Saturday, August 15, 2015

A very important historical event. Congrats to both countries. An important first step, for much more needs to be done, especially the end of the economic blockade. Let us also be cognizant that this important event is only possible because we Have President Barack Obama. This would never happen with a present day Republican in the White House or with other Democrats such a candidate Hillary Clinton.  Here is a very interesting first hand account.  

A Personal Reflection on This Moment in Cuba

AUGUST 14, 2015
A child looks out a window from inside the newly opened U.S. Embassy overlooking the staging area, at the end of a flag raising ceremony of the newly opened U.S. Embassy, in Havana, Cuba
Earlier today, as the flag–raising ceremony kicked off outside our newly-reopened Embassy in Havana, I was hunched over my laptop, frantically typing and straining to hear every word the Secretary said in his remarks.  This is not abnormal for me.  Part of my job in the Department’s Office of Digital Engagement is to live-tweet Secretary Kerry, so whenever he is giving an address, I am locked onto my computer like this. Sweaty-palmed and focused.
So it was strange when, as the Marines raised the flag and the national anthem began, I looked up at the livestream playing out before me and started to cry.
Why?  Well, it’s a long story.
Back in 1959, my father moved to Havana with his family because my grandfather took a Foreign Service position at our Embassy there. To this day, my dad describes Havana in a golden light -- much as anyone does who has visited the city. I know that he loved many things about Cuba, but especially the things that any 14 year old boy would love: catching tarantulas, fishing in the turquoise blue waters and, yes, watching the beautiful women. According to my dad, my grandfather had a more professional and age-appropriate appreciation for all that Cuba and its people had to offer, but he loved the place no less than my father did. 
In the summer of 1960, after my father’s sophomore year of high school, the families of U.S. diplomats in Havana were sent back to the States. My father, his sister and mother went back to Washington, and my grandfather remained behind, working at the Embassy until it closed in January of 1961.
In the late 60’s, my father went on to become a Foreign Service officer himself, working for nearly 30 years for the U.S. Information Agency. And today, you guessed it: I am a Foreign Service officer. A third generation diplomat -- all of us public affairs officers. 
So today, as I watched that flag go up in Cuba, I thought: did my grandfather watch this flag come down?  I’ll never know. He died 29 years ago this summer, and his generation -- the greatest generation -- was never one to talk about what they’d seen and felt. But I like to think that if he was at the Embassy the day the flag came down, he would have taken a moment -- stopped shredding papers, perhaps -- and watched those Marines lower the flag. 
Just as today, as I watched that flag go up, I’d like to think that he was with me for a while. And I think I know what he would say.
“It’s about time.”
About the Author: Alison Bauerline is a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Department of State's Office of Digital Engagement.
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As Biden weighs a 2016 campaign, does he want to be the anti-Clinton?

By many accounts, Vice President Biden has spent his vacation week mulling whether to run for president — again. The decision will test head and heart and involve no small amount of emotion.
Tracking the story of is-he-or-isn’t-he-going-to-run is akin to chasing smoke, even to those who are loyal friends. Few people beyond his family are privy to his real thinking. Some Democrats say his advisers are making calls. Everyone looks for evidence of active pursuit of a campaign. Friends say they don’t yet sense a real campaign-in-the-making, and they doubt there ever will be. But they hedge.
Joe Biden has run for president twice without success, but almost three decades after his first campaign, the embers of ambition continue to glow. There was a time a few years ago when he might have willingly set aside those personal ambitions, if only because he could believe that his son Beau, a talented politician in his own right, would one day run for and perhaps be elected president.
Beau Biden’s tragic death a few months ago robbed the vice president of that hope. It is now left to the father to decide whether to do what his son reportedly urged him to do — to run once more. The death of Beau Biden also has prolonged the decision-making process about another campaign. It’s understandable that the vice president has not yet said “no” to a campaign in 2016. He is being tugged in different directions.
Biden can find reasons to think he should run. He is an accomplished public servant. He is a politician with 36 years of experience in the Senate. He served as chairman of both the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees. He has been one of the most active vice presidents in history.
As he looks at Hillary Rodham Clinton, is there any doubt that he wonders why so many Democrats have tried to smooth her path to the nomination while seeming to ignore him? Does she have longer experience, more authenticity, a firmer connection to the middle class? He has long been an advocate for the struggling middle class, and unlike Clinton, he has not become fabulously wealthy.
Like any politician, he has flaws. His judgments would be examined and scrutinized. His penchant for verbal miscues would come roaring back. Some have been maladroit enough that he has been forced to issue a retraction or apology. Others were less cringe-worthy but still notable. All would be fair game.
But if he has long been a punch line for late-night comedians, he also has developed a reputation for decency and an air of authenticity at a time when that quality is prized, even sought after. Now he also has the sympathy of friends and adversaries alike because of the tragedy of his son’s death.
Biden is well-liked and enjoys great good will. In Iowa, for example, he has many friends and admirers dating back to his first campaign in the 1988 cycle, a campaign that ended in 1987 after a scandal involving plagiarism. That good will was evident there when he ran the last time, in 2008. On the eve of the caucuses that year, his advisers were certain that he was developing real momentum. When the final numbers were allocated, he was at 1 percent. The lesson: Good will does not translate to political support.
It is said that he can wait a bit longer to make a decision because he has been through campaigns before and would be able to assemble a network of political and financial support more quickly than a novice candidate. But look at what he would be going up against.
Biden has not been a prodigious fundraiser. When he ran the last time, he raised about $11 million in all of 2007 and about $13 million in total. In this campaign, Clinton raised $4 million during her first three months as a candidate. She is likely on her way to $100 million by this fall. That’s not money in a super PAC, but hard dollars raised in maximum donations of $2,700. The math for Biden is daunting.
So, too, is the prospect of assembling a campaign. Presidential campaigns are significantly larger and more complex than they were even just eight years ago. Obama’s 2008 campaign helped to pioneer the modern model. Biden’s was anything but that eight years ago.
To put together all the pieces needed in an era of social media and digital communication and prodigious amounts of data and tens of thousands of volunteers is laborious and time-consuming.
What would be Biden’s reason for deciding to run at this point? That’s a more difficult question for him to answer. His policy differences with Clinton are not obvious. He cannot claim to be the idol of the progressive wing of the party, in the way that Bernie Sanders has become. He and Clinton owe allegiances to President Obama and to the policies of the administration. Even more than Clinton, he has been a partner of the president.
“Biden, Gore buzz hound Clinton campaign,” read a line on CNN on Friday afternoon, referring to talk that both the current vice president and former vice president Al Gore were weighing whether to run.
A Gore spokeswoman told Politico that there was “no truth” to the speculation about her boss. But the climate that produces such talk is real: The notion, fair or not, that Clinton is increasingly vulnerable has Democrats increasingly worried.
Biden would want his candidacy to be seen on its own merits. Given the current state of play — Clinton’s declining trust numbers, the investigation into her private e-mail account and expressions of concern among Democrats about her vulnerabilities, along with Sanders’s rise in the polls — that would be impossible.
A Biden campaign would quickly be cast as one that embodies a lack of confidence in Clinton, an anti-Hillary venture from the start. She would take seriously the challenge and deal with it, if Biden developed momentum — vigorously and directly. One or both would be damaged in the process.
No one on the outside knows what Biden will decide. Not many on the outside believe that in the end he will say “yes,” although they do not rule it out. If he doesn’t run, he will leave office in January of 2017, at age 74, with an enviable record of public service capped by eight years as a consequential vice president — but with his dream of being president unfulfilled. That means to say “no” this time comes with a sense of finality that did not exist in the past. No wonder the vice president is still mulling.
Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent 

Story Highlights

  • Support for path to citizenship consistent over time
  • 77% of Hispanics favor a path to citizenship
  • Half of Republicans back path to citizenship
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Two in three U.S. adults favor a plan to allow immigrants who are living illegally in the U.S. to remain in the country and become citizens if they meet certain requirements over time. Far fewer support allowing those immigrants to remain in the U.S. to work for a limited period of time (14%), or to deport all of these immigrants back to their home countries (19%). U.S. adults' views have been largely stable over the past decade.
The latest update comes from Gallup's 2015 Minority Rights and Relations poll, conducted June 15-July 10. The poll included larger samples of blacks and Hispanics. Immigration is of special significance to Hispanics, about half of whom are immigrants themselves, according to the poll.
Hispanics (77%) are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (62%) or non-Hispanic blacks (70%) to favor a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. One in five whites, compared with 14% of blacks and 8% of Hispanics, prefer deporting undocumented immigrants back to their home countries.
Hispanics are slightly less likely now than in 2006 (86%) to favor a path to citizenship for immigrants. The 2006 survey was the last time Gallup asked the question in a poll that included an expanded sample of Hispanics. Whites' and blacks' views are largely unchanged since then.
150812Imm2_2 (1)
Path to Citizenship Less Appealing to Republicans
U.S. adults' views on the best approach to take with illegal immigrants living in the U.S. differ based on their party identification. At 80%, Democrats overwhelmingly favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and to have an opportunity to become citizens. Republicans are far less likely to support a path to citizenship, at 50%, but that is still the most common view among this group. Thirty-one percent of Republicans want to see all illegal immigrants deported, while 18% favor allowing them to stay for a limited time to work.
Neither party's views have changed dramatically over the past decade, but Democrats are now a bit more likely to endorse citizenship while Republicans are less likely to do so. The 31% of Republicans who favor deporting all illegal immigrants is up from 20% in 2006, while the percentage of Republicans favoring a path to citizenship is down from 58% to 50%. In 2006, President George W. Bush favored legislation that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
There has been a 10-point increase since 2006 in the percentage of Democrats who favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
150812Imm2_3 (1)
U.S. adults do not express a clear preference on whether immigration levels should be increased, decreased or kept the same, but they mostly agree that immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay and be given the opportunity to become citizens.
Even so, the federal government has been unable to agree on comprehensive immigration reform over the past 10 years. In 2006, the House and Senate passed differing reform bills but could not agree on a reconciled bill. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in 2013, but the House took no action on immigration. This is the case even though U.S. adults widely back many of the specific provisions that would go into a reform bill, including increased border security, which has been congressional Republicans' primary concern.
Nearly a decade after a record 19% of U.S. adults named immigration the most important problem facing the country, the issue remains unsettled. President Barack Obama sought to use executive actions to grant legal status to illegal immigrants residing in the U.S., but those moves are on hold pending legal challenges. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said immigration legislation will not be taken up this year or next, ensuring it will remain an issue in the 2016 presidential election.
The issue presents a greater challenge for Republican presidential candidates than Democratic candidates, given widespread Democratic support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Republicans, on the other hand, are divided, with half supporting a path to citizenship and the other half preferring a measure that stops short of citizenship, including a substantial 31% who want all illegal immigrants deported.
As a result, the party and its presidential candidates face a dilemma in trying to please the many conservative GOP voters who oppose citizenship and represent a core constituency in the primary electorate, along with Republicans who embrace some type of immigration reform. Some party leaders believe advocating immigration reform could shore up Hispanic support for the GOP in the 2016 general election.
Survey Methods
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 15-July 10, 2015, with a random sample of 2,296 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. All respondents had previously been interviewed in the Gallup Daily tracking survey and agreed to be re-contacted by Gallup. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 857 non-Hispanic whites, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 802 non-Hispanic blacks, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 508 Hispanics, the margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

This is really scary....We need to contiue to work for our democracy

Will E-Voting Machines Owned by His Buddies Give Mitt Romney the White House?

Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney's business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.
The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O'Donnell reported for NBC's Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio's Hamilton County is "ground zero" for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.
O'Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio's electoral votes.
As we document in the e-book Will the GOP Steal America's 2012 Election? ( George W. Bush got a second term in 2004 thanks to the manipulation of the electronic vote count by Ohio's then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell served as the co-chair of the state's committee to re-elect Bush/Cheney while simultaneously administering the election.
The widespread use of electronic voting machines from ES&S, and of Diebold software maintained by Triad, allowed Blackwell to electronically flip a 4% Kerry lead to a 2% Bush victory in the dead of election night. ES&S, Diebold and Triad were all owned or operated by Republican partisans. The shift of more than 300,000 votes after 12:20 am election night was a virtual statistical impossibility. It was engineered by Michael Connell, an IT specialist long affiliated with the Bush Family. Blackwell gave Connell's Ohio-based GovTech the contract to count Ohio's votes, which was done on servers housed in the Old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thus the Ohio vote tally was done on servers that also carried the e-mail for Karl Rove and the national Republican Party. Connell died in a mysterious plane crash in December, 2008, after being subpoenaed in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit focused on how the 2004 election was decided (disclosure: we were attorney and plaintiff in that suit).
Diebold's founder, Walden O'Dell, had vowed to deliver Ohio's electoral votes---and thus the presidency---to his friend George W. Bush. That it was done in part on electronic voting machines and software O'Dell happened to own (Diebold has since changed hands twice) remains a cautionary red flag for those who believe merely winning the popular vote will give Barack Obama a second term.
This November, much of the Ohio electorate will cast its ballots on machines again owned by close cronies of the Republican presidential candidate. In Cincinnati and elsewhere around the state, the e-voting apparati are owned by Hart Intercivic. Hart's machines are infamous for mechanical failures, "glitches," counting errors and other timely problems now thoroughly identified with the way Republicans steal elections. As in 2004, Ohio's governor is now a Republican. This time it's the very right-wing John Kasich, himself a multi-millionaire courtesy of a stint at Lehman Brothers selling state bonds, and the largesse of Rupert Murdoch, on whose Fox Network Kasich served as a late night bloviator. Murdoch wrote Kasich a game-changing $1 million check just prior to his winning the statehouse, an electoral victory shrouded in electronic intrigue. The exit polls in that election indicated that his opponent, incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland, had actually won the popular vote.
Ohio's very Republican Secretary of State is John Husted, currently suing in the US Supreme Court to prevent the public from voting on the weekend prior to election day. As did Blackwell and Governor Robert Taft in 2004, Husted and Kasich will control Ohio's electronic vote count on election night free of meaningful public checks or balances
Hart Intercivic, on whose machines the key votes will be cast in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, was taken over last year by H.I.G. Capital. Prominent partners and directors on the H.I.G. board hail from Bain Company or Bain Capital, both connected to Mitt Romney. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign. H.I.G. Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers, as is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.
US courts have consistently ruled that the software in electronic voting machines is proprietary to the manufacturer, even though individual election boards may own the actual machines. Thus there will be no vote count transparency on election night in Ohio. The tally will be conducted by Hart Intercivic and controlled by Husted and Kasich, with no public recourse or accountability. As federal testimony from the deceased Michael Connell made clear in 2008, electronically flipping an election is relatively cheap and easy to do, especially if you or your compatriots programmed the machines.
So as the corporate media swarm through Ohio, reporting breathlessly from "ground zero" in Cincinnati, don't hold your own breath waiting for them to also clarify that the voting machines in what may once again be America's decisive swing state are owned, programmed and tabulated by some of the Romney campaign's closest associates.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of Will the GOP Steal America's 2012 Election?, an e-book.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

As we all know the Republicans would love to do away with any social safety net, as John Nochols from the Nation Magazine states in this article.

Top GOP Senate Candidate Just Says It: 'Do Away With Medicare, Medicaid'

Paul Ryan admits that he’s an “end Medicare as we know it” candidate.
But, somehow, we are not supposed to think that he would actually end the popular and successful healthcare program for the elderly, as well as related Medicaid programs for the poor and people with disabilities.
The “as we know it” part provides a sort of cover, as least in the eyes of a media that is more inclined toward stenography than journalism.
Never mind that Ryan, a fanatical reader of government-can-do-no-good fanatic Ayn Rand, goes positively wide-eyed when he starts talking about how desperately he wants to downsize government—and shift control of healthcare and retirement programs to the insurance and Wall Street interests that so generously fund his campaigns. We’re not supposed to talk about the long-term crony-capitalist scheme of certain Republicans to do away with government programs that work so that private-sector profiteers can come in and create programs that don’t work—except for private-sector profiteers.
Never mind that the Republican nominee for vice president has a long history of decrying Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in Randian terms such as “collectivist” and “socialistic.”
Never mind that Ryan has griped that “Social Security right now is a collectivist system. It’s a welfare transfer system.”
Never mind that, as recently as 2010, Ryan dismissed Medicare and Medicaid as part of a “socialist based system” that needs to be replaced.
The red flags are not supposed to go up until someone actually says they want to, you know, “do away with Medicaid and Medicare.”
Never mind that, even now, Ryan complains about how America is being overwhelmed by “takers” (citizens who claim benefits to which they are entitled) and the “welfare state” (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).
Only when a candidate starts talking about ending entitlement programs—as in “doing away” with them—can we be serious about the immediate threat those programs actually face.
Meet Tommy Thompson, former Republican governor of Wisconsin, former Bush-Cheney administration secretary of health and human services, former candidate for the Republican nomination for president and mentor to Paul Ryan.
Speaking to a Tea Party group while campaigning for Wisconsin’s open US Senate seat, Thompson recounted how he “reformed” welfare in Wisconsin.
Back in the 1990s, Thompson said he wanted to “end welfare as we know it.” In fact, he replaced the program with a classic combination of high-government spending, lots of patronage appointments and rising poverty.
Now, Thompson has dropped the “end welfare as we know it” pretense. He brags that he finished off “one of the entitlement program.”
And he’s gunning for a couple of other entitlement programs.
Which ones?
You guessed it: Medicaid and Medicare.
Declaring that he wants to “change Medicare and Medicaid like I did welfare,” Thompson asked a May gathering of the Lake Country Area Defenders Of Liberty in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin: “Who better to and who better than me, who’s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare?”

The video has only now surfaced and its a blockbuster -- especially in the aftermath of the release last week of a similar video that saw Republican presiential nominee Mitt Romney dismissing 47 percent of Americans as a "dependent" class unworthy of Republican consideration.
Just to repeat: a top Republican Senate candidate has been caught on video talking about how he would “DO AWAY WITH MEDICAID, AND MEDICARE.”
It should be understood that Thompson is no fringe-dwelling Todd Akin. As the longtime Republican governor of a swing state, he’s worked with every GOP president since Ronald Reagan, and he oversaw social programs for the Bush-Cheney administration. This year, he’s one of his party’s premier recruits in the fight to retake the Senate. Indeed, the race between Thompson and Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin could decide which party controls the chamber.
Thompson is, as well, closely aligned with Paul Ryan. The Senate candidate’s ties to Ryan’s politically connected family go back to when the Republican vice-presidential nominee was a child. Thompson has been a Ryan booster from the very beginning of the younger Wisconsinite’s career in electoral politics—when Thompson was the powerful governor of the state and Ryan was organizing his first Congressional bid.
When Thompson joined the Bush-Cheney Cabinet, he and Ryan kept regular company in Washington. They look forward to working together when Thompson becomes the point man on entitlement debates in a Republican-controlled Senate and Ryan is the Romney White House’s chief liaison to Capitol Hill.
The voters will have something to say about that, however.
If they want to preserve Medicaid and Medicare, they will remember that, while Ryan may add the “as we know it” spin, Thompson gets to the heart of the matter when he says it is the intention of these “reformers” to “do away with Medicaid and Medicare.”

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Published on Friday, September 14, 2012 by Consortium News

Romney’s Jaw-Dropping Incoherence

For all his supposed business competence, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is running a campaign of jaw-dropping incoherence, mixing some of the most dishonest rants from right-wing talk radio with focus-group worries about health care and the economy even if they clash with conservative principles.Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. (Photo credit:
You saw this at the Republican National Convention, which was almost fully devoted to gross distortions of President Barack Obama’s positions – like the endless repetition of his out-of-context quote, “You didn’t build that” – combined with complaints that Obama had not intervened enough in the economy to create more jobs, even in contradiction of the GOP’s supposed love of “free markets.”
Now, Romney has pounced on a well-meaning – though ultimately unsuccessful – effort by the U.S. embassy staff in Cairo to tamp down anger caused by an incendiary anti-Muslim video that appeared designed to elicit the kind of violent rage that is now sweeping the Middle East.
Seemingly without regard for the delicate circumstances, Romney issued a statement that transformed the embassy’s criticism of the video into an expression of sympathy by the Obama administration for the protesters who attacked U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and, fatally, in Libya. However, to make his point stick, Romney had to reverse the actual chronology of events.
Here is how the chronology actually went: Early on Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt sought to calm tensions by issuing a statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”
Despite the embassy’s message, hours later, mobs of angry protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In Benghazi, the assault involved weapons which led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three of his aides.
Shortly after 10 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi.”
However, Romney saw an opening to hammer home his beloved theme that President Obama “apologizes for America.” Disregarding the actual chronology, i.e. that the message by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo preceded the mob attacks, Romney put out a statement at 10:24 p.m., which declared: “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Romney’s statement ignored Secretary Clinton’s stern words, which represented the first official response from a senior member of the Obama administration. However, rather than correct his mistake on Wednesday, Romney expanded on his criticism of the embassy officials in Cairo and implicitly defended the offensive video.
Romney said, “the Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles. That was a mistake.” The principle that Romney appeared to be defending was the right to grossly ridicule someone else’s religion, while ignoring a competing American principle, tolerance of the religion of others.
On Wednesday afternoon – after his own somber and stern response to the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic outposts – President Obama said in an interview that “Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”
A Troubling Pattern
But Romney’s problem appears to be somewhat different. Both during the Republican primaries and since he nailed down the GOP nomination, he has demonstrated a readiness to say whatever he thinks will help him politically without regard to its truthfulness or its fairness.
While it’s common for politicians of all stripes to stretch the truth now and then, Romney has taken that behavior to a new level. He lies, distorts and misrepresents in a wholesale fashion, not the occasional retail fib that is more typical. Then he refuses to apologize as if accountability is not for him.
Earlier in Campaign 2012, Romney even won some grudging respect for his skill as a liar. On April 16, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote: “Among the attributes I most envy in a public man (or woman) is the ability to lie. If that ability is coupled with no sense of humor, you have the sort of man who can be a successful football coach, a CEO or, when you come right down to it, a presidential candidate. Such a man is Mitt Romney.”
Cohen cited a Republican debate during which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused Romney’s SuperPAC of running dishonest attack ads. Romney claimed that he hadn’t seen the ads but then described – and defended – the content of one.
Cohen wrote: “Me, I would have confessed and begged for forgiveness. Not Romney, though — and herein is the reason he will be such a formidable general-election candidate. He concedes nothing. He had seen none of the ads, he said. They were done by others, he added. Of course, they are his supporters, but he had no control over them. All this time he was saying this rubbish, he seemed calm, sincere — matter of fact.
“And then he brought up an ad he said he did see. It was about Gingrich’s heretical support for a climate-change bill. He dropped the name of the extremely evil Nancy Pelosi. He accused Gingrich of criticizing Paul Ryan’s first budget plan, an Ayn Randish document. … He added that Gingrich had been in ethics trouble in the House and [Romney] ended with a promise to make sure his ads were as truthful as could be. Pow! Pow! Pow! Gingrich was on the canvas.
“I watched, impressed. I admire a smooth liar, and Romney is among the best. His technique is to explain — that bit about not knowing what was in the ads — and then counterattack. He maintains the bulletproof demeanor of a man who is barely suffering fools, in this case Gingrich. His [Romney’s] message is not so much what he says, but what he is: You cannot touch me. I have the organization and the money. Especially the money. (Even the hair.) You’re a loser.”
Economic Distortions
Other commentators have made the same point about Romney and his readiness to seize on any distortion relating to President Obama if it helps reinforce one of Romney’s campaign themes.
As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted earlier this year, Romney’s whole campaign is based on a cynical belief that Americans suffer from “amnesia” about what caused the nation’s economic mess and that they will simply blame President Obama for not quickly fixing it.
To illustrate the point last April, Romney staged a campaign event in Ohio at a shuttered drywall factory that closed in 2008, when Bush was still president and when the housing market, which had grown into a bubble under Bush’s deregulatory policies, was collapsing.
Krugman wrote: “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 the Ohio 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.”
Krugman added that the amnesia factor was relevant, too, because Romney is proposing more tax cuts and more banking deregulation, Bush’s disastrous recipe. In other words, Romney’s campaign is based on the fundamental lie that the cure for Bush’s economic collapse is a larger dose of Bush’s economic policies.
Romney’s speech at the shuttered drywall factory in Ohio was a precursor to a similar misrepresentation at the Republican convention when Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s vice presidential running mate, blasted Obama over the fact that a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, which stopped production under President Bush, had not been reopened – as if it were suddenly the role of the federal government to make such detailed decisions for corporations.
The convention itself was a remarkable exercise in dishonest propaganda, focusing on two accusations against Obama that lacked any credibility. One was the repeated use of the misplaced antecedent in the “you didn’t build that” quote. Obama’s “that” clearly referred to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure that help business, not to individual businesses, as Romney and the Republicans pretended.
The other was a racially tinged claim that Obama had gutted the work requirement in welfare reform when his administration responded to a bipartisan request from some governors to give them more flexibility to make the work requirement more effective.
Wild Talk
Both lines of attack originated in the world of talk radio – and then were adopted by the Romney campaign. But Romney’s dishonest attack lines sometime merge with his own ever-shifting positions on key issues.
For instance, on Sunday, Romney seemed to reverse his oft-stated pledge to repeal all of the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare.” In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Romney said he would keep some of its popular provisions, such as the ban on insurance companies denying coverage for preexisting conditions, though presumably without the individual mandate to buy insurance, which makes the reform economically feasible for insurance companies.
Of all people, Romney surely understands this link between mandates and preexisting conditions since he addressed that issue as governor of Massachusetts in passing “Romneycare,” which became the model for “Obamacare.” However, just as voters were trying to figure out Romney’s new position on health care, he reverted back to his previous promise to repeal “Obamacare” in its entirety.
Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Romney’s flailing efforts to land a knock-out blow on Obama went to new extremes amid unrest in Egypt and Libya over a provocative video produced in California and posted on “YouTube,” presenting the Prophet Muhammad as a buffoonish sex pervert and sadistic mass murderer.
Regarding the Egyptian-Libyan unrest, Romney appears to have jumped out front on his own, sensing that the statement from the Cairo embassy bolstered his dubious claim that Obama “apologizes for America,” a central point in Romney’s neocon-oriented book, No Apology.
But the emerging problem for Romney is that he has now developed a reputation for making any wild allegation that he thinks might rile up his conservative “base” or score some points against President Obama, no matter how reckless the words might be.
Romney’s behavior, particularly since his poll numbers have begun sinking over the past two weeks, is leading to a dangerous new narrative for him, that he is not simply an accomplished liar but that he may be mentally unstable, incapable of differentiating between fact and fiction.
Mitt’s Meltdown
New York Times columnist Gail Collins touched on this emerging theme in her Thursday column, entitled “Mitt’s Major Meltdown,” in which she says Romney “could do anything he wanted during this campaign as long as he sent out signals that once he got in the White House he was not likely to be truly crazy. …
“It didn’t seem to be a lot to ask, but when the crisis in the Middle East flared up, Romney turned out to have no restraining inner core. All the uneasy feelings you got when he went to London and dissed the Olympic organizers can now come into full bloom. Feel free to worry about anything. That he’d declare war on Malta. Lock himself in a nuclear missile silo and refuse to come out until there’s a tax cut. Hand the country over to space aliens.
“Here is the Republican candidate for president of the United States on Wednesday, explaining why he broke into a moment of rising international tension and denounced the White House as ‘disgraceful’ for a mild statement made by the American Embassy in Cairo about the importance of respecting other people’s religions:
“‘They clearly — they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And — and the statement came from the administration — and the embassy is the administration — the statement that came from the administration was a — was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a — a — a severe miscalculation.’”
If running a national campaign – with all its challenges and frustrations – is a test for how someone might serve in the pressure-cooker job as President of the United States, Mitt Romney may be in the process of demonstrating that he is unfit for the post that he seeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Report indicates race was behind immigration law

Great reporting by the Arizona Republic and great work by the American Civil Liberties Union, showing what many progressive voices have been saying.

Emails Show Arizona Immigration Law Racially Motivated

Br Alia Beard Rau , Arizona Republic
21 July 2012

he American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has released thousands of e-mails that it says proves Arizona's controversial immigration law was racially motivated.
The e-mails, acquired through a public records request to the state Legislature, are to and from former senator Russell Pearce, who authored Senate Bill 1070.
The ACLU included dozens of those e-mails as part of a legal filing this week, asking U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton to prevent a key part of SB 1070 from going into effect.
The e-mails from Pearce in the court documents include statements like, "Can we maintain our social fabric as a nation with Spanish fighting English for dominance ... It's like importing leper colonies and hope we don't catch leprosy. It's like importing thousands of Islamic jihadists and hope they adapt to the American Dream."
They include statistics such as "9,000 people killed every year by illegal aliens," and "the illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two-and-a-half times that of non-illegal aliens."
Pearce did not return calls seeking comment. While all the e-mails were sent from Pearce's personal or legislative e-mail address, it is unclear if they were all his own words or if some of the statements were taken without attribution from other individuals.
Email Excerpts
These are excerpts from e-mails Russell Pearce sent from 2006 to 2011. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona acquired about 10,000 pages of e-mails from legislative staff via a public records request.
"The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two-and-a-half times that of non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the U.S."
"The birth rate among illegal immigrants is substantially higher than the population at large."
"Last week, Denver's illegal aliens sang our national anthem in Spanish and bastardized the words of OUR country's most sacred song."
"Battles commence as Mexican nationalists struggle to infuse their men into American government and strengthen control over their strongholds. One look at Los Angeles with its Mexican-American mayor shows you Vincente Fox's general Varigossa commanding an American city."
"They create enclaves of separate groups that shall balkanize our nation into fractured nightmares of social unrest and poverty."
"Corruption is the mechanism by which Mexico operates. Its people spawn more corruption wherever they go because it is their only known way of life."
"Tough, nasty illegals and their advocates grow in such numbers that law and order will not subdue them. They run us out of our cities and states. They conquer our language and our schools. They render havoc and chaos in our schools."
"We are much like the Titanic as we inbreed millions of Mexico's poor, the world's poor and we watch our country sink."
(The following was taken from an e-mail with the subject What's a racist?)
"I'm racist because I don't want to be taxed to pay for a prison population comprised of mainly Hispanics, Latinos, Mexicans or whatever else you wish to call them."
"I'm a racist because I believe the News Media has a duty to tell us the names and race of criminals."
"I'm a racist because I object to having to pay higher sales tax and property tax to build more schools for the illegitimate children of illegal aliens."
"I'm a racist because I dislike having to push one for English and/or listening to a message in Spanish."
"Factual is not racial. Realism is not racism. The new definition of racist is anyone winning an argument with a liberal, minority, pacifist, bible banger, or moron."