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Those “Unspeakable Newsletters”: A Question Rand Paul Refuses To Answer About Dad

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) turned his back to me. Why? Because I asked a question he really didn’t want to answer.

On Saturday night, during the first of the back-to-back New Hampshire debates, ABC News moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Ron Paul, who’d been running second in the New Hampshire polls before the first GOP presidential primary, about racist remarks that appeared in his newsletters during the 1980s and 1990s: “Can you…explain to everybody what happened there, how it was possible that those kind of comments went out under your name without you knowing about it?”

Paul said he did not write those passages, but he declined to explain how such swill had ended up in a newsletter bearing his name. He dismissed the 20-plus-year-old matter as “diverting the attention from most of the important issues.” But then he jumped back in time himself, saying, “You ought to ask me what my relationship is for racial relationships. And one of my heroes is Martin Luther King [Jr.] because he practiced the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience.”

After the debate, I found Rand Paul in the Spin Room, where representatives of the candidates had gathered to explain to the gaggle of reporters why their particular man had won the debate and was now firmly on the path to victory. I asked him if he could point to any specific times in his life—as a child or young adult—when his father had expressed admiration for King. He replied:

Through the years, I’ve not only heard him say that, but that he has admiration for Gandhi. He has admiration for people who have led mass and nonviolent protests against government unjustness. There’s one quote I can remember him using, saying that ‘any unjust law is a law a majority passes upon a minority but doesn’t make binding on themselves.’ And that was the whole nature of segregation in the South… That’s something that’s been consistent through his career.

That was not so specific, but Rand Paul did at least note that his pop could cite MLK. (The real quote: “An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself.”)

Next, I asked, “Then can you explain why in the newsletter that came out under his name, they called Martin Luther King a communist and a philanderer?”

“Yeah,” he replied, “he didn’t write that.”

“But how did that come to be?” I inquired.

This was when Rand Paul turned his back to me—and said, “Anybody else?”

“You’re turning your back on me,” I remarked. “Can you just explain? Is he responsible for that?”

“Anybody else?”

“You’re not going to answer that question?”

Another reporter jumped in: “Did you ever read the newsletters when you were growing up?”

“Anybody got any current events?” Paul said. “Are there a couple more current events? Then I got to go.”

His back was still toward me. I moved off to listen to pointless spin from others.

Though Sen. Paul had not displayed the best manners, I decided to give him another chance. After the second New Hampshire debate on Sunday morning, I saw him entering the Spin Room and trailed him to his designated spot. I first asked how he thought his father had done this morning. “He did great,” he said. Then I returned to the previous evening’s topic:

“Last night I asked you a question and you turned your back on me.”

“I’ll probably do the same.”

“Your father last night brought up the issue of Martin Luther King… He talked about history. Why won’t you talk about the newsletter and say how—”

“If you want to talk about current events.”

“Your father talks about history all the time. Why can’t you talk about this newsletter.”

“Anybody else? Anybody else?”

“Why can’t you talk about who wrote this?”

“Asked and answered yesterday.”

“But you didn’t answer it. That’s the thing. Why can’t you answer this?”

Another reporter then interrupted: “What do you think of Romney?” Paul happily fielded that query: “I think he did very well in the debate… I think he presents himself very well. He shows great leadership.”

Ron and Rand Paul truly do not want to talk about those newsletters. Is it conceivable that Ron Paul doesn’t know who wrote the garbage that appeared under his imprimatur—and helped him make money? Not really. This is a cover-up. They are stonewalling. And it appears the Pauls will do almost anything to avoid explaining the origins of these and other racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and conspiratorial claims.


By: David Corn, Mother Jones, January 8, 2012

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A “Steel Skeleton In The Closet”: Mitt Romney, Bain Capital And The $44 Million Bailout

It was funny at first.

The young men in business suits, gingerly picking their way among the millwrights, machinists and pipefitters at Kansas City’s Worldwide Grinding Systems steel mill. Gaping up at the cranes that swung 10-foot cast iron buckets through the air. Jumping at the thunder from the melt shop’s electric-arc furnace as it turned scrap metal into lava.

“They looked like a bunch of high school kids to me. A bunch of Wall Street preppies,” says Jim Linson, an electronics repairman who worked at the plant for 40 years. “They came in, they were in awe.”

Apparently they liked what they saw. Soon after, in October 1993, Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, became majority shareholder in a steel mill that had been operating since 1888.

It was a gamble. The old mill, renamed GS Technologies, needed expensive updating, and demand for its products was susceptible to cycles in the mining industry and commodities markets.

Less than a decade later, the mill was padlocked and some 750 people lost their jobs. Workers were denied the severance pay and health insurance they’d been promised, and their pension benefits were cut by as much as $400 a month.

What’s more, a federal government insurance agency had to pony up $44 million to bail out the company’s underfunded pension plan. Nevertheless, Bain profited on the deal, receiving $12 million on its $8 million initial investment and at least $4.5 million in consulting fees.


In his campaign for president, Romney has championed free markets and vowed to shrink the role of government. The Republican has argued that his business acumen makes him the best candidate to fix the nation’s economy and bring down the stubbornly high unemployment rate. Romney’s opponents point to his business career as evidence that he is willing to cut jobs and benefits.

The story of Bain’s failed investment in the Kansas City mill offers a perspective on a largely overlooked chapter in Romney’s business record: His firm’s brush with a U.S. bailout.

His supporters say the pension gap at the Kansas City mill was an unforeseen consequence of a falling stock market and adverse market conditions. But records show that the mill’s Bain-backed management was confronted several times about the fund’s shortfall, which, in the end, required an infusion of funds from the federal Pension Benefits Guarantee Corp.

Romney’s career at Bain included both successes and failures. That is not unusual in the private equity business, where investors buy troubled companies and try to turn them around, often through aggressive use of debt.

“Bain Capital invested in many businesses,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a written statement. “While not every business was successful, the firm had an excellent overall track record and created jobs with well-known companies like Staples, Dominos Pizza and Sports Authority.”

Bain showed a remarkable knack for turning a profit. A prospectus from the year 2000 obtained by the Los Angeles Times shows that the buyout firm delivered an average annual return on investment of 88 percent between its founding in 1984 and the end of 1999.

Romney headed the firm for that entire period, except for a hiatus in 1990 to 1992, when he returned to Bain Capital’s sister consulting firm, Bain & Co. In 1999 he left the business to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The steel company declared bankruptcy in 2001. Romney continued receiving dividends from Bain after his departure. He accumulated a personal fortune of between $190 million and $250 million, according to campaign disclosure forms.

Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago professor of entrepreneurship and finance, describes Bain’s track record under Romney as “fantastic,” even if some ventures ended in failure.

“You don’t do this by just squeezing out costs. Those kinds of returns only come from growth,” he said. “Yes, they had some bad investments, I guess in the same way presidents make some bad calls.”


Overall, Bain made at least $12 million on the steel company it created by merging the Kansas City mill with another in South Carolina before the new entity declared bankruptcy in 2001. Bain also collected an additional $900,000 a year through 1999 for management consulting services, public filings show.

Some analysts say Bain should not be blamed for the company’s failure, noting that a wave of cheap imports forced nearly half of the U.S. steel industry into bankruptcy during that period. Another company set up around the same time, in which Bain took a minority stake, Steel Dynamics in Fort Wayne, Indiana, thrived.

“GS and Steel Dynamics were about as different as it gets,” industry analyst Michelle Applebaum said. GS’s core products were vulnerable to competition while Steel Dynamics became “one of the country’s lowest-cost manufacturers of steel sheet,” a product with more staying power. Steel Dynamics was also a non-union shop.

Former company executives say they were generally satisfied with Bain’s leadership, but they say the firm would have been better equipped to weather tough times had it not been saddled with such a heavy debt load.

They also fault Bain for putting inexperienced managers in place and spurning a buyout offer from a competitor. Workers say efforts to cut corners often backfired, driving costs higher.

The Kansas City millworkers, meanwhile, are still fuming, after being left with no health benefits and a reduced pension check.

“Romney cost me lots and lots of sleepless nights and lots and lots of money,” said Ed Stanger, who worked at the plant for nearly 30 years.


Since opening in 1888 as The Kansas City Bolt and Nut Co., the steelworks that sprawl along the Blue River valley in the city’s northeast corner provided a steady and prestigious living for thousands of men. It was hard, dirty, dangerous work. The plant kept two surgeons on site in case of accidents, and death on the job was not unknown.

When summer temperatures would top 100 degrees, workers wore long johns under their protective suits so their sweat could offer some relief.

Still, it wasn’t easy to get a job at the mill. The pay was good, lifting countless families into the middle class. Workers bought houses and cars and sent their kids to college.

“Hard work is supposed to pay off,” said John Cottrell, who spent decades working with molten metal. White burn marks crisscross his massive forearms, and years of asbestos exposure have left him short of breath. Sitting at his kitchen table in the working class suburb of Independence, he looks a decade older than his 64 years.

At its peak in 1970, the Kansas City plant, then owned by Armco Steel Corp, employed 4,500 people. Poor market conditions forced a wave of layoffs in the early 1980s and led the company to prune its product line. By the early 1990s, the plant focused on two items: wire for products such as mattress springs and tires; and high-carbon balls and rods used by the mining industry to pulverize rocks.

It was around that time that the mill workers started noticing the kids in suits.

Armco wanted to sell its Kansas City plant to concentrate on other aspects of its business. Jack Stutz and a few of the other Armco managers were looking for backers to help them buy it. They spoke to GE Capital, which, in turn, contacted Bain Capital because it had earned a sterling reputation for turning companies around.

The risks were obvious. The mill’s equipment was out of date and it faced stiff competition from Nucor Corp, which also made grinding balls.

Nevertheless, Bain and its partners decided to buy the mill for $75 million. Bain put up about $8 million to gain majority control of the company, renamed GS Technologies Inc. GE Capital, former Armco executives and Leggett & Platt, a major customer for the mill’s wire rods, chipped in the rest of the equity.

As part of the deal, Armco agreed to cover employee pension obligations if the plant closed within five years — a $120 million liability, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.


Bain got its money back quickly. The new company issued $125 million in bonds and paid Bain a $36.1 million dividend in 1994.

“Paying distributions with debt is not uncommon,” said Campbell Harvey, a finance professor at Duke University. “The only thing that strikes me as a bit unusual is the size of the dividend. There would be logic in them saving some cash for a downturn.”

Looking back on the dividend payout, Stutz and another former GS Technologies officer, Mario Concha, believe it weakened the mill’s financial position.

“At the time they paid that dividend, they felt that the financials justified it,” Stutz said.

GS announced plans for a $98 million plant modernization and Kansas City officials agreed to a tax break worth about $3 million, according to press accounts.

In 1995 Bain merged GS with another wire rod maker in Georgetown, South Carolina, to form one of the largest mini-mill steel producers in the U.S. The new company issued another $125 million in bonds to pay for the merger. Bain doubled down, reinvesting $16.5 million of its earlier dividend.

The new company, dubbed GS Industries Inc., would have annual revenues of $1 billion and employ 3,800 people.

Already, though, there were warning signs that the company was not on a sustainable course. Concerned about the level of debt, which totaled $378 million in 1995 on operating income less than a tenth of that amount, the merged company’s new CEO, Roger Regelbrugge, negotiated a clause in his contract that would allow him to retire at the end of 1997.

Regelbrugge said he was concerned that the company would have to go through a painful restructuring if it had not sold shares through an initial public offering (IPO) by then.

Regelbrugge had done one restructuring in the 1980s at the South Carolina mill, laying off workers and haggling with creditors. He did not want to go through that painful process again.

“Unless we had plans to go public at that time, I did not want to carry that debt load ad infinitum,” he said.

Over the next two years, GS Industries completed its upgrade of the Kansas City plant and laid the groundwork for an IPO to pay down some of the debt.

Meanwhile, managers struggled to forge a cohesive whole from two companies that made similar products but had different corporate cultures, different manufacturing processes and different labor contracts.

“I guess the two cultures never really got together,” Stutz said.


In 1997, with Armco’s pension guarantees set to expire in one year, the United Steelworkers local at the Kansas City plant was worried that GS was not setting aside enough money to cover pension obligations and other benefits in the event of a shutdown.

David Foster, the negotiator for the union, said labor talks were typically more tense at companies owned by private equity firms because the high level of debt left managers with less flexibility.

Contract talks foundered and the union went on strike in April 1997. The first standoff since 1959 quickly turned nasty. Workers shot bottle rockets at security guards, tossed nails in the roadways to flatten the tires of nonunion trucks and pounded on the windows of vehicles as they left the plant.

After 10 weeks, the two sides reached a deal that boosted pensions and ensured that workers would get health and life insurance in the event of a shutdown.

The workers put down their picket signs, but the equipment upgrades weren’t delivering productivity gains as quickly as hoped. At the end of 1997, Regelbrugge decided to retire rather than stick around for an IPO that wasn’t going to materialize.

Shortly after that, an industry competitor offered “a whole lot of money” to buy GS, according to Regelbrugge, but Bain turned it down. A company insider said the suitor was the global behemoth Mittal Steel Company, but added that no formal offer was ever made.

As GS Industries sought to cut costs, it hired line managers with no experience in the steel industry, workers said. One had worked at Walmart; many others came straight out of the military.

“He would come up with some of the stupidest damn ideas that you ever seen,” the former steelworker Linson said of one supervisor, a retired Air Force colonel.

Paperwork proliferated. Cost-cutting efforts backfired. Managers skimped on purchases of everything from earplugs to spare motors and scaled back routine maintenance. Machines began to break down more often, and with parts no longer in stock a replacement could take days to arrive.

Labor costs spiked as managers revamped work schedules with little understanding of how the plant actually operated. Linson says he picked up an entire shift of overtime each week because his managers didn’t realize that a furnace needed a full eight hours to heat up to operating temperature.

“That didn’t work to their advantage,” he said. “I made a lot of money.”

Daily life at the plant was also growing more dangerous. Veteran crane operator Ed Mossman says he was ordered to pick up a load of steel that was 50 percent above the recommended weight limit – a prospect that could have toppled the crane and sent Mossman plunging to his death. When he refused, he says, he was fired after putting in 29 years at the mill.

“The first 15 years, I had the best job in the United States, as far as I was concerned,” Mossman said. “The last five years down there got to be pure hell.”

Meanwhile, a wave of cheap imports from Asia drove steel prices down sharply, while costs for natural gas and electricity rose. The Asian financial crisis lowered demand for mined metals, which hit the company’s grinding-ball business.

The company, along with other steelmakers, successfully petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission for tariff rate quotas on imported wire rods and also entered the federal loan guarantee program for troubled steel companies — two remedies at odds with a free-market stance. Romney now says it was a mistake for the government to try to protect the steel industry.

Nevertheless, net losses at the company grew to $52.9 million in 1999 from $16.1 million in 1997, while operating income dropped to $9.6 million from $37.9 million over the same period — not enough to sustain the firm’s debt and obligations for long.


Charles Bradford, an analyst at Bradford Research, blames the union, in part, for the failure of GS Industries to survive in the new global marketplace.

“If you look at the steel companies that went under at the time, all of them were unionized,” he said. “I’m not saying this was the only factor — these firms faced other headwinds such as cheap labor and a strong dollar … but the unions held them back.”

Union officials blame the Bain managers for saddling the company with too much debt for a capital-intensive, cyclical industry such as steel. “They look at ways to try to leverage the financial resources of the company during an uptick in the markets, stream money out of it and leave wreckage behind them,” said the union’s Foster.

Regelbrugge blames his successor, Mark Essig, for installing senior managers who did not know the business. “I have no question that the company would have survived under different management,” he said. Essig did not return calls seeking comment.

A spokesman for Bain Capital said: “Over $100 million and many thousands of hours were invested in GSI to upgrade its facilities and make the company more competitive during a 7-year period when the industry came under enormous pressure and 44 U.S. steel companies went into bankruptcy. In the same period, we worked to turn around GSI, we helped launch and grow an innovative business called Steel Dynamics that is today a $6 billion global leader…. Our focus remains on building great companies and improving their operations.”

GS Industries declared bankruptcy on February 7, 2001, and said it would shut down the Kansas City plant, eliminating 750 jobs. In a press release, the company said the bankruptcy was triggered in part by “the critical need to restructure the company’s liabilities.”

Workers soon found out what that meant. In April, GS said it was shedding the guarantees it had promised its workers in the event of a plant closure – the severance pay, health insurance, life insurance and pension supplements that had been negotiated during the 1997 strike.

Workers could buy health insurance through the company’s plan, but the company would no longer share its costs. For many who were struggling with asbestosis or other ailments contracted during their years of work, the cost was prohibitive.

“The wife and I, we just held our breath and prayed a lot,” said Stanger, the ex-millworker. He was quoted a price of $1,800 per month – more than his pension payment.


The U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, which insures company retirement plans, determined in 2002 that GS had underfunded its pension by $44 million. The federal agency, funded by corporate levies, stepped in to cover the basic pension payments, but not the supplement the union had negotiated as a hedge against the plant’s closure.

For Joe Soptic, who worked at the plant for 28 years, that meant a loss of $283 per month, about 22 percent of his pension. Others lost up to $400 per month, according to documents supplied by the union.

Comparatively, the GS bailout was one of the pension guarantor’s smaller hits. The federal fund swung from a $7.7 billion surplus to a $3.6 billion deficit that year as it struggled to cover bankruptcies in the steel and transportation industries. The failure of LTV Steel, for example, cost the agency $1.9 billion.

The agency’s woes prompted Congress in 2006 to require companies to contribute more toward their pensions. Press accounts said this change accelerated the shift away from pension plans toward 401(k)s and other defined-contribution retirement plans that offer less security for workers.

Many of the older workers at the Kansas City mill were just a few years away from Social Security and Medicare, but younger workers didn’t have that safety net. Even with $600,000 earmarked by the U.S. Labor Department for job retraining, many had trouble finding work.

“They give you a year’s worth of training, you’re 50-something years old, nobody wants to hire you,” said Steve Morrow, who retrained in the field of heating and air conditioning.

After nearly 30 years as a steelworker, Joe Soptic found a job as a school custodian. The $24,000 salary was roughly one-third of his former pay, and the health plan did not cover his wife, Ranae.

When Ranae started losing weight, “I tried to get her to the doctor and she wouldn’t go,” Soptic said. She ended up in the county hospital with pneumonia, where doctors discovered her advanced lung cancer. She died two weeks later.

Soptic was left with nearly $30,000 in medical bills. He drained a $12,000 savings account and the hospital wrote off the balance.

“I worked hard all my life and played by the rules, and they allowed this to happen,” Soptic said.


By: Andrew Sullivan and Greg Roumeliotis, Reuters, January 6, 2012

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Jobs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An “Entangled Legacy”: The Sordid K Street Past Of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum has received, and courted, plenty of comparisons with Mike Huckabee since his near-victory in the Iowa Caucuses, but not all of them have been earned. Yes, like Huckabee in 2008, Santorum has been heavily dependent on grassroots campaigning, with direct appeals to evangelical voters, and a veneer of folksy, blue-collar economic populism. But the comparison ought to stop there. What Santorum cannot match is Huckabee’s status as a genuine Washington outsider, someone untainted by the corrupt dealings inside the beltway. Indeed, Santorum’s record shows him to be deeply connected to the ethically unsavory and legally dubious world of DC influence-peddling.

Since losing his Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2006, Santorum has used his connections to land a series of highly-paid jobs. Consol Energy, a natural gas company specializing in “hydrofracking” and the fifth-largest donor to his 2006 campaign, paid him $142,000 for consulting work. He also earned $395,000 sitting on the board of United Health Services (UHS), a for-profit hospital chain whose CEO made contributions to his Senate campaigns and which stood to benefit from a big hike in Medicare payments Santorum proposed in 2003. (Incidentally, the Department of Justice sued UHS for Medicare and Medicaid fraud during Santorum’s four-year tenure on its board.) Santorum also earned paychecks from a religious advocacy group, a lobbying firm, and a think tank. For pushing legislation benefitting UHS and several other companies, one ethics group named Santorum to its “most corrupt Senators” list.

Santorum has made his post-Senate career doing the sort of quasi-lobbying that helped sink Newt Gingrich’s campaign in Iowa. But in fact, while still in office, he was a central actor in an even more sordid venture: The K Street Project. Started in 1989 by GOP strategist Grover Norquist and brought to prominence by former House majority leader Tom DeLay in 1995, the K Street Project was a highly organized effort to funnel Republican Congressional staffers into jobs at lobbying firms, trade organizations, and corporations, while attempting to block Democrats from those same posts. From 2001 until 2006, Santorum was the Project’s point man for the Senate, while House Majority Whip Roy Blunt manned the House side.

In 2006, the K Street Project was effectively forced to shut down amid public outcry; the following year, an ethics reform law made such outfits illegal. But in its heyday, it helped create an unprecedented revolving door between the White House, Congress and K Street, blurring distinctions between Republican policy and corporate welfare. As Elizabeth Drew put it in a 2005 New York Review of Books piece, “Democratic lobbyists have been pushed out of their jobs as a result; business associations who hire Democrats for prominent positions have been subject to retribution. They are told that they won’t be able to see the people on Capitol Hill they want to see.” Nicholas Confessore, in a groundbreaking 2003 Washington Monthly expose of the Project, detailed the goal bluntly: “First, move the party to K Street. Then move the government there, too.”

At the center of all this was Santorum. According to Confessore, Santorum conducted weekly breakfasts with lobbyists, and occasionally Congressmen and White House staff, during which he attempted to match Republican Hill staffers with K Street job openings. As Confessore put it, “Every week, the lobbyists present pass around a list of the jobs available and discuss whom to support. Santorum’s responsibility is to make sure each one is filled by a loyal Republican—a Senator’s chief of staff, for instance, or a top White House aide, or another lobbyist whose reliability has been demonstrated.” The group refused to meet with Democrats, and threatened sanctions against lobbies that did.

Revolving door tactics, until then de facto lobbying policy, were formalized and transformed into a “pay to play” system by the K Street Project. In 2003, after the top post at The Motion Picture Association of America went to a Democrat instead of a Republican, House Republicans reneged on an impending tax break, hitting the movie industry with a $1.5 billion bill. After the Democrat was chosen, Roll Call reported that “Santorum has begun discussing what the consequences are for the movie industry.” (Santorum, though he often denies his involvement in the K Street Project, more or less confirmed his involvement in the MPAA flap.) Later that year, the Washington Post revealed that the House Financial Services Committee pressured a consortium of mutual funds to oust a top lobbyist who was a Democrat in exchange for relaxing a pending investigation. After the smoke cleared, she was replaced by a Republican.

Whether the K Street Project was truly successful is up for debate. Confessore and Drew’s reports portray intimidated and marginalized Democratic lobbyists. According to a 2003 Washington Post story, a Republican National Committee official boasted that 33 of 36 top lobbying jobs had recently gone to Republicans. Former lobbyist Patrick Griffin, now an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University, told me that the project embodied the brazen crudeness of “DeLayism,” but also suggested that most lobbying firms and corporations were not “stupid” enough to purge Democratic staff and risk alienating much of the Hill.

What is clear is how much Santorum’s legacy is entangled with the two most corrupt political figures of the last decade: DeLay, and Jack Abramoff, who was said to have been involved in the Project. (Abramoff reportedly attended Santorum’s very first meeting, though Abramoff denied involvement and Santorum said in 2001 he couldn’t remember if he had.) Abramoff’s recent assertion that he “owned” politicians by dangling the promise of highly-paid lobbying gigs in front of powerful Hill staffers, though hyperbolic, is a fairly apt description of the K Street Project’s goals.

Yet, despite all this, Santorum’s communications director recently told the Washington Post that “Rick Santorum fought to destroy the good old boy network in Washington.” As an electoral strategy, of course, it makes sense for the former Senator to present himself as a Washington outsider and a paragon of personal ethics. But such claims of moral rectitude strain credulity. Santorum made a career polishing DC’s corrupt revolving door—only to walk through it himself at the first opportunity.


By: Simon van Zuylen-Wood, The New Republic, January 6, 2012

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Most Terrible Things Rick Santorum Has Ever Said

On the Catholic Church’s abuse scandals: “Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.”

On same sex marriage and bestiality: “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality…”

On the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s decision to approve same sex marriage: “This is an issue just like 9/11. We didn’t decide we wanted to fight the war on terrorism because we wanted to. It was brought to us. And if not now, when? When the supreme courts in all the other states have succumbed to the Massachusetts version of the law?”

On the link between same sex marriage and national security: “I would argue that the future of America hangs in the balance, because the future of the family hangs in the balance. Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?”

On the war in Iraq: “As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It’s being drawn to Iraq. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the eye to come back to the United States.”

On contraception: “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

On the Affordable Care Act: “I would tell you that my first priority as a president of the United States is to repeal Barack Obama’s healthcare plan. I think it’s the most dangerous piece of legislation, well, in many generations. It is the reason that I’m running for office. Because I believe Obamacare is a game changer. I believe Obamacare will rob America, the best way I can put it is, rob America of its soul.”

On President Obama’s pro-choice stance: “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.’”

On global warming: “I believe the earth gets warmer, and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man through the production of CO2, which is a trace gas in the atmosphere and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas, is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, you know, moisture in the air.”


By: TNR Staff, The New Republic, January 5, 2012

January 9, 2012 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney And The Privileges Of The Very Wealthy: “Thanks, Much Obliged”

What better person than the French-speaking Mitt Romney to lay bare the pure beating heart of noblesse oblige.

Sunday morning’s NBC debate in Concord, N.H. was a vast improvement over the ABC one the night before — it occurred to the non-Romney candidates that they might want to train their fire on the man who’s up 20 points in the New Hampshire polls. Their focus trailed off as the debate progressed, but Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich did manage to produce a revealing exchange at the outset regarding Romney’s motivations to enter politics. They challenged Romney’s oft-repeated claim that he, unlike they, was no career politician but rather a man who saw running for office as the duty of a good citizen who, when his work is complete, returns like Cincinnatus to his plow, or to his carried-interest loophole for private equity investment managers, as the case may be. In the best zinger of the debate, Gingrich chalked this up as a bunch of “pious baloney.” But it is these lines of Romney that should get the attention. From Ben Smith’s writeup:

Mitt Romney suggested in today’s debate that only rich people should run for office, and then quickly celebrated the fact that he’d forced a rival to take out a loan against his house. Romney said his father, Michigan Governor George Romney, had told him, “Mitt, never get involved in politics if you have to win an election to pay a mortgage.”

“If you find yourself in a position when you can serve, why you ought to have a responsibility to do so if you think you can make a difference,” he recalled his father telling him. “Also, don’t get in politics if your kids are still young because it might turn their heads.”

A few seconds later, he bragged about his run against Teddy Kennedy. “I was happy he had to take a mortgage out on his house to ultimately defeat me,” he said.

The exchange with Newt Gingrich brought out Romney at his most tone-deaf, and echoed his offer of a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry in an earlier debate. Romney’s rivals are already looking for ways to turn his wealth — and his tone-deaf treatment of it — into a liability. The Obama campaign regularly blasts him as out-of-touch with the lives of American workers.

So: the person running on the vision of a “merit” and “opportunity” society opposed to Barack Obama’s “entitlement” society believes that politicians should be independently wealthy, not peons who have to rely on the paltry earnings of a U.S. senator or governor. It’s worth noting that this is hardly the first time that Romney has depicted his move into politics in 1994 in this light. In his 2007 piece about Romney’s relationship with his father, who after running American Motors became governor of Michigan and ran for president in 1968, Jonathan Cohn wrote: “George Romney had always said the ideal time to run for public office was after you had achieved financial independence and your children were old enough to put up with the loss of privacy.” So Mitt today was just echoing the advice of the father he revered. But of all the aspects of George Romney that are to be admired — including many lacking in his son — this brand of noblesse oblige wasn’t one of them. Once again, I’m simply amazed that the Republican Party, at a time of heightened consciousness about the privileges of the very wealthy, is on the verge of nominating a quarter-billionaire who, when presented with the notion of running for president, says: thanks, much obliged.


By: Alec MacGillis, The New Republic, January 8, 2012



January 9, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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