Showing posts with label Republican Lies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Republican Lies. Show all posts

Friday, May 12, 2017

25th Amendment Remedy

































The president's latest flurry of self-incriminating behavior begs the question: what is the remedy for the country when its president is clearly not in control of himself, has committed prima facie illegal actions and none of his so-called advisors, spokespeople and legal representatives seem to have any ability to provide him guidance or indeed to even anticipate his next unhinged act?

There has been talk - almost from the beginning of our current "long national nightmare"- about the possibility of the vice president, senior advisors and congressional leaders invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. But removal by Trump's own people was never really likely, since Trump's character deficits were glaringly apparent even before the election and none of these people seemed inclined to oppose him then, much less remove him.

What stops seemingly sane government officials from acting?

The reason, the argument goes, is that the Republicans and Trump's inner cabal will continue to back him until they get their own agenda through -- which seems to be to repeal the ACA in order to claw back funds to then finance a huge tax cut to the wealthiest 1%.

Here's the thing, though. In the current chaos, it isn't likely that there will be much legislative activity, and certainly not of the type the Koch brothers et al had in mind when they pinned their expectations on Trump/Pence. In fact, as the dripping of investigative fire crackers increases to a tsunami of bombshells, the likelihood  increases of not only failure to pass the Republican agenda but the collapse of public support for Republican in the House and Senate.

The strangest thing of all is that this could all be avoided by the Republicans! The argument that Trump and only Trump is necessary to get the massive wealth distribution legislation passed just doesn't make sense. Mike Pence is at least as committed to that agenda as his reluctant running mate, having been approved as early as 2014 by the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist and others in the billionaire elite.

They don't need Trump anymore now that his emotionally manipulative, hate-filled and sadly effective campaign has already delivered all three branches of government into their hands. It would be ever so simple to pretend to wake up and -- acting appropriately shocked, dismayed and kept in the dark - deliver the knock out blow to Trump and his band of merciless men. They could point to Trump and his associates as the source of all the nation's ills right now and claim to restore calm and dignity to the office and get government back on track. They could renenergize the Republicans in the House and Senate and answer Paul Ryan's and Mitch McConnell's prayers.

What's stopping them?

To be continued.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Jason Flees The House




























Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has a reputation on Capital Hill for being an incredibly ambitious man. In a 2015 article enumerating instances where he climbed over his former mentors in his ruthless pursuit of greater power, Huffington Post reported that Cheffetz's ambition is so notorious, his name has become "a verb" in political circles. Every move he makes - every career decision - appears to have been meticulously planned, even if that doesn't appear to be the case at first glance.

All things to everyone...
Like a chameleon, Chaffetz has changed his colors - switching positions and allegiances - to match the political environment at any given time and make the most of every opportunity for career advancement. Knowing this fact about Jason Chaffetz, many of his colleagues, rivals and critics were initially puzzled by the sequence of events that unfolded over the last week.

Run... Last Wednesday (April 19), Chaffetz announced that he will not be seeking re-election  in 2018. Not for his own seat in the House of Representatives, and not for Orrin Hatch's seat in the U.S. Senate. Interestingly, he was pretty specific about not running in 2018, thereby leaving the door open for a run for another office; perhaps Governor of Utah in 2020 or... some other office in 2028.

Sounds like Jason's striking a
bipartisan note to play out on...
Run... The very next day, Thursday April 20, Chaffetz astonished people anew by saying that he might not even finish his current term. Rumors flew that he might resign the very next day - or at least soon. He didn't. Instead, on Monday April 24, he stood with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and made patriotic noises about wanting answers from Michael Flynn about his dealings with Russia.

Away... Then, just as everyone was adjusting their sets and preparing for a new Chaffetz, reinvigorated House Oversight Committee Chairman, he announced that contrary to his statements last week ("I am healthy"; "I still have a job to do and I have no plans to take my foot off the gas."), he in fact is not healthy, needs foot surgery and oops! looks like he will have to take that foot off the gas after all. Let's just pause for a moment here to take in the sheer oddness of these contradictory statements within the span of 7 days. It seemed kind of weird last week when he threw in "I am healthy" into his announcement, but now it just seems bizarre, especially with the choice of metaphor he used to describe his continued commitment to his job!

Speaks for itself, doesn't it?
So, speculation has been spreading like wildfire. The timing of these rapid-fire announcements seems to suggest a connection to the Trump/Russia scandal. Could it be, some people wonder, that Jason Chaffetz is embroiled in the scandal too and is running back to Utah to escape consequences?  As seductive as that line of thinking is, it doesn't really make sense to think that running off to Utah is going to protect him from prosecution if he is guilty of any crimes and there is evidence to prove it.  The idea that Chaffetz can avoid legal trouble and everyone, including the FBI and the Justice Department, will forget about him if he simply leaves the spotlight just doesn't make sense, although it is also true that not a lot about his abrupt actions and pronouncements over the past week make sense, either.

The more likely explanation is, as several articles have pointed out, simple ambition. Chaffetz has already registered the domain name JasonChaffetz2028.com for instance, and he is nothing if not a forward planner. The current mess in Washington DC, and the potential for even worse scandal involving treason, is a stink he does not want clinging to him, even 11 years from now.

My own view is that it is possible for the truth to be both ambition and collusion, although it is looking more like simple ambition. Chaffetz's coldly insensitive remarks about Healthcare last month were apparently heard in Utah and blew up campaign contributions to his Democratic opponent, Kathryn Allen. That unexpected news, combined with the unexpectedly bad reception he received during the spring recess, very likely changed the calculus. Chaffetz made an abrupt change of course at least once before in his career, and for much the same reason - evidence that his success was far from assured persuaded him to drop his plans of running.

Ouch! Feels like Jason's not going
to be hitting the gas for awhile...
Something about the sudden foot surgery explanation doesn't ring true, either. It's a little better than the sudden need to 'spend more time with family', but not much. After all, if  83 year old Dianne Feinstein can slip away for two days to have a pacemaker installed (that's heart surgery) and return immediately to continue important Congressional work, then surely the much-younger Chaffetz could grab a set of crutches if absolutely necessary, and get back to work?

Maybe Jason decided that with RepublicanCare looming on the horizon, which aims to remove protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, he had better schedule that elective surgery to remove the screws from his 12 year old injury sooner rather than later.

Whatever the case may be, Jason is no longer in the house - he has fled to Utah. We certainly live in interesting times.

For your Friday Feature, for no particular reason, I give you "Run Runaway" (Great Big Sea) :


Run Runaway

I like black and white
dream in black in white
you like black and white
run runaway

Chorus:
Looks like Jason's got it sussed...
See chameleon lying there in the sun
all things to everyone
run runaway

If you're in the swing
money ain't everything
if you're in the swing
run runaway

If you got it sussed*
don't beat around the bush
if you got it sussed
run runaway

oh now can't she wait?
no no come on and wait
oh now can't she wait?
run runaway

I like black and white
dream in black in white
you like black and white
run runaway

- Jim Lea, Noddy Holder

* "If you got it 'sussed'" = If you've got something figured out

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).


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mitt Romney And His "Binders Full Of Women"

Within minutes of the infamous remarks being uttered, this Facebook page was launched. 

























“And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can't we—can't we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.” Mitt Romney, October 16, 2012.

There are good reasons why the interweb was abuzz last night about Mitt Romney's "binders full of women", all of them pointing to a bad, though perfectly justified, debate outcome for the Republican candidate. While it was hardly the only misstep in Romney's testy, truth-challenged performance, it was the distillation of everything that he - and the Republican party - believes about the intrinsic inequality of women to men that makes him the worst possible candidate for women voters.

Before we take a closer look through the window into Mitt's attitude toward women, let's look at what he did not say in his remarks.

Katherine Fenton, a participant in the Town Hall audience, asked this question:

In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

In response, Governor Romney had this to say:

Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about (but not nearly enough, apparently), particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.
And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some — some women that are also qualified?".

"Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some
— some women that are also qualified?"
Gee, Governor, can we?
(Fact check: Governor Romney succeeded a woman governor, Jane Swift;  his lieutenant governor was a woman, Kerry Healey, and his opponent in that gubanatorial race was a woman, Democrat Shannon O'Brien - (fun fact!) whom Romney portrayed literally as a dog in his ads during that campaign. His claim of not being able to "find" qualified women rings particularly hollow in light of his equally false claim of bi-partisanship).

And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.

(Fact check: 'What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected'. David S. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.)

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

(Fact check: a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office. Bernstein)

Or, let's have pay equality and improved
access to decent child-care for families
so that parents (usually mothers)
are less burdened and can actually
focus on the careers they love without
being forced to "choose" work or family.
Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce (like, if you really, really, must have women in the workforce and not, you know, at home with 5 or 6 children, right, Mitt?) that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.
She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

(For this nugget of horse hocky, Romney plumbed the depths of cultural gender discrimination by conflating two popular myths about the reasons for wage inequality: the myth that female employees are inherently less reliable and not "team players" like their male counterparts and the myth that unless an enlightened employer hands out special privileges and accommodations, women won't even try for demanding, highly-paid jobs, so they don't deserve them. This is a corollary to the ever-popular "women don't ask for equal pay" myth which studies have proven are false).

We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.

This is not a "women's issue". Bad Republican policies
hurt women, men and the families that both women and
men are trying to support. 
(Indeed. The Great Recession caused by the Bush administration and the financial policies - which both enriched Mitt Romney and continue to be the foundation of his financial vision for the country - have been hard on both men and women. Women, who typically have been relegated to the poorest-paying and least secure jobs (except, at least for now, those in the public sector) have always suffered greater job insecurity. In both single-parent families and in families where women and their partners are struggling together to make ends meet, this is a serious issue for both men and women, and for most American families. Legislation such as the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act might have helped prevent thousands of women and their families from slipping further into poverty, but the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, does not support these efforts, and his party blocked them in Congress).

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

(Got that, American women? The Guv promises that if you will just quit asking awkward questions about fair pay and reproductive security and let him get back to business, he will create such a great economy that all those employers out there will overlook your deficiencies and special needs and hire even you! Awesome.).


This is what I have done. It's what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.

(Really? "I know what it takes to make an economy work" What is that, exactly? The question was "How are you going to address inequalities in the workplace?" and you have neither answered that question, nor explained how you expect to create your "new economy". Governor, you're a little too long on "just trust me, you don't need to know what I know",  and much too short on specifics).

Actually, Governor, women already know what they need
to succeed: affordable education, wage parity, reproductive
freedom and social support for American families.
Wait, we already have a president who understands that! 
I'm going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

(You still haven't answered the question, Governor. How are you going to float this "stronger economy" within which, we presume, all boats (even those with flighty female skippers) will be lifted? And, again, what are your new ideas to address pay inequity?).

Mitt Romney may or may not actually "know" what needs to be done to fix the economy and to address the inequalities in the workplace, not just for women but also for millions of men who have also been denied a level playing field in the workplace. He may know, but he has no intention of doing what it will take.

Working toward economic equality for women - and for most men, too - is not Mitt Romney's goal. It never has been his goal, and it certainly is not the goal of his backers in the moneyed elites. This is a continuation of the 47 % narrative. Romney believes that like his 47% who will never "take personal responsibility and care for their lives", women are not getting good jobs because they don't try hard enough to get them. Romney thinks that like the 47% whom he says "believe they are victims...who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing", women want everything handed to them. He barely hid his opinion that women demand special treatment in the workplace - like the right to leave the office before 7 or 8 in the evening to care for small children; forcing employers to provide "flexibility" like fewer than 60 or 70 hours of time spent in the office each week. "See?" the Governor seemed to say, "I did everything for them, while they did nothing to help themselves."

Romney's blindness to the qualified women who surrounded him during the Gubanatorial race itself and then in the office when he was presented with the "binders" containing resumes of a long list of qualified women - gathered proactively by women's groups in Massachusetts and not by his own people at his request as he claimed - speaks to his apparent habit of neither seeing nor hearing women as peers in his professional life. His claim that his record of hiring female staff was due to his efforts to "recruit" women, not to the initiative and qualifications of the women themselves, and his whining that one of his female staffers asked for what he clearly considered to be special treatment (shockingly, she wanted a workday that ended before 7 or 8PM!) speaks to both Romney's disrespect for women's abilities and his dismissal of the workplace challenges of parents. Presumably no male staffer would have dared to talk about family obligations at all, of course. In the conservative Romney culture of rigid patriarchal roles for women and men, it is women who annoyingly demand special treatment to balance work and family, while men at work must behave as if they have no family obligations at all.

Mitt Romney did not misspeak at that private fund-raiser for his wealthy supporters. He really does believe that at least 47% of Americans are lazy takers who sit around waiting for their government to bail them out of their sloth. Last night, as he struggled to sugarcoat his disdain for women and his disinterest in the question Ms. Fenton asked, everything about Romney - his halting, careful remarks, his patronizing demeanor, his refusal to actually answer the question - pointed to a deeply contemptuous attitude not only toward women, but toward all Americans who are being crushed between the competing demands of scarcer job opportunities (thanks Mr. CEO of Bain, et al) and family responsibilities.

The final irony is that, in a bid to secure more women's votes, Romney threw out the bone of pointedly boasting that he "recruited" women for great jobs in his Massachusett's administration. Such affirmative action goes against not only the Governor's own professed views, but it flies in the face of the ideology and agenda of the conservative right wing that supports him. Mitt Romney has attempted to dodge the issue recently, in the latest of his notorious "flip-flops" - although to be fair, his silence on affirmative action (except when holding it out as a carrot to lure women voters) cannot really be called change.  In this case, it is more like concealment of his true intentions while hoping the issue will go away. Too bad that glib tongue ran away with you last night, Governor!

Why the Republican gender gap mirrors women's pay disparity, Moira Herbst, The Guardian, September 6, 2012.

Mind the Binder, David. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.

Presidential debate transcript, questions, October 16, 2012. Politico staff, October 16, 2012.

Mitt Romney to Gubanatorial Staff: "Find some women that are qualified", Christina Wilkie, HuffPost Business, October 17, 2012.

Mitt Romney's "Binders Full of Women" Comment Sets Internet Ablaze, Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast, October 17, 2012.

ETA:

Mitt Romney's Binders Full of Women is a Trapper Keeper Full of Lies, Sarah Jones, PoliticusUsa, October 17, 2012.

In Debate, Romney Struggled on Substance, Ezra Klein, Washington Post, October 17, 2012.

Romney and the Women Who Still Don't Love Him, Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, October 17, 2012.

The frat boy bully Mitt Romney is coldly furious that he was schooled by that ... oops!  Is that a camera?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mr. President, May I Suggest Some Debate Questions?



























The Presidential debate tomorrow night will be watched with some anxiety by supporters of both the President and his challenger, Mitt Romney. The President's supporters will be anxious that he show a more agile response to the Governor's barrage of evasions, half-truths, misrepresentations and outright lies. The Governor's supporters will be anxious because they know quite well that a strategy of bald-faced lying will only work for awhile before the people are on to you - and in the absence of any actual substance to the candidate or his non-existent plan details, there is no Plan B for Romney/Ryan.

You shocked the president with your
disrespect of the democratic process,
but he is on to you now, Mitt Romney.
In the first debate, the President appeared to have been caught off guard by Romney, the apprentice Gish galloper*. (*I say that Mitt Romney is merely an apprentice Gish galloper because in this one arena, even mendacious Mitt is outclassed by his running mate, Paul Ryan, the most skilled liar ever to cast his malevolent shadow across the national stage.) It is not easy for a sincere debater who expects a principled exchange of ideas to recover rapidly from the shock when confronted with an opponent who displays such profound disrespect for the American people. Mitt Romney made a farce of the debate, and in so doing, he communicated his utter contempt for the American public who were tuned in hoping to hear some substantive points about the candidates' respective visions for the future of our country.

While many of his supporters were disappointed that Barack Obama seemed thrown by Romney's blizzard of blarney, is it really so disappointing to realize that the President holds the process whereby the people decide whom to select for office in such high regard that he did not anticipate such outrageous disrespect on the part of his opponent for the people, the office and the truth? President Obama underestimated the depth of Mitt Romney's contempt for the democratic process - not to mention for the American people - before the first debate. He should not underestimate it again.

Have you got it yet, America? Mitt has
no plans to tell you people anything.
Mitt said, "Trust me" and you darn
well better do it! You expect answers?
Who do you think you are, anyway?
Presidential and Vice-presidential candidates have been releasing their tax returns to become a part of the public record dating back to the F. D. Roosevelt administration. We have been frequently reminded that even Mitt Romney's father, George Romney, released 12 years of tax returns as a good faith gesture of full disclosure to the American people, even declaring that "one year could be a fluke".  Apparently, the son did not inherent the integrity of the father. Governor Romney obviously feels entitled to unquestioning trust from the American people - both the 47% he doesn't care about, and the rest that he claims he does still care about (though they are not allowed to ask him about his taxes, either) -  he refused without explanation to provide the tax information, and has clearly communicated his feelings that the American people have no right to know his private business. He argued vociferously in the past for full disclosure from his opponents in various political races, but he is coldly furious that anyone would dare to question him about the same things. That Romney feels entitled to special privilege and aristocratic immunity from the prying eyes of the hoi poloi has been made abundantly clear. He also lied about the precedent for full tax return disclosure by persons running for high office, and has continued to evade the question, plead special status and point-blank refuses to comply.

CEO Romney, where are your tax returns?  Why have you so haughtily refused to explain to the American people why you, but no other candidates for high office in recent history, should be exempted from this full disclosure? The argument for personal privacy, while possibly valid, can only hold water if it is applied across the board. Why do you feel that you are entitled to maintain secrecy around your financial dealings?  When ordinary citizens apply for a mortgage, they must release their tax returns to a lender and other related agencies. Why do you think the American people have no right to this information about you, when you are interviewing for the highest public office in the land?

We're on to you, Mitt. (via allhatnocattle)
On leaving office, Governor Romney purged the State of Massachusetts' records of his gubanatorial administration. Why did you do that, Governor? What possible reason could you have had to spend nearly $100,000 of taxpayer money to wipe his record away? Where can the American people find information about the records which were purged?

After promising "transparency" at the Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney ordered key documents pertaining to the financial oversight and inner workings of his governing apparatus there destroyed. Why?  Governor Romney, you want the American people to hire you for the highest public office in the land: where is the record of your former work?  Where are the gubanatorial papers from your tenure as Governor in Massachusetts?  Where are the records of your performance as chief executive in charge of the Salt Lake City Olympics? What are you hiding?

Bishop Romney, in 2008 you claimed that your religion will not be a factor in your decisions if you are elected, yet as a devout Mormon how will you square that with church doctrine which insists that the only ultimate authority on earth is the president of the Mormon church? Furthermore, the Mormon Church has a teaching that lying in the service of the church is morally justifiable, on the grounds that a Mormon has the right and the duty to obey a higher authority (the leadership of the church and its interpretation of God's will), and no duty to obey manmade laws or rules if they conflict with the Church's best interest. You have proven that you are willing to lie about your business record, you are willing to lie about the President's record and you are willing to lie about your plans for the country. Do you believe that your lies are morally justifiable according to your religious beliefs? What are the implications of that for a Romney presidency?
Wall-to-wall obfuscation: is that all you've got, Mitt?
Bad news, my friend. The American people are on to you.

Bishop Romney, you expect people to "trust you" when you refuse to answer questions or give specifics about your claim that you will be working for 100% of the people - yet what reason do we have to trust you? Why can't we find plentiful examples of your charity or concern for people outside of your church? Every single "story" at the RNC convention and just about every story before and since then involved families inside the Mormon church. Most of us are pretty willing to help out members of our own communities. The true test of leadership is how willing you are to help people to whom you do not owe any debt or religious allegiance. Where is the evidence that you possess that kind of character?

Bishop Romney, at the RNC convention you deliberately presented a bland picture of a kind of generic "Christianity" which was in no sense an accurate reflection of your Mormon faith. Referring to the male leaders of the LDS church as "pastors" instead of by their actual titles, "bishops" was a misleading strategy to appear more like the conservative Christians that you are courting for their votes.  Pretending to be afraid of "going to hell" - which you know is an actual fear of Protestant Evangelical Christians - was a dishonest ploy to ingratiate yourself with the conservative Christians who worry that you are not "one of them".

Even some of your fellow Mormons are on to you, Mitt. 
But, there is no hell in the LDS belief system. There are only the three degrees of glory and outer darkness. As a recipient of the Second Anointing, you have been guaranteed the Celestial Kingdom. While your non-Mormon supporters may not know this, your LDS supporters almost certainly do. It is possible that their consciences, like yours, are undisturbed by lying - even lying to the entire American people in the quest to win the highest office in the land - when you can almost taste the victory of ultimate power. But I think you underestimate the character of your fellow religionists. Some Latter Day Saints recognized what you were doing and they were appalled.

"Mitt Romney and the other Mormon speakers spent the entire evening trying to make Mormonism sound like just another Christian religion. It was deliberate misrepresentation, and the joke about going to hell was part of it." (ex-Mormon commenting on the presentation of Mormonism by Mitt Romney and his campaign). reported by Lynna, at Pharyngula.

Bishop Romney, are you trying to deceive even your own conservative Christian base by pretending to share their core beliefs and practices? Why? Could it be that you know that if they knew who you really are and what you truly believe that you would lose their support? If even your own base would not support the true Mitt Romney, then how can you expect the majority of the country to support you? And if you have to lie to secure the support of your base, then how can the country ever trust you?  If you will even lie to your own base, what does that say about a future Romney presidency?

These are just a few of the dozens of questions to which many Americans would like a straight answer.

A few other bloggers have more words of advice:

How Joe Biden Broke the Gish Gallop, The National Memo, October 15, 2012.

More Debate Suggestions For Obama, Andy Ostroy, HuffPost Politics, October 15, 2012.

Good luck, Mr. President.

Mitt Romney believes that he is above regular Americans.  How dare we demand to see his tax returns!
We are on to you,  Mitt Romney!










Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Admit It GOP: Obama's New Deal Worked

President Barack Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act while VP Joseph Biden looks on.
February 17, 2009,  Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, Colorado.




























Foreign Policy magazine has published this detailed and very interesting article by Michael Grunwald:

Think Again: Obamas's New Deal , Michael Grunwald, Foreign Policy Magazine, Sept/Oct 2012.

For starters, there is voluminous evidence that the stimulus did provide real stimulus, helping to stop a terrifying free-fall, avert a second Depression, and end a brutal recession. America's top economic forecasters -- Macroeconomic Advisers, Moody's Economy.com, IHS Global Insight, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the Congressional Budget Office -- agree that it increased GDP at least 2 percentage points, the difference between contraction and growth, and saved or created about 2.5 million jobs. The concept of "saved or created" has inspired a lot of sarcasm -- Obama joked after his 2009 Thanksgiving pardon that he had just saved or created four turkeys -- but it simply means 2.5 million more people would have been jobless without the Recovery Act. The unemployment rate might still be in the double digits. (Michael Grunwald)

Another interesting bit of economic news last week was the report that a survey of economists shows that most economists think the stimulus approach to solving the economic problems caused by the Great Recession is the correct approach:

The National Association for Business Economics has put out its new policy survey, and there are some interesting tidbits in there: most economists, for example, are happy with current Federal Reserve policy. And they'd rather the government focus on stimulus for the time being, and save the real deficit cutting for a year or two down the road. Survey: Economists happy with Fed action, NPR Marketplace, September 24, 2012.

Also, here is an older but equally interesting analysis of non-partisan studies of the effect of the ARRA on the economy:

Did the stimulus work? A review of the nine best studies on the subject, Dylan Matthews, Washington Post wonkblog, August 24, 2011.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Take An Ambulance to ER....Really?

Livin' the dream in the Romney/Ryan America! 



















On CBS 60 Minutes Sunday night, Mitt Romney surprised viewers with the suggestion that the uninsured would not go unserved under the Romney/Ryan new world order. Of course there would still be access* to medical care for the uninsured and the under-insured! Instead of dying alone in a cold-water flat, a 70 year-old in cardiac arrest can always call an ambulance and be treated in an ER!

Never mind the pesky problem of the heart-attack or stroke victim possibly being unable to reach a telephone or to dial for help. That could happen to an insured person, too (although a person with insurance who is able to visit a doctor regularly is much more likely to have had not only preventative healthcare but also safety measures in place for just such an emergency). Concerns like that do not figure into the Romney/Ryan calculus for smaller government.

What do you mean gutting
Medicare could leave seniors
high and dry?
Let them take ambulances!
Never mind that an ER is, by its very definition, a triage area where waits can be several hours and any treatment given is only intended to stabilize patients until they can be seen by their regular physicians. Oops! Uninsured patients rarely have regular physicians! That heart attack patient will only be stabilized and then sent home with an expensive prescription for stopgap heart meds and/or blood thinners and a stern recommendation to see his (non-existent) regular physician ASAP for follow-up care regarding actual treatment, surgical options and more personally-tailored drug therapy to treat the underlying condition - all prohibitively expensive for the uninsured. In other words, the patient will go home in almost the same condition in which he arrived and he probably will not receive any actual medical care for his underlying cardio-pulmonary disease.

Never mind that not only is the ER not the place for regular, preventative and wellness "health care", but when the patient receives the bills for that ambulance and ER visit (often thousands of dollars for ambulance transport and ER visit, not counting prescription medications), it could very well bring on the fatal heart attack that will finish him off. Of course, in the Romney/Ryan calculus, this may very well be a positive collateral effect.

Never mind all that. We ought to focus on the economic implications of candidate Romney's blithe assurance that no one need ever go without medical care under a Romny/Ryan regime because "we pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital".

ER treatment is among the most expensive of medical services and unpaid ER bills are one of the drivers of rising medical costs which make the USA the leader in the world in inefficient spending on healthcare. The vexing problem of the poor and the uninsured using the ER as a healthcare facility was one of the things Governor Romney cited as a good reason for passing his universal healthcare law in Massachusetts. Yet, now he describes it as an option for the proposed Romney/Ryan federal revamp of medicare and medicaid? How exactly does Mr. Romney think such an expensive form of medical attention will save taxpayers money?

Pimp my ride - ambulance edition!
Of course, he probably knows very well that such a backup "plan" for the uninsured makes no sense at all from a fiscal perspective, which makes it even more ridiculous coming from the candidate who claims he will run America like a successful business.  One is tempted to believe that Mr. Romney will say almost anything to avoid giving the President any credit at all for the improvements to healthcare made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

Perhaps Mr. Romney's stunning announcement was a secret message to the bottom 47% - those whom he is "not going to worry about" - that he plans to look the other way while all you freeloaders out there cash in on taxpayer largesse. After all, Mitt has already told us that millions of Americans - nearly half of the entire population, in fact! - are inveterate moochers, impervious to the efforts of productive citizens like Mitt and Bain Capital to get them to be responsible for their own lives. What can anyone expect, Mitt seems to imply, of the feckless rabble of incorrigibly lazy takers?

The Romney/Ryan plan for the future of America is one which not only repeals the Affordable Healthcare Act, but one which goes much further, ending current Medicare and Medicaid programs, too. But, Lord Romney does not see that as something the 47% ought to be complaining about. After all, if he and Paul Ryan succeed in getting elected, the soon-to-be uninsured seniors, veterans and poor children - like Reagan's "welfare queens" - still can (and probably will, damn them!)  ride in style to the ER since they probably won't have the decency to just expire in their slovenly digs and get off the taxpayer dime.  It's pimp my ride - ambulance edition!

No Health Insurance? No Problem. Romney Says That Freeloading In the ER Is Now All Good, Rick Ungar, Forbes Magazine, September 24, 2012.

Hey, maybe Gramps can mooch a
free scooter from the taxpayers, too.
What d'you say, Mitt?
Apparently, when 2002 Mitt Romney decided to divorce himself and split into two, distinct entities, the ‘other’ Mitt Romney gained possession of the Governor’s cognitive skills —including the ability to recall why Romney supported the Massachusetts universal care effort in the first place. It was, after all, 2002 Mitt Romney who often highlighted the inefficiency of emergency room care as the sole option for uninsured Massachusetts residents, allowing them to get free care while those who are insured are left to pay the bill.

It would also appear that it was the ‘other’ Mitt Romney who gained custody of the understanding that while our laws require emergency rooms to treat patients in an effort to stabilize their health condition, the law does not require the treatment that can ultimately restore all of these patients to health.

Mitt Romney, On 60 Minutes, Cites Emergency Room As Healthcare Option For The Uninsured, Huffington Post, September 24, 2012.

"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."

This constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care. Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.

Romney's New Health Plan: Go to the ER, Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic, September 24, 2012.

Not kidding, America.
It’s possible to believe simultaneously that ERs provide care to everybody who needs it and that they are an inefficient, expensive way to do that. But the Romney who made that statement in 2010 was making the case for having government do more to cover the uninsured, while the Romney who made that statement yesterday was making the case for having government do less.

And that’s really the most important point of all. Remember, Romney doesn’t simply want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, effectively taking health insurance away from 30 million people who, starting in 2014, are likely to get it from the law. He also wants to end Medicaid, making cuts that would leave between 14 and 27 million additional people without insurance. And he wants to change the tax treatment of employer health benefits, in ways that could make coverage more expensive or harder to get.

Medicare, Just Elderly Welfare Queens: And What IS Insurance Anyway? Heartland Liberal, Daily Kos, September 24, 2012.

What we are talking about here is the attempt by the Republicans to demote and denigrate the elderly on Medicare to the status of welfare queens. After all, they have been so successful with their past campaigns of demonization of target segments of the electorate, recently upping the ante and telling us that unions, teachers, firemen and policeman are the great drain on the economy, why stop now?

But it occurs to me what is totally missing from the Republican definition of the problem is the very simple and straightforward issue of just what is medical health insurance, anyway?

The Republicans seem to think that everyone, even those Americans at the poverty level, if they just set aside enough savings, will have plenty of money to cover all their medical expenses. After all, isn't personal responsibility the watchword of the Republicans?

But that is not how medical insurance works. That is never how it has worked, since it's current incarnation started really less than 100 years ago, nor is it how any insurance works.

*Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, U.S. Act of Congress, 1986 (wikipedia)

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is a U.S. Act of Congress passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). It requires hospitals to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. Participating hospitals may only transfer or discharge patients needing emergency treatment under their own informed consent, after stabilization, or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment.


Move over, Welfare Queens! Granny the ER Queen is on a roll! (photo via daughternumberthree)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Les Misérables - Mitt And The Miners

 Mandatory attendance at Romney rally: Coal Country Stands With Mitt! (or else...)


























In case anyone was wondering: "Coal Country Stands With Mitt". Do you see those cheerful, confident miners who flanked the candidate on the stage in Beallsville while 'their' man Mitt talked about bootstraps, the need to shut down labor unions and the importance of making it job one to repeal the Affordable Care Act if/when Rmoney is elected.

Lest anyone suggest that Mitt Romney could not bring out a working, middle-class crowd unless he paid them, let us put that ungenerous thought where it belongs - in the "false" category. Mitt Romney, and his friends in the private energy industry most certainly could bring out a working, middle-class crowd without paying them. They could and they did!

Here comes Mitt's (unpaid!) audience!
No, really, they were not paid to attend.
Of course Mitt Romney did not have to pay those miners and their families to appear at his rally! Even Murray Energy/ Century Mine did not have to pay those miners to attend the rally on company time. That's the beauty of having a non-unionized workforce! The only thing the corporation needed to do was to close down the mine for the day and order its workers to attend the rally. The implied threat of unemployment if the employees failed to obey the directive was inducement enough to make the miners show up at the rally without their betters needing to resort to anything so unChristian as bribery - or even paying the day's wages to which one would have thought the workers might be entitled since they were attending a mandatory company activity.

Several news sources have reported the following facts: The plant was closed for the day and the workers were docked that day's pay. Then, all employees were instructed to attend the Romney/Ryan rally, many lining up for hours to be admitted, thus spending the entire involuntary day off doing the company's bidding - without pay. Just in case anyone had any crazy ideas about giving up and perhaps spending the day with their families, the line up was for registration - to make sure that each and every attendee's name was recorded - in person.

In fact, just to show how eager the non-unionized Beallsville miners were to make a public show of support for the Republican candidate, a spokesman for the mine unapologetically confirmed all of the above. Speaking from the corporate office on Chagrin Blvd (you can't make this stuff up) in Pepper Pike, OH, Murray CFO made the position crystal clear:

 “We had managers that communicated to our work force that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event. We had a pre-registration list. And employees were asked to put their names on a pre-registration list because they could not get into the event unless they were pre-registered and had a name tag to enter the premises” Rob Moore, CFO Murray Energy.

So - yes, attendance at the rally being held on company property was mandatory, but - no, workers were not forced to go. Sure, the miners' names were recorded on a list, and sure they were told it was mandatory that they attend, but it's not like anyone held a gun to their heads and forced them to go!

Got that, America? In the new Republican corporate freedom lexicon, 'mandatory' no longer means 'forced' when it is used by the 1% to intimidate persuade the working class to do its bidding. Mind you, if the situation involves making it mandatory for corporations to pay a living wage or ensure safe working conditions for their employees, the word then most definitely means forced and it is an attack on the freedom of corporate citizens! It is an affront to our job-creators!

Listen: It's a free country, people. Workers have a right to disobey unfair corporate demands on their personal time while corporations have a right to fire people who won't go along with their political agenda. If the workers don't like it, they can just find another job with another corporate job-creator! If they cannot find another job, it must be their own laziness, so the devil take them! Who can argue with that? As Republicans keep telling us: that's the Republican American way and the RNC agenda is a platform to pull us back to the good old days before unions and worker protections lifted millions into the middle class ruined America for the 1%.

And what an agenda it is!  Platform planks promising to weaken unions, to work to eliminate a federal minimum wage, and completely repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act.  It is a working middle-class family's nightmare. Who needs unions, right?

But it is a dream come true for the top .01% - our beloved corporate 'citizens'. As Mitt Romney and his backers never cease to remind us, corporations are people, too, and these 'citizen' groups have thrown their hard-earned hundreds of millions at the struggling 99% to assert their "freedom". Now that's what I call people power!