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“An Interesting Dynamic”: Are Mitt Romney’s Congressional Shackles Slipping?

What is potentially the most dramatic of all electoral subplots seems to be building with virtually no public comment: even as Mitt Romney postures to swing voters as the newly re-emerged Moderate From Massachusetts, the shackles of a Republican congressional majority that once guaranteed the slippery Mitt couldn’t violate his various blood oaths to the conservative movement may not be so tight any more.

Richard Mourdock has taken another big step towards throwing away a safe Senate seat in Indiana. Todd Akin is showing no signs of recovery in Missouri. The latest polls are showing Tim Murphy beginning to overcome Linda McMahon’s money in Connecticut, and Elizabeth Warren building a consistent lead in Massachusetts. Angus King again looks safe in Maine. Sure, GOPers could run the table of close races in Montana, North Dakota, Virginia and Nevada, but overall, prospects for Senate control are looking grim.

So the conservative game-plan, articulated many months ago by Grover Norquist, whereby a newly elected GOP congressional majority would pass the Ryan Budget via reconciliation procedures and present about a decade or two worth of demolition work to a newly elected President Romney, who had promised to sign it–doesn’t look quite so healthy. And this scenario hasn’t been discussed much because pretty much everybody figured an election in which Mitt won would surely produce a Republican Senate, given the GOP’s massive advantages in the landscape of that chamber in this particular cycle.

With Election Day just 13 days off, it’s far too late for conservatives to publicly demand fresh Vows of Total Submission from Romney–vows he’s already made, for one thing, but that most conservatives didn’t really think they’d need with a Republican Congress. They’ll have to grin and pretend to admire the Moderate Mitt talk, barren as it actually is. But you have to figure that behind the scenes there’s some serious don’t-you-dare-cross-us talk going on, whether or not Romney has any intention of using a Democratic Senate as an excuse to go back on his promises to let the conservative movement run wild in 2013 in exchange for tolerating his nomination.

It’s an interesting dynamic to watch, though one that is obviously of academic interest if Mitt loses and conservatives quickly consign him to the ashbin of failed RINOs.

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 24, 2012

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Official Position Of The Republican Party”: No, Richard Mourdock Has Not Apologized

Wednesday night John McCain went on CNN and told Anderson Cooper that he was withholding support for Senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock until the Indiana Republican “apologizes and says he misspoke, and he was wrong and he asks the people to forgive him.”

Apparently, McCain hadn’t gotten the memo that Republicans are pretending that Mourdock had indeed apologized for his comments in which he said that a pregnancy as a result of rape is a “gift from God.”

Thursday morning, McCain accepted Mourdock’s “apology” and pledged his support.

But let’s be clear. There was no apology for what Mourdock said. Here are his exact words from his press conference:

I’m a much more humble person this morning because so many people mistook, twisted, came to misunderstand the points that I was trying to make. I’m confident God abhors violence and rape, if they came away with any impression other than that, I truly regret it. I apologize if they came away, and I have certainly been humbled by the fact that so many people think that that somehow was an interpretation.

You catch the keyword here? “I apologize IF…” What Mourdock did was make up an interpretation that maybe three people on Twitter were accusing him of calling rape God-ordained. And then he apologized for people having that interpretation.

What didn’t he do? Apologize for what he actually said, which was:

I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

He’s saying a pregnancy as a result of a rape is a gift from God. And that’s why people are offended. And he refuses to apologize for that. “Anyone who goes to the video tape and views that, understands fully what I meant. I really believe that,” he said later in the press conference.

But this “apology” is good enough for Mitt Romney. The GOP nominee has only filmed one commercial for a Senate candidate this year, and it was for Mourdock. He distanced himself from the comments, but he hasn’t asked for that ad to be taken down.

Why? Maybe he’s afraid of offending evangelicals in swing states.

Or maybe he recognizes what Mourdock was saying is kind of the official position of the Republican Party.

The former Republican governor of Utah who played Gallant to Romney’s Goofus in the GOP primary said he would withdraw his endorsement and pull the ad, once again proving that he’s much too sane for this Republican Party.

 

By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, October 25, 2012

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Ugly Strain Of GOP Racism”: Right Wing Fumes As General Colin Powell Endorses President Obama

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election this morning, crossing party lines — and setting off an ugly reaction from the right wing.

Powell, a retired four-star general who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the George H.W. Bush administration before becoming George W. Bush’s top diplomat, told CBS’s “This Morning” that “I voted for [Obama] in 2008, and I plan to stick with him in 2012. I’ll be voting for he [sic] and for Vice President Joe Biden next month.”

Powell credited President Obama for stabilizing the financial system, ending the war in Iraq, and beginning to end the war in Afghanistan. By contrast, Powell criticized Romney’s economic plans and expressed concern that Romney is a “moving target” on foreign policy.

“The governor who was speaking on Monday night at the debate was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier,” Powell said. “So I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting in terms of foreign policy.”

“Sometimes I don’t sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have,” Powell added. “And he gets advice from his campaign staff that he then has to adjust and modify as he goes along.”

Predictably, many on the right could not accept that Powell — who maintains that he is still a Republican despite endorsing both of Obama’s presidential runs — could have serious policy reasons for supporting the president. Instead, the fringe came up with the same answer that they embrace to explain almost every Obama-related event: it’s all about race.

A brief scan of right wing message boards and media figures reveals the ugly strain of racism that lurks barely beneath the surface of many hyper-partisan criticisms of the president. Note that no Caucasian is ever labeled as a racist for endorsing a white candidate.

Some mainstream Republicans were also critical of Powell’s endorsement. Arizona Senator John McCain went on Brian Kilmeade’s radio show this morning and slammed Powell’s decision, saying “General Powell, you disappoint us and you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime.”

This is an especially interesting critique, given that Powell is the man who stood before the United Nations in 2003 and made the disastrously faulty case for an invasion of Iraq. Powell considers the incident to be a “blot” on his record that will always be “painful” to him. If anyone would understand the value of restraint — which McCain and his colleagues in the Republican foreign policy establishment tend to consider “feckless” — it would be a man like Powell, who has seen firsthand what type of damage Romney and his foreign policy team can do.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, October 25, 2012

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“He Truly Believes In Nothing”: Mitt Romney Is The Emptiest Candidate In Presidential Election History

As the end of this election approaches, it’s worth taking a step back and asking this question: In the entire history of the United States of America, from George Washington’s election in 1789 on down, has there been a single candidate as unmoored from ideological principle or belief as Mitt Romney? I’m not just throwing an insult here, I ask this question sincerely. Because I can’t think of any. There have been middle-of-the road candidates, candidates eager to compromise, candidates who would divert attention to issues that weren’t all that important, and even candidates who at some point in their careers undertook a meaningful position change or two. For instance, early in George H.W. Bush’s career he was an outspoken supporter of abortion rights, just as Al Gore was anti-choice early in his; both changed their positions to align with their parties. But Romney truly does stand alone, not only for the sheer quantity of issues on which he has shifted, but for the frequency with which wholesale shifts have taken place.

And with the presidential debates complete, there is barely an issue area on which Romney hasn’t undergone a change just in the last few weeks. I had thought that no matter what else Romney might change his mind on, if there’s one thing he believes it’s that the wealth and privilege of the wealthy and privileged must be maintained and enhanced. But he even flip-flopped on that, not only pledging not to cut taxes on the wealthy (in contrast to what he said during the primaries), but actually proposing a huge tax increase on them (though I seem to be the only one who has noticed that that’s what Romney has in fact proposed). That neither his supporters nor his opponents believe that he really wants that just makes it all the more remarkable. I feel like we’ve gotten so used to the idea of Romney as a shape-shifter that what for a different candidate might have been greeted as a series of scandalous acts of cynicism was instead greeted with, “Yep, everybody saw that coming.”

You have to give some strategic props to Romney for his latest ideological refashioning. He waited to unveil it until the first presidential debate, when Republicans were at an emotional low point imagining that the president they hate with such consuming venom might waltz to a second term. After that, the new foreign policy Romney we met in the final debate came as no surprise. He calculated correctly that with the election so close his base wouldn’t care, that they’d accept anything that might improve their chances of getting rid of Barack Obama. Perhaps they’re grumbling in their private conversations, but I doubt it. They know that what matters is winning. They also understand that keeping a President Romney in line will take some work, but that’s an effort they’re ready for. And that would have been true whether he presented himself as newly Moderate Mitt in the last few weeks of the campaign or not.

Romney also probably understood that if he waited long enough, the press wouldn’t punish him much for an ideological refashioning either. At the end of a campaign, horse-race reporting and the focus on the most trivial of campaign quibbles goes from being a bias that colors coverage to swallowing the entirety of coverage. Who has time to write a story about Romney’s latest ideological metamorphosis, when there were 18 new polls released today and there are diners in Ohio whose customers have not yet been interviewed to plumb their deep swing-votery wisdom?

In popular culture, politicians are usually portrayed in one of two ways. First you have the candidate whose polished smile and charm hide something sinister: he murdered his mistress, or he’ll resort to the most immoral tactics (blackmail, vote-stealing) to win. The second version is the candidate who believes in nothing other than whatever will get him an extra vote or two and who doesn’t care at all about issues, the man or woman for whom the only goal is power and for whom power is an end in itself. This caricature is often a way for television shows and movies to use the political world as a dramatic setting while avoiding ideology completely, and it’s one that applies to no politician I’ve ever encountered. Some are more cynical than others, but they all have things they believe in and things they’d like to do. They all have some vision of what America would look like if they had their way.

But in Mitt Romney we may finally have found a candidate who lives up to the caricature. I think by now we can safely say that when it comes to the things government does and the issues that confront the nation as a whole, he truly believes in nothing. It’s really quite remarkable that not only could he get so far, but that he has a real chance to become president of the United States.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, October 24, 2012

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Talk About Uncertainty”: Mitt Romney’s Question Mark Economy

As we close in on Election Day, the questions about what Mitt Romney would do if elected grow even larger. Rarely before in American history has a candidate for president campaigned on such a blank slate.

Yet, paradoxically, not a day goes by that we don’t hear Romney, or some other exponent of the GOP, claim that businesses aren’t creating more jobs because they’re uncertain about the future. And the source of that uncertainty, they say, is President Obama — especially his Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank Act, and uncertainties surrounding Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.

In fact, Romney has created far more uncertainty. He offers a virtual question mark of an economy

For example, Romney says if elected he’ll repeal Obamacare and replace it with something else. He promises he’ll provide health coverage to people with pre-existing medical problems but he doesn’t give a hint how he’d manage it.

Insurance companies won’t pay the higher costs of insuring these people unless they have extra funds — which is why Obamacare requires that everyone, including healthy young people, buy insurance. Yet Romney doesn’t say where the extra money to fund insurers would come from. From taxpayers? Businesses?

Talk about uncertainty.

Romney also promises to repeal Dodd-Frank, but here again he’s mum on what he’d replace it with. Yet without some sort of new regulation of Wall Street we’re back to where we were before 2008 when Wall Street crashed and brought most of the rest of us down with it.

Romney hasn’t provided a clue how he proposes to oversee the biggest banks absent Dodd-Frank, what kind of capital requirements he’d require of them, and what mechanism he’d use to put them through an orderly bankruptcy that wouldn’t risk the rest of the Street. All we get is a big question mark.

When it comes to how Romney would pay for the giant $5 trillion tax cut he proposes, mostly for the rich, he takes uncertainty to a new level of abject wonderment. “We’ll work with Congress,” is his response.

He says he’ll limit loopholes and deductions that could be used by the wealthy, but refuses to be specific. Several weeks ago Romney said he’d cap total deductions at $17,000 a year. Days later, the figure became $25,000. Now it’s up in the air. “Pick a figure,” he now says.

Make no mistake. Wall Street traders and corporate CEOs are supporting Romney not because of the new level of certainty he promises but because Romney promises to lower their taxes.

Meanwhile, many of Romney’s allies who are attacking Obama for creating uncertainty are themselves responsible for the uncertainty. They’re the ones who have delayed and obfuscated Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and any semblance of a federal budget.

“Continued uncertainty is the greatest threat to small businesses and our country’s economic recovery,” says Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been funneled tens of millions of dollars into ads blaming Obama for the nation’s economic woes.

That’s the same Chamber of Commerce that’s been using every legal tool imaginable to challenge regulations emerging from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank — keeping the future of both laws as uncertain as possible for as long as they can. The Chamber even brought Obamacare to the Supreme Court.

At the same time, congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to scotch any agreement on how to reduce the budget deficit. Because they’ve pledged their fiscal souls to Grover Norquist, they won’t consider raising even a dollar of new taxes. Yet it’s impossible to balance the budget without some combination of spending cuts and tax increases — unless, that is, we do away with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, or the military.

Business executives justifiably worry about January’s so-called “fiscal cliff”, requiring sudden and sharp tax increases and spending cuts. But they have no one to blame but Norquist’s Republican acolytes in Congress, including Paul Ryan, all of whom agreed to the fiscal cliff when they couldn’t agree to anything else.

Average Americans, meanwhile, face more economic uncertainty from the possibility of a Romney-Ryan administration than they have had in their lifetimes. Not only has Romney thrown the future of Obamacare into doubt, but Americans have no idea what would happen under his administration to Medicare, Medicaid, college aid, Pell grants, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and many other programs Americans rely on. All would have to be sliced or diced, but Romney won’t tell us how or by how much.

Romney is casting a pall of uncertainty in every direction — even toward young immigrants. He vows if elected he’ll end Obama’s reprieve from deportation of young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally when they were children. As a result, some young people who might qualify are holding back for fear the information they offer could be used against them at later date if Romney is elected.

Conservative economists such as John Taylor of the Hoover Institution, one of Romney’s key economic advisors, continue to attribute the slow recovery and high unemployment to Obama’s “unpredictable economic policy.”

In truth, Romney and the GOP have put a giant question mark over the future of the economy and of all Americans. The only way the future becomes more certain is if Obama wins on Election Day.

 

By: Robert Reich, Co-Founder, The American Prospect, October 24, 2012

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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