Nel's New Day

August 31, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – Day Three, Mind-boggling

Day Three of the GOP Convention 2012 was intended to be warm and fuzzy, to show how likable Mitt Romney really is. That’s why the organizers brought in the people from his Mormon church, the Staples founder Thomas Sternberg, etc. The message was to trust Romney in his attempt to return to the country of a century ago in a speech that tried to highlight optimistic nostalgia even if no one really knows what he plans to do.

Owned by Bain Capital, Staples is supposed to show Romney’s business acumen. Although it’s difficult to know how little Staples employees actually make, Glassdoor.com, a website based on worker feedback, shows that the vast majority of these employees make $8-$9 an hour. The website calls Staples “one of the largest employers of workers earning under $10 per hour in the country.” Their CEO got $8.9 million last year, probably before bonuses. Domino’s Pizza, another Bain company, also pays under $10 an hour. Some of the thousands of Domino’s drivers who make deliveries in their own cars have sued the company because its reimbursement system for mileage violates wage and hour laws.

Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner explained that Romney’s “focus was never on strengthening companies or creating jobs, it was about getting a high return on his investment, no matter the cost to workers, companies or communities.” I agree with Kanner when he said that “these are the values he promises to bring as President by giving more budget-busting tax cuts to the wealthy on the middle class’ dime and letting Wall Street write its own rules–the same scheme that benefited a few, but devastated the middle class and crashed our economy.”

In his speech, Jeb Bush told President Obama to stop blaming his wonderful brother while blaming President Obama. He was the only Bush at the convention because looking at George W. Bush would remind people that tax cuts for the rich don’t create jobs.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, the day was overwhelmed by a strange performance by 82-year-old Clint Eastwood who carried on a sometimes rambling conversation with a chair that he pretended was occupied by President Obama and insinuated that the president was swearing back at him. Even Romney’s aides looked visibly upset and tried to blame anyone else for his presence and performance.

The next editions of dictionaries may contain the term “Eastwooding,” meaning “taking out frustration on inanimate objects.” One Republican pundit reported that no one would remember the speech for long. I think that he’s wrong. Photos of empty chairs are all over the Internet from people claiming to have had conversations with the Invisible President, and the president’s twitter account posted his photo with the tag line “This seat’s taken.”

 

 

 

 

Even odder about Eastwood’s speech is that it led into the introduction of Romney by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Scheduled to speak for about three minutes, Eastwood kept the stage for almost 15 minutes, throwing off the convention schedule. Romney has been called a stickler against tardiness.  Michael Moore summarized it best: “Clint Eastwood was able to drive home to tens of millions of viewers the central message of this year’s Republican National Convention: We Are Delusional and Detached from Reality. Vote for Us!”

Back to being serious, Rubio said that both Romney and Obama are both good people but that people should vote for Romney because he is a good person. There was a lot of that during the convention: with no specifics about Romney’s policies, people gave Romney’s “good person” description the primary reason for supporting him.

When Rubio finished, Romney tried to look presidential as he sauntered through the crowd toward the stage in the style of State of the Union speeches. When he talked about his love for his parents, he again moved into the position of privileged wealth through his story about how his father gave his mother a rose every day of their 64 years of married life. Trying to woo the women, he said that he had women in his Massachusetts administration and that women worked for him at Bain. He’s right there; 8 percent of the managing directors and executives are women.

Then he moved into the “fact-challenged” part of the speech.

Romney said that the president plans to raise taxes on small businesses: in fact, President Obama lowered taxes on small businesses 18 times.

Romney talked about the president’s assault on coal and oil; in fact, President Obama increased jobs in the coal industry, and oil production and drilling has increased during his presidency.

Romney repeated the lie about President Obama cutting Medicare.

Romney said that the president has weakened security and eliminated jobs through his cuts to the military; in fact, Romney’s own party caused these cuts when they finally made a budget deal to raise the debt ceiling to stop defaulting on the national debt after holding the country hostage.

Romney said that gas prices had doubled under this president: in fact, gas prices four years ago were $3.67, very close to the current price of $3.75.

Romney said, “[Obama] abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election.” In fact, the moment to which Romney referred was between the president and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. The missile shield has never worked despite trillions of dollars wasted in its development since President Truman’s administration. Romney was pushing to defend ourselves from our ally, Russia, instead of from China and North Korea. This was a speech that might have worked during the Cold War, but we are decades past that.

The Washington Post did a bit of fact checking on Romney’s few specific goals:

Romney said he has a plan to create 12 million new jobs: only two presidents, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, created more than 12 million jobs. And they both raised taxes. Romney’s pledge would be an average of 250,000 jobs a month; recently, the economy, as slow as it currently is because of Republican obstructionism, has averaged 150,000 jobs a month. If no budget deal is reached, the CBO figures that 9.6 million jobs would be created in the same period of time, and Moody’s Analytics predicted 12 million jobs created by 2016, no matter who gets elected president.

Romney said that the current economy has failed to find jobs for half the students who graduated from college; the 53.6 percent of college students that he cites also included the “underemployed” who actually have jobs.

Romney said he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class; in fact, the Ryan budget plan, which Romney has supported, will raise taxes on the middle class while decreasing taxes for the wealthy.

Romney’s biggest lie came at the end of the speech when he described his idea of his ideal America: “That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need.” There was no applause for this statement. Romney’s plans do not benefit anyone except the wealthy.

Despite a lengthy speech, Romney said “Americans” so many times that he omitted several subjects: financial reforms, climate change, immigration, Romneycare, Afghanistan or Syria, Social Security, and veterans. His purpose was to persuade voters not in his base who believe in reforming the country’s financial problems, trying to stop climate change, helping immigrants, getting health care, supporting the elderly, etc. These are not safe subjects for anyone except the far-right conservatives.

Even Republicans weren’t excited about the speech. Steve Schmidt, campaign adviser for John McCain’s 2008 run for president, said that it was the best speech that Romney has ever given but it wasn’t the best speech of the convention. Will Wilkinson (The Economist) said, “I don’t think he has it in him to do much better.” At The Washington Post, Johnathan Bernstein reported, “A generic speech and a generic convention for a generic Republican candidate.”

Asides: At a fundraiser on the morning of Day three, Karl Rove said, “If [Todd Akin is] found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!” (Rove’s apology to Akin included the statement that he would never have made that comment if he had known there was a reporter in the room.)

Romney thinks that the United States is actually a company. In a speech on the morning of Day Three he said, “Paul Ryan and I understand how the economy works, we understand how Washington works, we will reach across the aisle and find good people who like us, want to make sure this company deals with its challenges. We’ll get America on track again. As Annie-Rose Strasser wrote, “The goal of a company is to make money, whereas the goal of a government is to provide services that are not achievable in the private sector. Romney’s belief that the government is similar to a company explains his dedication to cutting programs that he perceives are “inefficient” because they cost money, even if they effectively help American citizens.”

Most jarring, however is this headline from politico.com: David Koch breaks from GOP on gay marriage, taxes, defense cuts. He said, “I believe in gay marriage.” Koch said he thinks the U.S. military should withdraw from the Middle East and the government should consider defense spending cuts, as well as possible tax increases to get its fiscal house in order.

August 30, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – Day Two, Mendacious

The GOP convention soldiered on into Day Two yesterday. Mitt Romney managed his usual “thumb-his-nose-at-the-poor” gaffe when a Florida developer held an event to thank people who had raised over $1 million for Romney—on a 150-foot yacht flying the Cayman Islands flag. Romney refused to give the names of these top “bundlers” who mostly hid their name tags when they were off the yacht. “He is the first nominee in 12 years to withhold these names,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money.

In a pre-convention speech, Condoleezza Rice was heckled by protesters when she talked about her conversations with George W. Bush when they pondered “what could be done to show that America was compassionate about the poorest people.” People have wondered what would happen when the GOP finally brought up the joint specters of Bush 43 and the ill-conceived wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rice also couldn’t remember one specific foreign policy in the past three years.

When Ann Romney spoke at a luncheon to persuade women and Latinos/as to vote for her husband, she said that Hispanics should get past their biases because her husband is better for them than President Obama. She didn’t mention that her husband said that he would get undocumented people to “self-deport,” veto the Dream Act that would provide a path to citizenship to young people brought to the country illegally as children, and use the virulent Arizona anti-immigrant laws as a model for the nation.

After the hoopla around Mike Huckabee’s support for Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) following his comment about “legitimate rape,” Huckabee’s speech was pretty pro forma: he grew up poor without government help, Romney gave 16 percent of his money to the church, etc. His reason for supporting Romney hit a new low bar; people should support Romney because he has been faithful to his wife and his religion. And how does Huckabee know how much Romney gave his church? Has Huckabee seen Romney’s tax returns?

The most tepid endorsement of Romney—and that’s saying a lot!—came from John McCain who moved back to basic Republican orthodoxy, using his speech to lie about President’s foreign policies and call for war in the Middle East. He wants a more aggressive stance against Iran, a more aggressive defense of Israel, a more aggressive whatever in Syria. He didn’t talk about Iraq or Osama bin Laden, two huge failures for the GOP. His recommendation is that the United States save all the oppressed people in the world, and he trusts Romney to do all these things without any funding. There’s a lot of trust of Romney going around the conservative world these days.

The highlight of the evening was actually Condoleezza Rice in a speech that some more liberal pundits declared as “presidential” and made up for problems earlier in the day. The beginning was what one might expect: 9/11, foreign policy, trade, energy independence—all standard Republican speech topics. It was when she moved to discussing civil rights, beginning her own experiences of racism as a child, that she sounded like a moderate. She supported compassion for immigrants who wish to come to the United States. Once again Romney’s name got short shrift. A question is whether her speech is a precursor to plans for 2016; she certainly made up for earlier disasters during the day.

The purpose of Day Two was to “introduce” Paul Ryan as the VP candidate. The nicest thing that a journalist said about his speech is that Ryan was “factually challenged.” Another asked the question about what word could be used when he went beyond lying. A Fox News column described him as dazzling, deceiving, and distracting with the statement: “Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was  Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.”

Even the right-leaning Washington Post referred to the speech as “a misleading indictment of President Obama” and lambasted Ryan for not spelling out some of the “tough choices” that Romney’s administration will require from the people.

Ryan’s speech dismissed the Obama $831 billion stimulus as “wasted money” while he failed to mention that his home town of Janesville (WI) is far better off because of what they received from the stimulus. He repeated his lie that Barack Obama didn’t help the GM auto plant that closed in Janesville in 2008 when he was a candidate. George W. Bush was president in 2008, and the plant may reopen if GM decides to do this.

Ryan blamed the president for not adopting the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission. After Ryan voted no on the commission’s conclusions and walked out, Congress could not take action. Ryan also voted against job creation when he opposed the president’s 2011 American Jobs Act that would have created 1.5-2 million jobs.

One of the biggest lies from Ryan and the Romney campaign is that the president has stripped Medicare while the Republicans will keep it intact. Both parts of this statement are false: the president will save the country $716 while retaining Medicare because of the Affordable Care Act, and the Republicans will destroy the entire program the minute that they have any control.

Ryan blamed the president for the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating instead of explaining that the Republicans’ games brought the country close to defaulting on its foreign debt. He gave Romney credit for raising the credit rating in Massachusetts when Romney raised taxes (that he called fees) and had the support of a Democratic legislature. Another Ryan lie in the speech was that the president is totally responsible for $5 trillion of the national debt while the bulk of this was caused by the Bush recession, the Bush wars, and the Bush tax cuts—all of which Ryan supported.

Ryan said, “College grads shouldn’t have to live out their 20s in childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters.” Ryan opposed legislation to keep student loan rates from doubling.

Close to the finish, Ryan addressed what Romney brought up Romney’s role in saving the 2002 Olympics in Utah but failed to point out that the U.S. government poured $1.5 into this event after Romney went to the public trough to be bailed out. Even McCain called Romney’s move, “federal porkbarrelling.”

Ryan said, “We have a plan to create 12 million jobs in four years” and that their administration would reduce the Federal Budget to 20% of GDP “because that is enough.” There was absolutely not one specific about how they would accomplish this, including how they could create 12 million jobs when every government program would be cut except for defense. “We will not duck the tough issues,” he said while failing to describe what these are. His position was identical to Romney’s “trust me, I paid lots of taxes.”

Ryan’s biggest lies came at the end when he talked about “protecting the weak.” It is “the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak,” and “the mark of a society is how it treats people who cannot help themselves.” Etc., etc., etc.:

“We have responsibilities, one to another–we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.”

As Jamison Foser wrote, “The man who utters these pretty words is, in fact, a stone-cold [Ayn] Randian.”   Ryan wants to slash the safety net for everyone in the country to give to the wealthy. Sixty-two percent of Ryan cuts are directed at programs for the low-income. Loser continued, “These aren’t just lies. These are the pronouncements of a sociopath, someone who knows what he stands for and knows precisely why it shocks the senses, and persuades you that he believes the exact opposite, and maybe even persuades himself.”

Ryan concluded with the statement, “Our rights come from nature and God and not from government.” Ryan will wait for God to take care of all of us. If he doesn’t, then we will have less of a population problem.

Comedian Andy Borowitz was on target when he said the only truth that Ryan told in his speech was the names of his wife and children. My descriptions provide just the tip of the iceberg of the media pushback to Ryan’s speech. DailyKos has a long list, including “hypocritical,” “new Nixon,” “Ryan and the post truth convention,” “stunning for its dishonesty,” “brazen lies” complete with links.

A conservative on last Sunday’s Meet the Press said that both conventions, Republican and Democratic, would be about Romney because the Democratic convention would concentrate on bashing Romney. Thus far, most of the GOP convention has bashed Obama either directly or through all the personal stories of how hard politicians worked to get to the GOP convention.

Asides: Fox canceled Sarah Palin’s interviews last night; evidently they didn’t want her to talk about the media attacking John McCain in 2008.  And, to quote Rachel Maddow, the best new thing? Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer endorsed President Obama, hoping that he would secure the borders. Of course, he has worked on that already, but Brewer has not given him any credit for doing this. Her office explained later that she misspoke, but it’s lovely watching her honor the name of President Obama!

U.S. small-business-owner satisfaction is up sharply to 39 percent in the third quarter of 2012 from 26 percent in the third quarter of 2010. Even small businesses know that things are getting better for them.

Romney flew to Indianapolis yesterday to speak at the American Legion convention. Ari Shapiro of NPR interviewed some of the people who attended. Bobbie Lucifer of Virginia said, “I don’t like [Obama’s] wife. She’s far from the first lady. It’s about time we get a first lady in there that acts like a first lady and looks like a first lady.” Ms. Lucifer, what does a first lady “look” like? White and blonde?

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