Governor Mitt Romney has yet to persuade the religious conservatives in his party that he is fit to be President of the United States. However, he could probably appease the Republican base and secure his party’s nomination if he made the following remarks prior to the South Carolina Primary:
My fellow Republicans,
I would like to address your lingering concerns about my candidacy. Some of you have expressed doubts about my commitment to a variety of social causes—and some have even questioned my religious faith. Tonight, I will speak from the heart about the values that unite us.
First, on the subject of gay rights, let me make my position perfectly clear: I am as sickened by homosexuality as any man or woman in this country. It is true that I wrote a letter in 1994 where I said that “we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern,” and for this I have been mocked and pilloried, especially by Evangelicals. But ask yourselves, what did I mean by “equality”? I meant that all men and women must be given an equal chance to live a righteous life.
Yes, I once reached out to the Log Cabin Republicans—the gays in our party. Many people don’t know that there are gay Republicans, but it is true. Anyway, in a letter to this strange group, I pledged to do more for gay rights than Senator Edward Kennedy ever would.
Well, Senator Kennedy is now deceased—so I don’t have to do much to best him and keep my promise. But, more to the point, ask yourselves, what did I mean by “rights”? I meant that every man and woman has a right to discover the love of Jesus Christ and win life eternal. What else could I have meant? Seriously. What could be more important than eternal life? Jesus thought we all had a right to it. And I agree with him. And I think we should amend our Constitution to safeguard this right for everyone by protecting the sanctity of marriage.
I don’t have to tell you what is at stake. If gays are allowed to marry, it will debase the institution for the rest of us and perhaps loosen its bonds. Liberals scoff at this. They wonder how my feelings for my wife Ann could be diminished by the knowledge that a gay couple somewhere just got married. What an odd question.
On abortion—some say I have changed my views. It is true that I once described myself as “pro-choice.” But again, ask yourselves, what did I mean? I meant that every woman should be free to make the right choice. What is the right choice? To have as many children as God bestows. I once visited the great nation of Nigeria and a met woman who was blessed to have had 24 children—fully two-thirds of which survived beyond the age of five. The power of God is beyond our understanding. And this woman’s faith was a sight to behold.
Finally, I would like to address the scandalous assertion, once leveled by the Texas Pastor, Robert Jeffress, that my church—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—is “a cult.” In fairness, he almost got that right—the LDS Church is a culture. A culture of faith and goodness and reverence for God Almighty. Scientology is a cult—this so-called religion was just made up out of whole cloth by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. But the teachings of my Church derive directly from the prophetic experience of its founder, Joseph Smith Jr., who by the aid of sacred seer stones, the Urim and Thummim, was able to decipher the final revelations of God which were written in reformed Egyptian upon a set golden plates revealed to him by the angel Moroni. Many of you are probably unfamiliar with this history—and some of you may even doubt its truth.
I am now speaking to the base of our party, to the 60 percent who believe that God created this fine universe, and humanity in its present form, at some point in the last 10,000 years. Let me make one thing absolutely clear to you: I believe what you believe. Your God is my God. I believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and the Son of God, crucified for our sins, and resurrected for our salvation. And I believe that He will return to earth to judge the living and the dead.
But my Church offers a further revelation: We believe that when Jesus Christ returns to earth, He will return, not to Jerusalem, or to Baghdad, but to this great nation—and His first stop will be Jackson County, Missouri. The LDS Church teaches that the Garden of Eden itself was in Missouri! Friends, it is a marvelous vision. Some Christians profess not to like this teaching. But I ask you, where would you rather the Garden of Eden be, in the great state of Missouri or in some hellhole in the Middle East?
In conclusion, I want to assure you all, lest there be any doubt, that I share your vision for this country and for the future of our world. Some say that we should focus on things like energy security, wealth inequality, epidemic disease, global climate change, nuclear proliferation, genocide, and other complex problems for which scientific knowledge, rational discussion, and secular politics are the best remedy. But you and I know that the problem we face is deeper and simpler and far more challenging. Since time immemorial humanity has been misled by Satan, the Father of Lies.
I trust we understand one another better now. And I hope you know how honored I will be to represent our party in the coming Presidential election.
God bless this great land, the United States of America.
By: Sam Harris, Sam Harris Blog, January 15, 2012
At the Fox News/Wall Street Journal debate Monday night in South Carolina, GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney made a breathtakingly bogus claim about President Obama’s jobs record. “We have a president in office three years,” Romney claimed, “and he does not have a jobs plan yet.”
Romney is either suffering from selective amnesia or is trying to dupe the public. Last fall, the president unveiled his American Jobs Act, a $447 billion package of tax cuts for businesses; funds to retain more teachers, cops, and firefighters; and money to hire construction workers to upgrade and retrofit public schools nationwide. The bill also included $50 billion for investing in America’s roads, bridges, rail lines, and other infrastructure. All the measures in the Jobs Act are intended to spur hiring and prevent layoffs throughout the American economy. Need more? Check out this entire website devoted to the Jobs Act.
In November, Senate Republicans blocked various pieces of the American Jobs Act on three separate occasions. Now, Obama says he’s going to try to implement job-creating measures on his own without sending legislation to Congress. But to claim that the president “does not have a jobs plan yet,” as Mitt Romney did on Monday night, couldn’t be further from the truth.
By: Andy Kroll, Mother Jones, January 16, 2012
The last few weeks of the Republican Presidential road show has been dominated by discussion of Mitt Romney’s career as head of a Wall Street private equity firm — Bain Capital. Most people who enter politics have some previous career in the private sector — especially if they’re wealthy.
But Mitt Romney’s career on Wall Street — which he apparently hoped would allow him to tout his credentials as a “job creator” — will instead weigh down his election hopes like a massive millstone. There are six reasons why:
1). First and most important, attacks on Romney’s history at Bain are not “attacks on free enterprise” — or being “anti-business.” They are important for what they communicate about Mitt Romney and his values and the contrast that it poses with President Obama.
Barack Obama – like Mitt Romney — earned a degree at Harvard — and all of the opportunities that afforded. But when he graduated from law school, Obama went to work helping workers in the shadow of closed -down steel mills. Romney made millions for himself closing down steel mills.
The point is not just that workers were laid off, or jobs were outsourced — though they were. The point is not whether some of the ventures Romney funded succeeded and others failed. The point is that the impact of Romney’s business activity on the lives of ordinary people was incidental to his one and only goal: making huge sums of money for himself and a small group of his partners and investors.
Romney’s idea of success was embodied in that picture from two decades ago, with Romney at the center, surrounded by a squadron of Wall Street sharpies with money coming out of their pockets, their mouths and ears.
The point of the Bain story is that Romney would do whatever he could legally do to make money for himself and his crew. The effect of his decisions on the lives of ordinary people — or even the businesses in which they invested — was simply irrelevant. If shifting jobs overseas would make him and his friends more money – fine. If Bain could make millions by loading up a business with debt and bleeding it of cash — that was fine too — even if it meant that the business itself was ultimately forced to close. If buying a business and chopping it up into parts for resale would make him more money — so be it.
Improving the lives of ordinary workers — or of local communities — was never his goal. His goal was to make millions and millions of dollars for himself — often at other people’s expense. Instead of viewing ordinary workers as human beings who were parts of a team, he viewed them as “factors of production” — assets to be used when they helped him make money — objects to be discarded when that would fatten his bottom line.
Americans want a President who understands and cares about ordinary people — that’s not the Mitt Romney of Bain Capital.
2). If you were the Republican Party, you couldn’t pick a worse time to nominate a candidate with a resume as one of Wall Street’s “Masters of the Universe.”
Even today, most voters are acutely aware that the recklessness of the big Wall Street Banks — and a complicit Bush Administration — caused the 2008 financial crisis that cost eight million Americans their jobs and worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.
The GOP will have to go some distance to convince everyday voters that they should trust their economic futures to a guy who was part of precisely the same crowd whose greed and recklessness just sent the economy crashing in flames.
After all, not many people would be keen to sign up for a cruise managed by the same team that commanded the Titanic.
3). Over the last year, Americans have become increasingly focused on economic inequality — and on the fact that the gang that caused the economy to collapse kept making billions while everyone else paid the price.
The message of the Occupy Movement doesn’t resonate solely on the left of the political spectrum. Occupy speaks to many independents and conservatives as well.
And let’s remember, the Occupy Movement started out as “Occupy Wall Street.” Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with the exploding role of the financial sector in the American economy. They are not uncomfortable because of theoretical or “policy” concerns. It just doesn’t make sense to them that a relatively tiny number of people — who don’t build a product or create a service — can make massive amounts of money, while ordinary people who work hard and play by the rules see their incomes flat-line.
Their view is simple. They create cars, or food, or houses or computers — or they provide police protection, or care for sick people, or teach our kids. Why should they be asked to sacrifice when guys who basically gamble for a living — as Wall Street speculators — make incomprehensibly large sums of money?
It makes no sense to them that 400 families control as much wealth as 150 million of their fellow Americans — that the top 1% control 30% of all of the wealth in America.
It makes no sense that a hedge fund investor like John Paulson can make $5 billion in income and pay a lower percentage in taxes than a secretary. He makes $2.4 million per hour — or $40,000 a second. Paulson makes as much in the first 1.25 minutes of the work year as the average worker makes all year long.
That kind of excessive wealth might not upset everyday Americans so much if their own incomes were growing. But those incomes have stagnated for decades. And over those same decades, the incomes of the top 1% have increased by almost 300%.
And perhaps most galling to everyday voters, is the fact that the wealthiest Americans have such an outsized influence setting the rules — cutting their own taxes — making their own regulations — and are rarely held accountable for the recklessness that has cost everyone else so dearly.
Americans feel that the middle class is in dire jeopardy — that it is under attack. They worry that the American dream will be snatched from their own families — and those of their children.
Not a great time for the Republicans to nominate a poster boy for the one percent.
4). The impact of Romney’s record at Bain is magnified by his own personality.
Romney comes across as a cold, calculating guy — precisely the kind of guy who doesn’t blink an eye when he orders up hundreds of “pink slips.” He is about as empathetic as a rock.
He has a hard time connecting with people in public — and on TV. And he seems to have a tin ear — a hard time understanding how his remarks will be interpreted by ordinary voters.
He “enjoys” firing people who don’t give him good service. Really?
He doesn’t understand how it might sound for a guy who has a fortune of $200 million to say that he is actually “unemployed” too. Or when — having graduated from Harvard, born into a family of the CEO of a big auto company, he says he has been worried about getting a “pink slip”? Sure.
He doesn’t even have to stop and think when he offers to bet $10,000 on who is right in a televised debate? Ten thousand dollars is two thirds of the average annual Social Security benefit.
That kind of tin ear sends a message to ordinary voters that he is simply out of touch – that he doesn’t understand or empathize with the lives of ordinary Americans.
Then there is the story of the 12-hour trip with the dog in the kennel on top of the car. The story about how when the dog got sick riding on top of the car — had an attack of diarrhea. Romney hosed down the car — hosed down the dog — put the dog back on top of the car and continued the drive.
These personal characteristics just reinforce the picture of Romney as a Wall Street baron who doesn’t understand or care about the needs, or lives, or interests of ordinary Americans.
5). The fact that Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have joined in defining Romney’s Bain years absolutely inoculates Democrats from charges that they are “anti-free enterprise” or “anti-business” when they make the same charges.
Probably not very likely that Gingrich or Perry would volunteer to attack Romney’s history at Bain next September — but they just did. All Democrats need to do is put a clip of Rick Perry in an ad where he accused Romney of being a “vulture capitalist.”.
6). Finally, in so many respects, Romney’s Bain history makes him the perfect antagonist in the campaign narrative set out by President Obama last month in his Kansas speech.
The President will, quite correctly, frame the upcoming election as a battle for the future of the American middle class — a choice between a society where we’re all in this together or all in this alone.
He will offer a vision of America where we look out for each other — where everyone is called upon to play by the same rules — and everyone gets a fair shot, a fair shake and contributes their fair share.
The Willard Mitt Romney who ran Bain Capital is the perfect foil for the Democratic narrative this fall. That’s why the Bain Capital narrative is so important for defining Romney and setting the terms of this year’s election campaign.
Just visualize the national political debate that features the Mitt Romney we’ve seen on TV the last several weeks and the Barack Obama who made the speech in Osawatomie, Kansas last month.
At the close of his Kansas speech — which took place in the same town where Theodore Roosevelt had announced his “New Nationalism” a century ago. Obama said:
“We are all Americans,” Teddy Roosevelt told them that day. “Our common interests are as broad as the continent.” In the final years of his life, Roosevelt took that same message all across this country, from tiny Osawatomie to the heart of New York City, believing that no matter where he went, no matter who he was talking to, everybody would benefit from a country in which everyone gets a fair chance.
And well into our third century as a nation, we have grown and we’ve changed in many ways since Roosevelt’s time. The world is faster and the playing field is larger and the challenges are more complex. But what hasn’t changed — what can never change — are the values that got us this far. We still have a stake in each other’s success. We still believe that this should be a place where you can make it if you try. And we still believe, in the words of the man who called for a New Nationalism all those years ago, “The fundamental rule of our national life,” he said, “the rule which underlies all others — is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.” And I believe America is on the way up.
By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post, January 16, 2012
Mitt Romney thinks he has figured out why people are critiquing his private-sector record: they’re jealous of rich people.
Romney said on Wednesday’s Today show that all the carping about greed and excess in America is “about envy. It’s about class warfare.”
Romney is smarting from attacks over his time as the head of Bain Capital, the Boston private-equity firm he founded. Gov. Rick Perry called Romney a “vulture capitalist” and Newt Gingrich accused him of “looting companies” while at Bain. These broadsides echo the Democrats who have derided Romney as a “corporate buyout specialist” who outsourced and eliminated jobs in order to line his own pockets.
Yet, like the snobby homecoming queen who thinks everyone hates her because they are jealous, Romney can’t see that it’s not his financial success in itself that is the problem. It’s that many people find his self-serving brand of capitalism—which was the hallmark of the recent economic collapse—repulsive.
Don’t blame the green-eyed monster. It’s simply that Americans are increasingly fed up with the behavior of the ultra-wealthy who have enriched themselves with no regard for the pile of middle class bodies they leave in their wake. In fact, a Pew poll released Wednesday discovered that two thirds of the public (66 percent) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor, up 19 points since 2009.
Why would this be? Cue the tape: “Make a profit. That’s the name of the game, right?” a smirking Romney says in King of Bain: When Romney Came to Town, a documentary Gingrich’s super PAC released on the Internet Wednesday.
In other words: don’t hate the player, hate the game.
But it’s not a “game,” Mitt.
Furthermore, making a profit is only one component of owning a business. Whatever happened to the idea that you are responsible for your workers and to the larger community? Too often, people feel like just pawns in a game of ever-increasing largesse for the top dogs. The big shots are always the winners—often getting payouts in the millions when their companies fail—and the “losers” are left to figure out how to eat or buy clothes for their children. (A new study found that $100 million “golden parachutes” have become commonplace for failed CEOs.)
Romney’s “class envy” claim is predicated on a lie we often here from the uber-rich and their defenders: the highest goal and achievement for Americans is to be wealthy, when all most people want is to be able to provide a decent lives for their families.
Pew Research found in 2008 that only 13 percent of adults say it’s “very important” for them to be wealthy. The survey found that, “Four times more people say ‘doing volunteer work or donating to charity’ is a very important priority than say the same about being wealthy.” And about five times more Americans (67 percent) say it’s very important to them to have enough free time. Having children, living a religious life, and getting married also ranked vastly higher than being wealthy.
Yet, Romney has made the “class envy” trope central to his message. In his New Hampshire victory speech Romney whined that President Obama “divides us with the bitter politics of envy.
Romney complained to on Wednesday’s Today show, “Everywhere [President Obama] goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.” In maximum Thurston Howell III mode, Romney allowed, “I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms.” But the president is talking about it in public!
How uncouth. Doesn’t Obama know that it’s always best to discuss the unwashed masses over martinis at the gentlemen’s club?
The unlikely hero in this tale has been Newt Gingrich, who has been making the most coherent argument for ethical capitalism. Says Gingrich, what we want is “a free enterprise system that is honest … fair to everyone and gives everyone an equal opportunity to pursue happiness.” Criticizing Romney’s brand of free enterprise, Gingrich said, “It’s not fine if the person who is rich manipulates the system, gets away with all the cash and leaves behind the human beings.”
Be still, my heart.
Newt’s new message—and Romney’s continued tin ear to this issue—may pay dividends in the upcoming primary states. Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, which have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, people in South Carolina are suffering mightily with a 9.9 percent unemployment rate. Ditto for the following two primary states, Florida and Nevada, with jobless rates in the double digits.
Romney gaffes, such as “I like to be able to fire people” probably aren’t going to engender a lot of love. Nor will his joking that, “I’m also unemployed … and I’m not working” as he told a group of unemployed Floridians. In Nevada—with the highest foreclosure rate in the country—a clip showing Romney saying, “Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process” is sure to be a dud.
Romney needs to figure out that Americans aren’t player haters. They don’t have “Mitt envy.” They just want jobs.
I’ll bet Romney $10,000 I’m right.
By: Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast, January 13, 2012
In America today, the top 1 percent earns more income than the bottom 50 percent and the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of the country–150 million Americans. We have the most unfair distribution of wealth and income of any industrialized country.
In America today, the middle class is largely disappearing while the rich and largest corporations are doing phenomenally well. Meanwhile, despite a $15 trillion national debt, the effective tax rate for the top 1 percent is the lowest in decades and many large corporations enjoy huge tax loopholes and pay little or nothing in taxes.
In America today, while insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry enjoy large profits, 50 million Americans lack health insurance, and we are the only major country on Earth that does not provide healthcare to all as a guaranteed right.
All of these disturbing American realities, and many more, are related to the sad fact that the Washington political establishment is much more interested in representing the wealthy and the powerful than the needs of ordinary Americans. Why is that? The answer is simple. We have a horrendous campaign finance system in which Big Money is able to elect the candidates of its choice and defeat those who oppose its agenda.
The absurd Citizens United Supreme Court decision makes a bad situation much worse. Now, corporations can go right into their treasuries, set up super PACs, and spend as much as they want, without disclosure, on political advertising. This gives the Big Money interests even more power over the political process. It makes it harder and harder for the voice of the average American to be heard.
If we are serious about giving ordinary Americans the power to control their political future, we must overturn the Citizens United decision, eliminate super PACSs, and move toward public funding of elections. Our goal must be a government that represents all of the people, and not just those wealthy individuals and corporations who can put millions into political campaigns.
By: Sen Bernie Saunders, Vermont; U. S. News and World Report Debate Club, January 13, 2012