Why my Bible seems to differ from Billy Graham’s

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor, Tue October 23, 2012, CNN.com

Excerpt

To those of my fellow evangelicals who are on the religious right, please, stop your fake trumpeting of biblical values if you’re going to run roughshod over your biblical convictions and let your partisan views take center stage…[Billy] Graham is urging Americans to vote for candidates who base their decisions on “biblical principles,” “support the nation o fIsrael,” “protect the sanctity of life,” and “support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That’s it. Nothing else.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are filled with examples of him helping the needy, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and wounded, and taking the haves to task for ignoring the have-nots…

Graham, and so many others on the religious right, apparently want to narrow the Bible’s teachings down to only abortion and same-sex marriage.

Does the rest of the Bible matter, or are we to tell Bible believers that one or two issues matter more than any other?…Should Bible believers not be concerned with Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposals to massively cut programs that help the poor?…

What has happened over the last 30 years is the religious right has perverted the Bible to fit its narrow view of what Christians should pay attention to. Abortion and homosexuality. Nothing else matters.

Well, my Bible is bigger than that. My faith is bigger than that. And my Jesus Christ cares about more than abortion and homosexuality….

I refuse to think the biblical and social justice issues touted by the Revs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, and countless other pastors during the civil rights movement aren’t worth considering today.

Support who you want, Rev. Graham, but don’t dare limit the biblical values to what I can count on one hand.

Full text

To those of my fellow evangelicals who are on the religious right, please, stop your fake trumpeting of biblical values if you’re going to run roughshod over your biblical convictions and let your partisan views take center stage.

When Mitt Romney was running for the GOP presidential nomination, many on the religious right were highly critical of his faith. The Southern Baptist Convention and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association characterized Mormonism as a cult.

But Billy Graham’s association scrubbed that view from its website in the wake of the Rev. Graham meeting with Romney. And at least one prominent Southern Baptist leader who called Mormonism a cult has put that aside in order to endorse the Republican nominee.

Graham, “America’s pastor,” has run full-page ads in national newspapers like the Washington Post andUSAToday that are thinly veiled endorsements of Romney. In them, he shows he has forgotten big portions of biblical teaching.

The ads read: “I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Billy Graham: Vote based on faith
CNN Explains: MormonismIn a similar full-page ad that ran inOhio’s Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, Graham said: “We are at a crossroads and there are profound moral issues at stake. … Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn out hearts back toward God.”

Graham is urging Americans to vote for candidates who base their decisions on “biblical principles,” “support the nation ofIsrael,” “protect the sanctity of life,” and “support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That’s it. Nothing else.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are filled with examples of him helping the needy, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and wounded, and taking the haves to task for ignoring the have-nots.

The Bible talks about Jesus spending his time with social outcasts and not basking in the glow of the 1%. So, Rev. Graham, why no mention of the poor, sick or needy in your newspaper ads?

Graham, and so many others on the religious right, apparently want to narrow the Bible’s teachings down to only abortion and same-sex marriage.

Does the rest of the Bible matter, or are we to tell Bible believers that one or two issues matter more than any other?

I know the history of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, as well as Graham’s son Franklin, helping the needy through Samaritan’s Purse. But isn’t it worth mentioning and advocating these issues to our presidential candidates?

I wonder how Catholic bishops and nuns feel about Graham not advocating that Bible believers cast their ballots on the issue of health care? Should Bible believers not be concerned with Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposals to massively cut programs that help the poor?

Should Bible believers know about the fatherhood initiative launched by President Obama to shore up families and to confront the crisis of fatherless homes?

Should Bible believers be concerned about the candidates’ stance on guns and gun violence? Is that not a biblical issue, Rev. Graham? Should Bible believers be concerned about who prefers to end wars across the globe?

Should Bible believers vote on who is best able to tear down the `-industrial complex that is destroying this country fiscally? Should Bible believers know who is more concerned about the rich getting richer?

Seriously, Rev. Graham, are these not moral issues that should be considered?

What has happened over the last 30 years is the religious right has perverted the Bible to fit its narrow view of what Christians should pay attention to. Abortion and homosexuality. Nothing else matters.

Well, my Bible is bigger than that. My faith is bigger than that. And my Jesus Christ cares about more than abortion and homosexuality. Please, make your case about those two issues. But don’t talk to me, Rev. Graham, Franklin Graham, or any other right-wing evangelical, about the sanctity of life when you are silent about such things as Trayvon Martin being gunned down or police brutality taking the lives of innocent Americans.

I refuse to think the biblical and social justice issues touted by the Revs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, and countless other pastors during the civil rights movement aren’t worth considering today.

Support who you want, Rev. Graham, but don’t dare limit the biblical values to what I can count on one hand.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin

Editor’s note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House.” He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, “WashingtonWatch with Roland Martin.”
http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/22/opinion/martin-billy-graham-politics/index.htnl

Watch Mitt Romney Explain How Jesus Will Reign for 1,000 Years When He Returns, in Jerusalem… and Missouri

AlterNet [1] November 2, 2012

Watch Mitt Romney get in a heated exchange with a radio host from a radio interview in 2008 about where Jesus will reign and rule over the Earth for 1,000 years — in Jerusalemand Missouri. Romney displays deep familiarity with the thinking of a Mormon hermit-conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen, who was also Glenn Beck’s great inspiration [2].

Background from Prisoner Minister: [3] “Mormons believe Jesus will return to earth inIndependence,Missouri to begin a 1,000 year reign. They think Mormons will at that time become gods. But before the return of Jesus, they believe theUnited States will come to a constitutional crisis, on the verge of collapse. They believeAmerica will be saved by a Mormon leader. The founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith, said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation (USA) will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people (Mormons) will save it from destruction.” Their prophet Brigham Young said, “When the Kingdom of God bears rule, the flag of theUnited States will proudly flutter.” Mormons, also called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDSChurch), believe theKingdom ofGod will arise from the rule of one man on earth, a political figure who will also be their spiritual leader. They believe there will be a one-world government ruled by this god-king. He will be a prophet and high priest of the Mormon faith, ruling the world fromAmerica.”

Bruce Wilson for Talk2Action writes [4] about the interview:

“…The former Massachusettsgovernor endorsed The Making of America, by fringe New World Order conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen [5], a formerBrighamYoungUniversity professor of Romney’s, and also cited Skousen’s opinions concerning the question of the Second Coming. Here’s video of the interchange–which Mitt Romney may have difficulty explaining, especially in context of his carefully coiffed persona as a moderate Republican.

As covered by Media Matters [6], in The Making of America Skousen claimed that slave owners were the true “victims” of the institution of slavery:

Skousen is the author of several controversial works, including The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, which presented as “the story of slavery in America” a passage from a book that attacked abolitionists for delaying emancipation; cast slave owners as “the worst victims of the system”; claimed white schoolchildren “were likely to envy the freedom of their colored playmates”; and claimed that “[s]lavery did not make white labor unrespectable, but merely inefficient,” because “the slave had a deliberateness of motion which no amount of supervision could quicken.”

The Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel was one of several media commenters who back in 2009 picked up [7] this remarkable but now largely forgotten story, in a post noting that Texas governor Rick Perry had cited [8] Skousen’s book The 5,000 Year Leap while speaking at the 2009 Family Research Council ‘Voter Values Summit’ in Washington DC. Wondering why Cleon Skousen, recently exhumed from obscurity by Glenn Beck [9], had suddenly become so popular among leading GOP politicians, Weigel wrote,

“Perry’s comments reminded me of a forgotten moment from the 2008 campaign, when Mitt Romney got into a heated exchange with a radio host who had theological objections to Mormonism. A grainy video of that exchange is here.

“Cleon Skousen has a book called `A Thousand Years,’” said Romney, arguing against the rumor that he believed the Second Coming would happen inMissouri. “Christ appears, it’s throughout the Bible, Christ appears inJerusalem, splits theMount of Olivesto stop the war that’s coming to kill all the Jews. Our church believes that.”

It’s strange to hear prominent national Republicans telling people to read Skousen.”

The incident, from a 2008 Romney appearance on an Iowaradio show, was alsodiscussed [10] by Mark Hemingway of National Review Online, who described,

“You and I share a common affection for the late Cleon Skousen,” the radio host says. The former governor agrees, affirming Skousen was his professor and when the radio host professes his fondness for Skousen’s book The Making of America, while he acknowledges he hasn’t read it, Mitt quickly says “That’s worth reading.”

Hemingway provides some useful background on how fringe, in ideological terms, Cleon Skousen truly was:

“Skousen’s Communist paranoia may have reached it’s apotheosis in 1970 when the Mormon church and BYU in particular began receiving a tremendous amount of external pressure to change the church’s policy on denying the Mormon priesthood to blacks. Skousen, then a professor at BYU, published an article entitled “The Communist Attack on the Mormons” and noted that critics were employing Communist tactics which were “distorting the religious tenet of the Church regarding the Negro and blowing it up to ridiculous proportions.” The Mormon Church reversed course on its discriminatory practices in 1978 and began ordaining black men to the priesthood.

Later in the 70s, Skousen accused the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefellers of puppeteering the election of Jimmy Carter to pave the way for One World Government, his new favorite topic. Things got so bad that the Mormon Church eventually issued an official communiqué distancing itself from Skousen’s organization, the Freemen Institute.”

But what does it mean? How much weight should we give Romney’s endorsement of Skousen’s writing? Hemingway opines,

“…in the video Governor Romney demonstrates more than a passing familiarity with Skousen’s work…

I sincerely doubt that Mitt Romney believes anything near as outlandish as many of the things Cleon Skousen espoused, and to be fair Skousen wrote on numerous topics with wildly varying degrees of intellectual sobriety. In fact, as the radio host in the YouTube video notes, Skousen’s writings on original intent and the U.S. Constitution in The Making of America are compellingly argued, and to this day are often cited by conservatives unaware of Skousen’s more checkered writings.”

Hemingway seems, however, to be unaware of Skousen’s virulent views on slavery evinced in The Makings of America, and his treatment elides the context of Romney’s plug for Skousen–the Second Coming which, as we well know, drags in the battle of Armageddon. Skousen’s eschatological views don’t get much notice, but Mitt Romney would seem to hold them in high regard.

But there’s another side to the story. As Talk To Action co-founder Frederick Clarksonnoted back in 2007 [11], Mitt Romney drags some troublesome liberal baggage along with his penchant for Cleon Skousen:

He has not received as much support from the religious right as he had hoped. He has sought to be acceptable to conservatives and at the same time not-too-scary to moderates. He has also emphasized his recent conversion from being prochoice to being prolife, and sought to obscure his past support for gay and lesbian civil rights while emphasizing his position opposing marriage equality. During the recent GOP candidate debate inFlorida, he refused to say, as he once did, that he looks forward to the day when gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military. Many — especially many of us who live inMassachusetts– take him as having few, if any, deep convictions. And (as far as I know) with the exception of Paul Weyrich, no major religious right leader is supporting him.”

It’s easy to envision Romney, as a candidate, pandering to the ideological fanaticism that has gripped the Republican Party and, were he to win the nomination, picking a true believer such as Michele Bachmann as a running mate, to shore up his evangelical base. And, in that context, Romney’s penchant for Cleon Skousen might not be such a liability; it might even get him onto the Glenn Beck show.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/belief/watch-mitt-romney-explain-how-jesus-will-reign-1000-years-when-he-returns-jerusalem-and

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.salon.com/2009/09/16/beck_skousen/
[3] http://www.prisonerminister.com/morm.html
[4] http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/7/2/4443/88897
[5] http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/16/beck_skousen/index.html
[6] http://mediamatters.org/research/200909300024
[7] http://washingtonindependent.com/60224/rick-perry-mitt-romney-and-w-cleon-skousen
[8] http://washingtonindependent.com/60212/christian-right-looks-to-debt-economic-worries-for-2010-election
[9] http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/16/beck_skousen/print.html
[10] http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/221780/romneys-radical-roots/mark-hemingway
[11] http://www.talk2action.org/story/2007/12/3/2233/95745
[12] http://www.alternet.org/tags/mormon-faith
[13] http://www.alternet.org/tags/election-2012
[14] http://www.alternet.org/tags/mormon-0
[15] http://www.alternet.org/tags/mitt-romney
[16] http://www.alternet.org/tags/skousen
[17] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

The Case Against Romney: At Heart, He’s a Delusional One-Percenter

By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, 10/31/12

Every election is a choice between imperfect alternatives. I will examine both choices in turn, but the first one, Mitt Romney, has rendered the normal analytic tools useless. The different iterations of his career differ so wildly, yet comport so perfectly with his political ambitions of the moment, that it is simply impossible to separate his panders from his actual beliefs, the means from the ends. It is easy to present Romney’s constant reinventions as a character flaw, but all politicians tailor their beliefs to suit the moment; Romney’s unique misfortune is that he has had to court such divergent electorates — first a liberal general electorate in Massachusetts, then Republican primary voters of an increasingly rabid bent in 2008 and 2012, and finally America as a whole after securing the nomination.

One can plausibly imagine Romney as a genuine right-winger, first implanted in hostile deep blue territory, hiding his arch-conservative beliefs in order to secure the brass ring he coveted before he was liberated from running for reelection and unmasked himself to his fellow Republicans nationwide as the “conservative businessman” he always was. One can just as plausibly imagine him as his father’s true political heir, covertly plotting to move his party sharply leftward, a turn he would execute only once he had burrowed undetected beneath its ideological perimeter.

The true picture is a mystery, probably lying somewhere between these points. Undoubtedly, what Romney believes in above all is himself. As a friend of his told Politico last month, at a moment when his campaign appeared hopeless, Romney approaches politics like a business deal: “Just do and say what you need to do to get the deal done, and then when it’s done, do what you know actually needs to be done to make the company a success.” (This was the reporters’ paraphrase, not the friend’s own words.)

He meant this not in the spirit of exposing Romney’s fraudulence, but in an elegiac way — a lament for a great man who would do good if only given a chance. From a certain perspective, there is an understandable and even admirable elitism at work. Romney truly believes in his own abilities and — unlike George W. Bush, who was handed every professional success in his life — has justification for his confidence. He is a highly intelligent, accomplished individual.

Some version of Romney’s own fantasy — that, once in office, he will craft sensible and data-driven, and perhaps even bipartisan, solutions to our problems — surely accounts for his political resurrection. Starting with the transformative first presidential debate, Romney has wafted the sweet, nostalgic scent of moderate Republicanism into the air. Might he offer the sort of pragmatic leadership that was the hallmark of his party in a bygone era — a George H.W. Bush, a second-term Reagan, an Eisenhower, a Nixon minus the criminal paranoia? Some moderates supporting him, like reformist conservative Ross Douthat or the Des Moines Register editorial board, have filled the many voids of Romney’s program with some version of this fantasy. It is an attractive scenario to many, and one worth considering seriously.

This hopeful vision immediately runs into a wall of deductive logic. If Romney were truly planning to govern from the center, why would he leave himself so exposed to Obama’s attacks that he is a plutocrat peddling warmed-over Bushonomics? The election offers Romney his moment of maximal leverage over his party’s right-wing base. If he actually wanted to cut a budget deal along the lines of Bowles-Simpson, or replace Dodd-Frank with some other way of preventing the next financial crisis, or replace Obamacare with some other plan to cover the uninsured, there would be no better time to announce it than now, when he could sorely use some hard evidence of his moderation. He has not done so — either because he does not want to or because he fears a revolt by the Republican base. But if he fears such a revolt now, when his base has no recourse but to withhold support and reelect Obama, he will also fear it once in office, when conservatives could oppose him without making their worst political nightmare come true as a result.

And so the reality remains that a vote for Romney is a vote for his party — a party that, by almost universal acclimation, utterly failed when last entrusted with governing. Romney may be brainier, more competent, and more mentally nimble than George W. Bush. But his party has, unbelievably, grown far more extreme in the years since Bush departed. Unbelievable though it may sound to those outside the conservative movement, conservative introspection into the Bush years has yielded the conclusion that the party erred only in its excessive compassion — it permitted too much social spending and, perhaps, cut taxes too much on the poor. Barely any points of contact remain between party doctrine and the consensus views of economists and other experts. The party has almost no capacity to respond to the conditions and problems that actually exist in the world.

Economists have coalesced around aggressive monetary easing in order to pump liquidity into a shocked market; Republicans have instead embraced the gold standard and warned incessantly of imminent inflation, undaunted by their total wrongness. In the face of a consensus for short-term fiscal stimulus, they have turned back to ancient Austrian doctrines and urged immediate spending cuts. In the face of rising global temperatures and a hardening scientific consensus on the role of carbon emissions, their energy plan is to dig up and burn every last molecule of coal and oil as rapidly as possible. Confronted by skyrocketing income inequality, they insist on cutting the top tax rate and slashing — to levels of around half — programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and children’s health insurance. They refuse to allow any tax increase to soften the depth of such cuts and the catastrophic social impact they would unleash.

The last element may be the most instructive and revealing. The most important intellectual pathology to afflict conservatism during the Obama era is its embrace of Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy of capitalism.Rand considered the free market a perfect arbiter of a person’s worth; their market earnings reflect their contribution to society, and their right to keep those earnings was absolute. Politics, as she saw it, was essentially a struggle of the market’s virtuous winners to protect their wealth from confiscation by the hordes of inferiors who could outnumber them.

Paul Ryan, a figure who (unlike Romney) commands vast personal and ideological loyalty from the party, is also its most famous Randian. He has repeatedly praised Rand as a visionary and cited her work as the touchstone of his entire political career. But the Randian toxin has spread throughout the party. It’s the basis of Ryan’s frequently proclaimed belief that society is divided between “makers” and “takers.” It also informed Romney’s infamous diatribe against the lazy, freeloading 47 percenters. It is a grotesque, cruel, and disqualifying ethical framework for governing.

Naturally, this circles us back to the irrepressible question of what Romney himself actually believes. The vast industry devoted to exploring the unknowable question of Romney’s true beliefs has largely ignored a simple and obvious possibility: That Romney has undergone the same political and/or psychological transformation that so many members of his class have since 2009. If there is one hard fact that American journalism has established since 2009, it is that many of America’s rich have gone flat-out bonkers under President Obama. Gabriel Sherman first documented this phenomenon in his fantastic 2009 profile in this magazine, “The Wail of the 1%,” which described how the financial elite had come to see themselves as persecuted, largely faultless targets of Obama and their greedy countrymen. Alec MacGillis and Chrystia Freeland have painted a similar picture.

The ranks of the panicked, angry rich include Democrats as well as Republicans and elites from various fields, but the most vociferous strains have occurred among the financial industry and among Republicans. All this is to say, had he retired from public life after 2008, super-wealthy Republican financier Mitt Romney is exactly the kind of person you’d expect to have lost his mind, the perfect socioeconomic profile of a man raging at Obama and his mob. Indeed, it would be strange if, at the very time his entire life had come to focus on the goal of unseating Obama, and he was ensconced among Obama’s most affluent and most implacable enemies, Romney was somehow immune to the psychological maladies sweeping through his class.

Seen in this light, Romney’s belief in himself as a just and deserving leader is not merely a form of personal ambition free of ideological content. His faith in himself blends seamlessly into a faith in his fellow Übermenschen — the Job Creators who make our country go, who surround him and whose views shaped his program. To think of Romney as torn between two poles, then, is a mistake. Both his fealty to his party and his belief in his own abilities point in the same direction: the entitlement of the superrich to govern the country.

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/10/case-against-romney.html

Moderate Mitt wins conservatives’ blessings

by Dana Milbank, October 16, 2012, Washington Post

Mitt Romney etched and sketched his way to a new position on abortion last week, telling the Des Moines Register, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

It was not terribly surprising that Romney would, on the eve of the election, toss aside the antiabortion positions he cultivated during the Republican primaries; lately, he has reversed himself more often than a parking-lot attendant.

The surprise has been the reaction from conservatives. “No alarm bells here,” the Family Research Council’s president, Tony Perkins, proclaimed to Talking Points Memo. Perkins said he had been assured by Romney’s campaign that the answer was a product of “the way the question was asked.”

Romney later clarified his remarks, stating that he remained antiabortion. Still, the green light given by a top group on the religious right to Romney’s recasting of his abortion position is typical of recent weeks. Conservatives have been sitting silently — approvingly, even — as Romney makes his late lunge for the center. For a movement that has prided itself on being ideologically pure, this is a decidedly pragmatic turn.

Necessity, it seems, is the mother of reinvention. 

Key to the success of Romney’s Etch a Sketch movement has been the cooperation of conservatives, who have been unusually docile in the face of the candidate’s heresies: pledging not to enact a tax cut that adds to the deficit, promising not to decrease the share of taxes paid by the wealthy, vowing not to slash education funding, praising financial regulations, insisting that he would make health insurers cover preexisting conditions and disavowing his earlier claim that 47 percent of Americans are parasites living off of the government.

At Tuesday night’s debate, Romney continued his sprint to the center. He took pains to say he is “so different” from George W. Bush. He asserted that “every woman in America should have access to contraceptives,” and, on immigration, he said the children of illegal immigrants “should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of theUnited States.” After a primary battle in which GOP candidates tried to out-tough each other on immigration, Romney said that he was in agreement with President Obama and that “I’m not in favor of rounding up people.”

The conservatives’ complicity seems to be driven by two things: a belief that Romney’s moves to the middle are mere feints, shifts more in tone than in substance; and an acceptance that Romney’s rhetorical reversals are necessary if he is to deny Obama a second term. 

“I hear all this as tonal,” Grover Norquist, the Republican purity enforcer and keeper of the antitax pledge, told me. Romney’s new pledge that his tax cuts wouldn’t increase the deficit, for example, could be honored simply by using an alternative accounting method, known as “dynamic scoring,” that conservatives favor. “You’re now in the general election and you’ve already convinced conservatives why they should vote for you,” Norquist said of Romney. “You’re now talking to undecided voters, who have a completely different set of issues.”

Had Romney tried to moderate his positions over the summer, conservatives still suspicious from the primaries would have called him a turncoat, which would have depressed Republican turnout. But two weeks ago, polls showed that Romney’s “severely conservative” candidacy was heading to a seemingly inevitable defeat. It was that sense of desperation that gave Romney room to make his late break for the center, because conservatives were forced to accept that even a squishy and ideologically suspect President Romney would be preferable to Obama.

For example, Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, which has worked to defeat insufficiently conservative officials in Republican primaries, gave Romney room to maneuver. “We tend to recognize the political realities,” he told Politico the day after the Denver debate, adding that “when it comes to the issues that the Club focuses on, Romney is 1,000 percent better than Obama.”

That’s quite a bow to reality from the Club for Growth, which brought down Republican Sens. Bob Bennett, Richard Lugar and Arlen Specter and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for lesser ideological offenses.

Rank-and-file Republicans seem inclined to follow the opinion makers’ lead in cutting Romney slack as he makes his late move to the middle. In Washington Post-ABC News polling, Romney’s support improved among self-identified Republicans, from 90 percent on Sept. 29 to 93 percent on Oct. 13. The number of Republicans saying they were very enthusiastic about him climbed to 59 percent from 48 percent. He suffered no attrition among self-described conservatives. 

It has been a rare outbreak of common sense in the conservative movement. Romney should enjoy it while it lasts.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-moderate-mitt-romney-wins-conservatives-blessings/2012/10/16/c98054ea-17cb-11e2-9855-71f2b202721b_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines

The Romney Men: 6 Filthy Rich Moguls Who Will Do Anything to Elect Mitt

AlterNet [1] / By Lynn Parramore [2] October 10, 2012

The following 1 percent wonders are doing just fine under Obama, but since their worldview is largely restricted to an obsession with their marginal tax rate, they can’t refrain from denouncing the president and thinking of new ways to thwart his re-election bid. The Romney men desperately want to see the first financier president, a man after their own cold hearts.

1. David Siegel, the Bitching Billionaire

Thanks to folks over at Gawker [3], we’ve gotten a look at the noxious activities of David Siegel, founder and CEO of national timeshare giant Westgate Resorts. Siegel is filthy rich and wants you to know it, building himself the largest (and possibly the tackiest) house in America. The documentary The Queen of Versailles [4] follows Siegel and his wife Jackie in pursuit of obscene excess in the form of a 90,000-square-foot homage to bad taste, complete with a 20-car garage, a two-story wine cellar, and a 30-foot stained glass dome.

Though he brags that his company is more profitable than ever, Siegel, an avid Republican, recently sent an email to his thousands of employees suggesting that they would lose their jobs if Barack Obama is re-elected. In addition to dispensing voting advice, Siegel wallows in 1 percent self-pity:

“They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. They label us the ‘1%’ and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I’m building. I’m sure many people think that I live a privileged life.”

Three swimming pools? Privileged? Perish the thought.

In high narcissistic style, Siegel goes on to praise himself for the “hard work, discipline, and sacrifice” that built a company “which by the way, would eventually employ you.” He laments the sacrifices he has endured since the Recession for the good of his workers: “Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.” Siegel spends most of the rest of the letter bitching that shiftless Americans expecting a “bailout” in the form of higher taxes on fatcats will drive him to theCaribbean, where he will ensconce himself under a palm tree and cease to worry about the little people.

Edward Ericson Jr., formerly a reporter for the Orlando Weekly, has a different take [5] on how the slimy Siegel made his money, a tale of running scams and ripping off customers.

2. “Neutron” Jack Welch

The former head of General Electric and big-time Romney fan has been making quite a spectacle of himself since last Friday. Incensed by the favorable jobs report, he went on a conspiracy theory rampage, accusing the Obama administration of manipulating the report in order to secure the election. After receiving a barrage of criticism, he told MSNBC host Chris Matthews [6] that he had no evidence to prove such claims. Then he went on to make them anyway. Why should a gazillionaire bother with evidence?

He has since left Fortune magazine in a huff — the very publication that once named him Manager of the Century — after managing editor Andy Serwer suggested that his claims were absurd.

Ironically, the man levying charges of cooking the books is the one who wrote the cookbook. Barry Ritholtz of the Big Picture reminds us [7] that Welch had a nasty habit of manipulating GE’s earnings while he was CEO of the company. In his article “You Don’t Know Jack, [7]” Jonathan R. Laing describes how Welch committed epic misdeeds at GE while enjoying such perks as an $80,000-a-month New York pad, a corporate jet, payment for country-club fees, and a host of other luxuries.

A funny one to be going on about jobs, Jack Welch is a key architect of the business style focused on short-run profits, overspeculation, and obsession with stock prices, which, in addition to killing innovation and helping to blow up the world economy in 2008, has caused untold hardship for workers. Welch is a long-time champion of increasing profits by laying off employees, destroying so many jobs at GE that he earned the nickname “Neutron Jack.” When he wasn’t thinking of new ways to deliver pink slips, he was busy denying the health threats of PCBs that GE was dumping intoNew York’sHudson River.

“You can’t just call me old and senile,” complained Welch [8] in the wake of the jobs report flap. Okay, that would be mean. How about crooked and despicable?

3. Casino King Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson likes to go big. He heads up possibly the largest gambling and casino operation on the planet. And he spends big-time bucks trying to manipulate the American political system.

Adelson is unhappy with President Obama’s policies on Israel, and claims that’s why he supports Mitt Romney for president. But according to the New York Times [9], his company is also under investigation [9] by the Obama Justice Department for foreign bribery and money laundering. Could the gambling honcho be hoping a Romney victory would make the pesky investigation disappear?

Annoucing that beating President Obama “isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” Adelson has unleashed $70 million trying to influence the outcome of the 2012 elections — more than any individual has spent in any U.S. election to date. He has vowed to spend up to $100 million in total by election day.

Adelson also has a special knack [10] for helping the new class of Asian elites enjoy ridiculous luxuries, such as a drink that comes with a one-carat diamond available at his nightclub inSingapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino. The drink sells for $26,000.

4. Donald Trump: Plutocratic Personality Disorder

When it comes to stratospheric greed and arrogance, it’s hard to beat the Donald. How could a man famous for the phrase, “You’re fired!” not love a man who claimed to enjoy putting people out of work [11]? Naturally Trump just can’t say enough good things about Romney. And he fully has Mitt’s back on those repugnant remarks made at a Florida fundraiser that characterized nearly half the country as freeloading losers. Trump announced [12] that not only should Romney not apologize, but that “what he said is probably what he means.” Much obliged for the clarification.

When Obama’s name comes up, the words “birth certificate” are never far from Trump’s lips. That and frequent questions about the president’s academic credentials.

The poster child for plutocratic personality disorder, Trump is obsessed with talking about himself, naming things after himself, and surrounding himself with pictures of – you guessed it — himself. Maybe that’s to compensate for the fact that he’s actually a pretty crappy businessman and perpetually in need of money. After spending time with Trump and discussing his various luxury properties, the New Yorker’s Mark Singer concluded [13] that the man “had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”

5. and 6. Koch Brothers, Unlimited

No list of Romney men would be complete without the billionaire brothers who made their fortune in the oil and gas industries. Over three decades, Charles and David Koch have spent more than $100 million pushing their freaky libertarian agenda, which for years they did on the QT until the Obama presidency horrified them to such a degree that they could no longer hide in the shadows. There is no tax they don’t abhor, no environmental protection they don’t wish to kill, and no safety net they don’t ardently desire to shred. Romney, who aims to shield the rich from paying their fair share of taxes and offers an energy plan tailored to the needs of the oil, coal and gas industries, is their man forWashington.

The damage that these tycoons do to our natural world, our democracy and our sense of public trust would be difficult to overestimate. Whether they’re trying to resegregate schools (they tried to do this to my very own public school district in Wake County, North Carolina), repress votes, privatize Social Security, or dump toxic waste into rivers that sicken whole communities, the Koch brothers are indefatigable in their efforts and inexhaustible in their check-writing. (Check out the documentary The Koch Brothers Exposed [14], featuring AlterNet’s political writer Adele Stan.)

As AlterNet executive editor Don Hazen has noted [15], Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan is the Koch brothers’ hand-picked darling, a perfect vehicle for their twisted, cult-of-selfishness Ayn Rand philosophy. Ryan serves his masters by repeating Koch falsehoods on Medicare [16], scheming to steal your retirement [17], denying climate change [18] and cutting taxes on the rich and corporations.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/romney-men-6-filthy-rich-moguls-who-will-do-anything-elect-mitt

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/lynn-parramore
[3] http://gawker.com/5950189/the-ceo-who-built-himself-americas-largest-house-just-threatened-to-fire-his-employees-if-obamas-elected
[4] http://www.magpictures.com/thequeenofversailles/
[5] http://blogs.citypaper.com/index.php/2012/10/vote-obama-out-or-youre-fired/
[6] http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/05/usa-economy-jackwelch-idUSL1E8L5E4P20121005
[7] http://www.smartmoney.com/invest/markets/you-dont-know-jack-18796/
[8] http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/jack-welch-tells-twitterverse-hes-not-old-or
[9] http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/06/embracing-sheldon-adelson/
[10] http://richardbrenneman.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/the-001-percenters-drink-from-sheldon-adelson/
[11] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57355212-503544/mitt-romney-i-like-being-able-to-fire-people-for-bad-service/
[12] http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81328.html#ixzz28v7cKTE4
[13] http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/04/donald-trump-mark-singer.html#ixzz28v5LKwbZ
[14] http://http://www.kochbrothersexposed.com/
[15] http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/9-reasons-romneys-choice-paul-ryan-veep-smarter-you-think
[16] http://www.politicususa.com/policy-wonk-paul-ryan-medicare-lies-straight-koch-brothers.html
[17] http://wallstreetonparade.com/2012/09/how-dangerous-is-the-charles-kochpaul-ryan-ticket-to-your-social-security/
[18] http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/13/1119905/-Is-Paul-Ryan-doing-the-Koch-Brothers-Bidding

Grover Norquist – Romney Will Do As He’s Told

By Fay Paxton, cross-posted at The Pragmatic Pundit, posted on winningprogressive.org, October 10, 2012

Excerpt

At the conservative “Defending the American Dream Summit” in Washington, Grover Norquist, the Republican tax-cut Svengali said about Mitt Romney:

“All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go…. We just need a president to sign this stuff….Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United   States…. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

The summit was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a front group started by oil billionaire David Koch of Koch Industries. The AFP funds the “Tea Party” and special interest groups that work against Democratic initiatives, opposing protections for workers, the environment, labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation.

Regarding the “legislation that has already been prepared”, perhaps you also remember ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). The corporate funded organization that rewrites the laws that govern our lives. Through ALEC and the model legislation written by the organization, corporations have a voice and a vote in our daily lives. You didn’t really believe Citizens United was an accident did you?…

Full text

At the conservative “Defending the American Dream Summit” in Washington, Grover Norquist, the Republican tax-cut Svengali said about Mitt Romney:

“All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go…. We just need a president to sign this stuff….Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United   States…. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

The summit was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a front group started by oil billionaire David Koch of Koch Industries. The AFP funds the “Tea Party” and special interest groups that work against Democratic initiatives, opposing protections for workers, the environment, labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation.

Regarding the “legislation that has already been prepared”, perhaps you also remember ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). The corporate funded organization that rewrites the laws that govern our lives. Through ALEC and the model legislation written by the organization, corporations have a voice and a vote in our daily lives. You didn’t really believe Citizens United was an accident did you?

The Ugly Duckling

How and why do you suppose a candidate who was so poorly thought of became the celebrated nominee? Here’s what leading Republicans have said about Romney:

Rick Santorum: “”We need someone who’s bold and courageous, someone who’s willing to go out and say, ‘I’m for these things because they are my convictions,’ not because I put a finger in the air and that’s where the public is today…..Why would we pick someone who’s had a record that is as a liberal governor of Massachusetts to lead our country at a time we need fundamental change?”

Gingrich:This is a campaign of people power versus money power…. He understands a lot about finance, but finance is not the free market, and Wall Street is not Main Street, and giant businesses are not small businesses.”

Michele Bachmann: “If you look at Mitt Romney, he…has been very inconsistent on his positions. He has been on both sides of the abortion issue, on both sides of the issue of same-sex marriage.”“They (voters) want to know what’s the truth. They’re not interested in a chameleon.”

Rick Perry: “I happen to think that companies like Bain Capital could have come in and helped these companies, if they truly were venture capitalists, but they’re not…..They’re vulture capitalists.”

Rush Limbaugh: “ Mitt Romney is not a Conservative….Romney is a flip-flopper like John Kerry was; he’s gonna be saying one thing here when he gets to the White House is gonna turn into a moderate. I can think of things, like 2006 or 2007, Romney inMassachusetts says, “I’m not a conservative Republican, I’m a moderate.”

“TheMassachusettshealthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance. Uninsured, poor immigrants can walk into a health clinic or hospital in the state and get publicly subsidized care at virtually no cost to them, regardless of their immigration status.”

Mike Huckabee: “I think a lot of people are deceived, and you have to ask do people want to elect a president who has been dishonest in order to get the job and said things about his opponents that simply aren’t true?”

Sarah Palin: Romney should both release his tax returns and substantiate his claim that Bain Capital created 100,000 jobs.

Senator Marco Rubio: “There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for President, but they didn’t.”

Sheldon Adelson: “He’s not a bold decision maker…”

Former GOP Virginia Rep. Tom Davis: “He may not be Mr. Personality, uh, you know, this is a guy who gives a fireside chat and the fire goes out.”

Rudy Giuliani: “I’ve never seen a guy change his position so many times, so fast, on a dime.”

Former Reagan OMB Director David Stockman: “I don’t think that Mitt Romney can legitimately say that he learned anything about how to create jobs in the LBO (leveraged buyout) business. The LBO business is about how to strip cash out of old, long-in-the-tooth companies and how to make short-term profits. All the jobs that he talks about came from Staples. That was a very early venture stage deal. That, you know they got out of long before it got to its current size.”

David Frum: “…..the problem is that Romney hasn’t shown backbone to stick with his positions.”

George Will: “Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate… Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis…”

And last but not least:

John McCain: compiled a 200 page Romney opposition research book which is available online thanks to BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski.

Now they all support Romney for President? Flip-flopping must be contagious. But then again, like Grover Norquist said, “….We just need a president to sign this stuff….a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen…. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

http://www.winningprogressive.org/grover-norquist-romney-will-do-as-hes-told

The Amnesia Candidate by Paul Krugman

by Paul Krugman, New York Times, April 22, 2012

Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you’ve been following his campaign from the beginning, that’s a question you have probably asked many times.

But the question was raised with particular force last week, when Mr. Romney tried to make a closed drywall factory in Ohio a symbol of the Obama administration’s economic failure. It was a symbol, all right — but not in the way he intended.

First of all, many reporters quickly noted a point that Mr. Romney somehow failed to mention: George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, was president when the factory in question was closed. Does the Romney campaign expect Americans to blame President Obama for his predecessor’s policy failure?

Yes, it does. Mr. Romney constantly talks about job losses under Mr. Obama. Yet all of the net job loss took place in the first few months of 2009, that is, before any of the new administration’s policies had time to take effect. So theOhio speech was a perfect illustration of the way the Romney campaign is banking on amnesia, on the hope that voters don’t remember that Mr. Obama inherited an economy that was already in free fall.

How does the campaign deal with people who point out the awkward reality that all of the “Obama” job losses took place before any Obama policies had taken effect? The fallback argument — which was rolled out when reporters asked about the factory closure — is that even though Mr. Obama inherited a deeply troubled economy, he should have fixed it by now. That factory is still closed, said a Romney adviser, because of the failure of Obama policies “to really get this economy going again.”

Actually, that factory would probably still be closed even if the economy had done better — drywall is mainly used in new houses, and while the economy may be coming back, the Bush-era housing bubble isn’t.

But Mr. Romney’s poor choice of a factory for his photo-op aside, I guess accusing Mr. Obama of not doing enough to promote recovery is a better argument than blaming him for the effects of Bush policies. However, it’s not much better, since Mr. Romney is essentially advocating a return to those very same Bush policies. And he’s hoping that you don’t remember how badly those policies worked.

For the Bush era didn’t just end in catastrophe; it started off badly, too. Yes, Mr. Obama’s jobs record has been disappointing — but it has been unambiguously better than Mr. Bush’s over the comparable period of his administration.

This is especially true if you focus on private-sector jobs. Overall employment in the Obama years has been held back by mass layoffs of schoolteachers and other state and local government employees. But private-sector employment has recovered almost all the ground lost in the administration’s early months. That compares favorably with the Bush era: as of March 2004, private employment was still 2.4 million below its level when Mr. Bush took office.

Oh, and where have those mass layoffs of schoolteachers been taking place? Largely in states controlled by the G.O.P.: 70 percent of public job losses have been either inTexasor in states where Republicans recently took control.

Which brings me to another aspect of the amnesia campaign: Mr. Romney wants you to attribute all of the shortfalls in economic policy since 2009 (and some that happened in 2008) to the man in the White House, and forget both the role of Republican-controlled state governments and the fact that Mr. Obama has faced scorched-earth political opposition since his first day in office. Basically, the G.O.P. has blocked the administration’s efforts to the maximum extent possible, then turned around and blamed the administration for not doing enough.

So am I saying that Mr. Obama did everything he could, and that everything would have been fine if he hadn’t faced political opposition? By no means. Even given the political constraints, the administration did less than it could and should have in 2009, especially on housing. Furthermore, Mr. Obama was an active participant in Washington’s destructive “pivot” away from jobs to a focus on deficit reduction.

And the administration has suffered repeatedly from complacency — taking a few months of good news as an excuse to rest on its laurels rather than hammering home the need for more action. It did that in 2010, it did it in 2011, and to a certain extent it has been doing the same thing this year too. So there is a valid critique one can make of the administration’s handling of the economy.

But that’s not the critique Mr. Romney is making. Instead, he’s basically attacking Mr. Obama for not acting as if George Bush had been given a third term. Are the American people — and perhaps more to the point, the news media — forgetful enough for that attack to work? I guess we’ll find out.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/opinion/krugman-the-amnesia-candidate.html?_r=0

 

Mitt Romney’s Lies

By Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News, January 12, 2012

From ’100,000 new jobs’ to Obama’s jobs record to his first name, Mitt Romney has a truth problem

As his briefly front-running campaign sunk in the polls under relentless punishment from Mitt Romney’s “super PAC” allies in the days before the Iowa caucuses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich caused a brief stir by matter-of-factly telling a TV interviewer that Romney is a “liar.”

“Why are you saying he’s a liar?” his apparently shocked interlocutor pressed. The notion that Mitt Romney routinely makes statements lacking a factual basis should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the campaign. On the left, Paul Krugman has marveled that no other candidate has ever “lied so freely, with so little compunction.” On the right, The American Conservative‘s Daniel Larison wondered about why he lies, concluding that the former Massachusetts governor is “so contemptuous of the people he tells lies to that he never thinks he will be found out.”

With Romney sweeping Iowa and New Hampshire and leading in the polls in South   Carolina, this is a good time to catalogue some of Romney’s greatest hits thus far.

“100,000 new jobs.” Romney has repeatedly claimed that during his tenure at Bain Capital, “net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs.” His campaign defends the figure by tallying the current employment totals of some companies Bain aided. That’s a stretch in and of itself, but it’s also not a net figure. It lacks the balancing context of how many jobs were destroyed by Bain. As the Los Angeles Times reported in December, while Bain helped some companies grow, “Romney and his team also maximized returns by firing workers, seeking government subsidies, and flipping companies quickly for large profits. Sometimes Bain investors gained even when companies slid into bankruptcy.”

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal looked closely at Bain’s record under Romney and found that 22 percent “either filed for bankruptcy or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses.” Which is not really terribly surprising: Bain’s raison d’etre is not job creation but wealth creation for its investors. As Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler noted in an article Monday calling Romney’s “100,000 jobs” figure “untenable,” Romney and Bain “never could have raised money from investors if the prospectus seeking $1-million investments from the super wealthy had said it would focus on creating jobs.”

As a corollary, when Romney’s record has been criticized, he has dismissed criticisms as an attempt to “put free enterprise on trial.” It’s not an attack on free enterprise. It’s an attack on Romney’s strained attempt to spin his successful record of wealth-creation into one of job-creation. It’s also a recognition that while a net good, the free market has its destructive side—and it’s a fair question to ask, whether voters consider experience in that sort of vulture capitalism as a good qualification for the presidency. Do they want government to be run more like that kind of business?

Obama’s jobs record. By Romney’s own logic (touting jobs created but ignoring jobs lost), his attacks on President Obama’s economic record are nonsensical. He told Time that Obama “has not created any new jobs,” and he told Fox News last week that Obama has “lost” 2 million jobs as president. This is indeed a net figure, but also a misleading one. When Obama took office, the economy was shedding jobs at a rate of nearly 1 million jobs per month, losing roughly 3 million during the first four months of 2009. But presidential policies don’t take effect as soon as the incoming chief takes his oath. Once Obama’s policies started to take effect, the trend turned. The country had added 3.2 million private sector jobs over the course of 22 straight months of private sector growth. By Romney’s definition, the president has created more than 3 million jobs—not enough, but also not none.

In fact the biggest drag on job growth is the 600,000 public sector jobs that have disappeared under the auspices of budget austerity. As my colleague Danielle Kurtzleben reported in September, “government jobs are being shed by the tens of thousands almost every month, hindering an already weak recovery.”

“Entitlement society.” Romney has argued that Obama “is replacing our merit-based, opportunity society with an entitlement society,” where “everyone is handed the same rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk.” As New York‘s Jonathan Chait has observed, “This accusation is approximately as accurate as claiming that the Republican Party wants to pass laws forbidding poor people from making more money.” The idea that President Obama (or any Democrat) advocates for equality of outcomes simply lacks a basis in fact.It’s an important fabrication, because it marks a turning point in Romney’s attacks on Obama. Previously the president was characterized as ineffectual, but not a socialist. Forced to battle to win the GOP primaries, Romney has adopted the Tea Party’s extremist rhetoric. It won’t play with swing voters, even delivered in his polished drone.

Defense cuts. In an October speech on national security, Romney promised to “reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts.” One problem: Pentagon spending has gone up under Obama, from $594 billion in 2008 to $666 billion. The 2011 request was for $739 billion. As Rick Perry would say, “Oops.”

No apologies. Romney has said that Obama “went around the world and apologized for America.” This is part of the conservative, dog-whistle meme that Obama is un-American (and possibly even a foreigner!). While the notion of an international apology tour is a staple of the conservative case against Obama, it is also fictitious. The Washington Post’s fact-checker concluded that “the claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for theUnited States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context.” Don’t hold your breath waiting for an apology from Romney on this one.

“Mitt.” It’s a small one, but might be my favorite. During a debate in November, when moderator Wolf Blitzer introduced himself by saying that “Wolf” is really his first name, Romney greeted the audience by saying, “I’m Mitt Romney, and yes, Wolf, that’s also my first name.” In fact, Willard is his first name. It’s a lie notable for being so mundane: Why would someone fudge their name? It’s almost as if he can’t control himself.

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2012/01/12/mitt-romneys-lies

Romney’s pants on fire

by Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, May 28, 2012

There are those who tell the truth. There are those who distort the truth. And then there’s Mitt Romney.

Excerpt

“Every political campaign exaggerates and dissembles. This practice may not be admirable — it’s surely one reason so many Americans are disenchanted with politics — but it’s something we’ve all come to expect. Candidates claim the right to make any boast or accusation as long as there’s a kernel of veracity in there somewhere. Even by this lax standard, Romney too often fails. Not to put too fine a point on it, he lies. Quite a bit.He seems to believe voters are too dumb to discover what the facts really are — or too jaded to care. On both counts, I disagree.”

Full text

Every political campaign exaggerates and dissembles. This practice may not be admirable — it’s surely one reason so many Americans are disenchanted with politics — but it’s something we’ve all come to expect. Candidates claim the right to make any boast or accusation as long as there’s a kernel of veracity in there somewhere.

Even by this lax standard, Romney too often fails. Not to put too fine a point on it, he lies. Quite a bit.

“Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history,” Romney claims on his campaign Web site. This is utterly false. The truth is that spending has slowed markedly under Obama.

An analysis published last week by MarketWatch, a financial news Web site owned by Dow Jones & Co., compared the yearly growth of federal spending under presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. Citing figures from the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, MarketWatch concluded that “there has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.”

Quite the contrary: Spending has increased at a yearly rate of only 1.4 percent during Obama’s tenure, even if you include some stimulus spending (in the 2009 fiscal year) that technically should be attributed to President George W. Bush. This is by far the smallest — I repeat, smallest — increase in spending of any recent president. (The Washington Post’s Fact Checker concluded the spending increase figure should have been 3.3 percent.)

In Bush’s first term, by contrast, federal spending increased at an annual rate of 7.3 percent; in his second term, the annual rise averaged 8.1 percent. Reagan comes next, in terms of profligacy, followed by George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and finally Obama, the thriftiest of them all.

The MarketWatch analysis was re-analyzed by the nonpartisan watchdogs at Politifact who found it “Mostly True” — adding the qualifier because some of the restraint in spending under Obama “was fueled by demands from congressional Republicans.” Duly noted, and if Romney wants to claim credit for the GOP, he’s free to do so. But he’s not free to say that “federal spending has accelerated” under Obama, because any way you look at it, that’s a lie.

Another example: Obama “went around the Middle East and apologized for America,” Romney said in March. “You know, instead of apologizing for America he should have stood up and said that as the president of the United States we all take credit for the greatness of this country.” That’s two lies for the price of one. Obama did not, in fact, go around the Middle East, or anywhere else, apologizing for America. And he did, on many occasions, trumpet American greatness and exceptionalism.

Romney offers few specifics, but the conservative Heritage Foundation published a list of “Barack Obama’s Top 10 Apologies” — not one of which is an apology at all.

One alleged instance is a speech Obama gave to the Turkish parliament in 2009, in which he said the United States “is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history . . . [and] still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.” If the folks at Heritage and at the Romney campaign don’t know that this is a simple statement of fact, they really ought to get out more.

Romney does single out the following Obama statement from a 2009 interview: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Romney says this acknowledgment — that others might have as much national pride as we do — means Obama doesn’t really believe in American exceptionalism at all.

But in the same interview, Obama went on to say he was “enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world,” and to tout U.S. economic and military might as well as the nation’s “exceptional” democratic values. So he should be accused of chest-thumping, not groveling.

I could go on and on, from Romney’s laughable charge that Obama is guilty of “appeasement” (ask Osama bin Laden) to claims of his job-creating prowess at Bain Capital. He seems to believe voters are too dumb to discover what the facts really are — or too jaded to care.

On both counts, I disagree.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romneys-distortions-about-obama-do-us-a-disservice/2012/05/28/gJQA9JuTxU_print.html

Mitt Romney Blurts Out the Truth About Neo-Conservatism

by Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star, September 28, 2012

Excerpt

…the Republican presidential candidate [Romney] told the $50,000-a-platers what they wanted to hear: that he hasn’t any intention of helping the 47 per cent of Americans too poor to pay income tax. “My job is not to worry about those people.”

With this truthfulness caught on tape, Romney has probably done more than incinerate his own presidential bid. He has so vividly exposed the cynicism and greed that lies at the heart of what is now called “conservatism” that he may have inadvertently begun its undoing.

Once upon a time, “conservative” could be used to describe people — Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Robert Stanfield, Joe Clark — who had a vision of society in which a privileged elite dominated but also had a responsibility to less fortunate citizens and to the broader “public good.”

But about 30 years ago, a new breed of “conservative” slithered onto the political scene. Stealing the moniker of conservatism, this new breed embraced the inequality of traditional conservatism (driving it skyward) while unburdening itself of the responsibility for others and the public good.

This new breed has proved itself to be self-centered, greedy and indifferent to the public good.

John Kenneth Galbraith cut to the essence when he described this “modern” conservative as engaged in “the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”…There never was intellectual honesty or coherence to modern conservatism….

It’s time we stopped treating modern conservatives as proponents of a legitimate political philosophy and started treating them as greedy profiteers who — at least until now — have pulled off the biggest heist in modern times.

Full text

Ironically, in the now-famous video that seems likely to end his political career, it could be said that Mitt Romney was speaking truth to power.

Of course, “speaking truth to power” is a phrase normally used to describe courageous souls who risk their own hides to take a principled stand challenging those in power — not exactly what Mitt was doing.

Rather, assuming he was speaking privately to like-minded multi-millionaires, the Republican presidential candidate told the $50,000-a-platers what they wanted to hear: that he hasn’t any intention of helping the 47 per cent of Americans too poor to pay income tax. “My job is not to worry about those people.”

With this truthfulness caught on tape, Romney has probably done more than incinerate his own presidential bid. He has so vividly exposed the cynicism and greed that lies at the heart of what is now called “conservatism” that he may have inadvertently begun its undoing.

Once upon a time, “conservative” could be used to describe people — Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Robert Stanfield, Joe Clark — who had a vision of society in which a privileged elite dominated but also had a responsibility to less fortunate citizens and to the broader “public good.”

But about 30 years ago, a new breed of “conservative” slithered onto the political scene. Stealing the moniker of conservatism, this new breed embraced the inequality of traditional conservatism (driving it skyward) while unburdening itself of the responsibility for others and the public good.

This new breed has proved itself to be self-centered, greedy and indifferent to the public good.

John Kenneth Galbraith cut to the essence when he described this “modern” conservative as engaged in “the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

Vast sums have been spent on pricey think-tanks to develop pseudo-sophisticated theories about how the benefits of modern conservatism will “trickle down,” in the hopes the public won’t notice the benefits are actually gushing up.

There never was intellectual honesty or coherence to modern conservatism, which is why Romney could cast half of Americans as freeloaders for failing to pay tax while using theCayman Islandsfor his own massive tax avoidance schemes — the full details of which remain better hidden than the torsos of the Royal Family.

Modern conservatism — or neo-conservatism — has infected Canada too, coming to fruition under the Harper majority government, which has intervened aggressively on the side of corporations against working people, and dismantled vital environmental protections in order to enrich energy mega-corporations.

But could the Romney video finally allow the public to grasp the depth of cynicism not just in Romney but in the wealthy donors, who make up the backbone of the conservative movement? Despite their vastly privileged lives, they seem resentful of the freeloading lower orders, some of whom can be seen on film rushing about in white gloves dutifully serving the wealth creators.

Such pull-back-the-curtains moments are rare. Another intriguing one came to light recently in the discovery of letters written by multi-billionaire Charles Koch in 1973 when he was trying to lure Friedrich von Hayek, the Austrian guru of modern conservative economics, to accept a post at a Koch think-tank inCalifornia.

Koch, a key funder of the Tea Party and Romney’s campaign (with a pledge to spend $400 million defeating Obama), has been obsessed for decades with dismantling the U.S. Social Security system —America’s central social program — and has been instrumental in getting it on the Republican hit list.

Yet in letters (recently reported in The Nation), Koch eagerly informs Hayek that he’ll qualify for Social Security and related medicare benefits, so the medical costs connected to his gall bladder surgery will be covered.

Koch even sends Hayek a government pamphlet explaining how to apply for Social Security benefits — benefits that Koch has worked tirelessly to deny to millions of ordinary (freeloading) Americans.

It’s time we stopped treating modern conservatives as proponents of a legitimate political philosophy and started treating them as greedy profiteers who — at least until now — have pulled off the biggest heist in modern times.

Linda McQuaig is a columnist for the Toronto Star. She first came to national prominence in 1989 for uncovering the Patti Starr Affair, where a community leader was found to have used charitable funds for the purpose of making illegal donations to lobby the government. McQuaig was awarded the National Newspaper Award for her work on this story. The National Post has called her “Canada’s Michael Moore”. Linda is the author (with Neil Brooks) of Billionaires’ Ball: Gluttony and Hubris in an Age of Epic Inequality, published by Beacon Press.

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Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/09/28-5