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“No Time For Consequences”: Now Begins The Dirtiest Week In Politics

One week from today, voters across the country will head to the polls and elect a president and a Congress. Literally billions of dollars have been spent so far to influence the outcome, not to mention countless hours of personal sacrifice and effort. Alas, politics is a zero-sum game: there will be no return on investment for the losers. Even if a candidate wins by a single vote, his or her backers can be rewarded with extraordinary power, access and profit, while the very narrow loser gets nothing, and the supporters, less—just red ink on the ledger.

So in this last week of campaigning, all the stops come out. For too many political operatives that have long since discarded notions of professional ethics, the only question about a dirty tactic is: will it work? In July, the answer is likely to be “probably not,” because the trick can be discovered and the candidate branded as dirty, or a cheater.

But now, with so little time left—with no real time for tricks to be exposed nor for narratives about questionable tactics to shape up—dirty moves look pretty appealing. (It also helps that the national press, aside from being overwhelmed with the conclusion of so many important races, is also distracted by a historically catastrophic storm).

And so we’ve seen them. On the top line, this dynamic probably explains the Romney campaign’s decision to run a series of ads in Ohio claiming that, thanks to Obama’s auto bailout, Chrysler is going to move all Jeep production to China. This is not true in any possible interpretation of the facts, and I have to think that, despite his loose relationship with the truth, there’s no way Romney would go this far out on a limb in the summer time. (As John Nichols writes today, “Yes, Romney’s a Liar, but This Is Getting Ridiculous.”) The company itself has blasted this as “a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats,” while assuring panicked workers, and Vice President Biden has aggressively fought back, asking “Have they no shame?” Newspapers editorials across the state are blasting Romney’s lie.

Normally, this is the type of blowback that would really harm a candidate, but the Romney camp’s calculation is clearly that there just isn’t time for that—and meanwhile, many low-information voters can be scared into voting Romney. I’m not sure that’s the right calculation, but one they’ve made: after three days of pushback from the company and pretty much everyone else, Romney responded Tuesday afternoon by releasing a radio version of the ad that’s even more dishonest than the original spot.

But beneath headline-level antics like this, things are getting even dirtier. Scott Keyes at ThinkProgress reported today that the Romney campaign in Wisconsin is training volunteers to explicitly mislead voters:

Documents from a recent Romney poll watcher training obtained by ThinkProgress contain several misleading or untrue claims about the rights of Wisconsin voters… One blatant falsehood occurs on page 5 of the training packet, which informed poll watchers that any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. This is not true. Once a Wisconsin voter who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, that person is once again eligible to vote.

The poll workers are also being given incomplete information as to what can be used as identification to vote in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, voters in Virginia—where both the presidential race and key Senate race are essentially tied—are receiving truly deceptive robocalls about President Obama’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

First, the phone rings and “William Kristol” comes up on caller ID. (Yes, that one). His group, the Emergency Committee for Israel, is paying for the call, which features random remarks from different Obama and Netanyahu speeches spliced together as if the two had a debate—and one in which Obama basically tells Netanyahu to get lost. Ron Kampeas at JTA has the transcript:

DEBATE ‘MODERATOR’: Welcome to the first debate between Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. President, we’ll start with you.

OBAMA: I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs.

“MODERATOR”: Mr. President, thank you. Mr. Prime Minister, your response.

NETANYAHU: The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.

“MODERATOR”: Mr President, your rebuttal.

OBAMA: Obviously there are some differences between us.

ECI: Friends, Americans and Israel cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama. This call was paid for by the Emergency Committee for Israel because your vote will make the difference in this election.

I highly doubt Kristol would try this stunt in September. But in one week, there will be earth-shifting news about either the re-election of President Obama or the election of Mitt Romney. Nobody would care about a silly robocall in Virginia, despite the impact it may have had on voters in a critical state.

Look for more things like this in the week ahead—they are a virtual certainty. And if you get a weird robocall, or visit from a misleading activist, jot down the details and contact a friendly reporter. (My information is above, and local news reporters are likely to be interested as well).

 

By: George Zornick, The Nation, October 30, 2012

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Romney’s Latest Abortion U-Turn”: A Cynical, Shameless, Blantant And Misleading Incremental Republican Strategy

How embarrassing is it to have a surrogate caught on tape saying exactly the opposite of what you’ve been saying for years? Not very embarrassing, apparently, if you’re Mitt Romney, and especially if the topic is abortion rights. Then, cynical shamelessness is your standard operating procedure.

Yesterday, former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman told a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Ohio that when it comes to Roe v. Wade, pay no attention to those men in black robes. “President Bush was president eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed,” Coleman said. “It’s not going to be reversed.”

That’s blatantly and intentionally misleading, crafted to assuage voters who are presumably socially liberal in what looks to be the most crucial state for the election. It’s also the exact opposite of what Romney has promised he’ll support, publicly and often.

Coleman’s plausible deniability comes from the fact that it looks as though not much changed under the last Republican president. But as I reported last week, these kinds of shifts don’t happen overnight — not only because it takes years for laws to be passed and then to wind their way through the court system, but because many in the anti-choice movement have opted for an incremental strategy to avoid scaring the public, even as they prepare the legal, political and societal groundwork for the full-on abortion ban they desire.

As for Bush, he got two Supreme Court appointments, both replacing Republican-appointed justices, and an initial pick, Harriet Miers, was rejected by conservatives partly because they feared she wasn’t absolutist enough on abortion rights. The judge they did get, Samuel Alito, replaced Sandra Day O’Connor, who had been relatively moderate on abortion rights. The result was that when a major abortion case came before that court, it upheld an abortion restriction it had overturned several years before. The right has always had its eye on the ultimate prize, which is overturning Roe. With the retirement or death of a single liberal justice, they’re likely to get it, or come close.

Indeed, it’s worth looking at who seems fairly confident that a Romney presidency would change abortion access in this country: anti-choice activists, who passed on him in the primary but have publicly been a united front on his behalf ever since. Just check out this story in Life News noting that “Leading pro-life attorneys like Jordan Sekulow, David French, and James Bopp have confirmed they trust Romney as president when it comes to judges,” and quotes the president of Americans United for Life saying that the impact on abortion law via the Supreme Court would be “bigger than everything else combined, because of the long-term consequences.”

And though the Supreme Court appointments are indeed the most lasting legacy, the president also has other important powers when it comes to reproductive rights, from nominating lower court judges to choosing the heads of the Departments of Health and Human Services, the FDA and the CDC, as well as the attorney general, all of whom have discretion on these issues.

The past couple of weeks have been an interesting exercise in some Republicans running as far as they can from the prevailing stances of their own compatriots, and in Romney’s case, current and previous versions of himself. In Washington state, Republican Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner said he opposes abortion except in case of life endangerment but insisted, “Social issues and abortion isn’t the focus of this campaign. You wouldn’t see me voting to change any abortion laws at the federal level.” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s tactic on Sunday was to deny that the issue even matters, that voters care more about Benghazi. “Abortion doesn’t even show up,” he said, and claimed that “it’s not even an issue here in Wisconsin, it doesn’t even move the radar at all.” (Someone should tell Paul Ryan that!)

It’s almost as if they know that their policy aims are highly unpopular with a whole lot of voters.

 

By: Irin Carmon, Salon, October 30, 2012

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Abortion, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Yes, Romney’s A Liar”: But More Than Just Creepy, This Is Getting Ridiculous

It is no secret that political candidates are capable of doing awful things when they are reach the desperate final days of an election campaign.

But trying to scare American workers into believing that a government initiative that saved their industry was some sort of secret scheme to shutter major plants and offshore jobs is more than just creepy. It’s economic fear-mongering of a sort that is destructive to the spirit of communities and to the very future of the republic as an industrial force.

George Romney, who led the remarkable American Motors Company project that would eventually produce the Jeep, never in a political career that saw him win election as governor of Michigan and seek the Republican nomination for president would have engaged in such calumny.

But George Romney’s ne’re-do-well son, a very different sort of businessman who devoted his career to taking apart American companies and offshoring jobs, is trying to resurrect his presidential candidacy with a big lie.

And the lie is about Jeeps.

Jeeps are made in Toledo, Ohio, where the iconic American vehicle has been produced since 1941, and Romney needs to win Toledo and the rest of northwest Ohio if he is to stand a chance of winning the battleground state that is key to the presidency.

Last week, Romney went to the region and shocked voters by suggesting that: “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China.”

The story, an October 22 report by Bloomberg News, which specifically stated that: “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. [Fiat/Chrysler executive Mike] Manley referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”

Yet, Romney spoke of the company that manufactures Jeeps “moving all production to China.

The statement stirred fundamental fears in a regional that has been battered by plant closings. So much so that Jeep’s parent company, Chrysler, rushed to clarify that Romney was completely, totally, incredibly wrong. “Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China,” announced Chrysler.

Company spokesman Gaulberto Ranieri said that Romney had remade the facts so aggressively that: “It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.”

What was Romney’s response to being caught in a lie.

He lied bigger.

Much bigger.

The Romney campaign is now airing an ad in Ohio that claims President Obama, with the auto bailout that saved domestic vehicle production, “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.”

The ad concludes that Romney—whose Bain Capital enterprise identified as “a pioneer of outsourcing”—“will fight for every American job.”

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the nation’s top experts on political advertising reviewed the ad and dismissed it as “inferentially false.”

They are inviting a false inference,” Hall said of the Romney campaign’s attempt to suggest that Obama had engineered a change in Jeep’s status that would see the Toledo plant shuttered and its more than 3,500 workers idled.

The Washington Post “Fact Checker” site reviewed Romney’s ad and declared: “the overall message of the ad is clearly misleading—especially since it appears to have been designed to piggyback off of Romney’s gross misstatement that Chrysler was moving Ohio factory jobs to China.”

The pushback from Obama’s backers and his campaign has been aggressive.

Former President Bill Clinton flew to Ohio and decried Romney’s claim as “the biggest load of bull in the world.”

Vice President Joe Biden said: “I have never seen anything like that. It’s an absolutely, patently false assertion. It’s such an outrageous assertion that, one of the few times in my memory, a major American corporation, Chrysler, has felt obliged to go public and say, there is no truth.”

An Obama campaign ad announced that “now, after Romney’s false claim of Jeep outsourcing to China, Chrysler itself has refuted Romney’s lie.”

What was Romney’s response.

Up the ad buy.

Expand the big lie so that it is now enormous.

The deception has become such a serious issue that, on Tuesday, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne felt compelled to clarify what is becoming an international controversy.

“Chrysler Group’s production plans for the Jeep brand have become the focus of public debate. I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” wrote Marchionne, who added:

North American production is critical to achieving our goal of selling 800,000 Jeep vehicles by 2014. In fact, U.S. production of our Jeep models has nearly tripled (it is expected to be up 185 percent) since 2009 in order to keep up with global demand…

With the increase in demand for our vehicles, especially Jeep branded vehicles, we have added more than 11,200 U.S. jobs since 2009. Plants producing Jeep branded vehicles alone have seen the number of people invested in the success of the Jeep brand grow to more than 9,300 hourly jobs from 4,700. This will increase by an additional 1,100 as the Liberty successor, which will be produced in Toledo, is introduced for global distribution in the second quarter of 2013.

There was nothing unambiguous about that statement. Yet Marchionne continued: “Jeep is one of our truly global brands with uniquely American roots. This will never change. So much so that we committed that the iconic Wrangler nameplate, currently produced in our Toledo, Ohio, plant, will never see full production outside the United States.”

“Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand,” confirmed Marchionne. “It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.”

That’s a rare commitment by a manufacturer—far more clear and unequivocal than the commitment Bain Capital made to the companies it bought up, tore apart and outsourced.

Yet, Mitt Romney’s campaign is still running the ad.

Still lying.

That’s made United Auto Workers union president Bob King furious:

It is especially hypocritical of Mr. Romney’s statements and new ad is Bain Capital’s closing of profitable U.S. facilities and shifting work to China to make even higher profits like what is happening today in closing a profitable Sensata plant in Freeport, IL, to move the work to China. Romney says in the ad that he will fight for every American job, so why isn’t he fighting for the American jobs at Sensata? And why isn’t he intervening with his own Bain Capital to keep these jobs in the U.S. rather than outsourcing them to China? We just wish that Mr. Romney was as committed to investing in the U.S. as Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is.

Americans will remember that President Obama stood behind American working families and American communities in rescuing the U.S. auto industry and that Mr. Romney opposed the rescue and now attacks Chrysler with misinformation. In putting out this misinformation, Romney is recklessly undermining Chrysler’s reputation and threatening good American jobs.

Imagine if Mitt Romney were to be elected president of the United States.

Imagine if he had to go into negotiations with Marchionne, or another CEO of another industrial giant, about protecting US jobs. Or expanding US manufacturing.

Would the executive trust Romney?

Or would the executive remember Romney as the politician who lied and then lied bigger in order to get what he wanted?

That’s a question that American voters who want their country to have a future as a country that makes cars and trucks and Jeeps would be wise to ponder as November 6 approaches.

 

By; John Nichols, The Nation, October 30, 2012

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Binders Full Of Lies”: Mitt Romney Doubles Down On Auto Industry Lies

Mitt Romney has tried to dodge, bob, weave, change the subject, and pretend it didn’t happen when it comes to his position on the automobile companies.

But obfuscation is not enough for Mitt Romney: Now he is resorting to an outright lie in his speeches and in his last minute, desperate advertising. In fact, two big lies.

Lie No. 1: Contrary to Romney’s claim, Detroit and Chrysler are not moving jobs and the making of Jeeps to China. In fact, they are selling Jeeps to China and they are adding $500 million and 1,100 workers to their Ohio Jeep plant. Chrysler smacked down Romney’s lie when he first said it and now Romney is up with an ad repeating the lie, ignoring Chrysler.

Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne was forced to send employees an E-mail Tuesday afternoon: “I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.”

Hello, Mitt? Apologize and take down your TV ad. Instead, he is buying more air time and putting up radio ads with the same lie.

But it gets worse.

Lie No. 2: This is the one Romney has been repeating over and over about the American auto industry—he would have saved it with his “managed bankruptcy.” I worked for GM; there was no way the auto companies could have survived without Barack Obama’s rescue and with the decision to provide bridge loans and government help. Romney’s plan was not Obama’s plan—as he would try and make you believe. His plan was to get private capital, and as Steve Rattner, who ran the rescue team, and everyone else has stated, there was no private money. Even the conservative Detroit News praised President Obama and referred to Romney’s “wrong-headedness on the auto bailout…he was wrong in suggesting the automakers could have found operating capital in the private markets.”

When Romney called for letting Detroit go bankrupt, he meant it, because his view was the popular one at the time—no more bailouts, no more government money or intervention, enough already. Romney was playing politics. And he knew no one would buy a car from a bankrupt car company, unless the government stepped in to help

Now that the hard decision that President Obama made to provide government loans is popular, Romney is singing a different tune. He is not only trying to give voters the impression that he would have saved Detroit, which is absurd, he is implying that Obama is part of a plot to ship Jeep jobs to China.

Romney will lie and say anything to get elected. Let’s hope the people of Ohio and the United States see through it by next Tuesday.

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, October 30, 2012

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Auto Industry, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“An Imaginary America Of The Past”: The GOP Pays The Big Price For Bashing Latinos

At last, bipartisan agreement! You don’t need a degree in political science to know this: demonizing and alienating the fastest-growing group in the country is no way to build long-term political success. Pair that with the fact that demonizing any group of Americans is un-American and just plain wrong. But in recent years, Republicans, and especially party standard-bearer Mitt Romney, just haven’t been able to help themselves. In an effort to win over a shrinking and increasingly extreme base, Romney and team have sold their souls to get the Republican presidential nomination. And they went so far to do it that even their famous etch-a-sketch won’t be able to erase their positions.

As Mitt Romney knows, the slipping support of the GOP among Latinos is no mystery. We’ve seen this movie before, in 1994, when Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson pushed anti-immigrant smears to promote California’s anti-immigrant Prop. 187, which in turn buoyed his own tough reelection campaign. It worked in the short term — both the ballot measure and Gov. Wilson won handily — but what a long term price to pay as California became solidly blue for the foreseeable future.

We’re now seeing what happened in California at a national scale. Harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric helped Romney win the Republican primary. But in the general election, it may well be his downfall.

In case you tuned out Romney’s appeals to the anti-immigrant right during the primaries, here’s a quick recap. He ran ads specifically criticizing Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice. He says he’d veto the DREAM Act, a rare immigration provision with overwhelming bipartisan support. He took on anti-immigrant leader Kris Kobach, architect of the draconian anti-immigrant measures in Arizona and Alabama as an adviser, then said his immigration plan was to force undocumented immigrants to “self-deport.” He even endorsed Iowa Rep. Steve King, who suggested building an electric fence at the Mexican border, comparing immigrants to “livestock” and “dogs.” Romney’s new attempts to appeal to Latino voters are clearly empty — he’s already promised the right that he will use their anti-immigrant rhetoric whenever it’s convenient and shut down any reasonable attempts at immigration reform.

If President Obama wins reelection, however, we have a real chance for real immigration reform. He told the Des Moines Register last week that if reelected he will work to achieve immigration reform next year. Beyond incremental steps like his institution of part of the DREAM Act by executive order, real comprehensive immigration reform would finally ease the uncertainty of millions of immigrants and the businesses that hire them. It’s something that George W. Bush and John McCain wanted before it was thwarted by extremists in their own party. It’s something that Mitt Romney clearly won’t even try.

If President Obama wins, and especially when he wins with the help of Latino voters turned off by the GOP’s anti-immigrant politics, he will have a strong mandate to create clear and lasting immigration reform. And Republicans will have to think twice before hitching their futures on the politics of demonization and exclusion. Whereas George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004 and John McCain 31 percent in 2008, Mitt Romney is polling at just 21 percent among Latinos. That’s no coincidence.

My group, People For the American Way, has been working to make sure that the GOP’s anti-Latino policies and rhetoric are front and center during the presidential election. We’re running a comprehensive campaign aimed at the large Latino populations in Nevada and Colorado and the rapidly growing Latino populations in Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina. In each of those states, we’re strategically targeting Latino voters with TV and radio ads, direct mail, Internet ads and phone banking to make sure they hear the GOP’s message about their community. In Colorado, we’re going up against Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which knows just as well as Romney that the loss of Latino voters “spells doom” for Republicans. In all of these states, higher turnout among Latinos motivated by Mitt Romney’s attacks could swing critical electoral votes.

This is a battle where the right thing to do and the politically smart thing to do are one and the same. Republicans have embraced racially-charged attacks against Latinos, pushed English-only laws, attempted to legalize racial profiling by immigration enforcement, dehumanized immigrants and even attacked the first Latina Supreme Court justice for talking about her heritage. They deserve to lose the votes of Latinos and others for it. This presidential election is a choice between right-wing scare tactics — the last resort of those fighting to return to an imaginary America of the past — and policies that embrace and celebrate our growing Latino population as an integral part of what is the real America.

By: Michael B, Keegan, President, People for the American Way, The Huffington Post, October 30, 201

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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