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“Protecting National Security”: Ann Romney Thinks Mormon Missions Are Just Like Military Service

Thursday morning, Mitt ducked a scheduled performance on The View (more on that later), leaving his wife Ann Romney to represent the candidate’s views on those pesky “women’s issues” like abortion rights and military service.

Her answer on the latter question is turning some heads.

When pressed by Whoopi Goldberg on how Romney would explain why neither he nor any of his five sons served, Ann explained that the six men found “different ways of serving” by going on their Mormon religious missions.

“So, you know, we find different ways of serving,” she said. “And my husband and my five boys did serve missions, [but they] did not serve in the military.”

The substitution, she went on to explain, makes sense because the two share essential, character-building and altruistic values.

“I sent them away boys and they came back men. And what the difference was — and I think this where military service is so extraordinary too — is where you literally do something where you’re helping someone else. You’re going outside of yourself and you’re working and helping others. And that changes you,” she said.

The exchange began when Goldberg mistakenly asserted that Mitt Romney hadn’t served in Vietnam because it was against his religion. Goldberg’s statement was, to be fair, a clear misinterpretation of Mormonism (which is not at all a CST version of Quakerism), and Anne Romney quickly corrected her.

“That’s not correct,” she said pointedly. “He was serving his mission, and my five sons have also served missions.”

To set the record straight, Mormon missions are voluntary, non-violent trips focused on proselytizing about the Church of Latter Day Saints. Men begin their mission — which lasts for two years — at 18 or 19 years old. This month, the Church decided to allow women to begin their mission — which lasts for 6 to 18 months — as early as 19, down from the previous age of 21. The missionary practice is credited as one of the main reasons that the LDS Church is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States and in Central and South America. If Mormonism shares anything with U.S. military, then, it may be that both facilitate the exportation of Western cultural values across the globe.

Some veterans, however, are not so happy to hear the prospective First Lady equate a voluntary religious mission aimed at growing your religion with the sacrifice of serving in the U.S. military in the name of protecting American national security.

“Between my husband and I, we have a collective 10 years in the army. My husband was in Iraq in 2004, and I went to the Pentagon after 9-11. I am deeply offended by Ann’s comments. How can she believe her son’s missions could even begin to compare to our service? Not to mention those we served with who came home in body bags …” wrote a commenter on a discussion forum for those who have left the Mormon Church.

Meanwhile, as Ann was on The View, Mitt Romney made a surprise appearance at the meeting of a Colorado Political Action Committee — also known as a campaign funding PAC.

The group, the American Conservative Union, boasts of being one of the oldest conservative organizations in the country. It champions a mission statement that asserts “collectivism and capitalism are incompatible” … “our inherent rights are endowed by the Creator … [which] can remain secure only if government is so limited that it cannot infringe upon those rights” … and “the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties.” (Either the statement of principles hasn’t been updated, or next week’s foreign policy debate is going to be considerably more exciting than anticipated.)

Romney’s appearance on The View had been widely anticipated since he admitted at a private fundraiser that he was nervous about sitting down with the “non-conservative” and “sharp-tongued” women. This comment, along with the now infamous 47 percent comment, was recorded in a secret video leaked by Mother Jones.

Too bad Romney ended up having “scheduling problems” Thursday morning.

 

By: Laura Gottesdiener, Alternet, October 20, 2012

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Romney The Detail Man”: Another Convenient Right-Wing Lie

The so-called “mainstream media” (aka The New York Times) is constantly being assailed by Republicans and the right for their supposedly liberal slant. Yet another convenient right-wing lie.

Take, for example, Saturday’s above-the-fold NY Times story, entitled (in the print edition that arrived at my home this morning): “Romney Recalled as Leader Who Savors Details.”

What?

It’s mainly a puff piece, aglow with Romney’s supposed managerial prowess. Coming just a bit more than three weeks before Election Day, it attempts to confirm Romney’s central selling point – that he can run the government better than Obama.

Nowhere does the Times bother to mention that Romney’s campaign has been devoid of any detail at all — details about his economic plan, his budget plan, his plan for what to replace Obamacare with, his plan to replace Dodd-Frank, or even details about the taxes he’s paid.

When he was governor of Massachusetts, the citizens of the Commonwealth had no idea what he was doing (I can attest because I was there, and as much in the dark as most people). He kept the details of his governing to himself and his staff. And he spent most of his last two years in office laying the groundwork for his run for the presidency.

Romney has always savored details when it helps him make money. But when it comes to running or holding office he’s been a standout for avoiding all details and keeping the public in the dark.

 

By: Robert Reich, Robert Reich Blog, October 20, 2012

 

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Hatred And Zealotry”: Total Obstructionism Not A Guaranteed Winning Strategy For Republicans

When Lyndon Johnson took power as Minority Leader in the Senate in 1953, he reasoned that the way back to the majority was to accumulate a good record of accomplishment to run on. He made the Senate work at an unprecedented level of efficiency, and supported President Eisenhower to such an extent that he and his allies often accused Senate Republicans of insufficient support of the president. This worked well enough that the Democrats took the Senate majority in the 1954 midterms. Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, is famous for this clip publicly announcing to become perhaps the overtly partisan Senate party leader in modern history: http://youtu.be/2gM-1HbK4qU

Thus the recently smashed historical record for the number of filibusters. McConnell and company decided the percentage was in scorched-earth, nihilistic opposition; to filibuster absolutely everything President Obama proposed, and to further gum up with works wherever possible. The reasoning seemed to be that if nothing happened, ignorant voters would blame the president, and Republicans would win power by default.

That paid off in 2010, apparently, but that kind of extremist absolutism seems on the verge of backfiring. Even though Romney is barely ahead at the moment, Obama is still a slight favorite. If you look at the Senate, which should have been an easy Republican pickup, with Democrats defending way more tough races, the Dems have a probably better-than-even shot to keep control. For example, Claire McCaskill, who should have been doomed, is ahead in the polls due to running against a buffoonish crackpot.

In other words, Mitch McConnell and his brethren may have thrown a wrench into the gears of government for no benefit whatsoever even to their own narrow self-interest.

Johnson’s brand of bipartisan strategy is often cited as an example of a bygone era of cooperation driven by historically idiosyncratic circumstances, something which would be utterly unrealistic these days. But it’s not clear to me that it would actually fail in narrow electoral terms. People seem more than anything desperate for Congress to be efficient and responsive, rather than gridlocked and incapable of action.

I conclude then that Republican strategy is driven by rational calcuation, yes, but also by hatred and zealotry, and these two are increasingly at odds. The Republican party gets much of its power from an extremist base, easily whipped into a frenzy, that is increasingly out of contact with reality. It gives them an organizing edge, but is also driving them to total absolutism (can’t negotiate with socialism!) which at the least isn’t a guaranteed route to electoral victory.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 20, 2012

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Binding Family Ties”: Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election

It’s 3:00 a.m. on November 7, 2012.

With the painfully close presidential election now down to who wins the battleground state of Ohio, no network dares to call the race and risk repeating the mistakes of 2000 when a few networks jumped the gun on picking a winner.

As the magic boards used by the networks go ‘up close and personal’ on every county in the Buckeye State, word begins to circulate that there might be a snafu with some electronic voting machines in a number of Cincinnati based precincts. There have already been complaints that broken machines were not being quickly replaced in precincts that tend to lean Democratic and now, word is coming in that there may be some software issues.

The network political departments get busy and, in short order, discover that the machines used in Hamilton County, Ohio—the county home of Cincinnati— are supplied by Hart Intercivic, a national provider of voting systems in use in a wide variety of counties scattered throughout the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Colorado and Ohio.

A quick Internet search reveals that there may be reason for concern.

A test conducted in 2007 by the Ohio Secretary of State revealed that five of the electronic voting systems the state was looking to use in the upcoming 2008 presidential election had failed badly, each easily susceptible to chicanery that could alter the results of an election.

As reported in the New York Times, “At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.”

We learn that one of the companies whose machines had failed was none other than Hart Intercivic.

With television time to fill and no ability to declare a winner so that the long night’s broadcast can be brought to a close, the staffs keep digging for relevant information to keep the attention of their viewers—and that is when it gets very real.

It turns out that Hart Intercivic is owned, in large part, by H.I.G. Capital—a large investment fund with billions of dollars under management—that was founded by a fellow named Tony Tamer. While it is unclear just how much H.I.G. owns of Hart Intercivic, we do learn that H.I.G. employees hold at least two of the five Hart Intercivic board seats.

A little more digging turns up a few tidbits of data that soon become ‘the story’.

Tony Tamer, H.I.G.’s founder, turns out to be a major bundler for the Mitt Romney campaign, along with three other directors of H.I.G. who are also big-time money raisers for Romney.

Indeed, as fate would have it, two of those directors—Douglas Berman and Brian Schwartz— were actually in attendance at the now infamous “47 percent” fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida.

With that news, voters everywhere start to get this queasy feeling in the pits of their stomach.

But wait—if you’re feeling a bit ill now, you’ll want to get the anti-acids ready to go because it’s about to get really strange.

To everyone’s amazement, we learn that two members of the Hart Intercivic board of directors, Neil Tuch and Jeff Bohl, have made direct contributions to the Romney campaign. This, despite the fact that they represent 40 percent of the full board of directors of a company whose independent, disinterested and studiously non-partisan status in any election taking place on their voting machines would seemingly be a ‘no brainer’.

To Mr. Bohl’s credit, after giving a total of $4,000 to “Romney For President”, it must have occurred to him that it might not look so good for a board member of a company whose voting machines are to be a part of the presidential election to be playing favorites—so he gave $250 to Barack Obama to sort of balance the scales.

Mr. Tuch? Not so much.

Interestingly, Mr. Bohl lists himself as an investor at H.I.G. Capital for his Romney contributions but his far smaller donation to Obama was done as “Jeff Bohl, self-employed innkeeper”.

And finally, we learn that H.I.G. is the 11th largest of all the contributors to the Romney effort.

Did I say “finally”? My bad…because there is, indeed, more.

Can you guess who is reported to have a financial relationship with H.I.G. Capital?

Numerous media sources, including Truthout, are reporting that Solamere Capital—the investment firm run by Mitt Romney’s son, Tagg, and the home of money put into the closely held firm by Tagg’s uncle Scott, mother Anne and, of course, the dad who might just be the next President of the United States—depending upon how the vote count turns out, in our little tale, in the State of Ohio—have shared business interests with H.I.G. either directly or via Solamere Advisors which is owned, in part, by Solamere Capital, including a reported investment in H.I.G. by either Solamere Capital or Solamere Advisors.

Lee Fang, in his piece for The Nation exploring the government related activities of various companies in which Solamere has an interest writes-

“Meanwhile, HIG Capital—one of the largest Solamere partners, with nearly $10 billion of equity capital—owns a number of other firms that are closely monitoring the federal government. ”

While the Cincinnati scenario is —at this point—fiction, the rest of this story is all too true, including the part where the voting machines to be used in Hamilton County will be those provided by Hart Intercivic.

And while I am not suggesting conspiracies or that anyone would get involved in any foul play here, most particularly the GOP candidate for President, how is it possible that so many people could exercise so much bad judgment?

The sanctity of voting in America is supposed to be one of our most important virtues. So concerned are we with a ‘clean’ process that James O’Keefe has made a career entrapping, video taping and destroying those sympathetic to Democratic Party candidates and causes who cross the line when it comes to the voting process. And that’s just fine. If Mr. O’Keefe can legitimately expose someone engaging in voter fraud, he most certainly should call them out.

So, why would these individuals who serve on the board of directors of Hart Intercivic go out of their way to make a contribution to any political candidate given the critical importance of their company remaining above reproach when it comes to the political process? And why would those who run the company that owns Hart Intercivic be giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political candidate? And why would a political candidate and his family have a financial relationship with a company that owns a chunk of the voting machine company that will be counting the actual votes given to that political candidate or his opponent?

Keith Olbermann was suspended from his job at MSNBC for donating a couple hundred bucks to a local candidate that was a friend of his. Why? Because his employer required that journalists at the network stay free of having given such contributions to any candidate for all the obvious reasons.

Is it really too much to ask that those who control the voting machines that record and count the votes of our elections be held to at least the same standard?

Hopefully, everything will go swimmingly in Cincinnati on Election Day. And, if it doesn’t, it will no doubt be the result of honest error.

Yet, because of this uncomfortable chain of ownership, we now find ourselves with one more headache among the many headaches that accompany the important work of choosing an American president and believing that the process was a fair one—particularly when such an election comes down to a very few votes as may well be the case on Election Day, 2012.

Really, guys. You couldn’t find anything else to invest in? You couldn’t donate all those hundreds of thousands to charity rather than put it into political contributions so that your fellow countrymen would have no reason to ever doubt or question the results of so important an election—or any election for that matter, even if it’s the choice of a county dogcatcher?

I truly wonder sometimes just what these allegedly smart people have inside their heads—or, more importantly, their hearts.

By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, October 20, 2012

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Not So Hidden”: As If Republicans Didn’t Know, President Obama’s Second-Term Agenda Is Pretty Clear

Everywhere you turn, President Obama is accused of not offering a clear second-term agenda. It’s not surprising that Republicans say it, but you also hear it from quarters sympathetic to the president.

But how true is the charge?

The president does lack a crisp, here’s-my-plan set of sound bites. What’s less obvious is whether this should matter to anyone. Mitt Romney’s five-point plan sounds good but is quite vague and, upon inspection, looks rather like five-point plans issued by earlier Republican presidential candidates. Moreover, Romney has been resolutely unspecific about his tax plans, leading to the understandable suspicion that he’s hiding something politically unsavory, either in the popular deductions he’d have to slash or in the programs he’d have to get rid of.

Obama, by contrast, has been far more straightforward about what he would do about the deficit: He wants a budget deal that includes both spending cuts and tax increases. He has put forward rather detailed deficit-reduction proposals. The centerpiece is a plan that, when combined with cuts made in 2011, would reduce the deficit by $3.8 trillion over a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Obama keeps insisting (rightly) that no deal can work without new revenue, and he is upfront that he’d begin by raising taxes on Americans earning over $250,000 a year.

Some deficit hawks argue that Obama’s tax increases are not broad enough. Others are looking for steeper Medicare and Social Security cuts than Obama is willing to endorse. Many progressives, in turn, want fewer cuts and favor additional tax increases on the very wealthy. Before signing off on deeper program reductions, progressives should consider the efforts of Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., to counter all the proposals to cut tax rates. She has suggested five new, higher rates on incomes ranging from $1 million to $1 billion or more a year. The capital gains tax also needs to rise. Low levies on capital gains, the reason Romney paid so little tax on his $20.9 million income, raise problems for both fiscal balance and equity.

But these are responses to what Obama has proposed. To disagree with some of Obama’s specifics is to acknowledge that the specifics exist.

Some dismiss what an Obama second term might achieve by claiming that it will be mainly concerned with consolidating his first-term accomplishments. If these had been trivial, that might be a legitimate criticism. But does anyone seriously believe that implementing a massive new health insurance program that will cover an additional 30 million Americans is unimportant? Can anyone argue that translating the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms into workable regulations is a minor undertaking?

The president has also been clear that he wants to take on immigration reform. The question always asked is: Why should we think he’ll do it in a second term when he didn’t do it in the first? The answer is that if Obama is reelected, it will be in no small part because he overwhelms Romney among Latino voters who have stoutly rejected the Republican’s “self-deportation” ideas. It’s possible that Republicans will cooperate on immigration reform simply because they don’t want to keep losing elections by getting clobbered in Latino precincts. And Obama will know that he has an electoral debt to pay.

Republicans have been relentless in attacking the clean-energy projects Obama has financed. If Obama wins, the president will have reason to say that clean energy won, too, and push ahead. And in one of the best articles on what Obama might do in a second term, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza observed in June that Obama’s campaign statements — to that point, at least — suggested he would like to take another shot at legislation to address climate change.

Obama speaks incessantly about upgrading the country’s infrastructure. He also stresses the urgency of retooling both our education system and the way we train people for well-paying jobs. One can imagine a comprehensive education, jobs and investment program being a high priority in a second Obama term. And you can bet he will join efforts to create a new campaign financing system to check the power billionaires and corporations exercise in the world after Citizens United.

There is every reason to wish that Obama would pull all this together in a more inspiring way. Some of us would like him to be much bolder in addressing income inequality, the huge roadblocks to upward mobility, and the persistence of poverty. But is there is an Obama second-term agenda? Yes, there is.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, October 21, 2012

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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