Nel's New Day

May 5, 2021

Bullies Control the GOP

People have accused the GOP of being a personality cult since Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) took it over in 2016. DDT is no longer in the white House, but the loyalty mandate to him as a Republican requirement has grown only stronger. With no policies or messages, the complete focus of the GOP is an agreement with the “big lie,” rejection of the 2020 election results if Democrats won. Across the nation, the GOP leadership is censuring its elected officials for recognizing Joe Biden as the president. 

A Michigan woman represents the GOP belief “that Trump has never done anything wrong.” About DDT’s lies that he lost the election to widespread fraud, she said, “He’s not just going to spew something out there that’s wrong and not verified.” She plans to help remove Jason Cabel Roe from state GOP executive director because he said that “the election wasn’t stolen” and that “there is no one to blame but Trump.”

DDT’s incited January 6 insurrection provides another GOP litmus test: officials are forced out for criticizing the party’s Dear Leader and believing people attacked the U.S. Capitol. A county leader in Iowa was called a “traitor” because he said DDT should be impeached for his “atrocious conduct” in pushing the attacks. Threats drove out Missouri’s state GOP executive director because she had failed to help overturn Biden’s election.

Charles Pierce points out that the GOP “swore undying fealty decades ago to supply-side economics, which has no more bearing on reality than does the idea that the 2020 election was stolen.” The party agreed with Reagan’s false claim about trees causing air pollution and then smeared the Clintons and President Obama. Now the one test for being a Republican: “Do you accept the results of the 2020 election?” Only those saying “no,” promoting the end of democracy in the U.S., can be GOP insiders.

Paul Waldman writes about the same theme:

“Today’s Republican Party believes many things. Taxes should be lower, particularly for rich people; health and safety regulations are presumptively bad; we have too many immigrants; abortion should be outlawed; we shouldn’t do much about climate change; America is simultaneously the most perfect nation that has ever existed and a cesspool of depravity and cultural decline….

“In states and counties and cities across the country…, state and local party officials who admit Joe Biden is the legitimate president are being censured, harassed and driven from their jobs…

“The arguments among Republicans have nothing to do with policy or substance… They all want to see ruthless voter-suppression laws passed and they all oppose Democrats’ efforts to reinforce voting rights.”

Waldman tracks the lack of GOP policy to Tea Party candidates elected in 2010—their only position being to destroy government. Lacking any policy, DDT followed their ascendancy in 2016 and stocked his administration with “grifters and extremists.” Republicans completely focus on loyalty to DDT, determined by their extent of cruelty, smears, and lies, highlighted by the hoax of “cancel culture” for anything they don’t want.

The next election, according to Waldman, will focus on the “culture war” and DDT’s legacy—perhaps even DDT running himself—on the right busy attacking anyone who disagrees with them and any issues important to the people on the left.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), once the GOP standard bearer as its presidential candidate, was booed at his state GOP convention. DDT praised his followers for booing Romney and called the senator a “stone cold loser.”

The GOP leadership in the U.S. House plans to eject Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her position as GOP conference chair, but Cheney is fighting back. DDT tried to co-opt the term “big lie” with his statement, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” Cheney tweeted in response that “anyone who claims” the election was fraudulent “is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

After that tweet, she spoke with former House Speaker Paul Ryan at the conservative American Institute retreat in Sea Island (GA).:  

“We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”

Cheney called for the “peaceful transfer of power” to be “defended” and described the U.S. Constitution as “our shield.”

Congressional sources say Cheney will be removed from her leadership position as soon as May 12 at the next scheduled meeting after Congress goes home for a couple of weeks. McCarthy tried to maintain getting rid of Cheney came from “concern about the job ability” and not her vote to impeach DDT. Cheney’s spokesman responded:

“This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue.”

McCarthy, who has worked hard to get back into DDT’s favor after negative comments about DDT’s behavior about January 6, was caught on a hot mic before an interview with Fox’s Steve Doocy saying, “I’ve had it with her.” “Job ability” has been no concern regarding Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) who promotes QAnon conspiracy theories and was behind a new caucus to support only “Anglo-Saxon” beliefs. Or for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is being investigated for sex-trafficking, fraudulent actions,  showing photographs of naked women to his colleagues on the floor of the House chamber without the women’s permission, and several other crimes supported by witnesses.

On Fox and Friends, McCarthy said, “We all need to be working as one… Majorities are not given, they are earned.” It appears that earning the majority comes from the “big lie” about a stolen election. McCarthy has not said whether Cheney is right about the election not being stolen.

McCarthy has been attacked by a bigger bully, wannabe presidential candidate and chief DDT mimic Tucker Carlson. For the second Fox show in a row, Carlson went after McCarthy for his relationship with Frank Luntz, longtime pollster for conservative politicians, and accused McCarthy of giving Luntz “outsized influence over the Republican Party’s policy positions.” Carlson finished with “the top Republican in the House lives with a Goggle lobbyist.” McCarthy’s spokesperson finally confirmed that, during the pandemic, the House minority leader “rented a room in Washington at a fair market price from Frank.” Carlson wasn’t satisfied that McCarthy cosigned the television host’s attacks on Big Tech and so-called censorship of conservatives. The big sin is that Luntz, who created the language spins for Republicans, separated himself from DDT and the GOP.

White supremacist Carlson, a trust-fund child attending boarding school before rejected by the CIA after he graduated from college, went after George W. Bush’s former speechwriter David Frum as one of “the people you’d be worried about” to save the United States:

“It’s the Monday editorial meetings at The Atlantic magazine, where David Frum is treated as an important intellectual rather than some dopey middle-aged Canadian Twitter celebrity whose life goal is to force America into yet another unwinnable pointless war.”

Maybe Carlson got upset after Frum pointed out that he criticizes the Afghanistan and Iraq war after being a “FEROCIOUS advocate of both wars … when it mattered.” He described Carlson’s “cowardly,” amoral opportunism.

Carlson also bullies trans youth, he opposed them as athletes in 27 segments. That number is over 20 percent of the 126 anti-transgender student-athletes aired on Fox during the past year after the network hosts found nine of these athletes throughout the nation. Two of them had not competed in years, and no athlete dominated their sport.

The conservative mainstream press has come out against McCarthy. The editorial board of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal wrote, “GOP leaders shouldn’t have to lie about 2020 to keep their job.” It continued:

“Mr. McCarthy knows Ms. Cheney is right. The election wasn’t stolen, yet Mr. Trump wants an endorsement of his stolen claim to be a litmus test for every Republican candidate. She may be ousted because she is daring to tell the truth to GOP voters and at personal political risk.”

The GOP’s and DDT’s narcissism and other behaviors are reminiscent of school bullies. People have reacted to his mental illness just as schools sometimes do to bullies, as if it’s a conflict and not serious. The “cure” always fails with this approach. The idea that there is right and wrong on both sides isn’t necessarily true, especially when one side is being victimized. Name-calling escalates into violence.

Bullies may be abused or neglected in their homes, leading to a need for control and a need to hurt others. Disciplinarian parents with high expectations create stress in children who then turn on others. Bullies can be bullied themselves. Often these bullies are never taught that their behavior is wrong. All these reasons apply to DDT because of how his father treated him. Now he promotes bullying in the entire Republican party.

December 24, 2020

DDT, GOP Leave Coal in Stockings

Today is the day before Christmas, and all the GOP members of Congress should be “nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” After all, all except one senator happily voted not to impeach/convict Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The House Republicans unanimously voted against impeachment on December 18, 2019, and all 53 GOP senators exonerated him of abuse of power on February 2, 2020. Sen. Mitt Romney (UT) was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of convicting DDT for obstruction of Congress. Justifying their votes for not convicting DDT of these crimes, GOP senators proudly said he had “learned his lesson.”

Two days after the Senate vote, DDT fired witnesses Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had testified in the impeachment inquiry, along with Vindman’s twin brother Yevgeny, who had nothing to do with the impeachment. That retaliation began the downward spiral of DDT’s vicious behavior. By now, some of those supporters may have learned their lesson—that DDT will make life hell for anyone opposes him and anyone connected to his opposition.

Republicans are finally losing their temper openly after they faithfully followed White House orders on the stimulus/spending bill, and he—again—betrayed them. Never matter that 126 House members faithfully followed DDT down the rabbit hole by joining a seditious lawsuit in the Supreme Court to overturn a legal election for president, furthering polarizing a badly-divided, formerly democratic country. Angry messages from congressional members inundating White House aides claim, correctly, that DDT abandoned them after the White House told them it supported the bill and asked for their votes. DDT has repeatedly told they can’t trust him: one of his favorite statements, “You knew I was a snake when you took me in.”

House Democrats now support DDT, and the bill, by unanimously voting in favor of increasing the stimulus checks to $2,000, but House Republicans procedurally stymied the vote. One can imagine DDT grimly chortling on his Florida golf course about his latest chaos. Democrats support people while the GOP wants money and power. Republicans gave DDT everything he could have wanted to get their conservative judicial activists, including support for overturning the election in his favor and protection in concealing his finances. In return, they found coal in their stockings. Santa didn’t like Republicans this year, and DDT blocked them from “Merry Christmas!” Apparently, enabling and sycophantism didn’t pay off in 2020.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) was so disgusted with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rejected the amendment that she banged the gavel, saying “Merry Christmas!” in a less than positive way. The House is adjourned until Monday afternoon for a floor vote on DDT’s request for $2,000 checks. Dingell’s statement after the adjournment:

“It is Christmas Eve, but it is not a silent night. All is not calm. For too many, nothing is bright. And for too many, they are not sleeping peacefully. I gave a town hall last night that had people crying, people terrified of what is going to happen… I’ve been talking to people who are scared they’re going to be kicked out from their homes during the Christmas holiday, and still might be if we don’t sign this bill.”

McCarthy tried to make Pelosi the scapegoat by attacking her in a letter for trying to “use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding.” He also framed himself as protector of people in the U.S.:

“The top priority must be our families, communities, and small businesses as we get through this pandemic and restore our country.”

Yet he refuses DDT’s call for more direct payment which Pelosi supports and accused Democrats of “selective hearing” for not cutting the $2 billion in foreign aid DDT opposes. McCarthy plans a bill to cut that funding while not providing anything for people in the U.S. It’s “austerity” time for Republicans with President-elect Joe Biden in the White House.  

On CNN Sunday, Romney mourned the loss of the Republican party, how the GOP he knew even eight years ago when he ran for president is gone:

“I represent a very small slice of the Republican Party today. We were a party concerned about balancing the budget. We believed in trade with other nations. We were happy to play a leadership role on the world stage, because we felt that made us safer and more prosperous. And we believed that character was essential in the leaders that we chose. We have strayed from that. I don’t see us returning to that for a long time.”

Romney plans to stay a Republican, saying he wants to work within the party instead of from outside. Member of the anti-DDT Lincoln Project Kurt Bardella, however, explained why he changed his registration from GOP to Democrat:

“I appreciate where Romney is coming from, but there comes a point where an institution is so thoroughly broken it must be rebuilt someplace else. The party’s true platform has become a toxic combination of authoritarianism and white nationalism. Rebuilding the party will require dismantling it. And helping in that cause doesn’t mean becoming an Independent or agitating for a third party…

“At the start of the Trump presidency, anti-Trumpers who identified as Republicans stayed with the team hoping that their policy positions would still form the basis of a Republican agenda. That experiment is over.

“If you were a Republican because you believed in fiscal restraint, under Trump the debt and deficit have exploded. If you were a Republican because you believed the GOP was stronger on national and homeland security, just look at what Trump said this week in cynically downplaying Russia’s cyberattack against our country. If you are a Republican because you believe in law and order, examine the records of the corrupt people Trump just gave pardons and commutations to. If you are a Republican because you are pro-life, there are 324,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 to call into question the GOP’s commitment to the sanctity of life.”

By Christmas Eve, the number of people dying from the virus in the U.S. is 327,000, and an additional 100,000 people died in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2020. The leadership of the “pro-life” party made the U.S. the deadliest year in history, topping three million deaths. The over 400,00 mortality increase over 2019 is a percentage leap not seen since the 1918 flu epidemic and World War I deaths. The number of deaths fell in 2019 with reductions in heart disease and cancer fatalities, and life expectancy crept higher for the second straight year. In 2020, the increase in deaths will force life expectancy up to three full years lower.

DDT may have spent the day on the golf course, but he took time out to tweet threats of military conflict against Iran. Last weekend, a weekend rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad injured one Iraqi but no Americans. DDT wrote:

“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”

Iran denied perpetrating the attack and warned DDT against “dangerous adventurism.” DDT is running out of ways to overturn a legal presidential election—court cases, appeals for state legislatures taking over electoral votes, declaration of martial law for a new election, even “requests” for VP Mike Pence to overturn the election at the congressional joint session on January 6. DDT doesn’t understand Pence merely presides over the proceedings and doesn’t make the final decision. DDT’s next ploy may be to start a war using the warped belief people will be forced to leave him in the White House in the midst of a war.

Foreign policy analysts have cautioned for weeks about DDT attacking Iran to sabotage any diplomacy and return to the nuclear deal in the Biden administration. Last month, DDT checked on ways to bomb Iran’s primary nuclear energy site, and earlier this month, the U.S. flew two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran.

Some new House GOP representatives, including QAnn members Laurie Boebert (CO) and Marjorie Greene (GA), want to bring their guns onto the House floor. Greene wants every place in the nation to be “gun free zones,” including visitors’ galleries in congressional chambers.

The media is suspicious about the photoshopping of DDT and Melania Trump’s last Christmas portrait. His expression is identical to the one of a series taken last year with the Prince of Wales, and a photo expert compared the image to a paper cutout. Is it possible the two can’t even get close enough for a joint photo op? No doubt, Melania finds the next 27 days waiting to leave the White House as difficult as people in the U.S. do. 

November 19, 2020

Biden Works, DDT Retaliates

President-elect Joe Biden:

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told an ally he lost but delays the transition process and sows doubt about the election to retaliate for Democrats’ questioning his own election’s legitimacy, especially with the Russian investigation. He said it’s only fair he not allow the transition and won’t back down. To DDT, his 70+ million votes give him ultimate power and authority. Biden leads by almost six million votes and has 306 electoral votes compared to DDT’s 232. DDT’s niece, Mary Trump, stated:

“He’s never in his life been in a situation that he can’t get out of either through using somebody else’s money, using connections, using power. And not only is he in a unique position, he’s in a position of being a loser, which in my family, certainly, as far as my grandfather was concerned, was the worst possible thing you could be.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), the sole Republican to vote against DDT in the impeachment trial, expressed more concern about DDT’s actions during the next 62 days than his not allowing a transition. About taking the troops out of Afghanistan, Romney said:

“We have some 40 coalition members that also have troops there. For us to pull our troops out obviously puts our remaining troops in some danger, as well as their troops. And they wonder, ‘how do we deal in a coalition with the United States leading it if there is a decision taken on a precipitous basis with which we may or may not have been familiar that puts our troops in jeopardy?’”

Newly elected lawmakers are nervous about DDT’s idea that the entire election was corrupt and fraudulent. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), returning for a second term, didn’t like today’s statement from DDT’s lawyer Sidney Powell:

“In terms of the level of corruption we are looking at here, we have no idea how many Republican or Democratic candidates … paid to have the system rigged to work for them.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants to sabotage Biden’s economy. He told Fed Chair Jerome Powell to put Congress in control of reallocating $455 billion originated by law for businesses, nonprofits, and local governments. Almost half the 22.7 million people losing jobs in the U.S. in 2020 because of DDT’s poorly managed pandemic are still out of work, and the economic recovery is fading. The Fed told Mnuchin the CARES programs should be extended. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Policy Officer agreed, saying that action on Mnuchin’s request “unnecessarily ties the hands of the incoming administration.”

Biden might be able to solve the foreign policy issues early in his administration, according to suggested by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies:

  • End the U.S. role in the Saudi-led war on Yemen and restore U.S. humanitarian aid to Yemen in accord with the War Powers Resolution passed by Congress but vetoed by DDT.
  • Suspend all U.S. arms sales and transfers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to another DDT-vetoed congressional bill. U.S. laws require the suspension of arms transfers for use in violating U.S. and international law.
  • Rejoin the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA) and lift sanctions on Iran to stop an impending war, and give up regime change in Iran to deescalate Middle East conflicts.
  • End U.S. threats and sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
  • Back the diplomacy of South Korea President Moon Jae-in for a “permanent peace regime,” and formally end the Korean War of the 1950s.
  • Renew New START with Russia to freeze the U.S.’s trillion-dollar new nuclear plan.
  • Lift illegal unilateral U.S. sanctions against other countries.
  • Move to normalize relations with Cuba.
  • Restore pre-2015 rules of engagement to stop killing civilians.Freeze U.S. military spending to reduce it. At the end of the Cold War, then-Pentagon officials told the Senate that U.S. military spending could be cut in half over the next ten years. The exploitation of 9/11 made an excuse to create the one-sided arms race in which the U.S. spent 45 percent of global military costs from 2003 to 2011, far more than peak Cold War military expenditures.

Earlier this week, Biden had a conference on COVID-19, attended by healthcare workers who filled him in on the issues, including the lack of PPE. Not to be outdone, DDT had his first coronavirus task force press conference since July, the first time in a week he appeared in an official public event. It did not end well when DDT and VP Mike Pence refused to take questions after the event.

Dr. Deborah Birx showed a map (left) indicating how the virus covered the U.S. A chart (below) showing the increase in cases refutes Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) promise the U.S. will be virus-free after November 3. Dr. Scott Atlas was not present to tell people to invite people for Thanksgiving so that they would die.

DDT: 

The story of Wayne County (MI) GOP canvassing board officials hasn’t stopped. Tuesday, two Republicans refused to certify legal votes for the electoral college before reversing their vote three hours later. Yesterday they tried to rescind their rescinding—after a personal call from DDT who admired the “courage” of the two Republicans because they “refused to certify the election results!” Monica Palmer, GOP chairperson of the board, said DDT’s call to her and board member William Hartmann had nothing to do with her rechange of heart and blamed the state for not living up to its promise of an independent audit.

Today, DDT invited both Republicans to visit him at the White House tomorrow along with Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield. Shirkey already declared Biden the president-elect, stating an effort to award Michigan’s electoral votes to Trump was “not going to happen.” DDT’s campaign also withdrew its last federal lawsuit in Michigan, falsely claiming that local election officials had declined to certify the votes in Wayne County. CNN attempted a fact check on Giuliani’s statements, including a large number of overvotes. Not only was this statement false, but 2016 also had more overvotes when DDT won the state.

According to the office of the Michigan secretary of state, the state has “no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote.”  A judge has already ruled against action to block the certification of these votes.

Disgusting images from Hartmann’s public Facebook page about President Obama and other disgusting ones from the man trying to remove 863,000 votes from the Michigan voters. 

DDT Recounts:

After a hand count of all votes, Georgia declared the state for Biden with 12,284 more votes than DDT. Of the 5,800+ uncovered ballots, DDT gained almost 1,400 votes.

DDT Lawsuits:  

Today, state judges in Arizona and Pennsylvania and a federal judge in Georgia rejected election-related lawsuits from Republicans and DDT’s campaign.

Yesterday, DDT’s lawyers demanded all 6.8+ million votes in Pennsylvania be thrown out and the state legislature declare the 20 electoral college votes for DDT. Biden won the state by over 85,000 votes.

With DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in charge, the case isn’t going well. Major media kindly called him “rusty” as he forgot his conspiracy theories can’t replace evidence in a courtroom, and he couldn’t remember which judge was hearing the case. About the opposing attorney, Giuliani said, “I forgot his name.” Tweeting during the case wasn’t a good idea either. In one awkward exchange, he couldn’t remember the definition for “opacity,” believing “it probably means you can see, right?” The judge had to explain that opacity means the opposite: “It means you can’t.” Giuliani responded, “Big words, your honor.”

The judge canceled an evidentiary hearing scheduled for Thursday and gave each side three more days to file arguments. Pennsylvania still has seven active cases, none of which challenge enough ballots to change the state’s and the Electoral College vote. Counties in Pennsylvania must certify their votes by Tuesday, November 24. On Fox network last night, Giuliani explained bogus lawsuits are a “vehicle” to get to the Supreme Court who will give the election to DDT.  

(Credit Image: © Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press)

Because Giuliani couldn’t answer the judge’s question about how he was justifying disenfranchising over 6.8 million voters in the state, his press conference today spouted more “fantasy island” comments about “widespread, nationwide voter fraud.” The plot recited by Giuliani and Michael Flynn’s Fox network lawyer Sidney Powell delivered a vast world conspiracy to elect Biden: Biden’s campaign, George Soros, Antifa, the media, the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez (who died over seven years ago), Germany, China, Cuba, leading social media and technology companies, two voting technology firms, Democratic officials, and cities with mostly Black voters. “Globalist dictators, corporations, you name it! Everybody is against us,” Powell said. NBC host compared Giuliani’s press conference to “a Saturday Night Live skit.” More sordid details here. 

The media pointed out the brown hair dye running down Giuliani’s face in the sweat, and he looks must worse on video–seemingly ill. Fox aired Giuliani’s complete press conference before claiming it wasn’t true—“light on facts” and “simply not true,” according to Kristin Fisher.

Seth Hettena has a well-researched history of how Giuliani, once one of the most respected heroes of the United States, shrank to today’s appearance, a crazy toady of DDT.

Until November 4, 2020, DDT convinced his followers the coronavirus would magically disappear on that day. By November 19, over two weeks later, COVID-19 has worsened every day, hitting over 12 million in the U.S. today with 192,186 new cases and over 2,000 deaths.

February 5, 2020

Profiles in Courage

Only one Republican senator voted to convict Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in one of the two articles of impeachment, abuse of power. When Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) gave a speech on the floor of the Senate to explain his vote, only three Democrats and two Republicans, one of them there to preside over the Senate, were present. Yet the transcript and video of Romney’s have gone viral. DDT was so upset by both the vote and his speech that he disinvited reporters to join him in a meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Mitt Romney’s speech about his vote against DDT:

The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.” I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

The House Managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case. In addition, the President’s team presented three defenses: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the President’s actions; and third that the judgement of the President’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defenses.

The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the Founders and my own reasoned judgement convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office. To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.

The President’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian Prosecutor General. If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the Vice President should have recused himself. While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.

With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime. Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would never have done what he did.

The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president. Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize—to the extent possible—the partisan sentiments of the public.

This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Yes, he did.

The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The President’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.

What he did was not “perfect”— No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts. Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.” I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind. I support a great deal of what the President has done. I have voted with him 80% of the time. But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office. The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgement of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the President’s lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) denied that his vote to convict DDT was a “profile in courage,” but he is running for reelection this year in a very red state. He said, “It is simply a matter of right and wrong. Doing right is not a courageous act.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) explained her vote against DDT to the Arizona Republic:

“The facts are clear — security aid was withheld from Ukraine in an attempt to benefit the president’s political campaign. While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious, it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain.”

The irony of her statement is that at least ten GOP senators agree with her first sentence, but they still voted to acquit with a variety of justifications for DDT. One excuse will come back soon to bite them–that he’s learned his lesson. Proponents of this flawed argument include Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Sherry Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), John Cornyn (TX), Joni Ernst (IA), James Lankford (OK), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Rob Portman (OH), and others expressed concern about DDT’s actions.  [A few hours after her vote to acquit, Collins admitted she was probably wrong.] DDT has learned his lesson–that he can do anything and Republicans will cover for him. These senators, part of what Chief Justice John Roberts called “the greatest deliberative body in the world,” will go down in history with their profiles of cowardice. 

 

March 16, 2013

Nothing New from CPAC

March is Brain Injury Month with the past week, March 9-16, labeled Brain Awareness Week. During the same week, conservatives met in Maryland at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Studies of the human brain have shown that conservatives are authoritarian and resistant to change. The speeches of those who are trying to move the Republicans toward an election victory in 2014 and 2016 through greater conservative actions resemble dinosaurs’ trying to cope with a changing world.

CPAC organizers claim that the purpose of the event is to “showcase the movement’s ‘diversity.'” They’re making progress with 20 percent of the panelists being African American avoiding last year’s white nationalists from the American Conservative Union. This year, however, they refused to allow two LGBT conservative groups, GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans, to attend, showing a farther move to the right.

Even the names of CPAC’s panels show the group’s clueless hostility and ignorance:

  • Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?
  • The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y
  • Stop THIS: Threats, Harassment, Intimidation, Slander and Bullying from the Obama Administration
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Plastic Water Bottles, Fracking, Genetically Modified Food, & Big Gulp Sodas
  • Is America Coming Apart?
  • The Fight for Religious Liberty: 40 years after Roe v. Wade
  • Getting Hollywood Right
  • Free at Last: When the Right to Work Came Back to the Midwest

CPAC gave Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) an opportunity to push his budget plan as one “trying to improve people’s lives.” This plan is rooted in air and fantasy; past experiences and economists’ expertise prove that cutting taxes will fail to increase revenue and build the economy.

Despite its claim to move toward the future, CPAC invited all the old faces. (Think “lean backward.”) Mitt Romney, ignored by Fox News, told his audience to “learn from my mistakes” and to look to purple- and blue-state GOP governors for guidance. His role model governors, such as Chris Christie (NJ) and Bob McDonnell (VA), weren’t even invited to CPAC because they had accepted federal funding. At least Romney didn’t mention Scott Walker (WI) who lost jobs in his state after he promoted disastrous legislation and Rick Snyder (MI) who is destroying democracy through his appointment of emergency financial managers.

Gov. Rick Perry (TX) continued to attack Romney for not being conservative enough but got boos from his audience when he mentioned the changing Hispanic demographic. He saved himself by saying that the GOP could win over this population through its economic message, not through immigration.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), tired of the “crybaby caucus,” said he wanted his party to move forward but continues his same old pattern of trying to get rid of Obamacare. “Don’t tell me Democrats are the party of the future when their presidential ticket for 2016 is shaping up to look like a rerun of the ‘Golden Girls,’ ” 71-year-old McConnell said in combined agism and sexism as he referred to Hillary Clinton and Vice President Biden.

Rep. Steve Scalise (LA) indicated the usual GOP ignorance of climate change. To Scalise, the fact that President Obama wore a trench coat at his inauguration shows that the world has no climate warming. GOP strategist Ford O’Connell repeated the GOP conclusion regarding success in winning voters: “You’re going to have to repackage [issues] and explain to people why that impacts them.”

Rick Santorum worked at the repackaging. In lamenting the problems of the poor, he said, “Yet the suffering is greater today because our culture and our political leadership have robbed them of the why of America–our purpose.” Translation: with the conservative “why of America,” people won’t mind lack of food and health care. 

Donald Trump set the tone for the second day, calling immigration reform a “suicide mission” for Republicans because “everyone of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic.” He argued that the U.S. should open the borders to the “tremendous” and “hard-working” European immigrants. Few people heard him, however, because of the largely empty room—sort of like an empty chair at the GOP convention.

trump room

Not everyone verbalized the continuance of old, failed ideas. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told conservatives to get over their “obsession with zeros” and stop focusing only on the federal budget, arguing Republicans must take a broader view in order to succeed. Let’s remember, however, Jindal is the governor trying to move all taxes for government from the wealthy and the corporations to the poor.

Six years out of public office, Jeb Bush tried to move the party forward: “Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list goes on and on and on. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates even though they share our core beliefs because those voters feel unwanted, unloved and unwelcome in our party.” Once again, GOP love may not make up for lack of rights and equality.

Fortunately for the Democrats, Sen. Rand Paul (KY) and his policy that the party needs to move farther right won the straw vote with 25 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) followed him by 23 percent. The next three places were taken by Santorum, the uninvited Christie, and Ryan. That left the remaining 17 on the ballot to share the leftover 31 percent. At 10th, Sarah Palin got 3 percent with the other four women garnering another 4 percent.

This is the field:

NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz
Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Ohio Governor John Kasich
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul
Indiana Governor Mike Pence
Texas Governor Rick Perry
Ohio Senator Rob Portman
Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott
South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

CPAC doesn’t represent the entire Republican Party, but it is a powerful force in getting their candidates into, and sometimes winning, primaries. Once into Congress, they drive the GOP leadership crazy with their truculent intransigence. And their anti-women, anti-people of color, anti-LGBT, and anti-youth, anti-union, and anti-middle class policies make them less and less electable.

Looking at the above list, I’ll stick with the “golden girls.”

December 5, 2012

Conservatives Meet to Work against Majority

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council responsible for creating such laws as those that promote anti-immigration, stand-your-ground, and voter suppression, met a couple of weeks ago to decide how to destroy the people in the United States. The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk discussed “how to limit union influence,” and the finance committee heard a presentation on “The Effects of Dodd Frank on the States,” sure to be an unhappy perspective on ways to help consumers.

Task force documents showed that the meeting concentrated on which of its destructive bills to “sunset” and retain, perhaps a response to the past year’s intense criticism when over 40 large corporations cut their links with ALEC. The organization also suffers from multiple complaints that it has violated its charitable 501(c)(3) status allowing special interest groups to write off lobbying expenses. As people became more savvy about ALEC’s actions, they got more vocal about elected officials who are more accountable to special interests than to their voters.

Before last year, ALEC successfully moved to privatize everything from schools to prisons and put legislators under corporate control. It was when identical bills popped up in a large number of states that journalists started looking into the background of these bills. By November, negative publicity caused 117 ALEC members to lose their elections.

Starting last April, ALEC struggled to erase trails for their most controversial legislation, and in July they promised to expand membership among “underrepresented segments,” probably meaning people of color and progressives. They hid their activities by sending members a link, that expires in 72 hours, to an Internet drop box instead of communicating through emails that might be discovered through an open records request.

ALEC is also using a public relations firm to examine public interest groups seeking information about its activities and then libel these groups to its legislative members.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, when the killer claimed to be self-defense, brought information about ALEC to the forefront. Now another black 17-year-old has been killed, and again the killer is using ALEC’s law as his justification. As Jordan Russell Davis sat in his car with friends, 45-year-old Michael David Dunn fired nine shots into the car after complaining that their music was too loud. None of the teenagers was armed.

Even if ALEC just stuck to economic issues, it would cause great damage to the people. A study released last week by the Iowa Policy Project and Good Jobs First shows the correlations between ALEC policies and less prosperous state economies and concludes: “A hard look at the actual data finds that the ALEC…recommendations not only fail to predict positive results for state economies — the policies they endorse actually forecast worse state outcomes for job creation and paychecks. ”

According to the study, instead of boosting states’ fortunes, ALEC’s preferred policies provide “a recipe for economic inequality, wage suppression, and stagnant incomes, and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain the public infrastructure and education systems that are the true foundations of long term economic growth and shared prosperity.”

As if ALEC wasn’t bad enough, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) have joined forces to destroy the new health care act. Because they receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the insurance industry, they need to keep funneling money to private insurers. Currently they want to repeal a provision imposing a fee on some insurance policies to help subsidize coverage for millions of uninsured low-income people.

If they succeed, insurers can sell a highly profitable insurance product to small employers with mostly young and healthy male workers, allowing these employers to avoid the future state insurance exchanges for worker coverage. The employers would be exempt from complying with important consumer protections in the health law and make coverage only affordable and available to those stay healthy.

The Chamber and the NFIB took their fight to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that just finished meeting in Washington. There, the Chamber pressured the NAIC to ease the way for insurers to sell this “stop-loss” coverage to small businesses which could then side-step state regulations. Stop-loss means that the employer assumes the risk of paying medical claims, but only to a previously-negotiated amount when the stop-loss insurer pays. The policy would be a disaster for employers with young female and older workers; doing this would drive up costs for small businesses who have these employees.

Leading the charge is the Illinois Chamber of Commerce with some of the biggest sellers of stop-loss insurance–WellPoint, UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Cigna—on its board. Part of NAIC understands that this will subvert the purpose of the health care act; another committee is keeping NAIC from voting it down by asking another committee to gather more information.

Today’s Asides from the News: Walmart could have prevented November’s fire in Dhaka that killed over 100 people if they had signed a contract agreeing to pay higher prices so the 4,500 Bangladesh clothing factories could afford fire safety improvements. The company met with others purchasers of the factories’ clothing—Gap, JC Penney, Sears, etc.—in April when Walmart set the tone by refusing to do this. According to a study by the Worker Rights Consortium, the cost to Walmart would have been less than 10 cents per garment. PVH Corp., which owns the Tommy Hilfiger brand, and the German retailer Tchibo signed on to the fire safety measures memorandum. You can sign a petition asking that Walmart meet basic safety and human rights for its workers. 

There were a few places where Arizona governor Jan Brewer wasn’t this week: she didn’t attend the state ceremony certifying the delayed election results, and she couldn’t be found among members of the National Governor’s Association who met with the President to discuss how the “fiscal cliff” will impact states. It seems she was found in Afghanistan. Is it possible that she now knows that she can’t run for a third term as governor and is aiming for the president’s position?

Mitt Romney  found a job—back with Marriott, the company that got in trouble with the IRS because of the ways it avoided taxes in the 1900s. Romney headed the audit committee in 1993 to 2001 when Marriott had a tax shelter known to attorneys as “Son of BOSS.” Marriott lost their court rulings in both 2008 and 2009.

Good news for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)! He just finished paying off his student loans.  He said that when he graduated from law school in 1996 he had almost $150,000 in student debt, a sum ridiculed by wealthy Republicans who think that it’s outrageous that students are allowed to run up debts like this. Two years ago, he had between $100,001 and $250,000 in debt, but now he’s paid back the student loan—with the proceeds of his book, An American Son, which he touted at the Jack Kemp Foundation Awards dinner as “the perfect holiday gift and available on Amazon for only $11.99.” I wonder if he had copies there to sell.

The most amazing news of the day is that the Senate passed the $631 billion defense authorization bill, The National Defense Authorizations Act, unanimously with a vote of 98-0. The bill restores threatened Pentagon biofuels programs, issues new sanctions against Iran, and changes U.S. detention policy for American citizens. A unanimous vote has occurred for the defense bill in the Senate only twice in 51 years. The Pentagon policy bill now heads to a House-Senate conference committee, where there are numerous differences that must be resolved including a ban on same-sex wedding ceremonies on military bases. It’s not a done deal yet!

November 2, 2012

We Need to Vote!

Recent Barack Obama endorsements: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and The Economist!  For all his businesslike intentions, Mr. Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says.”

One person can make a difference in the selection of the president for the next four years; in this case it may be Ohio’s Republican secretary of state John Husted. First, he fought for voter photo ID that would disenfranchise Democrats. Next, he continued to go to court to keep predominantly Democratic districts from early voting, particularly at nights and on weekends when blue-collar workers could go to the polls.

Not satisfied with these ploys, Husted is in charge of voting machines in a state where thousands of absentee ballot requests have been rejected. Husted said that it’s just a computer error, but the computers—owned by a company with connections to Mitt Romney—have dumped absentee ballot requests at an abnormally high rate in Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Cleveland where 865 ballot requests have been erroneously thrown out.

Without the ability to vote by absentee, these voters are forced to go to the polls where they will probably be required to use a provisional ballot, which are notoriously thrown in the garbage. The total is 4,500 registered voters across the state left waiting for their absentee ballots while as many as 6,000 provisional ballots cast by registered voters could be tossed out. If by some good fortune the provisional ballots are counted, this won’t happen until November 17, according to state law.

Also, thanks to Husted, votes from people who vote in the wrong polling station because pollworkers directed them there will also be discounted, according to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That was a common problem in the dysfunctional 2004 presidential election. How easy it is to get rid of votes—just sent voters to the wrong place. These are all the pieces that could add up to a win for Romney is a state with elected officials determined to be Republican no matter how many people vote Democratic.

That said, I want to talk about the importance of voting. On Monday, the day before Election Day, Oregon celebrates its 100th anniversary of woman suffrage, eight years before the nation followed suit in 1920. Today, I asked the owner of a small restaurant if she had voted. (Everyone in Oregon votes by mail.) She said that she planned to vote on Monday and that she was encouraging all her friends to vote although some of them said they might not bother. I told her to tell the young women that women starved themselves and were beaten and imprisoned so that they would have the right to vote. As for the men, I said to tell them that they should vote so that their girlfriends and wives could continue to get contraception.

Her friends who are considering not voting are joined by 90 million other people in the United States out of 207,643,594 eligible voters.    I understand why people caught in the storm and unable to get to the polls would not vote, but there is no excuse for the other “unlikely voters.” Two-thirds of these people are already registered to vote, and eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives. But they’re too busy, or they don’t care much for either candidate, or their vote wouldn’t matter, or the president didn’t do everything he promised.

Another complaint that unlikely voters have is the negative tone to the campaigns. Ironically, the people who complain about this may determine their vote from the harsh lies told by one side or the other. If negative advertising didn’t work, candidates wouldn’t use this approach. But one woman who said she wouldn’t vote because of the negativity has never voted.

Yet over half the unlikely voters see a difference between the two major parties. By 43 to 18 percent, they support President Obama. Two-thirds of the unlikely voters say they voted four years ago. Yet four years ago, with enthusiasm at its high and no storm on the East Coast, almost 80 million people didn’t vote. Perhaps some of them had a sense of embarrassment in admitting that they didn’t vote. Almost half the unlikely voters have an annual household income of under $60,000, comparable to all eligible voters, and nearly six in 10 have no more than a high school diploma, again about the same percentage as eligible voters.

Asides: Even Fox servants are rebelling against the lies that the network spews out into the blogosphere. Appearing on Fox and Friends, Geraldo Rivera first called out host Eric Bolling for his claim that no one sent any help after the Benghazi attack. Rivera declared, “That is an obscene lie. You are a politician looking to make a political point.” When Bolling tried to assert that there were available rescue teams, Rivera continued to disagree, “You are misleading the American people because you want to make a political point. We have never in the history of this republic mounted a raid on the circumstance described here ever.” A new report, based on surveillance tapes, shows that the U.S. acted promptly following the attack.

Not happy with lies about Benghazi, Bolling and co-host Steve Doocy accused NBC of throwing a benefit tonight for storm victims rather than waiting for New York City to “get its feet under itself.” It’s like Michael Brown, Hurricane Katrina’s FEMA director, criticizing President Obama for rushing in to alert people about the storm rather than waiting a week after the disaster the way Brown did.  Bolling and Doocy, however, had no criticism for Romney’s faux “storm relief event.”

Concerned about Russia’s response to Romney’s harsh rhetoric, his son Matt traveled to Moscow on business and told a Russian known to deliver messages to President Vladimir V. Putin that his father wants good relations with Russia. Romney’s declaration that Russia “is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” has caused alarm among Russian leadership regarding diplomatic relations between the two countries. Matt Romney was in Russia looking for investors for his California-based real estate firm, Excel, a real estate investment trust that avoids taxation by distributing 90 percent or more of its taxable income in the form of a dividend.

Voting lines are really long in Florida, partly because Gov. Rick Scott reduced the amount of time after then-Gov. Charlie Crist extended them in 2008—because the lines were really long. Democrats asked Scott to extend the amount of time; he refused but gave voters this advice: “I want everybody to get out to vote.”

When a non-partisan Congressional Research Service documented that giving tax breaks to the rich helps concentrate wealth at the top but doesn’t boost the economy, Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had the report killed this past week. McConnell follows the Republican Bush tradition of elimination information such as an increase in terrorism in 2005, increased factory closings in the same year, and under-performing charter schools.

The auto bailout that Romney complains about was good for his family: they personally profited at least $15.3 million. The bad news for Romney is the discovery that his June 1, 2012, Public Financial Disclosure Report to the Office of Government Ethics did not reveal this windfall because he did not disclose the underlying holdings of his private equity and limited partnership funds. The worse news is that a number of groups are calling on the U.S. Office of Government Ethics to investigate Romney for noncompliance with the Ethics in Government Act and compel him to either disclose his investments or divest them.

Last April, Bishop Daniel Jenky, head of a Catholic diocese in Illinois, used his mass to compare President Obama and Senate Democrats to Hitler and Stalin. Now he has mandated every priest in his diocese to read a letter indicating that parishioners’ salvation is based on voting the right way—no mention of President Obama but it’s obvious. Nicholas DiMarzio, a New York Catholic bishop, expressed similar sentiments last week. The wall between church and state is tattered.

Steven Benen has counted 917 lies out of Romney’s mouth this past year—but there could be more. We still have four days to go!

Even corporation executives are fed up with the lies—especially when their companies are affects. Trump, from his Twitter account, said, “Obama is a terrible negotiator. He bails out Chrysler and now Chrysler wants to send all Jeep manufacturing to China–and will!” Chrysler’s head of product design Ralph Gilles, from his Twitter account, answered Trump: “You are full of shit!”

While all this is happening, George W. Bush is in the Cayman Islands, giving the keynote speech at a conference on how to avoid paying taxes to the United States.

My last word: there will be a special The Rachel Maddow Show on Sunday!

October 31, 2012

Romney Desperate in Last Few Days

Mitt Romney’s campaign was headed downhill after President Obama’s two successful debates, but the tragic storm on the East Coast has required the Republican candidate to frantically think up a new strategy.

First, Romney campaigners admitted that they would try to look sensitive by not campaigning so they changed the name of their events to “storm relief events.” As a businessman, Romney is big on rebranding. If the public doesn’t like what he’s doing, he just changes directions and calls it something else.

Part of the event was to collect items for clothing, food, and bottled water. By doing this, Romney showed that he knows nothing about the Red Cross. Because it takes more effort to clean clothing and package all these items, the Red Cross always requests just money and blood donations. But that didn’t stop Romney.

Always prepared for contingencies, Romney sent out his campaign aides to a local Wal-Mart on the night before the event with $5,000 to buy granola bars, canned foods, and diapers for camera ops. Supporters who wanted to greet the candidate were told, “You need a donation to get in line!” Empty-handed potential voters were told, “Just grab something.” Two teenage boys each picked up a jar of peanut butter, handed their “donations” to Romney, and were given a warm “Thank you” by the candidate.

To show how prepared he was to take care of a similar disaster, Romney compared the federal government’s hurricane relief efforts to the time he and some friends had to clean up a football field strewn with “rubbish and paper products.” He then talked about how Hurricane Katrina survivors were given food and television sets by people in Cape Cod.

Romney has also got his nineteenth “pants on fire” from Politifact, this time for his collective lies about the automobile industry including the falsehood that the Jeep factory was leaving for China.

Romney’s “sensitivity” in not campaigning was short-lived. Today he was back in Florida with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, still bashing the president. New Jersey governor Chris Christie is one person, however, who has stopped bashing President Obama as the president works tirelessly to help storm victims. Of course, Rush Limbaugh is spouting trash about President Obama blackmailing Christie to get his support.

Despite appearances, Romney refuses to take interviews or answer questions from the media. DailyKos reports that it’s been nearly three weeks since Mitt Romney’s last interview (if you count sitting down with Newsmax to be an interview) and more than a month since he last answered a question from his traveling press pool.

In comparison, President Obama has sat down for interviews with NBC’s Brian Williams, at least seven local news stations, and the Des Moines Register editorial board—just in the last two weeks. The president also took a question from a White House reporter following his Hurricane Sandy statement and agreed to interviews with The Tonight Show’s Jay Leno, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart and MTV’s Sway Calloway. Somehow he managed to do this while he continued with his more-than-fulltime job.

Another highly questionable tactic from the Romney campaign is training that Romney Poll Watchers in Wisconsin have received. Their document gives guidance that can send these observers to jail if they follow them:

Any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” is not eligible to vote. [State regulations permit people in Wisconsin to vote after they have served their sentences and probation.]

If a handicapped voter is unable to come into the polls to vote, an assistant can deliver the ballot to the voter if the CEI verifies the elector’s proof of residency. [The CEI does not have to verify the elector’s proof of residency.]

Election Observers should not assist [voters]. [The law allows voters to request assistance from anyone, including poll observers.]

“The ONLY Acceptable Forms of “Proof of Residency” omits a multitude of options.

At a training session for poll watchers, a woman who just graduated from law school last year gave lots of bad advice: for example, if observers cannot see or identify the proof of residence, the observers are to ask the poll worker about this. The law: Observers do not have the right to inspect proof of residence documents, and they do not have the right to ask poll workers what the documentation is. 

The Romney campaign PowerPoint states that in order to register to vote a “WI driver’s license number or WI ID number is required (whether current, revoked, expired or suspended).” The law: “If you have been issued a WI driver license and it is current and valid, you must provide the number and expiration date. If you have not been issued a WI driver license you must provide either your WI DOT-issued ID number OR the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.” The same PowerPoint cell states that the “last four digits of the social security number are only to be used if the citizen has never been issued a driver’s license or WI ID.” The law: it’s either one or the other. 

The presenter also worked hard to get observers to force voters to use provisional ballots because they tend to be trashed. The presenter said that “A first-time voter who registers by mail and but has failed to to provide proof of residency” and omitted the end of the sentence “and is unable to provide proof of residence at the polling place.” The presenter also said a provisional ballot would be required for “An individual who registers on Election day who has a Wisconsin driver’s license but is unable to provide the license number.” The law: in a circumstance in which a person does have a valid license and is absolutely unable to get that number as a last resort they will accept the last 4 digits of a social security number.  

Training also recommends a level of intimidation. According to the presenter, voters who have not produced valid Wisconsin driver’s licenses should also be followed and photographed. All this pressure makes me very happy that I live in Oregon and vote by mail.

A Wisconsin election official has confirmed that information in the Romney document is false. Reid Magney, a spokesman for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, also criticized the Romney campaign for instructing their poll watchers not to disclose any affiliation with the campaign when they sign in at the polls. They were told to list themselves as only a “concerned citizen” instead. “We would hope that people would accurately represent who they are with,” Magney said.

The Obama campaign has sent a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requesting he open an investigation into the trainings. “These acts of willful misinformation to individuals sent to polling locations to enforce the law raise serious concerns under Wisconsin law,” Bob Bauer, general counsel for the Obama campaign, wrote. “I ask that your office review this matter urgently, and take all necessary steps to protect the rights of our state’s voters.”

Vote revisions have already started in Florida. In Broward County, a Democratic Party stronghold, the vote total was dropped by 536 votes, just two fewer than the number of votes that decided the entire state in the 2000 presidential election. Votes across the country can also be manipulated by computer hacking, as shown after the Arizona primary.

In Florida, Virginia and Indiana people are getting calls falsely telling them they can vote early by phone and don’t need to go to a polling place. In  Broward County (FL),  elderly voters who requested absentee ballots say they were visited by unknown people claiming to be authorized to collect the ballots. Mailings to voters in at least 23 Florida counties raise questions about the voter’s citizenship and provide a form that supposedly must immediately be filled out and returned to elections officials to keep the voter’s name from being purged from the rolls.

Only six more days to hold our breath about voter fraud changing the results of the election—for this year.

October 30, 2012

Bain Capital, Romney – Part Two

Before I continue with Part Two of the Bain Capital debacle, I want to say how sad I feel for the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, both in the Caribbean and in the United States. In addition, I am grateful for the speed with which government has moved to keep the storm’s effects from as much tragedy as possible. In watching all the work that has been done to save people’s lives and make their lives a bit better, I am also angry at the outrageous comments made by Michael Brown, head of FEMA largely responsible for the disaster in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and now a radio host in Colorado. From his safety on the other side of the country, he criticized President Obama for moving too fast. Yesterday he talked about how New Yorkers were saying that the storm, Sandy, isn’t a big deal. The people hit by Sandy are indeed fortunate that he is no longer in charge of government emergency assistance.

The same people are also fortunate that the United States has a president who believes that government should help people in need after such an act of nature. Mitt Romney not only said in the primary debates that the federal government, and probably the state governments, should have no part in emergency aid, he also refused to answer any questions today—14 times after one interview–about how he sees the role of FEMA.

In his writings, David Stockman, budget director for Ronald Reagan, summarized Bain Capital in less than glowing terms: “Bain would put in a little money, borrow much more, and buy out a company. It wasn’t hostile because Bain paid company executives so much they welcomed a takeover. Bain would have the company fire the workers and sell off assets to pay the crushing debt and high ‘management’ fees to Bain. Often the ‘saved’ company would go bankrupt after Bain left. Companies almost never produced more useful goods or services or employed more people after Bain than before.”

Stockman was kind enough, however, not to explain the source of Romney’s capital to set up Bain. When Romney says he knows how to start a small business, he may mean one that is funded by Central American elites linked to death squads in El Salvador. After initially struggling to find start-up investors, Romney traveled to Miami in 1983 to win pledges of almost 40 percent of Bain’s $37 million start-up money. Huffington Post reporter Ryan wrote, “There’s no possible way that anybody in 1984 could check out these families–which is the term that [Romney’s campaign] use, these families–and come away convinced that this money was clean.”

During the 1980s, Romney managed to get lots of cigarettes into Russia. Bain & Co.—and Romney–worked with British American Tobacco (BAT), which is behind brands like Kool and Lucky Strike, to move their products into Russia. Before Bain, BAT was largely locked out of the Russian market; now it controls almost one-fourth of cigarette sales that have skyrocketed since the Soviet Union collapse. Then Bain moved into the U.S.; a month after Romney took over, the first got a $1 million contract with Philip Morris.

Romney clearly described Bain’s goal in 1985: its purpose has never been to create jobs; its purpose is to “harvest” companies. The most recent harvested company is moving into China right before this year’s general election.

Although Romney is no longer active in Bain, he’s still reaping the benefits from moving Sensata Technologies from Freeport (IL) to China. The company made record revenues last year, and workers have been working three shifts for 24 hours a day. They make $14-$17 per hour with benefits. The first thing that Bain did after buying the company was to organize its capital funds in the Cayman Islands so Bain could avoid paying taxes on these funds. Now Bain will get money for relocating the plant offshore while U.S. taxpayers have paid $780,000 to retrain some of Sensata’s fired workers.

Romney has a history with Bain and China. In 1998, when he was running Bain, he saw the horrible conditions of workers making $.24 an hour at the Global-Tech Appliances plant in Dongguan and invested millions in the firm. But he could make money by exploiting these workers.

William Cohen wrote in Bloomberg, “Is there any fairness in a system where a group of people can borrow a bunch of money to buy a company and pay themselves millions of dollars in dividends and fees, while the company itself ends up bankrupt and its employees lose their jobs, health insurance and pensions?”

Romney’s experience with Bain makes him uniquely unqualified to be president of the United States. In campaigning he said, “A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation. Every day we fail to act, that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love.” Our collective debt is no ordinary problem: According to Romney, the debt will “burn our children alive.” Yet he made his personal fortune by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. His experience with Bain shows that he is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time, piling more debt onto more unsuspecting companies and writing more gigantic checks that other people have to cover than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.

A private equity firm like Bain typically finds floundering businesses with good cash flows. It puts down 10-30 percent of its own money and then borrows the rest from a large bank to buy a controlling stake in the company. Bain avoided the hostile takeover, done without the company’s consent, by buying off the management with huge bonuses. The takeover companies, including Bain, aren’t on the hook for the debt; the company they purchase is. That company is destroyed by just the interest they have to pay, either going bankrupt or slashing benefits and firing workers. Then Bain can swoop in and purchase the company for pennies on the dollar, the vulture approach.

Romney is a prime example of why lowering taxes doesn’t create jobs. He pays low taxes while he destroys jobs or sends them offshore. And he can’t pretend that he doesn’t know what happens at Bain.  “I insisted on having almost dictatorial powers.” Colleagues described him as cunning, manipulative and a little bit nuts, with “an ability to identify people’s insecurities and exploit them for his own benefit.”

In the business world, lying and changing positions is praised because it makes money. 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’s fond of saying. But that doesn’t translate into successful leadership of a country.

And it’s all legal. The entire business of leveraged buyouts wouldn’t be possible without a provision in the federal code that allows companies like Bain to deduct the interest on the debt they use to acquire and loot their targets. And he couldn’t pay such low taxes if it weren’t for the same tax code. Romney rails against the national debt at the same time he exploits a tax deduction specifically designed for mortgage holders. He bilks every dollar he can out of U.S. businesses before burning them to the ground.

Romney also shows his lack of ethics in his tax avoidance strategies. He used a loophole to “rent” the Mormon church’s tax exemption status and defer paying taxes for 15 years. Bloomberg News reported that Romney set up a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) in June 1996 just before Congress cracked down on the loophole in 1997. “In this instance, Romney used the tax-exempt status of a charity — the Mormon Church, according to a 2007 filing — to defer taxes for more than 15 years,” Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker explained. “At the same time he is benefiting, the trust will probably leave the church with less than what current law requires.” The amount available to go to the Mormon Church has decreased from at least $750,000 in 2001 to $421,203 at the end of 2011 as Romney has collected yearly cash payments from the trust. Although a small amount when compared to Romney’s fortune, he has many other methods of avoiding taxes.

Romney’s hypocrisy is overwhelming. His strong opposition to federal aid has no relationship to the experiences of himself and his family. According to Romney’s biography The Real Romney, written by  journalists Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, the United States first helped the Romney family in 1912: “Fortunately for the Romneys, the U.S. government, which had once chased Miles [Romney] to Mexico due to his polygamy, now welcomed the Romneys and other Mormons to the United States. Congress established a $100,000 relief fund that enabled the Romneys and other Mormon exiles to receive food and lodging. Initially, the [Romneys’] stay on U.S. soil was to be temporary. The El Paso Herald reported on October 25, 1912, that Gaskell Romney and his family, including little George, had gone to Los Angeles “until it is safe for his family to return to the colonies in Mexico.’”

Much later George Romney received welfare from the federal government. According to his wife,Lenore Romney, [George Romney] was a refugee from Mexico. He was on relief, welfare relief for the first years of his life. But this great country gave him opportunities.” Romney is unwilling to give anyone else the same opportunities that his family had.

The Olympics is a classic example of Romney’s hypocrisy. While describing his magical leadership to save the faltering Winter Olympics in 2002, much of his success came from the $1.5 billion that he took from the federal government, an amount 1.5 times the amount, adjusted for inflation, spent by the federal government to support all seven Olympic games in the United States back to 1904.  These expenditures averaged $625,000 in taxpayer money for each athlete, an increase of 5,582 over the $11,000 average at the 1984 games in Los Angeles. Even Sen. John McCain pointed out that at the time that this was a bailout.

Donald Barlett and James Steele reported that “wealthy Utahans used the games as an excuse to receive exemptions for projects that would otherwise never meet environmental standards, or to receive generous subsidies for improvements of questionable value to the games—but with serious value to future real estate developments.” bailout.

Romney has always been clear about all his priorities. The Salt Lake games came just months after 9/11. When a representative of widows and orphans whose husbands and fathers were firefighters killed in the terrorist attack inquired about free or discounted tickets to games, Romney twice denied the request, saying that there was a policy against giving away tickets. Six weeks later, Romney offered a hundred tickets, valued at $885 each, free to Utah legislators.

Romney has always used Bain to justify his ability to become president instead of his time as governor of Massachusetts. During his one term the state ranked 47th in job growth; suffered the second-largest labor force decline in the nation with only Louisiana greater because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005; lost 14 percent of its manufacturing jobs, double that of the nation at the time perhaps because he vetoed legislation that would have banned companies doing business with the state from outsourcing jobs to other countries; experienced “below average” economic growth and was “often near the bottom”; and piled on more debt than any other state despite his raising fees while he was in office.

That’s what would happen to the United States if he were to be elected—or appointed—president.

October 27, 2012

Election Insanity Continues

Texas is still sending out mailings telling everyone that photo IDs are required for voting despite the fact that a judge overturned that law. The state has also threatened to arrest any international voting observers despite the fact that they have been doing this for at least a decade. Texas is home to the organization True the Vote that is determined to intimidate any suspicious voters (aka possible Democrats).

In Florida Palm Beach County hasn’t learned its lesson about ballots. The Board of Elections sent out about 27,000 absentee ballots that can’t be digitally scanned because of a recently discovered design flaw. After discovering that the design had omitted a heading for a new category, they inserted the heading that then shifted the placement of the races. Their solution for the problem is to duplicate the ballots. This is the state where the Republicans pretended to solve the problem of fraudulent voting.

Rachel Maddow’s blog has regularly posted photographs of busy polling places during early voting. My favorite thus far comes from William Fassett of Spokane (WA) where everyone in the state votes entirely by mail. He wrote, “It’s hard to create barriers to voting at the ‘polls’ when there are no polling places.” I live in Oregon which has the same mandated voting by mail. When we started the process, I had my doubts, but every election convinces me more and more that it’s the only way to go.

 

I have worked very hard to give the Republicans the benefit of the doubt in media claims about racism. The statement from John Sununu is so blatant, however, that there’s no way to give it a pass. The following is an exchange between Sununu and CNN’s Piers Morgan about why Colin Powell endorsed the president:

SUNUNU: You have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or that he’s got a slightly different reason for President Obama.

MORGAN: What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States–I applaud Colin for standing with him.

 

John McCain may be closer to the edge than Sununu; now he’s accused Powell of lying to the UN about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. After Powell’s endorsement of President Obama, McCain said, “I think one of the sad aspects of his career is going to the United Nations Security Council and telling them things about Iraq that were absolutely false.” The saddest part about this situatio–and McCain’s misrepresentation–is that the Bush/Cheney administration lied to Powell and used him as a front man for the bogus case of a preemptive war against Iraq. This is also the same McCain who almost a decade ago, said, “When the people of Iraq are liberated, we will again have written another chapter in the glorious history of the United States of America.”

McCain reflects how frantic the GOP has become about the really stupid things that their candidates are saying. In Florida, wealthy Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack now scores “zero” on voting for the interests of the middle class. And she does so without shame when she describes her own constituents, many of them struggling people whose homes are under water with the mortgages higher than the value, as “a third world toilet.” She has been depicted as a politician who earned her House seat the “old-fashioned way” through nepotism, cronyism, and big-money politics.

Montana may have to have a special election for governor if Republican Rick Hill wins the position. The dispute comes from a $500,000 donation to Hill from the Montana Republican Party in the week between a U.S. District judge striking down Montana’s donation limits and the reinstatement of these limits by the 9th U.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A state judge has ordered Hill to stop spending the donation and cancel all pending ads bought with the money while she reviews the legality of the contribution. Democrat candidate Steve Bullock argues that the $500,000 donation exceeds the state limit of $22,600 that any political party can give a candidate for governor. Montana will be a place to watch during on Election Day. Further investigation shows that the donation actually came from the Republican Governors Association who filtered their money through the Montana Republican Party.

The money is rolling in from Big Oil.  Determined to keep the GOP in control so that they can continue to rake in the bucks, Chevron just gave John Boehner’s superPAC another $2.5 million.

After Richard Mourdock, one of the candidates who want to replace Indiana’s senior Sen. Dick Lugar, said that pregnancies resulting from rape were a “gift from God,” I thought we might have hit rock bottom. There’s a lot farther to go. At this time women on welfare in Pennsylvania receive additional assistance if they have children. A state bill wants to refuse any additional stipend unless the women become pregnant from rape—and they will have to prove they were raped.

Ryan has screwed up so badly in his statements since Mitt Romney named him VP candidate last August that he’s been sent to non-swing states to raise funds. Nevertheless,  Ryan is working at the Romney tradition of lying. The man with the budget shredding the safety net has not claimed,

“[A] Romney-Ryan administration will clearly restore those parts of the welfare-reform law that have been undone or weakened. We will do this for the sake of millions of Americans who deserve to lead lives of dignity and freedom. We will also apply other lessons from welfare reform’s success…. Mitt Romney and I want to apply this idea to other anti-poverty programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps. The federal government would continue to provide the resources, but we would remove the endless federal mandates and restrictions that hamper state efforts to make these programs more effective.”

Ryan’s proposed budget plan, that Romney praised, identifies $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over the next decade, with almost two-thirds of the savings come from programs intended to help Americans of limited means. CBPP’s Robert Greenstein said that Ryan’s plan “would cast tens of millions of less fortunate Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, take food from poor children, make it harder for low-income students to get a college degree, and squeeze funding for research, education, and infrastructure.”

It appears that Romney’s “Romnesia” may be contagious.

The Rolling Stone interview of President Obama by Douglas Brinkley is well-worth reading, but this is a great piece from it. When Brinkley asked the president what he thought Paul Ryan’s obsession with Ayn Rand’s work would mean if Ryan became vice president, President Obama said,

“Well, you’d have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity–that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

“Of course, that’s not the Republican tradition. I made this point in the first debate. You look at Abraham Lincoln: He very much believed in self-sufficiency and self-reliance. He embodied it–that you work hard and you make it, that your efforts should take you as far as your dreams can take you. But he also understood that there’s some things we do better together. That we make investments in our infrastructure and railroads and canals and land-grant colleges and the National Academy of Sciences, because that provides us all with an opportunity to fulfill our potential, and we’ll all be better off as a consequence. He also had a sense of deep, profound empathy, a sense of the intrinsic worth of every individual, which led him to his opposition to slavery and ultimately to signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

“That view of life – as one in which we’re all connected, as opposed to all isolated and looking out only for ourselves – that’s a view that has made America great and allowed us to stitch together a sense of national identity out of all these different immigrant groups who have come here in waves throughout our history.”

It seems that the president’s reference to Ryan as an adolescent has the  far right wing of the Republican party plenty riled. They’re pretty unhappy about the rest of the interview too.

One last very sad comment: Conservatives are now claiming that if people have a car, microwave, cell phone, and refrigerator, they aren’t really poor—that they’re doing just fine and there’s no serious separation in wealth in the United States. People who are making $21,000 or less a year—0.01% of Romney’s annual salary—may not agree.

Aside: A BBC World Service opinion poll of people from 21 countries showed that 20 of these prefer—by a large margin—that President Obama be relected. Only one country prefers Romney over Obama: Pakistan. Do they think that he will be easier on them than the current president?

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