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“Atta Girl”: Mitt Romney Was A High School Gay-Bashing Bully

Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, was a gay-bashing high school bully who said, “Atta girl,” to effeminate boys and shockingly had a days-long emotional attack that culminated with him pinning down a gay classmate and cutting off his bleached-blond long hair. Governor Romney claims he has no memory of any of these incidents that date back to 1965, according to a lengthy and heart-wrenching exposé in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

The Post article concludes with an emotional note about John Lauber:

He came out as gay to his family and close friends and led a vagabond life, taking dressage lessons in England and touring with the Royal Lipizzaner Stallion riders.

His hair thinned as he aged, and in the winter of 2004 he returned to Seattle, the closest thing he had to a base. He died there of liver cancer that December.

He kept his hair blond until he died, said his sister Chris. “He never stopped bleaching it.”

But Lauber was not the only target for the gay-bashing Mitt Romney.

In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.

Saul, Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, said the candidate has no recollection of the incident.

Yes, it was 1965, a different time, when these acts of anti-gay bullying were not just ignored or accepted, but often condoned.

But the handful of Mitt Romney’s classmates who either participated or didn’t stop it, not only remember his gay-bashing, they feel terrible about it. For Romney to not remember, and thus not be affected by his own gay-bashing, speaks volumes about his character.

The Romney campaign, and others, no doubt would say it was 1965. It doesn’t matter. But Mitt Romney married his wife Ann in 1969, just four years later, and that certainly matters in his campaign.

And they have on their campaign website a video that shows Mitt’s life, beginning with 1968, with the note:

“I think there’s one word that would be high on my list of a few words you would describe Mitt with. It would be trust. I think the qualities Mitt would bring to the Oval Office would be integrity, intelligence, an ability to see a problem and see a solution and make people recognize that he has those leadership qualities that would unite many people.” – Ann Romney

At what point do your actions matter?

By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, May 10, 2012

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Redefining Compromise”: The Radicalization Of The GOP

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a member of the House Republican leadership and the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, was recently asked about lawmakers’ capacity to compromise. As Robert Schlesinger noted, his response was illustrative.

“Compromising is one thing as long as you’re compromising and moving in the direction of your principles,” the right-wing lawmaker said. “If you’re compromising and moving away from the direction of your principles, I’m not sure it’s a compromise.”

And I’m not sure if Price has access to a dictionary. “Compromise” involves give and take, with concessions on both sides. To reach a resolution, compromise necessarily involves rivals accepting something less than their original goal.

I thought of Price’s recent comments again this morning after hearing the latest from Richard Mourdock, the Republicans’ U.S. Senate nominee in Indiana. He told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd this morning, among other things, “I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”

This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Mourdock also told CNN that bipartisanship means “Democrats joining Republicans to roll back the size of government,” and he told Fox News, “I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”

In this guy’s mind, the only acceptable “compromise” is the one in which he gets what he wants.

Remember, Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein, centrist political scientists with enormous establishment credibility, have explained that American governance is broken because the Republican Party is “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

As Mourdock helps demonstrate, the radicalization of the GOP isn’t over. The costs for the nation will likely continue to be severe.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 9, 2012

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Senate | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Crimes Against Accuracy”: Mitt Romney’s Truth-Free Campaign

The former Massachusetts governor has no use for honesty in his campaign.

If you haven’t already, you should read Ed Kilgore and Greg Sargent on Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday in Michigan, where he tried to clarify and contrast his approach on the economy. The message was typical of Romney’s rhetoric; an attempt to flip an attack and direct it at his opponent. In this case, Romney decried Obama as the purveyor of failed policies, and presented himself as a reform conservative in the mold of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats.

As Kilgore argues, the argument is laughable on its face. The Obama administration is staffed with Clintonites. It’s core policies—on health care, especially—were variations on policies pushed during the Clinton years, and Obama’s foreign policy falls well within the approach of the Clinton administration. What’s more, as Greg Sargent points out, there is no way in which Romney is running as a departure from the previous Republican administration. An RNC spokesperson summed this up well—the Romney agenda is the Bush platform, “just updated.”

But if there’s anything that truly stands out about Romney’s speech in Michigan, it’s the extent to which its stuffed with falsehoods, misrepresentations, and outright lies. Romney claims that Obama has brought “big government” “back with a vengeance”—the truth is that government spending has fallen sharply after a decade increase under President Bush (note: this isn’t a good thing). Romney attacks Obama’s plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the rich as a “throwback to discredited policies”, but doesn’t tell his audience that those are Clinton-era rates. He attacks the Affordable Care Act as a takeover of American health care (false), blames Obama for the accumulation of debt (false), and warns—apocalyptically—that Obama will “substitute government for individuality, for choice, for freedom.”

For political reporters with time and space constraints, there is no way to counter all of this, even if you had the inclination. On a regular basis, the Romney campaign issues so many distortions—so many lies—that it’s nearly impossible to keep up. New York Times editorial editor David Firestone is as frustrated as I am on the relentless march of Romney’s dishonesty:

[F]or months he and his campaign have pushed the boundaries of veracity on a huge range of subjects, from the number of jobs created during the Obama administration to the economy’s effect on women to the phony “apology tour” he claims the president has taken. For these crimes against accuracy he is chided by newspaper fact checkers and denounced by editorialists. […]

Otherwise, the Romney campaign hasn’t paid much of a price for its untruths. Mr. Obama has done his share of exaggerating, too, and voters may figure that all politicians do it. That’s a false equivalency: unlike Mr. Romney’s campaign, the president’s is grounded in reality.

Constant mendacity is the norm for Romney and his campaign, and odds are good that he won’t suffer for it. Campaign reporters don’t have a strong incentive to challenge him on his misrepresentations, and interested parties have a hard time dealing with the deluge. In other words, we should strap ourselves in and prepare for five more months of Romney’s truth-free operation.

 

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, May 9, 2012

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Rebuke To Mob Mentality”: Dick Lugar Sounds the Alarm against GOP Extremism

After conceding to Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock, Senator Dick Lugar released a statement assailing his party’s ideological rigidity.

There’s been a lot of talk about how veteran Senator Dick Lugar could have salvaged his campaign. The Indiana Republican was soundly defeated by nearly 20 points yesterday in primary race against a Tea Party-backed challenger. He lost amid criticisms that he’s too close to Obama and not dogmatic enough for the GOP. Many of those criticisms came from outside groups, including Grover Norquist’s Club for Growth and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, which poured money into the effort to defeat the well-liked senator. In the end, Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock won the primary—and in response, Dick Lugar sounded a call of alarm for Republicans about the fate of the party.

Lugar noted his own Republican bona fides, including that he’d voted with Reagan more than any other senator. Then he went after Mourdock, the Tea Party, and the general intractability that’s taken hold of his party:

If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.

This is not conducive to problem solving and governance. And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve. The most consequential of these is stabilizing and reversing the Federal debt in an era when millions of baby boomers are retiring. There is little likelihood that either party will be able to impose their favored budget solutions on the other without some degree of compromise.

Lugar’s statement didn’t stop there. He outlined what he saw as the necessary mindset for politics—one that “acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas.” He noted that Reagan himself had worked with Democrats “and showed flexibility that would be ridiculed today.” Then he noted the how many subjects had become taboo amongst Republicans, like the idea that climate change may be more than a myth or that immigration is anything but a bad thing. While he gave a brief mention of Democratic partisanship as well, Lugar saved almost all his focus for his own party.

Lugar was probably one of the most respected members of the Senate in either party, and like his colleague Olympia Snowe, was a member of the shrinking group of Republican moderates. Michael Tomasky has argued, fairly I think, that when it really counted, Lugar fell in with his party’s extremism rather than fighting the tide. Paul Waldman had his own critique of the senator Tuesday, explaining that such moderates “gnash their teeth some and make lots of statements about how they really hope we can come up with a bipartisan solution to the problem at hand, but in the end they’ll be there for the GOP when it matters.”

Lugar’s hardly been a profile in courage these past few years and releasing an honest statement about the state of the party would likely have been significantly more impressive if he had done it when he was active and wielded influence, rather than after his party gave him the boot. But nonetheless, this may be one of the most forceful and direct criticisms of the GOP from someone in office. Lugar’s come to the obvious conclusion: For the Republican Party to succeed, it must divorce itself from some of its more extreme elements. Lugar’s note isn’t a victory letter to Democrats or even a call for bipartisanship. After all, for Democrats, this is largely a win—with Lugar in the running, they had no shot at the seat, whereas now they may be able to put the state in play. Instead, Lugar’s statement served as a rebuke to Republicans’ mob mentality.

“Like Edmund Burke,” Lugar’s statement read, “I believe leaders owe the people they represent their best judgment.”

Too bad the senator waited until he lost to give those he represented for over three decades his own best judgment.

 

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, May 9, 2012

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Congress | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Brilliant”: Joe Biden’s Gay Marriage Comment Was No Gaffe

From the press drubbing of White House press secretary Jay Carney this week, you’d think that the Obama administration had made some sort of huge faux pas, had displayed some devastating lack of discipline that exposed a divergence of opinion at the top and an inability to control it.

Please.

Here’s what happened: Vice President Joe Biden went on TV on Sunday and said he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage. This is a notable, but not all that interesting, difference of opinion from that of President Obama, who has backed the idea of civil unions but has balked at the idea of full-on gay marriage. Shock! Score! Big story!

It would be easy to believe that Biden, who (unfortunately but also endearingly) tends to say what’s in his head at the moment without first screening it for public consumption, had made a mistake by revealing his personal feelings on the matter. It’s why Biden is referred to, by people who don’t know him, as “gaffe-prone.” It’s why reporters who covered him as a U.S. senator always found him refreshing and frank and real (even if he did, on occasion, say he just had three seconds to talk and then 15 minutes later, you were kindly explaining you had a deadline and had to go). And it’s also why people could believe the highly improbable theory that Biden screwed up, said something that contradicted the president, and forced Carney to try to clean it up.

Again—please.

Obama’s well-positioned for re-election, but that means rallying a lot of supporters who really liked the idea of a transformational candidate in 2008, and now aren’t so sure much has been transformed. Mitt Romney will surely have to do better than saying, “I’m not that guy,” to win the White House. But Obama can’t get his base to the polls by saying, yeah, I know I didn’t do everything I promised or hoped, but think how much worse it would be if you elected the other guy. He needs to get the base to the polls.

Gays and lesbians are part of that equation. They’re not a huge part of the equation, but in a race where battleground states could be decided by a couple of percentage points, Obama can’t risk losing them. And yet, he can’t freak out the independents who might not be so comfortable with gay marriage. And perhaps even more, he can’t so anger evangelicals (who are unhappy with Romney and might stay home) that they actually enthusiastically go out and vote for Romney.

What to do, what to do.

Well you could have your vice president saying he’s OK with gay marriage (becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to make such a statement), making gay and lesbian activists (and their straight supporters) happy. Then, you could have the White House officially saying Obama’s opinion on the matter is still “evolving,” appeasing independents and yet giving gay activists hope that Obama might “evolve” toward the direction of his veep. And you could also give a little comfort to those who like to believe that Obama picks people who are true advisers, and not just sycophants.

And just to be sure, your Department of Education secretary, Arne Duncan, by happenstance mentions on a national broadcast that he, too, supports gay marriage. Look at those high-ranking Obama administration officials, coming out for gay marriage! And look at the president, not just giving in to people he outranks!

The “mixed message” the White House issued on gay and lesbian rights wasn’t a mistake. It was brilliant.

 

By: Susan Milligan, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, May 8, 2012

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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