Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to this latest incarnation of the Romney campaign. Mitt has shed his “sever conservative” mask, and is being his “true” moderate self.

The thing is, we actually have some perspective here. We are looking at a man who told us that he is a staunch conservative, having had several changes-of-heart since his time as Governor, though he has claimed he was a “sever conservative” as governor. He claimed that he would do away with Healthcare reform and reproductive rights. Now, he says that he likes a lot of what healthcare reform does, just not how it does it. Only, his staff comes in behind him and says that he really doesn’t. He said, last week, that he hadn’t seen a single piece of legislation restricting abortion that he would sign. It took an hour for his campaign to “remind” him of which bills he liked. Even now, when he will say moderate things on camera, his campaign is right behind him issuing corrections that undo most of his revisions.

Let’s imagine, though, that Mitt really is a moderate at heart.

He was willing to say all kinds of oppressive and hurtful things to butter-up donors and woo the far right. He clearly is willing to play politics in order to win the nomination. He made an issue of the need for safe, legal abortion in his bid for the Senate in 1994 and that he would “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose” in his gubernatorial bid. Now, he claims to have come to a realization that his mother was wrong, that he was wrong, and that abortion is bad and the government should stop them all from happening. Except for cases of rape, maybe. Except that, as I pointed out above, he hasn’t seen anything he could support in congress, except that he previously said that he had.  Don’t worry, though, because his staff corrected him on that. Quietly. To a friendly reporter.

Mr Romney might really be a moderate. If so, surely he will show that to us now that he has locked up the nomination. Surely, he will just be himself, unless he doesn’t think we’ll vote for the real Mitt, in which case, he’ll clearly say anything to get our vote. But if he is a real moderate, then we’ll see that when he takes office, except that he’ll want to play to the base to help win 9or possibly keep) the GOP in charge of Congress in 2014. Then, he’ll be running for reelection. Then 2018 midterms. So, just maybe, we would see the real Mitt in 2019, before the 2020 election. What damage will have been done by then?

So, I reject the idea that Mitt is a conservative or a moderate. Mitt Romney is a spoiled brat with entitlement issues. He wants to be president, because (like the last Republican in the Oval Office) he has daddy issues that can only be resolved by winning where his father failed. Besides, his church REALLY wants a Mormon President (of the US, not the actual Mormon President/Pope guy).

In short, Mitt Romney has no character and no class. I could not vote for him if Rosanne were the only other viable candidate. I’d sooner vote in another 4 years of Reagan, or better yet, Bush Sr. Mitt is willing to do anything to gain the power of the Office of the President, and that is exactly the kind of person who should be denied that power at all costs.

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Are You Better Off? That is a matter of perspective.

The question that always goes around, for a least a short while, in every American Presidential election is “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” This is especially true when there is an incumbent running for reelection, but it is always asked, because this is a two party system and the election is always a referendum on one of them on some level.

The question is a serious one in this election, because 5 years ago is, more or less, when the cracks in the system became too big to hide. 4 years ago, at the end of September, the Republican Candidate called the economic situation a “historic crisis in our financial system“. Still, 4 years ago, people still had homes, something in savings, and hope. That question changes meaning a lot in October. This question hinges a lot on getting the timing right.

Still, we come to one of the stickiest problems in the English Language: there is no distinction between the singular and the plural 2nd person. We have to define “You”: is that singular? Is it your family? Your city? Certainly it doesn’t mean the whole nation… That would be silly, because that is something we can look at pretty easily.

On the 15th of September, 2008, the Dow closed at 10,917.51. The close on the 14th of September 2012 was 13539.86, the highest since 2007. (So far, against assumptions, it is only climbing the day after!) That says that we, as a nation, are doing pretty well, since the all time record high was 14,164.53 on October 9, 2007. (The average bottomed out for this recession at 6507.04 on March 9, 2009, just weeks after President Obama took office.) Wall Street is making money like it was in the spring of 2007, at the peak of what is internationally recognized as an artificial bubble in the American economy. So, “We” are doing well, if you mean our complete economy.

On the other hand, income disparity is up. The mean average is up, but the median income is at its lowest since 1995. That means that while we are making more money per person than any time before 2005, most of us are not feeling it. That’s a serious problem, and cutting taxes on the rich while cutting benefits for the middle-class and services for the poor, is making it worse. This is what opponents of the President are trying to pin on him, because this is why the majority of Americans aren’t included in the phenomenal growth we’ve seen over the last 3 years. It was, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out, a tactic to try to keep the President from getting a second term.  The GOP has boiled their base down to 2 groups: the wealthy, who care mainly about staying wealthy, and social conservatives, who care mainly about inflicting their ethics on others. They can play to both groups without offending the other, and have even convinced social conservatives that GOP economic policies are in line with their ethics, by promoting property as God’s mark of favor.

If we are talking about your community, or even just your family, then the odds are against you feeling like you are genuinely better off. It is an illusion, if for no other reason than because things today are getting better, where things 4 years ago were months away from even hitting their low.

That’s where we need to examine the phrase “better off”. What makes you better off: feeling like things have been harder the last few months than they were the months before the election, or feeling like the next few months will be better than the months leading up to Obama’s inauguration? Currently, you can buy health insurance, no matter what your health is. Women can sue over pay inequality, even if it has been kept secret from them for years. The back-bone of our economy, “the fundamentals”, is strong. We have ended hostilities in Iraq and are winding down the war in Afghanistan. How is this not better for us all?

I dare you to answer No” without being either short-sighted and ignorant, or incredibly selfish. America is better off under the current administration than it was 4 years ago, and nothing that is being proposed by his opponent leads me to believe that Mr Romney won’t just take us back down that same road to ruin that Bush Jr steered us down (though it is worth saying that there are other candidates, I don’t have time to cover all the bases). If only people were as mad at the Congress that held up progress as they are at the President who has done his best to lead, despite congressional obstruction, and give the President a legislature that was willing to work for change, rather than holding the entire country for ransom.

Dear Ann Romney: Re: Legally Required

Mrs Romney,

I would like to tell you that no one expects to catch your family breaking any laws. I, for one, am pretty sure that if your husband has ever worked hard at anything, it was to make sure that your fortune is free of any legal entanglements. That is not what the American people care about.

The problem is that what is legal is not always what is right or what is fair. I am certain that all of the off-shore accounts and shell corporations, the blind trusts and the retroactive retirements are legal, by the book. It doesn’t stop me from finding them creepy or unfair to the rest of the nation.

We want to see a man run for office who is willing to own up, not just to what is legal, but to what is right. We want a person who will lead, not in an effort to minimize the greatness of what America can achieve when we work together, but in an effort to promote the General Welfare (a phrase that I hope you are familiar with).

Taxes are a duty and a responsibility. They pay for national parks, infrastructure, defense, and, yes, social safety nets that keep our working class seniors from living on cat food. Just like military service looks good and public office looks good, paying taxes looks good. Just like jury duty and voting are responsibilities, paying taxes is a responsibility. Of course there are ways to get out each of  them legally, but we don’t want someone who does only what is legal. We want someone who invests in America with their time, their money, and their whole heart.

No one expects to catch you doing anything illegal. What we expect to see in a candidate is someone who has not gone to great effort to avoid investing in the government he hopes to lead. What I honestly expect to see here is someone who has made every effort to limit his responsibility to our nation. We know he’s done everything legally; we want to see just how hard he has worked to abuse the laws and loopholes to limit his “tax burden”.

This isn’t about what is merely legal. This is about what is the right direction for the country. We want a man who has done what he can to make it better for as many Americans as possible. What we are seeing is someone whose primary concern has always been hisself, or at most his family. That’s acceptable in a private citizen. The President of the United States has to have bigger, broader priorities.

Mr President: you have no hope without change.

The President had something of a bad month last month. Now that Mitt Romney is assured the nomination, all the funding is behind him. Last month, for the first time so far, Romney raised more campaign money than the President.

Please note that I have not endorsed anyone. I have opinions about issues and policies, and I support the person who will enact the policies I deem most important to the presidency. I do not know either man, and cannot endorse them personally. That being said, let me talk this week about why the president is going to have trouble raising money, even among those who will likely vote for him.

Mr Romney doesn’t have a solid policy on many issues. This is, in part, because he is focused on a few things he think will make the most difference, or at least mark the biggest difference between himself and the president. Mr Romney wants lower taxes on the rich, and to cut back on spending for domestic programs like Welfare and Medicaid, while advancing the rights of Corporate-Americans (those “people” brought into existence by means of a legal charter) to exploit natural, public resources for private profit. I think my wording might show some bias, but this is my feeling on the issue.

President Obama, on the other hand, also seems to have a messaging issue. He can’t talk about what he would do if he were president, as it only begs the question why he hasn’t done it already*. He is, admittedly, going to have a hard time running on his record if one of the biggest things he has accomplished (Healthcare Reform) is struck down by the Supreme Court. Sadly, it seems as though a lot of Mr. Obama’s message is going to have to come by way of “promises attempted or in progress” and “I’m the lesser evil” kinds of ads.

The President can say that he did some amazing, if controversial things in the areas of LGBT rights, women’s health issues, ending formal military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, these are seen as divisive issues. He made some real attempts on many other issues that couldn’t get through congress. It is my opinion that he’s also made some big mistakes in the areas of civil liberties, human rights, privacy and intellectual property, and in keeping private “security” firms on the tax roll to do work that the Armed Forces should do, if the work really needs to be done.

This makes it hard for me to see him running successfully on his record alone. Sure, his victories will fire up the base, but will the collection be enough to win over the swing voters, who will go issue by issue? This leaves the campaign struggling to tell us why, even if we shouldn’t love the President, we should dislike his opponent. And it looks like they are afraid to just say it.

I’ve read some pundits, such as Ezra Klein, positing that the hurdle in attacking Romney on his political and corporate past is doing so without alienating big donors and political insiders. The problem is rooted in the fact that the biggest differences in the President and Mr Romney are their upbringing and their lives before politics. Politically, they both have a record that, 40 years ago, would have been seen as pretty moderate. Heck, even their biggest political accomplishment is, in both cases, Healthcare reform plans, one modeled on the other. So we are left with the fact that Romney comes from a family with money, and worked in the private sector in finance and equity. The President will have the same headaches attacking Bain Capital, which Mr Romney helped found, that he had in trying to talk about reforms for Wall Street: you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and those are the people with money.

My advise, which I don’t expect anyone as high up the chain as regional campaign office coffee jockey to read, is that the President needs to appeal to the American people to take this election back. He needs to say that he’s going to piss off investment firms and all of Wall Street if that’s what it takes to make his point, and that the American public needs to look past the money and into the message if they want real change. That’s our best hope at reviving the American Dream for those of us who don’t have 5 million to leave to our kids. That’s how you get the middle class on your side: Stop playing the game under the rules set by the top 10%, and play with the rest of us. Inspire us again, Mr President. We are looking for leadership, and neither candidate is offering it, yet.

* Incidently, this is a strategy that worked for George W. Bush when he ran for reelection. He made a lot of speeches about what he would do if given a second term, and very few people seemed to care that he had already been given 3 years to do those things. Arguably, the “War on Terror” had distracted him for a while, but even there, he dropped many of the claims he had made about why that war was important when it came time to run again.

Why Mitt Romney as nominee is the best thing in American Politics:

“I can’t imagine that he’s going to interject the Mormon religion into the way he governs.”

“…you don’t have Jesus running against someone else. You have Obama running against Romney.”

These are not the words of a Washington insider, trying to convince evangelicals that Mitt can still be their guy. These are direct quotes from Pat Robertson on his own soap box, The 700 Club. Evangelicals are now being forced to deal with the fact that the President of the United States of America is not a religious official or a church appointee.

Don’t get me wrong: I want Romney to loose badly. I want his defeat to be monumental, to crush the current leadership of the GOP and drag them back to the middle where we can actually get something done for the American people. I know that he is a man who has built a career on bad public policy, and being more then willing to follow money and votes in his political stances. I know that his church teaches things about US and world history that make my stomach churn, and I fear for the country if he injects any of those teachings into educational policy. But, Like Robertson, I don’t think he’ll do that. I think that Mitt Romney will keep his faith private more than any other Republican President since Roosevelt.

He’s already trying to hide his faith behind generalities and concessionary language:

“People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology,” Romney said. “Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

So, it is in 2012, 32 years after Reagan’s embrace of the so-called Religious Right that the new GOP is forced to admit that American politics is bigger and more important than arguments about the person of Jesus, as long as we agree on the personhood of Chase, ” a leading global financial services firm”.

Nothing could have put their platform into to clearer focus than having to accept a unitarian from a sci-fi religion as their nominee in order to insure that corporations are allowed to spend more than individuals on elections and never have to pay a reasonable amount in federal taxes. Meanwhile, the poor go unfed, then sick go untreated, and the weak go unpsoken for. The GOP rejection of the actual message of Jesus couldn’t get much more complete. Maybe now we can start arguing about things that politics can actually fix.