"When I get new evidence I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes
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- If, during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organization, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometric powers of increase of each species, at some age, season or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite variety in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection. [Charles Darwin (1859) On the Origin of Species]
- “It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.” James Madison
- All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it. -Benjamin Franklin
- Portland voters reject fluoridation for the fourth time May 23, 2013For the fourth time since 1956, Portlanders have rejected a plan to fluoridate the city's water. It's the only city among the nation's 30 most populous that avoids the practice — prompting critics to complain that the city is simply being anti-science. Read more... […]
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- Feast your eyes on the first global topographical map of Titan May 23, 2013For the first time ever, planetary scientists have created a topographical map of Titan, the largest of Saturn's many moons, and the second-largest in the entire solar system. The map is a boon to researchers who study Titan, a mysterious moon that is arguably the most Earth-like body in our solar system – and it's beautiful, too.Read more... […]
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- Portland voters reject fluoridation for the fourth time May 23, 2013
Category Archives: current events
Do you know what I mean when I speak of a person who spouts something stupid and/or idiotic, and, remarkably, does so as if the sheer twin forces of their sincerity and belief might convert this ‘something’ into a something smart or insightful?
Heck, I’ve done this many times; usually about local sports teams.
Don’t blame the financial crisis on borrowers.
Don’t tell me that poverty simply reflects the bad ethics and attitudes of the poor.
Don’t try to explain ‘libertarian philosophy’ or ‘intelligent design.’ Just: stop before you make a fool of yourself.
Don’t valorize Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher by telling me what each accomplished as if the bloodshed never made it to their hands.
Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies:
Getting rid of Saddam and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction is an important set of goals if the war goes well. No war, however, can do more than provide a basis for making Iraq somewhat better and then giving the Iraqis control over their own destiny. No outcome of the war can reshape the Gulf or the Middle East.
The idea of instant democratization coming out of the war and spreading throughout the region denies the laws of cause and effect and is ridiculous. So is the idea we know enough about national building to create an Iraqi United States.
The best we can do is minimize our mistakes and the effect of the law of unintended consequences. To do this requires both realism and commitment. If we rely on miracles and good intentions, or act as occupiers rather than partners, we are almost certain to be far more unhappy on the tenth anniversary of the next war as we were on the tenth anniversary of the Gulf War.
(My late mother had a crush on Tony Cordesman.) Throughout the last half of 2002 the subject my mother and I talked the most about was: Iraq’s soon-to-come moment in Dick Cheney’s cross-hairs. One day I stopped by, sat on her bed, and our conversation commenced with her question, a question promoted by an article in the New York Review of Book that lay opened up across her lap.
She asked me,
“Do you suppose that, besides all the UN inspectors, Iraq is also the most photographed country from air and space that ever was?”
At seventy-five years of age and privy to exactly none of the intelligence Cheney enjoyed, nevertheless, her estimate of the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD was far superior to that of Cheney and his gang of neocon thugs.
How do you account for this difference? The actual difference isn’t a matter of hair splitting. The open source turned out to be correct and the top secret source turned out to be completely bogus.
Scroll ahead ten years and consider: more than a half million casualties, upwards of one million excess deaths, and, not to mention, vast treasure adding up to trillions of dollars, and consider, today, the failed state of Iraq.
By spring of 2003, weeks past shock and awe, my mother had decided, rightly, that a hideous war crime was being perpetrated.
I didn’t expect the schadenfruede to be so long-lasting.
By Paul West
March 18, 2013, 4:00 a.m.
WASHINGTON — A smug, uncaring, ideologically rigid national Republican Party is turning off the majority of American voters, with stale policies that have changed little in 30 years and an image that alienates minorities and the young, according to an internal GOP study.
That blunt assessment on the state of Republicanism at the national level comes from a major new report, out Monday, that will likely shake up an already battered party. It was commissioned by the head of the Republican National Committee in the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat last year.
Without offering detailed policy prescriptions, the 98-page report calls on the party to “smartly change course,” modernize itself and develop “a more welcoming brand of conservatism that invites and inspires new people to visit us.”
There are extensive lists of proposals, many of them technological and procedural, designed to help the GOP better engage voters, especially women, minorities and the young, and reverse a losing pattern in five of the last six popular votes for president.
“Unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future,” the report concludes.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in remarks in Washington on the release of the study by the party’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” is unsparing in his analysis of the 2012 election setback.
“Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. Our primary and debate process needed improvement,” he says, according to an advance text of his remarks.
“We know we have problems. We’ve identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them,” he says.
Most of the criticisms are familiar to those, both inside and outside the GOP, who have watched the party fail to come to grips with changing demographics and, instead, try to rely on older, white voters who represent a shrinking part of the electorate.
“Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us,” the report says. Young voters, it says, see the party as “old and detached from pop culture.”
In calling for the GOP to develop “a more welcoming conservatism,” the report rebukes those who remain in denial about the seriousness of the problem and those who are unwilling to broaden the party’s appeal.
A just-concluded gathering of conservatives in Washington cheered speaker after speaker who urged the GOP to stick to its guns and, instead, largely blamed the 2012 defeat on Romney or the way he ran his campaign.
“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the study says. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
The report calls on Republicans to counter the party’s image as an arm of business. It says Republicans should “blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”
Beyond that, however, there are no policy details. Indeed, the authors point out that they are not a policy committee, in a section calling on the GOP to “embrace and champion” comprehensive immigration reform without further specifics.
In addition, an extensive set of “inclusion” proposals for minority groups, including Latinos, Asians and African Americans, appears to mimic similar, failed outreach efforts by various RNC chairs over the last 30 years.
The report notes the party’s problems with women voters, especially unmarried women. But its 10-point plan for appealing to women makes no mention of the GOP stance on any social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, that have turned off many of the voters in question.
In a section on campaign mechanics, Republicans are advised to make “a critical cultural shift” on early, absentee, and online voting, trends that the report notes are “here to stay.” The report fails to note, however, that Republican elected officials fought to block and even reverse that trend at the state level in 2012.
Although the RNC study spares Romney any direct criticism, it includes tacit criticism of GOP polling that seems directed at his campaign. Research conducted for the study report found that 70% of Republican pollsters surveyed said that Democratic polling in 2012 “was better than our own. Fully 22% felt the Democrats did ‘much better’ than the Republicans when it came to accuracy and reliability.”
In a section on party primaries, there are thinly veiled attacks on efforts by outside groups, such as those tied to former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and organizations like the Club for Growth, that seek to apply litmus tests or weed out candidates considered unelectable.
“It would be a mistake for any one organization to think it can circumvent GOP voters and hand-pick our nominees,” the report says. “Third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects.”
There are also calls for fewer candidate debates during the presidential primaries, a shorter nomination calendar and an earlier national convention.
The report is the product of a committee headed by Priebus’ allies and supporters, including Henry Barbour of Mississippi, the nephew of former governor and RNC chairman Haley Barbour; former George W. Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer; and Sally Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
If this problem of the GOP–losing national popular votes–interests you, you’ll be moved to follow the various scenes of crashing perceptions and the subsequent wreckage.
If somebody asked me what the chief deficit of the GOP is, I would answer that the Red States provide generous amount of evidence about what the Grand Old Party hopes to accomplish. So, from this, my short answer would be,
The GOP wants to race to the bottom. This desire strikes many people as being the equivalent of asking voters to punch themselves in the face–and be better off for it!
The bottom is many ‘bottoms’ and each such bottom can be well defined by the data. If you aspire to obtain the median education or household income or physical health of the average citizen of Mississippi or Tennessee or Alabama, then I have a political party that aims to support your goals.
What is the predicated goal enabled to head downward? Cheap Labor.
There you have it. The strategic handwringing is marvelous yet the actual situation isn’t very dire. The GOP is in fine shape when you look at what the nature of their actual success is all about.
Its libertarian “Chamber of Commerce” wing is fabulously fat and happy. The libertarian wing requires frightened, racist, aging, married, white people to lock in political advantages in Red States and so it has gone famously for four-plus decades. Fueling non-economic resentments of such people and then also gaming as much as possible the available, gritty mechanics of elections has proven to be a marvelous trick.
This strategy has worked out well. The political directors have leveraged resentment and cheap labor to a commanding political lead in the Red states. Has the bottom come into view? Not yet; ‘call the Texas textbook folks.’
(Cheap labor figures into the ability of state level oligarchs to put their money to work on political projects without many monied opponents standing in their way.) The GOP’s success is etched by the various state-level measures. Hurray for Kansas!
Losing national and statewide elections in blue states is the price exacted by the Red State strategy. The GOP protests too much. There is no chance of the GOP winning substantially more votes of young, or single, or minority, or, highly educated voters, as long as the GOP wants to play this hard ball strategic and tactical game on any Purple-to-Blue state’s territory.
For example, it should be completely obvious that the GOP, if it is hoping to make it harder for minorities to vote, is not going to make the party attractive to those same minorities. Having leaders in some states assert the state’s interest in penetrating and raping a woman’s vagina prior to the woman undergoing a medical procedure is not going to make your party attractive to most women. Supporting the teaching of intelligent design and/or young earth creationism; denying climate change; and, (recently we learn,) spinning slaveowners as benefactors of slaves, is not going to make your party more attractive to college kids and the educated classes.
Over the long term of the GOP, the paradox inherent betwixt its ruthless plutocratic libertarian ideology and its core voters’ theocratic fantasy is resolved by the GOP’s inability to accomplish the task of replacing its aging white core voter. Who knew paranoia and fearfulness and resentment has a shelf life?
Until then, I fully expect GOP directors to continue to follow the overt marching orders of Rush and Rand, and be obedient to the tactical orders of ALEC and the Koch Brothers, et al.. In doing so, at least, its power players will continue to enjoy big paydays. I get it: the principle grifters, the Makers, are laughing all the way to the bank. The GOP’s success is not fragile as long as there are, in the Red states, resentful and fearful old white social conservatives for the rightward Makers to shake down and manipulate.
The key requirement of continued GOP success supposes the “Libertarian directors” understand the grievances of the social conservative hoi polloi are never to be resolved.
I missed this during the election. I’ve been enjoying the post election de-brief and schadenfreude. Actually, I doubt I will ever see the mention of schadenfreude pile up as it has in this post-election season.
TinyMitt! Did he really flip flop again and go back to affirm his stupid sociological analysis-you know, the one that did the heavy lifting in his implosion?
Obama Blue Vote Skew
Obama for America’s model squished Bain’s model–so to speak. As it turned out, the technology of the Romney GOTA scored a fail well-matched to Romney’s own badly executed campaign.
But then came Colorado for the president and Florida also was looking tougher than anyone had imagined.
“We just felt, ‘where’s our path?’” said a senior adviser. “There wasn’t one.”
Romney then said what they knew: it was over.
His personal assistant, Garrett Jackson, called his counterpart on Mr. Obama’s staff, Marvin Nicholson. “Is your boss available?” Jackson asked.
Romney was stoic as he talked to the president, an aide said, but his wife Ann cried. Running mate Paul Ryan seemed genuinely shocked, the adviser said. Ryan’s wife Janna also was shaken and cried softly.
“There’s nothing worse than when you think you’re going to win, and you don’t,” said another adviser. “It was like a sucker punch.”
Their emotion was visible on their faces when they walked on stage after Romney finished his remarks, which Romney had hastily composed, knowing he had to say something.
Both wives looked stricken, and Ryan himself seemed grim. They all were thrust on that stage without understanding what had just happened.
“He was shellshocked,” one adviser said of Romney.
Romney and his campaign had gone into the evening confident they had a good path to victory, for emotional and intellectual reasons. The huge and enthusiastic crowds in swing state after swing state in recent weeks – not only for Romney but also for Paul Ryan – bolstered what they believed intellectually: that Obama would not get the kind of turnout he had in 2008.
They thought intensity and enthusiasm were on their side this time – poll after poll showed Republicans were more motivated to vote than Democrats – and that would translate into votes for Romney. Romney Shellshocked By Loss
And to think: Romney prides himself on being data-driven, and Ryan is a self-described ‘numbers guy.’
Going into election day my hunch was that Romney would get plastered by votes from: minorities, women, under-30s, and, that the GOP war-on-women may incur blowback among GOP women too. Maybe GOP women would stay home at historic levels of refusal! Against this I figured on strong turn out of old white guys where it didn’t really matter. The tracking polls in Ohio suggested a small turnout bump would make all the difference, and, this is what happened.
I also felt that in Ohio, where I live, Romney’s outrageous TV ad about Obama and Jeep, once thoroughly debunked, started to serve a new purpose, reminding viewers that Romney didn’t care about the facts. And, much worse, by not pulling the ad, it sent the message Romney believed voters in Ohio to be fools and suckers. It seems that Romney didn’t have any social psychologists on his team!
In the end which Romney lost, the arch right winger of the primaries or the pseudo-Reaganesque moderate of the general election? We will likely never know. Say what you will about the ongoing ideological battle in America, this election demonstrated what I call the problem of the GOP empty suit.
In a moment, time to roll up our sleeves.
My brother Crede came up to Cleveland, his family’s hometown, and helped spearhead the effort to video the vote. Things went smoothly!
Hat’s off to the local crew, especially Jane, Dell, Catherine, of Obama for America. I had the honor and pleasure of canvassing last weekend with Jim Lardie, a veteran organizer and salt-of-the-earth elder. Thanks!
I am especially grateful for Charles S. Pierce, the main political blogger for Esquire Magazine online. He’s a great, deeply witty, and earnest writer and patriot. He was my main source for keeping sane and balanced and amused. His summing and view going forward is, like all of his reporting, essential: The Greatness of Barack Obama Is Our Great Project.
I’ll have more to say later. I do note it was a “turnout” election that swept in, in very close races, several very fine new Senators. Plus more!
The gasping of old guys who yearn for the 1880/1980′s is audible, but I do not see radical post-Conservatism and Randian post-capitalism sustaining its grip–as the waves of demographic transformation alter the USA’s political geography.
I’m a lifelong Democrat, being the product of a liberal family, with a college vice president for a mother and an attorney for a father. At the same time, I’m a student of history and, going farther, of meta-history and of sociology and of political philosophy. I’ve read and thought my way through the Greeks and the moderns and still cannot wrap my head around the ways greed and selfishness and individualism is said to be virtuous.
Obviously, biologically, individualism is absolutely a non-starter. You can’t get anywhere from it alone.
At 58, I’m a fallibilist and skeptic and, I would label myself a Fabian Digger too. But I’m not ideological about any of this because I’m a (William) Jamesian, a relativist, and so I am antagonistic toward ideological reductions for the precise reason that reality itself is not ideological. My finding: in actuality, where reality is most coherent, it is the ‘least’ ideologically.
I could never vote Republican because, for me, their attachment is to ideology above reality, and so, not surprisingly, I find Republican policies to be in various ways and with certainty:
BONUS: GOP is not in favor of every legal voter voting
The data is on my side of course. I can make a slam dunk case for each of these features of the GOP. Yet, in the main, in the most basic material terms, the GOP is economically nowadays the party of socializing risk and privatizing profits. The GOP is post-Capitalist, or, alternately, has come to endorse a final degenerative and plutocratic stage of finance capitalism in which the paper and speculative and derivative economy overwhelms property-based capitalism.
As the data clearly shows, a dollar earned as wage or salary, as profit on a product sold, is much more safe when there is a Democrat in the Oval office.
Everybody gets to make up their own mind about what party and policies and ideologies are best for America. After four years of watching the GOP wage a war against President Obama, and, grievous wars against the working class, women, children, minorities, veterans, and, business, I remain amazed that Romney can gain more than a few thousand votes. Okay, not so amazing; we’re still grappling with the aftermath of the civil war.
Newleftmedia once again demonstrates that if you shoot enough video interviews at Romney (or Tea Party) events the most select slices of STUPID are gloriously deranged.
My favorite spot of dumb in the video is the guy, once again, passionately wishing for the U.S. not to be, anymore, the laughingstock of the world.
It is possible to empathize if you can simulate the guy’s sense that the world is laughing about something ‘the world’ surely doesn’t find anywhere near as funny as that which actually is laughable.
What’s funny are America’s proudly stupid people, their hypocritical religiosity, their ignorance, their pride in their ignorance, and. . .one could go on and on. As a marker of cognitive ability what does it mean to think Obama is a Muslim, atheist, communist?
Sure go vote for the manic plutocrat, mendacious Reagan wannabee, and, strangely enough, perfect symbol of greed and one percent Toryism, Willard Romney.
The sad answer is there is no way to know what Mr. Romney really believes. His unguarded expression of contempt for 47 percent of the population seems as sincere as anything else we’ve heard, but that’s only conjecture. At times he has advocated a muscular, John McCain-style foreign policy, but in the final presidential debate he positioned himself as a dove. Before he passionately supported a fetus’s right to life, he supported a woman’s right to abortion. His swings have been dramatic on gay rights, gun rights, health care, climate change and immigration. His ugly embrace of “self-deportation” during the Republican primary campaign, and his demolition of a primary opponent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for having left open a door of opportunity for illegal-immigrant children, bespeaks a willingness to say just about anything to win. Every politician changes his mind sometimes; you’d worry if not. But rarely has a politician gotten so far with only one evident immutable belief: his conviction in his own fitness for higher office. (excerpted from WAPO’s endorsement of Barack Obama)
Stop Racists from screwing voters out of their vote in Cuyahoga County is the mission. My brother Crede is in town to video the vote for ‘Video the Vote.’
Here’s the first clip from yesterday.
On election day it is anticipated the racist polling places observers trained by the racist True the Vote, funded by dark money and the racist Koch brothers, will make an intense effort to stomp out as much of the African-American vote in Cleveland as they can within the boundaries of the law, or, possibly not within those boundaries. Well, this is the rumor; we do not know yet about such efforts here.
Then again, remember the GOP has been furiously working at state levels to make voting harder. “Voting should be hard not easy” is one of the principles the modern GOP has on offer as a refinement of Goldwater/Nixon’s infamous ‘southern strategy.’
In the ten-year stretch between the years 2000 and 2010:
~ There were 649 million votes cast in general elections
~ There were 47,000 UFO sightings
~ 441 Americans were killed by lightning
~ And there were 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation
Catherine Engelbrecht, the racist leader of True the Vote, understands 13 divided by 649 million, is a scary number. Her response is to concentrate her organization’s voter suppression efforts in minority voting locations, for example, in Cuyahoga County where there has been ZERO credible cases of in-person voter impersonation. However, so far, there is no evidence of True the Vote efforts.
<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/Di8EXEUgLJY?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
For those voters who do go to the polls, they may face further intimidation from poll watchers trained by the Tea Party-affiliated True the Vote, which claims their activities are designed to make voters at polling stations feel like they are “driving with the police following you.” True the Vote is adamant that voter fraud exists (despite little evidence) and trains volunteers to patrol for voter fraud in low-income neighborhoods of color, which has prompted accusations of voter intimidation. For months the group has been scouring voter registration databases to compile a list of voters to challenge at the polls.
The group also intervened in Wisconsin’s 2012 gubernatorial recall election, where they unsuccessfully tried to discredit the recall petition drive by creating a sloppy alternate database and making inaccurate assertions about the “integrity” of the petition-gathering effort. During the recall election itself, the group trained a handful of poll watchers in their “voter integrity” techniques — and perhaps not surprisingly, the League of Women Voters fielded hundreds of complaints of voter intimidation or interference, many from college students interrogated about their residency by True the Vote poll observers. After the recall election, Wisconsin’s elections board released a statement expressing concern about the “disturbing reports and complaints about unacceptable, illegal behavior by [poll] observers.” True the Vote took it personally.
Even if True the Vote is overstating its influence and fails to meet its one million poll watcher goal for November, just a few aggressive poll watchers can scare off other voters and lead to long lines. Perhapsbecause of the risk that overzealous poll watchers could make it harder to vote on election day, the Obama campaign is encouraging supporters to vote early – which is why the Ohio decision protecting early voting the weekend before the election could be crucial for Democrats.
In previous reports, IREHR has documented the existence of Tea Party national leaders opposed to voting rights for people without property, and Tea Party leaders who advocate the repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment, and equal rights before the law promised by it. IREHR has pointed out some of the most prominent white nationalists in the Tea Party ranks, and those Tea Partiers who simply act like racists and bigots. In this report, the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights details voter suppression efforts in North Carolina.
Pre-eminent among the Tea Party “poll watchers” is King Street Patriots and KSP True the Vote. King Street Patriots began as a chapter of Tea Party Patriots in Houston, Texas. Both are led by Catherine Engelbrecht, who has made herself and True the Vote ubiquitous in Tea Party circles.
Although Engelbrecht claims that the two organizations are separate and distinct, IRS Form 990s for the year 2010 show that both organizations share the same small three-person board of directors, and both operated out of the same post office box number. King Street Patriots filed as a non-profit membership corporation, 501c4 on December 30, 2009. Six months later, in June 2010, KSP-True the Vote filed as a non-profit educational charity. Both types of organizations need not reveal their donors.
In 2010, Texans for Public Justice filed a complaint with the Texas ethics commission that read, in part, “KSP/True the Vote violated the state’s prohibition on corporate contributions to political parties and candidates.” And the complaint cited multiple instances where Engelbrecht’s organizations worked directly with Republican Party candidates, and recruited “poll watchers” for them out of Tea Party ranks. KSP responded in typical Tea Party form, claiming they were being bullied by a “George Soros funded organization.”
On Aug 26, 2011, Engelbrecht changed KSP-True the Vote’s corporate name to “True the Vote Inc.”
A second case, filed as a lawsuit by the Texas Democratic Party, claimed essentially the same thing. And a Travis County district judge ruled in March 2012 that King Street Patriots was not a non-profit organization but a political action committee that must operate by PAC rules and reveal its donors. Engelbrecht said she would appeal the judge’s decision, and the Liberty Institute is King Street Patriots’ legal representation. The appeal is still pending.
Despite its legal troubles, Engelbrecht’s organizations have grown and prospered. In Ohio, True the Vote joined Judicial Watch in filing suit against election officials. In Arizona, Engelbrecht gave one of the biggest speeches at a Tea Party Patriots convention. In Colorado she did something similar at a Heritage Foundation sponsored event. And she has done the same at dozens of other venues.
In 2011, True the Vote seized the national limelight inside the Tea Party movement with its first national summit, held in the hometown of Houston. The conference attracted delegates from 27 states and laid the foundation for state-level election year efforts.At this conference, True the Vote (TTV) staff rolled out their plan to block the vote. The slickly-packaged campaign pinpoints vulnerable spots in the voting process, and instructs activists in tactics on how to overload elections officials, slow the vote, and block participation.
In an orientation video, TTV founder Catherine Engelbrecht innocently explained the organization’s focus as “work at the polls,” “researching the registry,” and helping “fix what needs fixing.”
Researching the registry means that True the Vote has purchased voter rolls from states and counties, then circulated the lists to their gaggle of unsupervised volunteers, who are urged to challenge the registrations of voters that think may be improperly registered. The True the Vote “work at the polls” entails training volunteers to be “poll watchers” – people to go to the polls on election day and aggressively challenge the registration, the identity, or the eligibility of prospective voters.
To “fix what needs fixing” True the Vote has also pushed legislative efforts to further restrict access to voting, including stringent new voter identification laws.
In practice, the TTV strategy has deterred people from registering to vote, created an atmosphere that frightens voters from showing up at the polls, overloaded election officials with baseless challenges, and slowed the vote by gumming up the process.
Out of the 2011 True the Vote Summit, the strategy to create state level groups helped spawn groups in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina. Englebrect encouraged the groups to adopt independent sounding names to disguise their relationship and free themselves from the True the Vote “baggage.”
At the 2012 True the Vote Summit, regional coordinator Vickie Pullen told the crowd that her organization had already added the voter rolls of nineteen states to its database: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. She added that California, Oregon, Washington state, and Colorado would soon follow. At that point in May 2012, she also noted that the group had already done over 120 training sessions for various groups.
At the same event, Catherine Engelbrecht, explained some of her point of view: it is all about “us,” the white redeemers of the election process, she said: “I believe we can see a restoration, not only of our elections and our process, but I think it will be the beginning of a wave of restoration. Because once we assign priority to the polls, once we elect representatives who have come to us by the way of legal, lawful elections, then those representatives go on to carry that credo of truth. And very soon you see a process that is no longer unrecognizable. It’s one that truly reflects us, because it is of us. Because we started the ball rolling to begin with. Because we said it was important enough to show up.” 
As a result of True the Vote’s activities, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D. MD), the ranking Democrat of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has launched an investigation of Catherine Engelbrecht and her organization. Rep. Cummings’ October 4, 2012 letter to Engelbrecht cited True the Vote’s record of “challenging the registration of thousands of legitimate voters based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence.” He requested copies of its correspondence, copies of its training materials used for volunteers and affiliates, copies of its computer programs, all contracts and memoranda of understanding, and much more.
A number of news reports about Rep. Cummings’ letter claimed the voter suppression group was under investigation for a possible “criminal conspiracy.” It should be noted that if there is, in fact, an investigation of criminal conspiracy, Ms. Engelbrecht and others are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Engelbrecht agreed to meet with Rep. Cummings, but refused to hand over any of the materials, in a letter full of the usual Tea Party protestations.
True the Vote and Voter Integrity Project in North Carolina
In North Carolina, True the Vote has inspired two different statewide groups engaging in voter suppression activities: North Carolina True the Vote and the Voter Integrity Project.
The Voter Integrity Project was started by Jay DeLancy, a retired Air Force officer from North Carolina. DeLancy was one of those new voter suppression activists who attended the 2011 True the Vote Summit in Houston. On his blog, DeLancy explained his views: “Motivated by groups like the King Street Patriots (of Houston, TX) and their ‘True The Vote’ campaign, I want to make sure North Carolina’s elected leaders understand that people are waking up to the danger our nation faces when good people do nothing and bad people steal elections by stuffing the ballot box or by abusing the ‘motor voter’ laws to register fictitious voters,” he wrote.
To Delaney, voter suppression efforts are essential: “I’ve reached the conclusion that some really bad people have used voter fraud to disenfranchise the rational voters (also called ‘the producers’) in our nation,” he wrote.
At first, DeLancy directly copied the Texas version of TTV directly, and created True the Vote North Carolina. But he broke from the national group, in part because True the Vote raised concerns about the Voter Integrity Project’s nativist leanings. “They’re not wanting to be branded some kind of anti-immigrant activist group,” DeLancy told the New York Times.
DeLancy started a Voter Integrity Project NC (VIP) and several months later, on May 30, 2012 Deirdre Morrison incorporated it and is the registered agent. Morrison, an accountant from Youngsville and a Tea Party activist, is a member of both the Patriot Action Network and Tea Party Nation national factions, and locally Triangle Conservatives Unite. Despite claims of Voter Integrity Project non-partisanship, Morrison is also an elected GOP precinct captain in west Youngsville. Although the Voter Integrity Project is registered as a for-profit corporation, it actually solicits donations.
The split between the Voter Integrity Project and True the Vote is a distinction without much of a difference. For example, Voter Integrity Project NC Research Director John Pizzo was still also listed as a True the Vote research team leader as of September 30.
Outside of DeLancy, Morrison, Pizzo and a mailbox at a UPS Store in a Raleigh strip mail, the Voter Integrity Project doesn’t have much organizational infrastructure. Nevertheless, it has had an outsized role in working against voting rights.
In June 2012, the Voter Integrity Project challenged—unsuccessfully—the registrations of more than 500 Wake County voters, most of whom were voters of color, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In response, DeLancy called the Brennan Center “Race-baiting Leftist(s).”
On August 31, the Voter Integrity Project presented to the elections board a list of 30,000 individuals listed as current North Carolina voters. VIP claimed these persons were actually deceased, but still registered to vote. The organization argued that that these names could be used to fraudulently vote in the dead voter’s place. Of the 30,000 names it presented, only 4,946 names actually approximated those on the actual voter rolls in a manner close enough to warrant further investigation. It should be noted that as of this writing, North Carolina elections officials have not found a single instance of anyone on the group’s challenge list who voted fraudulently. These challenges, however, have overwhelmed the staff and resources of the Board of Elections.
North Carolina True the Vote
True the Vote’s new North Carolina state director is Donna Yowell. For the last three years, Yowell, of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, has been a Tea Party stalwart out to defeat the president. She joined the Tea Party almost right away in 2009, becoming a member of groups like the Haywood County, NC 9-12 Project and Triangle Conservatives Unite. She also became a member of four different national Tea Party factions: FreedomWorks, the Patriot Action Network, Tea Party Nation, and Tea Party Patriots.
After the 2010 midterm elections, she formed the Tea Party spin-off group, Feet to the Fire. Through this group she bashed on teachers unions in Wisconsin, supported nativist legislation, promoted the anti-environmental conspiracy theory around “Agenda 21,” and tried to “to insure a conservative platform for NCGOP.” The Heritage Foundation’s political arm, Heritage Action, awarded her group with “Activist of the Month” status in 2011.
For Yowell, the fight is personal and it’s partisan. “It is time to wake up. Get out and work for your conservative views. Voting is NOT enough. BE a block captain in your precinct.- NOVEMBER IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER. WE HAVE TO TAKE BACK CONGRESS or SOCIALISM WILL BE IN FULL FORCE.” [caps in original]
Yowell, who holds an official position in the Wake County Republican Party as House District 37 Vice Chair, has made it clear it’s all about getting rid of President Obama. “Why are we allowing this person [President Obama] to destroy this wonderful country with his selfishness and his lies? His type of change is killing our country. He needs to be stopped and only our votes can stop him. Do not forget about his tactics when it’s election time. Vote Obama out of the Presidency in 2012. ’2012: THE END OF AN ERROR,’” she wrote.
Already active in far-right circles and familiar with voter suppression efforts, Yowell stepped in to become the True the Vote state director after DeLancy spun off and created the Voter Integrity Project NC.
It may not be that million person army that Engelbrecht once envisioned, but Yowell and True the Vote have built up a small battalion of volunteers in North Carolina. As of September 30, True the Vote had 286 volunteers in sixty different North Carolina counties. The largest concentrations of voter suppression volunteers are in Wake (71), Guilford (22), Mecklenburg (19), Forsyth (17), Durham (15), and Henderson (11) counties.
In North Carolina, knowledge of and opposition to those who would narrow voting rights is of great importance; in part because of the history of voter suppression and oppression in North Carolina. Recent events in North Carolina also provide a context for this current contest, and throw the battle lines on this issue into sharp relief.
In 2006, the North Carolina NAACP led the creation of a broad coalition aimed at seeking necessary reforms from the state government. Known as “Historic Thousands on Jones Street,” or HKonJ, the coalition has grown to include 125 different NAACP units in the state plus 140 other social justice organizations. Its first annual mobilization in February 2009 attracted approximately 3,500 marchers, and its demonstration in 2012 drew over 15,000 individuals. Most significantly for this report, HKonJ has changed the shape of North Carolina’s political and social life.
Among HKonJ’s many achievements, it won a dollar an hour increase in the state’s minimum wage that the Governor signed in 2007. In 2010 it won passage of the Racial Justice Act, which gave death row inmates an avenue to challenge their sentence if race was a significant factor in the sentencing. Although there were a couple of legislative attempts to repeal and revise this statute, the Governor vetoed them. HKonJ also successfully pushed the legislature to pass a same-day registration for early voting measure in 2007.
As a result, in the 2008 election, North Carolina recorded the highest percentage increase of voter turnout of any state in the country, with a 9.4% increase.
In response, the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature made several attempts to restrict the vote. In 2009, HB 430 “Voter Identification” was introduced, but never gained traction. Following GOP gains in 2010, a strict new bill requiring photo identification to vote was introduced in March 2011 as HB 351, the deceptively named “Restore Confidence in Government” Act.
The nonpartisan voter advocacy group Democracy North Carolina noted that the bill could affect more than 450,000 North Carolina residents. State officials also added that more than 550,000 residents have no identification at all, and many don’t have the money or time to get to a Department of Motor Vehicles branch and obtain one.
Nevertheless, the bill was ratified by the legislature on June 16, 2011. Gov. Bev Perdue, with the support of HKonJ, vetoed the bill on June 23, 2011. “This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters,” Perdue wrote in her veto announcement. In her statement, she also noted, “There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.”
On July 26, 2011, the House attempted to override the Governor veto, but failed to reach the three-fifths majority necessary. In a party line vote, 68 Republicans voted to override the veto, while 51 Democrats voted against the measure. Yet again, in 2012, the bill rose from the dead and it was re-introduced in May, and a move was made to get a modified version passed.
Then in June, at the height of final attempt to craft a bill that might override Gov. Perdue’s veto, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis took time to conference with several of the leading voices in support of the voter ID law.
Among those in attendance:
William Gheen of the nativist group ALIPAC. Gheen has suggested that “illegal and violent” “extra political activities” might be the only way to save “white America” from “Dictator Barack Obama.”
David DeGerolamo of the Tea Party group NC Freedom. In a 2010 interview DeGerolamo told another Tea Party leader, “I want the 14th Amendment repealed.”
Donna Yowell of Feet to the Fire (who would go on to be the state coordinator for the True the Vote voter suppression efforts).
Ron Woodward of the anti-immigrant group, NC Listen.
James and Maurine Johnson of the grassroots nativist outfit NC FIRE.
Despite this push by Tea Party and nativist groups, enough votes to override a veto threat couldn’t be wrangled before the end of the session. HKonJ played a significant role in these events, providing the political energy to protect voting rights.
Nevertheless, these issues remain hotly contested. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis told the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in Tampa that if things go well for Republicans this fall, a voter ID bill likely will become law next year. The Republican candidate for governor, Pat McCrory has also added that if elected, he would sign a similar bill.
Originally posted August 17, 2012.
The racist Ohio Secretary of State Husted at the eleventh hour issues rules for provisional ballots that will potentially rob Ohio citizens of their votes. As has become the habit of Romney operatives, Romney’s campaign spokesmen, and, apologists and explainers and gobshitters associated with te GOP’s efforts to, especially, suppress African-American votes, the goal of Husted could be re-stated:
The GOP is despicable, not generally, but specifically in their tenacious effort to make voting very hard for voters who support their opponents. Over the past few months I have heard the quasi “meta-physical” rationales: that one fraudulent vote is worse than 10 suppressed legitimate votes; that voting should be harder as a test of commitment; that politics is a grown-up and nasty game. Etc..
The last rationale, and its brethren, obviously speak to the implicit nihilism hidden not to far under the surface of a modern GOP not at all separate from the southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon, not substantially distant from the John Birch Society, not bothered much by the extravagant and stark contradiction of mashing of Jesus and John Gault.
On election day, GOP operative polling place observers have been lightly trained, and next will be let loose Tuesday in African-American polling places throughout Cuyahoga County to accomplish one single goal: slow down voting so that voters are forced to wait with the objective being that the voters eventually abandon the long lines and so decline to vote.
Reprehensible. Not surprisingly in the least, neither Romney or Ryan have issued a single word against these efforts. Meanwhile, here in Cleveland, it turns out the Einhorn family in Milwaukee was responsible for billboard warnings placed in African-American neighborhoods in own city, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Once outed, the Einhorn spokesperson offered a rationale that was spectacular in its dishonesty: the billboards were put up as “a public service.” If you can’t figure out why this is completely dishonest, I feel very sorry for you.
(Nancy Einhorn is on the Board of The Milwaukee Ballet. My guess is not for very much longer unless it turns out being a racist is an importnat qualification.)
Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch have been dominant financiers for conservative front groups and nonprofits for nearly three decades. Their money has flowed to organizations dedicated to lobbying for corporate and upper income tax cuts, as well as to groups responsible for mobilizing Tea Party rallies against President Obama. But the Koch family’s association with fringe right-wing groups began a generation earlier with Fred Koch, the patriarch of the clan.
Fred not only founded the company now known as Koch Industries, he also was afounding member of the John Birch Society. As a founding board member, Fred helped engineer a hysterical wave of attacks on labor, intellectuals, public education, liberal clergy members, and other pillars of society he viewed as a threat. Birchers decriedeveryone from former President Eisenhower to water utility administrators as pawns in a global communist conspiracy. In the last two years, as the Koch name has becomesynonymous with right-wing plutocracy in the United States, the Koch family has played down its relation to the Birchers.
However, the New American, the official mouthpiece of the John Birch Society, published a piece this morning celebrating Fred and the Koch family’s pivotal role in developing the group:
Koch warned that American institutions were honeycombed with communist subversives, from labor unions and tax-free foundations to universities and churches. Art and newsprint, radio and television — all these media had been transmuted into vehicles of communist propaganda. [...] Fred Koch was no fly-by-night pamphleteer. He spent a generous portion of his later years using his wealth and influence to fight the communism he abhorred. He was an early member of the The John Birch Society’s National Council, an advisory group to JBS founder Robert Welch. Koch supported a variety of freedom-related causes, all the while continuing to build the company today known as Koch Industries.
The Bircher ode to Koch glosses over Fred’s record of bigotry. In a booklet he authored, Fred railed against civil rights leaders, and claimed the movement against racial segregation was a communist plot to use African Americans to destabilize the country. The Koch-funded Birchers held numerous rallies during the ’60s claiming integration would lead to a “mongrelization” of the races. (Thinkprogress)
(August 17, 2012)
The most remarkable aspect, to me, of the GOP’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy by targeting the African-American vote are the wide variety of rationalizations employed by advocates of voter suppression. Each and every such rationalization ends up rooted to an unpatriotic hope: that a legitimate voter’s vote of a specific kind not ever be registered.
The Pennsylvania legislator Mike Turzai expressed this hope in certain terms and a thousand headlines were the result June 25th.
Yet, just this week on NPR he was asked about voter ID and he said something to the effect of:
“It’s not worth one illegitimate vote to drop efforts to protect the vote.”
The useless NPR questioner did not press the question begged by his ridiculous, self-righteous answer. Obviously, the GOP’s concern is about losing elections, and not about the integrity of the vote.
This connects up with racism in a straight-forward way. Husted and Priesse understand the African-American vote is to be suppressed because of their overwhelming propensity to vote for their own race.
Obviously, elderly white GOP voters get caught up in this pernicious effort to undermine our political system, so it is clearly the case that a calculation about reward versus risk underlies the increasingly widespread efforts to make it harder for legitimate voters to cast their ballots.
Meanwhile, the cause of vote suppression has engendered systematic arguments on behalf of election integrity. This presentation from Virginia Voters Alliance is typical. Note its Tea Party inflections at the same time you note that none of its inculpatory ‘facts’ are actually documented. This group’s presentation boldly proclaims George Soros is pulling the strings!
All the tidy rationales are usually easily discombobulated, with a little scratching, to reveal suppression proponent’s true racist intent. The easiest way to get at this is to ask proponents about what would happen if every last eligible voter were to vote. (Unlikely voters favor Obama by 2-1.) In this regard, the rough and tumble rationale “Politics is a mean business and the ends justify the means.” is at least honest.
Perhaps the most famous recent example of racially-based vote suppression in the United States took place during the presidential election of 2000. The State of Florida ordered implementation of a purge list to remove voters from the rolls. The purge disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters – primarily African Americans. These citizens were prevented from casting ballots through their largely erroneous – and humiliating – classification as convicted felons. Racially-Based Suppression of the African-American Vote: The Role It May Play in the Upcoming Presidential Election By Sherry Colb, Oct. 29, 2004
NAACP and Florida Voters Reach Agreement with ChoicePoint® in Voting Rights Lawsuit
ChoicePoint to Make Donation to NAACP and Reprocess Voter Exception List
WASHINGTON, D.C. / ALPHARETTA, Ga. – July 2, 2002 – Civil rights plaintiffs have reached an agreement with ChoicePoint (NYSE: CPS) over work performed by Database Technologies (DBT) for the State of Florida in the 2000 elections. The NAACP and Florida voters filed a federal lawsuit – NAACP v. Harris – challenging the conduct of state and local officials in the 2000 Florida elections, including DBT, because of the company’s work as a contractor hired by the state.
As part of the settlement, ChoicePoint will donate $75,000 to the NAACP, which will be used to fund past and future efforts to further the electoral opportunities of Florida’s minority voters. Under the agreement, the company also will re-process the 1999 and 2000 “exceptions lists” of Florida voters who may have been ineligible to vote because of possible felony criminal convictions or because of possibly being registered to vote in more than one county. The reprocessing will be conducted pursuant to terms proposed by the plaintiffs and subject to court approval.
DBT was under contract with the State of Florida from late 1998 through 2000 to create a list of registered voters who may have been deceased, registered in more than one county, or convicted felons under the Florida voting fraud statute. ChoicePoint acquired DBT in May, 2000, after the initial 2000 voter exception list was delivered to Florida officials for verification.
Comprehensive, academic, legal, social scientific, clearinghouse on election integrity: Brennan Center for Justice.
Michael Tomasky: How the GOP Plans to Block the Black Vote.
It’s a sick and sickening situation, and it delegitimizes everything else about the Republican Party. I can understand how someone believes in limited government or low taxes. I can understand how someone could oppose affirmative action. I cannot understand how any individual can be anything other than abjectly ashamed to be associated with a political party so thuggish as to try to rig elections like this and then at its conventions have the gall to invoke Abraham Lincoln and hire lots of black people to sing and dance and smile, to make up for their absence among the attendees. A black mark indeed.
“I never in my lifetime thought I would see a creepier politician than Richard Nixon, but in the last few days, it became clear that Willard Mitt Romney is really, really creepy.” Stephen Stills
(Video ad. Asserting that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican is a very old piece of bullshit.)
The stock election season kiss offs of the other guy’s mendacities are, one, everybody does it, and, two, the other guy is no worse. This time around, Obama’s b aloney is up against epic crap peddling by Romney, obviously himself committed to saying what he feels he has to say to cajole a few votes out of undecideds.
In light of these battle-tested kiss offs, is there still a possibility of blowback? For example, it’s very bold of Willard and his handlers to automatically assume their line of crap about the recent history of the auto industry in Ohio can be made to float down and rest easily in the ears of an Ohio public that, at the ‘mean,’ probably knows much more about the recent history of the auto industry in Ohio than the candidate.
The most impressive aspect of Romney’s campaign strategy of customized, data-driven, lying will be that it proved to be successful, if his victory comes to pass. The second most impressive aspect of this strategy is what it says about Romney’s character and how this character melds with Romney’s sense of the electorate’s intelligence. The third most impressive aspect is what this outpouring of lies may assert about Mormonism.
Of course, we already understand in the game of returning the GOP to executive power that the ends always justify the means.
“I happen to believe that the choice you make [on Nov. 6] will have enormous consequence for a senior who’s perhaps needing the care of a specialist, if he or she makes a call to the doctor and if Obamacare is installed and the president’s re-elected, why when making that call, you’re mostly likely going to have the receptionist come back and say, ‘Sorry, we’re not taking in more Medicare patients.’” Willard Mitten Romney
Not even an iota of truth to this bit of fear-mongering.
It is becoming increasingly apparent Ann Romney has lived as sheltered a life as has her husband.
Romney’s remarks, then, are of a piece with a narrative – poverty as character defect – favored by many who know exactly jack about the reality of poverty, but who have discovered that demonizing the faceless poor, giving us someone new to resent and blame, is good politics. They wrap their attacks in rags of righteousness and pretensions of pragmatism, but there is something viscerally wrong, morally shrunken, in a nation where the most fortunate are encouraged to treat the least fortunate as some enemy race.
So the big story here is not about what damage Romney did to his campaign. Yes, the fact that he used condemnation of the poor as a lever of political advantage shames him.
But the very fact that the lever exists shames us all.
Coerced to accept penetration by any object is called what? Figure it out by the logic of Paul Ryan:
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Ladies, get ready to hand over your body to the GOP, as Ann and Mitt prepare for (your) future rubber glove moments.
Caption Contest. [Marie] Anntoinette Romney, wife of Willard. who famously scraped by with the Mittster in college by clipping coupons, eating macaroni and chesse, and, “living on Mitt’s investments.”
The Romney strategy is currently surprising basic: rev up the base in the half dozen swing states by deploying the technique of Goebbels, The Big Lie(s), fold in racist dog whistling, and, let the so called issues PACS, and Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers, simply bury Obama’s ground game in televised mendacity. I’m expecting a full-on deployment of the means necessary to wage a battle based in old white rural guy class resentment cast in end-times apocalyptic plotting and radical misinterpretations of Jefferson’s advisory.
(Jefferson, doh, was an anti-oligarch.)
The sudden appearance of a relentless effort to alienate female undecideds is counter-intuitive.
Then, if elected, Romney can move back into the ‘absolutist royalist opaque,’ and pivot back to the tried and true borrow-and-spend, and, to a chewy regional war in a new sandy middle eastern locale. Glorious! Bodies of the Iranian tribes and of the domestic poor will be flyin’ everywhere!
Ha ha. Apparently Willard has a thin skin. The debates will be fun.
Still, the question remains, if the Koch Brothers and Adelson, in effect, purchase a ruling majority–with an assist from determined voter suppression–how do they collaborate with GOP plutocrats to etch in their advantage for the remainder of all time?
Romney, despite being a Mormon, is evidently a quasi-nihilist too. Odd combo, I know. What is Romney’s central value, ethic, aesthetic?
Answer: Mitt Romney.
Paul Ryan in remarks this weekend, about President Obama. “Whatever the explanations, whatever the excuses, this is a record of failure.”
Linguists could parse Ryan’s phrase, whatever the explanations. I’d be curious to learn more about its construction. Actually, Paul R-Ayn, explanations do matter. Let’s bring our big brackets in to play. On one end is the domestic economy from the mid-nineties going forward into the Bush era, then the inkling of a housing asset bubble, and then cheap money, exotic derivatives and collateralized debt instruments, into that August four years ago, and, soon enough, TARP, and, under the circumstances, a fairly close election.
Obama’s first two years without enough of a congressional majority or mandate to go full-on-Roosevelt, then the Tea Party wave election, and, a spectacular do nothing congress, in which many of the House’s GOP members were, in effect, pledged to the destruction of Obama’s Presidency.
What are the explanations? What does it mean to state whatever the explanations?
Keep the concept explanation in mind for the following thought problem. Here’s a question you can pitch to right leaners, tea partistas, libertarians, and, galtians: if a two trillion dollar stimulus in 2009 & 2010 would have driven unemployment down to 6% by August 2012, would it have been worth it? In other words, assume it would have and decide your answer.
Okay, my iconoclastic view is that if you do not care to accurately explain why a problem came about and happened, then it’s unlikely your solution is going to work. For example, this sense of mine means creationists and advocates of intelligent design disqualify themselves for solving the problem, how is biology to be taught?
It’s likewise with those who advocate supply-side economics; privatizing social security; and democratizing the mid-east. (And, on and on of course, on both sides of the partisan divide.) Paul Ryan is the leading intellect of the GOP and, at the same time, he’s an anti-intellectual, is apparently against explanation.
David Frum: Romney has transformed a campaign about jobs and growth into a campaign about entitlements and Medicare.
Charles S. Peirce; Esquire: This is a guy in love with his own concocted genius.
[Ryan] does not have the raw balls to explain to the country that, no, he does not believe in government — not the federal government, anyway, and not as it was originally conceived, as the fundamental expression of a political commonwealth. He’s grandfathered his plan to chloroform Medicare so that, despite the deficit that he considers such an urgent problem, nobody alive today who might vote against him will be affected by it. For the same reason, he will not specify the cuts that he will make or the tax “loopholes” —coughMortgageInterestDeductioncough — that he will close. In any way that will come to matter to the people whose lives his policies will make harder and more miserable, Paul Ryan is still the high-school kid living off Social Security survivor benefits and reading Ayn Rand by flashlight under the sheets.
John Dickerson; Slate; But for all of the talk of a new emphasis on policy specifics, this is still going to be a campaign deeply connected to American values. When Ryan spoke on Saturday, he talked about the threat Obama poses to the American way of life. Underneath every policy debate will be the argument that when tough choices have to be made about the federal government, you’re going to want candidates who share your values when they’re doing the awful math of scarcity.
Let’s contemplate seven phases of the fully realized form of R-Ayn’s utopia perspective. (I read these goals to constitute a furious race to the bottom.)
(1) throw millions of government employees out of work
(2) throw millions of people off their healthcare
(3) throw millions of college students off their Pell Grants
(4) pluck hundreds of millions of dollars from the pockets of the elderly, the salaried and hourly work force, and, give this money to
(5) tens of thousands of high-wealth individuals, including many who never worked a single day in their life for their wealth
(6) just for grins, increase the incidence of the late stage cancers women get
(7) Accelerate tens of millions of sick people visiting emergency rooms
This will be wrapped in Christian ‘ethics’ and Patriotism. Except, obviously, Romney and R-Ayn won’t be running very hard on this platform at all. It’s a loser. They’ll run against Obama the socialist and anti-Capitalist deceiver, and traitor to America, and son of a dirty fucking hippie and African. The GOP side, methinks, are now forced to go completely with the culture war strategy, the politics of resentment, and this seems especially congruent with their patently racist voter suppression strategy.
The point of this would be painting, again, the picture of Obama being something like an African Jihadi Manchurian Anti-colonialist Cosmopolitan Ivy league Affirmative Action Saul Alinsky Communist Organizer who abhors success and loves the culture of handouts. There will be plenty of dog whistles and appeals which suggest Obama is actually trying to buy votes with welfare. This tactic reflects a useful but untrue explanation Romney/Ryan endorse.
As a political and sociological phenomena, I, for one, am interested in how this all works to fit together the social and institutional structure and political economy of the USA. What, come the day after the election, explains the result, and, explains how one might smartly anticipate the new prospects? Just sayin’ . . .explanations matter!
(8) [The Hill] The House Republican budget released Tuesday would shield the Pentagon from nearly $500 billion in automatic cuts and roll back some of the $487 billion reduction approved in last year’s Budget Control Act. The plan from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) asks six congressional committees — but not Armed Services — to find $261 billion in savings to help roll back the automatic cuts through sequestration that were triggered by the failure of the supercommittee. The Ryan plan also increases national defense spending to $554 billion in 2013, an increase of $8 billion over the $546 billion that was agreed to under the Budget Control Act.
War. Destruction. Death.
I suspect the scale of our nation and its resources help conceal how unexceptional in many ways is our nation’s recent performance. My provisional explanation about this particular trend, (rooted to an anthropologically-minded analysis of the socio-political economy,) begins with the 1960 election. We can track over fifty years the curve of an appalling amount of death-dealing, the amount hundreds of billions of dollars purchases.
Meanwhile, domestically, why would anyone intentionally amplify, for example, greed and rent seeking and Randian ethics at the same time, for example, most of Asia and Europe and India, has come to eat our lunch and shorts by committing to eventually educating their billions of children better than we educate our own American children?
Who possibly in their right mind believes America’s future global ability to compete will be secured by making the country into Texas?
Romney/Ryan would be unable to convince me that their intense, self-righteous utopian phantasy about saving America is not also yoked to an equivalent Shadow; underside; blindness; and hubris. But I can’t (much) explain why it is they wholeheartedly endorse America transforming itself into an even more vicious, hyper-aristocratic, Galtian triumph-of-the-makers, society.
Especially this is so when I contemplate a future in which several billion 20-40 year old English-speaking Chinese and Indian men and woman have no trouble rattling off, when asked, what is the scientific method.
Josh Green, quoting Romney’s Twitter nemesis, comedian Rob Delaney, “Romney fascinates me endlessly,” Delaney said before his show at a Montreal comedy festival last week. “He’s such an attractive target comedically because more than any other candidate in my lifetime, he just wants to be president. That’s it! He longs for it. Feels it’s his birthright. I can imagine him getting elected and just saying, ‘Well, that’s that then!’ and staring out a window.”
He just needs to be President. It would, complete him.
I wonder about Willard’s Mormonism. Does Romney justify his mendacity for theological reasons? Does Romney understand Jesus did come to America, (or appeared so-to-speak. as reported in the Mormon holy epic?) Against these several things I’m curious about, the probable toxic contents of his unrevealed tax returns are, to me, boring. Oh, he won’t destroy his campaign by releasing any more returns.
Today, I am amazed Romney and his courtmen figured out a way to lie, and, piss off military men and women in a single swoop. How could Mittens be so stupid to let this happen?
Meanwhile, and speaking of someone “substantial and important,” who is by reputation Mitt’s intellectual superior, Paul Ryan, some ripe and embarrassing footage:
How can Ryan be considered intelligent and also spout anti-intellectual clap trap such as that on display from the beginning to the end of this clip? It showcases his puerile Randian fantasizing and his sober allegiance to the thorough-going banalities of his ideological fixations.
Curious about Ryan, I now know way too much about how his youthful enthusiasms got the best of his raw intellectual potential. I’m fairly certain Ryan will never tutor himself on the principle ways purist political ideologies–as a genre–are in all cases found to be disreputable and incredible.
The moral of the story is to beware of politicians pumped up on ideological visions stoked by novelists and fairy tales about how slashing taxes and spending sets us free. The world is more complicated than that. Our economic challenges will never be resolved by those who pledge never to raise taxes or spending any more than it would by those who pledge never to cut them.
And especially don’t be fooled if they happen to possess the numeracy to write their ideas down in budgets. Their numbers just don’t add up.
Reminding me of Reagan, the iconic Republican who figured out the political advantages of matching the ‘supply-side’ with white resentment. Romney, as I sense his motivations, wants to usher in a sea change as Reagan did in his time. It seems to the point that Reagan, now a template, wanted to get his foot in the door as a matter of his having successfully retailed a fresh ideology, and then, once elected, Reagan just did what he wanted to do. So, he was a Keynesian; a proxy cold killer of hundreds of thousands of innocent Hispanic peasants; a radical anti-Constitutionalist; a taxer, borrower, profligate spender; a negotiator with terrorists; a benefactor of jihadis; and, incidentally, the headman for a famously corrupt administration; and one that served as a finishing school for future war criminals Rumsfeld and Cheney and many others.
Soon enough, during the eighties, in effect, the contras came to feast on the Laffer Curve.
Already, the fever dream of leading American military might into a desert world war in Iran has struck chicken hawk/draft dodger Romney’s fancy–with all his talk about stopping Iran’s capability. If Romney is elected, my guess is that Ryan’s fantastic plan to rapidly race to the bottom in the name of Ayn Rand will end up being subsumed by a counter-productive conflagration in Iran.
It is helpful always to remind yourself that, in the mind of Willard Romney, there are only two kinds of people — himself and his family, and The Help. Throughout his career, and especially throughout his brief political career, Romney has treated The Help with a kind of lordly disdain. It was there when he swooped down from snowy Olympus and shoved an incumbent Republican governor named Jane Swift under a train. It was there in the general election in 2002, when he glibly pushed aside the Democratic candidate, state treasurer Shannon O’Brien, who raised almost all the same issues against Romney that the president and his people are belaboring him with today. The only time it didn’t work was in his race against Senator Edward Kennedy, when Romney found himself up against a candidate with so much money that he couldn’t outspend him, and so much historical gravitas that he couldn’t ignore him.
The Help has no right to go pawing through the family books, giggling at the obvious loopholes and tax dodges, running amok through all the tax shelters, and probably getting their chocolate-y fingerprints all over the pages of the Romney family ledger. And, certainly, those members of The Help in the employ of the president of the United States, who is also part of The Help, have no right to use the nearly comically ostentatious wealth of the Romney as some sort of scrimey political weapon. He does not have to answer to The Help. I mean, jeepers, he’s running for office.
This isn’t stubbornness. That’s often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done. (Charles S. Pierce, Esquire, July 16)