a shortage of new ideas and an abundance of really bad ideas..."

No one can know for sure what complex emotional chemistry tipped this election Obama’s way, but here’s my guess: In the end, it came down to a majority of Americans believing that whatever his faults, Obama was trying his hardest to fix what ails the country and that he had to do it with a Republican Party that, in its gut, did not want to meet him halfway but wanted him to fail — so that it could swoop in and pick up the pieces. To this day, I find McConnell’s declaration appalling. Consider all the problems we have faced in this country over the last four years — from debt to adapting to globalization to unemployment to the challenges of climate change to terrorism — and then roll over that statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Hope and Change: Part 2, Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, November 7, 2012.

As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path.

By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.

And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.  

Washington Post contributor E.J. Dionne writes that he sees the election as a ruling by the people on the gridlock in Washington. A great essay, although it begs the question: if the people have spoken in the President's favor over an obstructionist Congress, then why is the balance of power essentially unchanged? The electorate did throw out some of the more extreme Senators and Congressmen, but they put a few new ones in as well. It looks like the judgement of the people on the issue of gridlock in Washington is less clear than Dionne would have his readers believe, but his article is still a good read which makes some excellent points.

 Republicans will take solace in their success in holding on to the House of Representatives. But the party as a whole will have to come to terms with its failures to expand beyond its base of older white voters and to translate right-wing slogans into a coherent agenda. Republicans need to have a serious talk with themselves, and they need to change.
 All of this strengthens Obama’s hand. It will not be so easy for Republicans to keep saying no. They can no longer use their desire to defeat Obama as a rallying cry. They cannot credibly insist that tax increases can never be part of a solution to the nation’s fiscal problems.
 And now Obama will have the strongest argument a politician can offer. Repeatedly, he asked the voters to settle Washington’s squabbles in his favor. On Tuesday, they did. And so a president who took office four years ago on a wave of emotion may now have behind him something more valuable and durable: a majority that thought hard about his stewardship and decided to let him finish the job he had begun. Obama's victory should settle a bitter argument, E.J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post, November 7, 2012.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.

You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

The Philadelphia Enquirer online newsfeed (philly.com) posted an uncredited piece pointing out that this election - the most expensive in history by a huge margin - appears to have been a failure for special interests who hoped to influence the election using superPACs and corporate donations under Citizens United.

One way the 2012 election could go down in the record books is in bucking the notion that the results always follow the money, and in disproving outsized fears that corporations could buy the election outright. Super PACs, super busts? philly.com, November 7, 2012.

The final word in today's post must go to the President, whose acceptance speech on election night 2012 will, I think, go down in the annals of history as a great one. Reprising the theme he first brought to the American public in 2004, the President concluded his uplifting call for unity with these inspiring words:

America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.


I believe we can seize this future together 
because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. 
We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. 
We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions,
 and we remain more than a collection 
of red states and blue states. 
We are and forever will be 
the United States of America.


America goes forward!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!






























Hello, there! Come on in! Shhh, we have to be quiet.

We are anxiously awaiting the close of polls all across the United States.

My Nan is feverishly searching the web for news and updates. Is it time to play yet, Nanny?

I would like to play. I am a very patient companion! Is it time to play, yet?

It is Election Day and we are waiting for the polls to close.

We are waiting and waiting, but I am a very patient companion.

Isn't that just Ducky!


Closing Arguments For Election Day - VOTE!

Be strong. Be safe. Be an American.


























Well, Election Day is finally here. The lines may be long. The pressure may be on you to walk away from the polling place. Please do not take the easier road today. Your country needs you. Get out and vote. Tell your family and friends to vote. The country is at a serious crossroads right now - do you want to turn back the clock 50 or more years economically, socially and politically? Or do you want to keep moving forward?

There have been worrying reports for weeks about ramped up efforts to suppress the vote, especially in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin and Nevada.  Please stay strong, people! Do not let voter intimidation rob you of your constitutional rights. Do not let secret, well-funded groups succeed in suppressing the vote to steal this election. The United States is a free Republic and it will stay that way because everyday American heroes will insist upon it.

Know your rights and be prepared. There may be long lines, irritable people, problems with voting machines and "observers" who may challenge your right to be there. Do not accept the word of a stranger on a polling place line; do not let an "observer" convince you that you should not vote today! These operatives have been well-trained to scare voters away from the polls. Do not let them do this to you. Do not let them do this to America.

Resources for voters:

Our Vote:  "Election Protection is working 365 days to advance and defend your right to vote, but you also need to be fully equipped with information and resources to help you cast a ballot on Election Day."

Know your rights!  State-specific voter checklists Use the checklist as a resource for information about your right to vote and what you need to do before heading to the polls on Election Day.

VotoLatino, Get the facts on latino voter suppression, and information about voting.

Student Voting Guide, Brennan Center for Justice: Comprehensive voting guide with interactive map for one-click access to voter information.

Fair Elections Legal Network Guide

SmartVoter; Unbiased Election Information, League of Women Voters.

If you have a few minutes before you go to the polls - or even while waiting in a long line (print to read!), please read the passionate and heartfelt essay linked below. Millions of young people in America have been recruited to serve the interests of a nihilistic and profoundly anti-American ideology through early religious indoctrination and college radicalization . Fighting your way out of that maze of conflicting moral problems is extremely difficult - the strategists behind it deliberately made it that way - but young Americans are stronger and smarter than that.

Read. Think. Remember our history. Vote.

Dear Young Conservative, D C Pierson, November 4, 2012

I am ashamed because I accepted into my heart and head a system of thought I now believe to be, to borrow a term from my old friend Ayn Rand, anti-life: that government should only exist to make it easy for businesses to do business, the idea that it is our civic duty to have no civic duty. I no longer believe that the way to make things better for everyone is to let people with money do whatever they want, whenever they want. I feel I’ve earned the crap out of this belief, given that I used to believe precisely the opposite, and I’ve taken a long journey to the side I stand on now.

And I urge you, before you dismiss me as a long-haired Hollywood goofball liberal, to read on, and to listen to me in every bit the earnest that I am writing to you.  Please don’t pull the dismissive ripcord in your mind, the one labeled “You’re just saying that because you’re biased, etc…” that all of us use every day to reject the idea that someone who disagrees with us may have a point. This ripcord is cynicism, plain and simple, and it mars political discourse and if we continue to pull it every time someone starts to say something that doesn’t jibe with what we already think, life on this planet will soon be quite literally impossible.

I completely understand the appeal of being an intelligent young conservative. When you’ve spent your entire academic career in gifted-and-talented programs, constantly being made an exception of, there’s something really appealing in imagining the grown-up world as a perfect arena of achievement where the talented and strong triumph, because they’re better than everybody else and they work harder, and everybody else watches from the sidelines or works the concessions stand, or worse. 

In Ayn Rand’s books, I found really romantic fables of people persecuted for being smart and capable and hard-working. All government should do, or should be able to do, I believed, is free the smart and capable and hard-working among us to do what we want and need to do, and everything will take care of itself.

And I still don’t believe the smart and capable and hard-working should have a whole lot of roadblocks to doing what they want and need to do, as long as they’re not infringing on the rights and the health of others. 

What I’ve learned in my brief time in the real world is, there aren’t a whole lot of impediments to smart, capable, hard-working people doing what it is they want and need to do. Not governmental ones, anyway. But the threat of Big Government inhibiting these high achievers from raising all our boats with their tide of good ideas and prosperity is often used to make life very, very hard for lots of other people, including, yes, a lot of the smart, the capable, and the hard-working. Harder than it needs to be, given our relative affluence as a society.

Here’s the thing:

The world doesn’t need help being harder... please click to read the whole amazing essay.

Mitt's 10 Most Destructive Policies, Robert Reich, Salon, November 5, 2012.

In Romney's world, money is king.
And he who has the most money,
is entitled to be king.
By now, in these last remaining days before the election of 2012, we have learned enough about the beliefs of the Republican presidential candidate to see them as a worldview all its own – a kind of creed that explains Mitt Romney. Those who say he has no principles are selling him short.

Despite its contradictions and ellipses, Romneyism has an internal coherence. It is different from conservatism, because it does not intend to conserve or protect any particular institutions or values. It is also distinct from  Republicanism, in that it is not rooted in traditional small-town American values, nationalism, or states’ rights.

The ten guiding principles of Romneyism are...click to continue.




Monday, November 5, 2012

A Glimpse Behind The Bland Mask of Mitt Romney


Mitt Romney could not even contain his rage when he needed his best campaign face for the debates. 
What kind of Commander-in-Chief would he be in tense situations behind closed doors?













More interesting - and infinitely more worrying - was Romney's agitation over what he seemed to think was the implication that he was not a faithful, orthodox Mormon.

Voters concerned that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan might not be able to separate their religious beliefs from their duties as public servants will not be reassured by this video. Romney's uncharacteristic loss of self-control and his anger over being asked anything about his notoriously secretive church rightly rings alarm bells in many Americans' minds.

More interesting and infinitely more worrying was his agitation over what he seemed to think was the implication that he might not be a faithful, orthodox Mormon. The interviewer's questions were attempting to pinpoint how Romney arrived at his various (and variable) opinions on some issues, but Romney seemed fixated on interpreting everything as an attack on his own personal commitment to his religious faith.

Is Mitt Romney afraid of the Mormon Church?
“I have not done anything that in any way violates the principles of my church in that regard. I made other mistakes, but in not that regard...I don’t like coming on the air and having you go after my church,” Romney said. He added, “You’re trying to tell me that I’m not a faithful Mormon...I’m not running to talk about Mormonism,” 

His almost obsessive insistence on the sincerity of his Mormon faith - and the almost childish insistence that he had done nothing wrong in the eyes of his church - suggests an unhealthy level of anxiety around his religious identity - and perhaps even a fear of his church's hierarchy. Is it possible that Mitt Romney has a guilty conscience and is afraid not of the American people but of his own religious sect? Could it be that Romney has refused to reveal his tax history not only because he has contempt for the American people's right to know what kind of man he is, but because he fears what it would reveal to the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints? The rigid authoritarianism of the Mormon Church is similar to many other churches, but the secrecy, wealth and political reach of the LDS hierarchy is unprecedented even in the gods-soaked USA.

“In this instance, Romney used the tax-exempt status of a charity — the Mormon Church, according to a 2007 filing — to defer taxes for more than 15 years,” Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker explained. “At the same time he is benefitting, the trust will probably leave the church with less than what current law requires.”
Estates lawyer Jonathan Blattmachr told Bloomberg that Romney’s trust benefits from the Mormon church’s exempt status because charities don’t pay capital gains taxes when they make a profit from the sale of assets.
“The main benefit from a charitable remainder trust is the renting from your favorite charity of its exemption from taxation,” Blattmachr said, adding that the charitable contribution “is just a throwaway” and the church would receive little if any financial benefit from the trust.
“I used to structure them so the value dedicated to charity was as close to zero as possible without being zero,” he pointed out.

Forget the United States of America
or even the Christian United States of America. 
How does the Mormon United States of America sound? 
Salt Lake City thinks that has kind of a nice ring to it! 
The downside of denying that the founders had very good reasons for creating a wall of separation between church and state, is that opportunistic groups will always try to use that denial as an opening through which to insert their own theocratic agendas into American society. Romney is running under the banner of the party which has been screaming that there is not/should not be any separation of church and state - largely to serve the theocratic ambitions of the Evangelical Protestant Christian movement - but if he is elected, things might not go quite as his party "base" may be expecting.

I am glad this video is going viral. I hope Mitt Romney's supporters are paying attention to it.

Mitt Romney Mormon Video Goes Viral, Katie Glueck, Politico, November 5, 2012.

“I became intense in confronting what he had said,” Romney said, according to a transcript from CBS. “And we went back and forth. Unbeknownst to me, he had a hidden camera on the console. So this then popped up on the Internet - as our exchange. And I was intense. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t out of control. But I was intense.”
A producer of the show told POLITICO that Romney made those remarks soon after being interviewed by Mickelson, but that the camera in question was in plain sight.
“The next day when that aired, I think it’s a fair word to say that it stung us,” said Ross Peterson, the producer for Mickelson’s show. “We felt that it was dishonest…the camera was absolutely in plain sight, feet from where he was sitting.”

Video revives debate over Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, Peter Wallsten and Jason Horowitz, The Washington Post, November 4, 2012.

The issue came up in the 2007 interview when Mickelson asked Romney why his past support for abortion rights had not violated Mormonism. The question prompted a visibly angry Romney to argue that the church prohibits abortions but does not bar members from supporting the rights of others to make their own choices.
Romney did not point out that he had contended with the political implications of the church’s abortion views in the past. A former aide to Romney from his time as a leader in the Boston church would later recall that Romney had visited Salt Lake City shortly before his 1994 Senate bid, polling in hand, to show members of the church hierarchy that it was impossible to win in Massachusetts without supporting abortion rights. At the time, Romney told the aide, Ron Scott, that he had “left a few bridges burning, or at least smoldering.”

"I was governor four years. I had a number of pieces of legislation that came to my desk that dealt with abortion, abstinence education, RU486 and so forth. I vetoed any bill if it was in favor of choice. I was entirely consistent in favor of "life". So it's not just my word here. Look at my record." Mitt Romney.






Sunday, November 4, 2012

Voter Suppression Kicks Into Overdrive



Voter intimidation methods that were dusted off in 2008 have been buffed to a blinding sheen in 2012 by groups connected to the Republican party or by actual elected Republicans.

The FBI is Investigating Florida Voter Intimidation, Emily Deruy, abc news, October 25, 2012.

The New York Times notes that the Republican Party came under fire after suspicious voter-registration applications were submitted in ten Florida counties by a company run by Nathan Sproul, a Republican who has been dogged by allegations of voter fraud.
Florida law enforcement officials have been investigating multiple claims that registrations used false addresses or dead people's names.
As the Times reports, Sproul's companies have collected more than $17.6 million from Republican committees, candidates and the Super PAC "American Crossroads." And the Republican Party paid Sproul about $3 million this year to work in five states before severing ties with him following allegations of voter-registration fraud.
Sproul did not respond to a request for comment.

How GOP Voter Supression Could Win Florida for Romney, Tova Andrea Wang, Salon, October 25, 2012.

Florida Republicans launched their plan to make voting harder in 2011 when they effectively shut down community-based voter registration drives, responsible for registering hundreds of thousands of new voters every year. The Legislature and governor pushed through a law imposing onerous requirements and procedures on organizations seeking to conduct voter registration drives and steep fines for noncompliance. Nefarious outfits such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote were forced to completely shut down their registration activities.  At the same time, a teacher who brought registration forms into class for her seniors turning 18 was charged with violating the law.

What made the change in the voter registration law so particularly suspicious is that community groups focus most often on youth and minority and low-income communities, whose opportunities to register are more limited. In 2008, for example, while only 6.3 percent of white Floridians registered to vote through registration drives,  12.1 percent of Latinos and 12.7 percent of African-Americans did.
A judge recently put a halt to the new requirements, ruling them “burdensome” and “harsh and impractical,” not to mention unconstitutional. But the damage has been done – mostly to Democratic voters. The number of Democrats in the state who were registered to vote increased by only 11,365 voters from July 1, 2011, to August 1, 2012. In 2004, nearly 159,000 new Democrats were registered in that period. In 2008, the number was nearly 260,000. Remember: 537 votes.


True the Vote has said it is mobilizing one million poll watchers to go to voting places across the country. The problem, critics said, is that those watchers are mostly white and many of the polling places they target serve mostly black or minority voters.
In 2010, people in Texas complained that poll watchers who were affiliated with True the Vote were being overly aggressive and intimidating. According to Douglas Ray, the senior assistant county attorney for Harris County, Texas, the county where Engelbrecht lives, there were several complaints of True the Vote volunteers being disruptive to voters.
Ray said he went to the True the Vote offices and saw push pins on a map that he interpreted as the group's intention to target specific minority areas. This year, he said, his office has already received complaint calls about True the Vote volunteers at early voting locations.
The county attorney's office directed "Nightline" to an early voting location in Houston where there were Caucasian poll watchers in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, where citizens have already begun to complain.
Despite all the controversy the group has kicked up, study after study -- by the U.S. Department of Justice, investigative journalists and a bipartisan commission -- has found voter fraud to be virtually non-existent.

Bullies At the Ballot Box:Protecting the Freedom to Vote Against Wrongful Challenges and IntimidationLiz Kennedy, Tova Wang, Anthony Kammer, Stephen Spaulding, Jenny Flanagan,September 10, 2012.

Now active in 30 states, True the Vote has made it clear that it intends to ratchet up its activities in 2012.13 The group is coordinating efforts throughout the country to purge the voter rolls, issue citizen challenges to registrations based on its own criteria and recruit poll watchers for Election Day. At its annual 2012 conference, leadership of the group announced that it “anticipates training 1 million poll watchers around the country for this year’s election.”14 In itself the training of poll watchers might not be worrisome, but the inflammatory language used to inspire this group of volunteer activists makes it so.
For instance, True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, has said “we see again with this administration . . . it’s just stunning the assault on our elections that we’re watching gain steam with every passing day, so we found ourselves to be unwittingly on the front lines of an issue that I think will be the inflection point for this election.”15 A reporter attending True the Vote’s Colorado State Summit described how one speaker told the crowd that “they should enjoy bullying liberals because they were doing God’s work. ‘Your opposition are cartoon characters. They are. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate,’ he intoned. ‘You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars.’”

Eleventh Hour Voter Suppression Could Swing Ohio, Ari Berman, The Nation, November 4, 2012.

“Our secretary of state has created a situation, here in Ohio, where he will invalidate thousands and thousands of people’s votes,” Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgessOhio, said during a press conference at the board of elections in Cuyahoga County yesterday in downtown Cleveland. Added State Senator Nina Turner: “‘SoS’ used to stand for ‘secretary of state.’ But under the leadership of Jon Husted, ‘SoS’ stands for ‘secretary of suppression.’ ”

GOP's push to suppress vote threatens the democracy, Ilyse Hogue, CNN, November 4, 2012.

This election year is the culmination of years of Republican efforts to foment confusion and fear to keep certain Americans from voting. That is a subplot of this election, but one that will have massive consequences. In close and bitterly fought elections, there's far more at stake than who occupies the White House: Americans' belief in the integrity of our democracy hangs in the balance.
These efforts are pernicious, pervasive and professionalized. In a recent New Yorker article, Jane Mayer profiled Hans von Spakowsky, a legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who has been hyping the myth of voter impersonation fraud since 1998, despite mountains of evidence refuting his claim. (The Brennan Center for Justice has concluded that many more people are struck by lightning than commit in-person voter fraud.) Rep. John Lewis -- a civil rights hero who bled to get all Americans the right to vote -- describes von Spakowsky as waking up every morning thinking "What can I do today to make it more difficult for people to vote?"
Spakowsky is a close adviser to True the Vote, a Houston-based organization funded by wealthy conservative donors that has led challenges against the registration of minority voters across the country.

Voter Intimidation Fears Renewed As Election Nears, Jack Feeley and Kristofer Rios, abc news, October 19, 2012.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has monitored the progress of state bills that could limit or restrict citizens from voting and found a sharp increase in the last two years. In some instances, the Brennan Center partnered with civil-rights groups to challenge these laws. Many of the state bills that were passed have since been blocked by court injunctions or overturned, because states have failed to prove that the laws would not have a discriminatory effect on voters.
But restrictive laws are not the only hurdle some voters have to get over. Several conservative grassroots organizations like True the Vote, a Tea Party group, used voter fraud concerns as a reason to challenge students' and minorities' voting rights throughout the country. For example, in June, True the Vote volunteers harassed students during Wisconsin's recall election by citing concerns that students were violating a state photo ID bill that was already blocked by two judges.
In recent months True the Vote has also challenged thousands of voting registrations, and held rallies across the country to train and recruit so-called poll watchers.

It is not just imperative that Americans "get out the vote" this year, but it is now necessary to ensure that citizens' legal right to vote is protected from a campaign to disenfranchise even longtime voters with no reason to think their voter registration would be problematic. Seniors, disabled citizens who do not and cannot have a driver's license, and millions of poor working Americans - for whom acquiring the notarized documentation, filling out the legal paperwork, paying fees and taking time away from their jobs to file for government IDs present insurmountable hurdles - all face potential disenfranchisement in the upcoming election.

Republicans continue to argue disingenuously that they are protecting voter rights by placing more and more roadblocks in the way of the poor, the elderly and the disabled because, they claim, they are protecting us all from potential voter fraud. Repeated studies and investigations into voter fraud have proven that it isexceedingly rare, and that the threat that potential voter fraud poses to the electoral process is minimal. Conversely, the potential for harm to the democratic process resulting from voter suppression practices is very high. In third world countries, American observers stand by to ensure that evidence of voter intimidation and suppression can be recorded and publicized. Who is watching out for the same thing in the USA?

This is a democratic Republic and it is the right and the duty of citizens to protect our own rights and freedoms. Knowledge is power, but action is even more powerful. Let's start paying attention, spreading the word, and mobilizing our fellow citizens to hold our government representatives accountable when they overstep the bounds and try to impede our right to vote.

ACLU on voter suppression:
"During the 2011 legislative sessions, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely."

Rolling Stone   Ari Berman's excellent article on Florida's purge of voter rolls to suppress Democratic vote:
"Imagine this: a Republican governor in a crucial battleground state instructs his secretary of state to purge the voting rolls of hundreds of thousands of allegedly ineligible voters. The move disenfranchises thousands of legally registered voters, who happen to be overwhelmingly black and Hispanic Democrats. The number of voters prevented from casting a ballot exceeds the margin of victory in the razor-thin election, which ends up determining the next President of the United States.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it happened in Florida in 2000. And twelve years later, just months before another presidential election, history is repeating itself."

CBS  Lucy Madison reports of mass mailings and robo-calls falsely telling voters that they should not or could not vote in the June 5 Wisconsin recall election.
"(CBS News) As voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, reports out of the state suggest that robocalls are being placed informing voters, falsely, they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition.
There have also been reports of mailings going out to voters telling them they can't vote unless they did so in 2010, and of people going door-to-door telling voters they don't have to go to the polls if they signed the recall petition, both of which are also untrue."

Raw Story offers a disturbing national roundup of stories from numerous states whose Republican governments are pulling out all the stops to disenfranchise voters. One excerpt (from LAWeekly):
"In a brazen attempt to steal this fall's election, Florida's Republican lawmakers have outlawed voting on Sunday, an African-American tradition. Indeed, across the United States, from Montana to Maine and Texas to Tennessee, 41 states have recently passed or introduced laws to restrict voter registration and early voting, and generally limit suffrage.
It's the greatest show of racially fueled political chicanery since turn-of-the-century laws banned scores of African-Americans from casting ballots. More than 5 million voters — largely nonwhite — could be kept from the polls, according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice:
'State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws that could make it significantly harder for as many as 5 million eligible Americans to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting'. "

Don't be caught off guard by voter suppression tactics. Go online and be sure that your voter registration is secure and that you will not be disenfranchised this November.  Here are some handy links to information and resources:

FAQs About Voting, Smart Voter (League of Women Voters).

USA Gov. page on voting information, including a link to voter registration deadlines by state and easy-to-navigate information links to answers for frequently asked questions about voting, registration, voting from overseas, working on elections and trouble-shooting.

USA Gov Resources for voters

Brennan Center of Justice Election 2012, information for voters and resources for assistance with barriers to your right to vote.

It is time to recognise  the danger of ideologically-driven "news" and talk radio; people listen to the lies, the fear-mongering and the demonization of "others" and they believe it.  The Republican base believes that they are under attack by dark forces from the "other side". Not just an other side with whom they do not agree, but literally an evil, foreign OTHER side bent on destroying "their" beloved America. Throw in a Bible-based "great commission" to bring the whole country to Christianity by any means, and we see that lying and intimidation to serve that "higher purpose" is easy for true believers to do.

Will Americans allow their religious and political ideology to destroy democracy?

Sunday Inspiration - Women It's Now or Never

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Evening Post - Election Day Nears


















On Tuesday, let's remember what makes this country a powerful beacon of hope in the world: 
free elections and peaceful government transitions. 

Vote on November 6! 



ELECTION DAY, NOVEMBER, 1884 - Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara-nor you, ye limitless prairies-nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite-nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyserloops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones-nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes-nor Mississippi's stream:
-This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name-the still small voice vibrating-America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen-the act itself the main, the quadrennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd-sea-board and inland-Texas to Maine-the Prairie States-Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West-the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling-(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity-welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
-Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify-while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oh, Sandy! Why You Make Mitt Look Foolish?

























The line is:
 “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans (13 second pause)
And to heal the planet (3 second pause)
My promise is to help you and your family.”

Watch it carefully because the delivery is a meticulously choreographed mime. Romney breaks his gaze from the audience, and does a little eyes to heaven, lip biting act that is all about communicating clearly to the audience that this is not a podium style rhetorical pause ( such as “think not what your country can do for you…….) but a Jack Benny stand up comedy pause. The body language suggests that he is like a long suffering but resigned parent holding in his real views about the President’s ‘stupidity’.  Watch it and see what I mean. 
George Marshall, Climate Change Denial, August 31, 2012. (see video below)


The news from the northeast this morning is both uplifting and sobering. The people of New York and New Jersey have surged into recovery mode with energy and determination. Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast harder than any other storm in memory, and yet this morning public transportation services have all reopened (the fare is free for the next couple of days!): bus service is 80% back on the streets, limited subway service has begun again and the Amtrak train service is also up and running, albeit with limitations in the hardest hit areas. If it isn't under water or hasn't suffered severe flood or storm damage, the people of the northeast are putting it back to work! That is the spirit of American resilience. It is also - crucially - the effect of a well-prepared and well-funded public infrastructure. My hat is off to the people who were affected by Sandy all through the eastern half of the country.

I wrote earlier this month about the danger of the willful blindness - some would call it criminal negligence - of those unholy allies: corporate special interests and the religious right. Scientists, environmentalists and thousands of ordinary citizens have recognized for decades that human lives on this planet are in peril and that we must take action to reverse the damage before it is too late. But powerful lobbies of energy corporations - backed up by religious hardliners with an eschatological agenda - embarked on a systematic campaign of climate change denial. In a self-serving exercise which may go down in history as the worst ever crime against humanity, they succeeded in suppressing the scientific data, creating an utterly false "controversy" and undermining the scientific community's effort to warn the world.

And we have been allowing it to happen.

Mitt Romney's sarcastic jab at the President about sea level rise - not to mention his party's enthusiastic laughter - points to a kind of insanity which has infected American society like a relentless and deadly virus. The tragedy of it all is that we knew better. We know better. We had the science and we had the engineering know-how to slow down the greenhouse effect which has accelerated the earth's natural warming cycle so precipitously. We have (or at least we did have) the ability to slow global climate change - maybe just long enough to develop coping strategies for the new age of melted polar ice and increasingly violent storms, droughts and deluges - but we have allowed plutocrats to call the shots, using religious fanaticism to sway enough voters to defeat greenhouse gas mitigation initiatives.

The United States has always had a dangerous vulnerability in that the vast swathe of good, sensible moderate Americans have always had a fatal blind spot: uncritical respect for religious belief. We have always given religion too much credit as a force for "good" in society, even when it is blatantly perpetrating evil.  Perhaps to protect our own cherished religious identity, we have been too willing to ascribe extreme and harmful religious beliefs to fringe groups out there somewhere who are not "real Christians" like ourselves or anyone we actually know.

What we keep forgetting is that effective religious leadership and indoctrination can transform millions of followers into foot soldiers for evil. We forget that authoritarian movements in the 20th century appealed to religious belief to justify their vicious regimes, yet the ordinary people - believers all - had little sense that it was they who had allowed evil to happen. Religious belief suspends moral judgement. It opens the door for scriptural justification of immoral behavior - everything from lying to mass murder can be justified by the Bible - and lets in opportunists who intend to cash in on that fact.

In The United States thirty years ago, those opportunists were energy corporations and other special interests who stood to gain from climate change denial and Christian Dominionists who, with corporate financial backing,  hoped to gain power enough to completely control the United States and eventually the world. Corporations had money for climate change denial campaigns, but needed popular support to get business-friendly congressmen elected. Christian Evangelicals had the potential to rally millions of voters and a religious zeal for Christian Dominionism which saw opportunity in corporate financial backing for their proselytizing effort. In the early days of the global environmental movement, energy plutocrats joined forces with ambitious Christian evangelicals under the Republican party banner to further their separate goals through political power.

More than a generation has passed since that unholy alliance was forged by the Reagan Republicans. That political victory ushered in a new era of corporate deregulation and religious infiltration into the public sphere. While huge corporations enjoyed historic tax cuts and corporate welfare, draining the public coffers on one side, Christianists' power grew through schools, colleges and the homeschooling movement (rejuvenated and expanded in the Reagan era). The reality-denying, Bible-based belief system was disseminated throughout the culture eventually moving into the mainstream as the religious influences on education, media and the public perception of reality became ubiquitous and seemingly unstoppable.

We let down our guard against the dark underside of religious belief. We stood by smiling tolerantly as religion quietly and stealthily renewed its campaign to take over western society. On some level, most of us know that religion has ferociously demanded to rule the world for most of human history, yet, how quickly we 'forget' when challenging Christian Dominionism might threaten our own cozy Christian identities!  How easily we believe that "American Exceptionalism" means that destructively radical religion cannot happen here.

We did not protest as religion attacked science in schools and in society, even as the theories and scientific discoveries - truthful reality upon which nearly all of modern medicine and technology are built - were being treated as mere rival "beliefs" to the supernatural Bible-based mythology of the religious.  We did not point to the hypocrisy and irrationality of religious extremists both using modern medical research and claiming that the science upon which it rests is false. We allowed false religious mythology to be injected into public education as science, misleading a generation of schoolchildren and undermining our ability to compete in the world of technological and scientific progress while we pretended that Christian fundamentalism was a fringe movement and a benign one at that. Thanks to the gutting of public education and the rise of "Christian" schools, nearly half of all Americans no longer accept the theory of evolution, deny global climate change is happening and believe that the world will come to an end during their lifetimes.

These people will vote Republican, the party which is owned by the energy corporations in whose interest it remains to limit environmental protection laws and to deny that human-assisted global climate change poses a real threat to human life on this planet. They think they can buy their way to safety. What is your plan?

We allowed this to happen. But we can stop it from continuing.

Vote on November 6!

"He didn’t simply dismiss global warming, or reject policies intended to address or mitigate against sea level rise, which is closely tied to global warming. Politicians do those things all the time. It’s ill-informed and irresponsible. But Romney took this a step further: he used the very idea of controlling sea level rise as a mere rhetorical device, a laugh line to mock Barack Obama‘s grandiosity. And he milked it for a few long seconds as the crowd at the Republican National Convention laughed...
 This is becoming a severe social and political problem because so many people around the world, and millions of them in the United States (including Romney’s Boston headquarters) are located along coastlines. Approximately 10% of the world’s population lives at elevations of 10 meters or less above sea level, the Science paper notes, and many of these places suffer from subsidence, erosion, and other problems that hasten their exposure and possible demise.
 The biggest risk here is from storms, which can suddenly pump up sea levels by many meters, with little warning. People like living near coastlines, and, in the U.S. and other parts of the developed world, coastal development has surged in recent years. But most assumptions for development and flood protection assume a certain stability that no longer exists. Denying this (as some state and local governments are doing) is crazy: sooner or later, the people living in these places, and the businesses they built there, will pay the price.
 So Romney’s notion that helping families and protecting communities against sea level rise are somehow diametrically opposed is silly. He knows better."
The polar ice cap is melting and sea levels are rising...
 President Obama has pledged to do something about it.
Mitt Romney pretends he has a direct line to God, and
condescendingly cracks jokes for his base who think they
will be able to buy their way to safety while the rest of the
world can go to hell.
Romney's Rising Oceans Joke, John McQuaid, Forbes, August 31, 2012.

It is also a step change in the way that politicians talk publicly about climate change.  So this is no longer a debate about the science, or  the policy response (as it was under Bush)- it is now a debate about competing versions of reality and fantasy. The line about slowing the rise of the oceans is skillfully chosen as it frames climate change as both a natural cycle and an inevitability. The mocking pause clearly signals that attempts to stop it are therefore a self aggrandising  folly. Here in Britain the resonance would be with King Cnut (Canute) who ordered the tide to stop coming in. I suspect in America is more likely to be with Moses. It is a quote that appears on some Christian Conservative sites as evidence that Obama claims to be the Messiah.
Romney Channels Beck, George Marshall, Climate Change Denial, August 31, 2012.

If you’ve followed the U.S. news and weather in the past 24 hours you have no doubt run across a journalist or blogger explaining why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.
Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy? Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, October 30, 2012.

Is Global Warming Happening Faster Than Expected?  John Carey, Scientific American, October 29, 2012. (excerpt from an earlier article).