Levees Not War
Infrastructure. Environment. Peace.

Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

Obama Wins More Time to Repair, Lead America Forward

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Solid Victories for Progressive, Liberal Candidates, Reforms

[ cross-posted at Daily Kos ]

“The task of perfecting our union moves forward”

“I have never been more hopeful about America. . . . I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. . . . 

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

Barack Obama, Chicago, Nov. 6, 2012

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“[H]ere is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens . . . who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life. . . . I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. . . . The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have too little.

—Franklin D. Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address (1937)

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This Is Our Idea of “Morning in America”

Last night Barack Obama became only the second Democratic president since FDR (in 1936) to win a second term with more than 50 percent of the vote in both his elections.

In our humble opinion, a win for the Democrats is a win for the American people. Of course not every American person sees it that way, but when illness or disaster strikes, or food needs inspecting, or voting rights need protecting, it’s best to have a government managed by the party that fought for and established Medicare, Social Security, FEMA, the Voting Rights Act, and so on. The party that believes government can and should be a force for the public good. Not the only solution, but indispensable and more reliable than the profit sector.

And it is a good thing for the 47 percent (indeed, the 99 percent) that the man who said “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives” is not going to be the next president of the United States. We do want to say, however, that Gov. Romney, after waiting nearly an hour and a half before calling the president to concede (Karl Rove live on Fox was not ready to give up on Ohio), gave an admirably gracious and dignified concession speech to his supporters in Boston (see photo below).

From the East Coast to the West, across the Rust Belt and Midwest, and in Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico, President Obama held ground he won in 2008. With a weak economy—nearly drowned in Grover Norquist’s bathtub by Republicans intent on strangling Obama’s every initiative—and under relentless attack from hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of negative ads by “dark money” conservative interests, he lost only two states he’d won in 2008: North Carolina and Indiana. The critical battleground states of Ohio, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada stayed blue. (See maps below). As of this writing the president’s electoral vote margin is about 100 (303 to 206), and his popular vote margin is roughly 3 million: 60.4 million to Romney’s 57.6 million. Florida is still counting.

Professor Warren Goes to Capitol Hill

Besides our elation with the president’s victory, in this year of a “war on women”—or at least appallingly callous attitudes and legislative hostility—we are delighted to welcome new senators Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (Wisc.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.Dak.), and Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii), and congratulate senators Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) on their reelection. (More about women’s wins here and here.) The Senate races are not all decided, but the Democrats have gained at least one seat, and currently have a 55–45 majority, with Maine’s newly elected independent Angus King likely to caucus with the Dems. With more progressives in his ranks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is talking again about filibuster reform. Yes, please!

One of the best things about Elizabeth Warren’s election to the Senate is that, being so knowledgeable about financial institutions and law, and so committed to reform on behalf of protecting those who are not investment bankers, she will keep the discussion on a more serious and fact-based plane. It is especially sweet that the incumbent she defeated 54% to 46%, Scott Brown, was the senator most lavishly funded by Wall Street contributors. One of the MSNBC people last night (Chris Matthews?) said that Warren is the most intellectually substantive person elected to the U.S. Senate since the late Patrick Moynihan (D-NY). Not only that, but she’ll put a lot of energy and momentum into Wall Street and consumer protection reform, which has really only begun. Now Jon Stewart will really want to make out with her.

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Our Barack Is Back—and We’ve Got His Back

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Clearly Obama

President Obama listens as the human Etch A Sketch changes positions yet again during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Oct. 16, 2012.

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. . . when [Romney] said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility—think about who he was talking about: folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives, veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country, students . . . , soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now, people who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income. . . .  

And when my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a GI Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country, and I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years. —President Barack Obama, closing remarks of 2nd presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012

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We’ll spare you from a detailed review of President Obama’s performance in Tuesday night’s debate, about which many others have written eloquently (see below), but we are more than delighted to see again the tough, focused fighter his supporters sorely missed in Round One. We’ll just say we loved the way the president skipped the niceties and went directly on the attack:

Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector; that’s been his philosophy as govqernor; that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate. You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money. 

That’s exactly the philosophy that we’ve seen in place for the last decade. That’s what’s been squeezing middle-class families. And we have fought back for four years to get out of that mess, and the last thing we need to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us there.

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Republicans Against Medicare: A Long, Mean History

Monday, October 15th, 2012

“. . . let’s be brutally honest here. The Romney-Ryan position on health care is that many millions of Americans must be denied health insurance, and millions more deprived of the security Medicare now provides, in order to save money. At the same time, of course, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. So a literal description of their plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.” —Paul Krugman, “Death By Ideology” [our emphasis]

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Maybe You Know Someone Whose Life Depends on Medicare

In a column showing that Paul Ryan himself once used the term “voucher” to describe his plan to replace Medicare with something considerably less beneficial, Paul Krugman refutes Romney and Ryan’s claims that no one lacking money for health care will have to go without care. As the compassionate conservative George W. Bush similarly assured us, “[P]eople have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” Before the Republicans decided that euphemisms like “guaranteed benefit” sound better, before the Democrats turned “voucher” into a pejorative, Paul Ryan used the term himself. Last week Romney said:

[Y]ou go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. . . We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.

(By the way, can we just point out that the proper pronoun when referring to human beings is who, not that? It’s called a personal pronoun. Almost every time we hear that instead of who, it is in a context of less-than-kind-regard for the people being referred to. It’s a distancing term. Watch for it.)

In the vice presidential debate on Thursday night, Joe Biden looked into the camera and appealed to the American voter:

. . . these guys haven’t been big on Medicare from the beginning. Their party’s not been big on Medicare from the beginning. And they’ve always been about Social Security as little as you can do. Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this? A man who introduced a bill that would raise [seniors’ required contributions to Medicare] $6,400 a year, knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he’d sign it? Or me and the president? . . . Folks, follow your instincts on this one. [full transcript here]

The vice president has a good point here: Shouldn’t we trust the party that designed and pushed for Medicare—and Social Security, not to mention the WPA, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and many other social safety net programs—to protect this life-saving program, rather than the party that has long fought against it? Look at how the Republicans in Congress voted for or against Medicare in 1965, compared with the Democrats—and consider that only 3 Republicans voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) in 2009, and have voted 33 times to repeal it:

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Among the congressional Republicans who voted against the Medicare bill in 1965 were George H. W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Dole, Barry Goldwater, and Strom Thurmond. And as early as 1961, then private citizen Ronald Reagan was speaking out against “socialized medicine.” His LP (shown above) was part of “Operation Coffee Cup,” a stealth campaign in the late 1950s and early ’60s sponsored by the American Medical Association to oppose the expansion of Social Security. Click here and here for a brief history of Republican efforts to cut or kill Medicare.

Republicans can call it “socialized medicine”—and they probably always will—but consider this:

Prior to Medicare, “about one-half of America’s seniors did not have hospital insurance,” “more than one in four elderly were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns,” and one in three seniors were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.

Don’t Cut Medicare—Expand It!

Further, a 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 53% of Americans “strongly” favor expanding Medicare coverage to those aged 55 to 64, and an additional 26% support it “somewhat.” (see page 4). This is an idea pitched by John Kerry when he was running for president in 2004. Kerry suggested enrolling children in Medicare and lowering the age for adults by 10 years, and incrementally moving the eligibility up for the young and downward in age for older Americans, and eventually meeting in the middle so that all Americans would be covered. We love this idea and have often written to members of Congress to support it. We urge you to join us. We should not only protect Medicare as it is, but go stronger and push for wider coverage and fuller funding.

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In closing, we would like to quote a governor of the great state of Massachusetts:

There ought to be enough money to help people get insurance because an insured individual has a better chance of having an excellent medical experience than the one who has not. An insured individual is more likely to go to a primary care physician or a clinic to get evaluated for their conditions and to get early treatment, to get pharmaceutical treatment, as opposed to showing up in the emergency room where the treatment is more expensive and less effective than if they got preventive and primary care.

—Gov. Mitt Romney, address to Chamber of Commerce, April 2006

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President Lyndon B. Johnson, with First Lady Lady Bird Johnson behind him (in blue), and former President Harry S Truman at his right, signs the Medicare bill into law, July 30, 1965.

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No Core Beliefs: “The Most Dangerous Opponent”

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

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“His legendary flip-flops aren’t the lies of a bumbling opportunist—they’re the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he’s trying for something big: We’ve just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we’ve been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.” —Matt Taibbi, “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital”

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Shape-Shifting as a Business Strategy

To paraphrase what Mary McCarthy once said about Lillian Hellman, every word out of Mitt Romney’s mouth is a lie, “including and and the.”

We’ve been meaning for some time to draw attention to Matt Taibbi’s excellent piece on the audacity of Romney’s mendacity for Rolling Stone titled “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.” Soon we will go into the business practices side of the article, and the seriously horrifying implications for American workers and the U.S. economy—at least for the 99%. But for now we want to point to Taibbi’s remarks on Romney’s casual readiness to say whatever it takes to whomever he’s addressing, regardless of previous statements, promises, or policies. Read the article and pass it on to anyone and everyone who might be considering voting for Romney, or who wants to make sure Romney gets not one more vote than can be avoided.

Mitt Romney, it turns out, is the perfect frontman for Wall Street’s greed revolution. . . . He’s Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR—and a bigger goal. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. And if his own history is any guide, we’ll all end up paying for the acquisition. . . . 

[Romney’s] infamous changes of stance are not little wispy ideological alterations of a few degrees here or there—they are perfect and absolute mathematical reversals, as in “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country” and “I am firmly pro-life.” Yet unlike other politicians, who at least recognize that saying completely contradictory things presents a political problem, Romney seems genuinely puzzled by the public’s insistence that he be consistent. “I’m not going to apologize for having changed my mind,” he likes to say.

A member of Romney’s campaign famously remarked—at an RNC breakfast sponsored by ABC News and Yahoo News, no less—“We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Romney’s first debate performance, in which he surprised the president by pretending to be a sunny moderate, after a year of insisting he was “extremely conservative,” was cheerfully free of facts or regard for his previous utterances. How could he possibly remember all the positions he has held on any given topic? Steve Benen’s “Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity” is up to volume XXXVII as of Oct. 5.

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Reserved Professor Obama Misses Opportunities, and Slippery Romney Takes ’Em

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Is President Overconfident? (He Shouldn’t Be.)

We want to put down a few first impressions about last night’s first presidential debate before we look at what anyone else has said.

Mitt Romney performed with more energy and desire to win than did President Obama. Romney dissembled, evaded, distorted, and denied truths, as we would expect, but he showed admirable aggressiveness—fire in the belly. He cavalierly blew through the time limits like a rich glutton who feels entitled to eat all the food in a restaurant just because he can afford it all, and to hell with the other customers. But he was there to win, and, setting aside accuracy, honesty, and specificity, maybe he deserved to (last night—not on November 6!).

Skipping many opportunities to attack Romney, the president acted as though he’s above going on the offensive. He failed to point out Romney’s dismal job-creation record as governor of Massachusetts and his impressive job-destruction record at Bain Capital. Unbelievably, Obama neglected to charge that a candidate who has written off 47 percent of the American public cannot care too much about creating jobs and improving opportunities for the American people. The president was far too slow to bring up the name Paul Ryan, who embodies the harshness of G.O.P. budget priorities—a huge missed opportunity. He never once mentioned the 100% obstruction of the Republicans in Congress, not even when Romney faulted him for pushing through a health care reform bill that had no G.O.P. support. How could Obama not say this? When they talked about the budget and taxes, he was too courteous to mention that super-rich Romney has hidden his own tax payments from the public (and possibly from the U.S. Treasury) like no candidate in recent memory.

We sure hope President Obama doesn’t think he’s got this election in the bag, after seeing all the favorable polls in recent weeks.

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Bush White House Ignored 9/11 Warnings

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The Deafness Before the Storm

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Briefly noted, highly recommended:

Kurt Eichenwald, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a former reporter for the New York Times, wrote a strong but restrained op-ed piece for the Times yesterday describing in more detail than is generally known how the George W. Bush administration ignored repeated CIA warnings of an imminent attack on the U.S. by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda—an attack expected to be of major proportions. The administration was focused on Saddam Hussein and did not want to hear about Osama bin Laden.

Eichenwald’s account matches the testimony of Richard A. Clarke, chairman of the White House’s Counter-terrorism Security Group (1992–2003), as well as key findings of the 9/11 Commission. As Clarke details in his book Against All Enemies, he tried from Bush’s first days in office till 9/11 itself to get a meeting with the president and vice president Dick Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, but was repeatedly rebuffed.

Before we post a few excerpts below, let us note that despite receiving all these increasingly urgent presidential briefings before and throughout August 2001, George W. Bush remained on vacation until September 4. (Just imagine a Democratic president doing this—or not being impeached afterward.)

Let us also point out that Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team is mainly staffed by former Bush administration “neocons.” Mr. Romney, who did not mention the war in Afghanistan even once in his nomination acceptance speech (transcript here), has said that Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe.” Russia, really? So, how seriously would Romney take similar warnings?

From “The Deafness before the Storm” by Kurt Eichenwald:

The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible. 

. . . the White House failed to take significant action. Officials at the Counterterrorism Center of the C.I.A. grew apoplectic. On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place, two people who were there told me in interviews. The suggestion was batted down, they said, because there would be no time to train anyone else. 

Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped, had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs? We can’t ever know. And that may be the most agonizing reality of all.

Read “The Deafness before the Storm” in full here.

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Quick question: Would the U.S. be at war today in Afghanistan 11 years later—or ever—if the Supreme Court had not stopped the counting of votes in December 2000? Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and all the other places where the War on Terror(ism) is ongoing? (Richard A. Clarke served as counterterrorism security adviser in the White House from the 1980s to 2003, serving under president Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush.)

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Kurt Eichenwald is also the author of 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars, just published. See his Sept. 12 interview with Democracy Now! here.

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More about September 11 at Levees Not War: 

Is Katrina More Significant Than September 11? (9/11/10)

We’re Not Forgetting (9/11/11)

Anti-Islamic Furor Helps al Qaeda, Endangers America: On the proposed Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan (Aug. 23, 2010)

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“Romney is improbable, but his rivals are impossible”

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due Dept.

It is rare to the point of Almost Never that NYT columnist Ross Douthat writes something not annoying, so when he says something we find intelligent and worth quoting, we want to be nice and share. Likewise, the so-called candidates* for the Republican nomination are so down-the-rabbit-hole deranged and delusional we normally prefer not to give them any more attention in the Upper Blogosphere, but we can make this one exception. We’re not sure he’ll turn out to be correct, but he says it well. Regarding “The Inevitable Nominee,” Douthat writes:

. . . when you have eliminated the impossible, as Sherlock Holmes told Watson, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. This rule holds for presidential contests as well as for whodunits: Romney is improbable, but his rivals are impossible, and so he will be the nominee.

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* The exception is Jon Huntsmann, former governor of Utah and ambassador to China, who is polling around one or two percent. He alone among the G.O.P. candidates has refused to sign Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform “Taxpayer Protection” pledge (not to raise taxes).

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