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“Fantasy And Fear Based”: Why Mitt Romney’s Bogus Jeep Claims Matter

Mitt Romney campaigned in Defiance, Ohio, last night, and rolled out a new argument. “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,” he said. “I will fight for every good job in America, I’m going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if it’s fair, America will win.”

There are a few problems with this line of attack, starting with the simple fact that Romney wasn’t telling the truth. As Chrysler itself explained, the company intends to build Jeeps in China to be sold in China, but isn’t moving American jobs abroad.

On Oct. 22, 2012, at 11:10 a.m. ET, the Bloomberg News report “Fiat Says Jeep® Output May Return to China as Demand Rises” stated “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley (President and CEO of the Jeep brand) referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”

Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce. It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.

Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments. [emphasis in the original]

All of this, incidentally, is rather ironic given the successful efforts of the Obama administration when it comes to China and Jeeps, specifically.

Greg Sargent explained well why this matters: “Romney may very well be the next president. That’s a position of some responsibility. Yet he and his campaign rushed to tell voters a story designed to stoke their fears for their livelihoods without bothering to vet it for basic accuracy. This is not a small thing. It reveals the depth of Romney’s blithe lack of concern for the truth — and the subservience of it to his own political ambitions.”

Indeed, we can take this a step further.

Romney specifically urged business leaders to give their employees voting instructions — many took Romney’s suggestion seriously — and as a consequence, workers in a growing number of businesses are being told their jobs may be dependent on the outcome of the election.

Romney’s comments in Defiance are part of the same kind of fear-based argument: vote the right way or you’ll be unemployed. Your livelihood is at stake, so support the candidate who opposed President Obama’s successful rescue of the auto industry and got rich laying off American workers.

For additional context, it’s worth noting that the Detroit News reports today that Chrysler is adding an additional 1,100 new jobs. Why? To build more Jeeps right here in the United States.

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 26, 2012

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Romney’s Closing Argument”: For Those Who Prefer “Big And Bold Dishonesty”

For the candidate afflicted with “Romnesia,” you never know when you hear that he’s making his “closing argument” if that is indeed the case, or he’s got three or four more in his pocket. But that’s the label BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller is giving to Mitt Romney’s speech in Ames, Iowa, today–a place, you may recall, that he strictly avoided when Iowa Republicans kicked off the presidential cycle with a straw poll in the summer of 2011.

But anyway: the guts of Mitt’s final pitch is that he and Paul Ryan are thinking big and bold while Barack Obama is petty and timid:

Four years ago, candidate Obama spoke to the scale of the times. Today, he shrinks from it, trying instead to distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest–from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false.

This is pretty rich coming from the guy who has spent much of the last month relentlessly pandering to the coal industry. But at any rate, what’s interesting about the “big and bold change” stuff is that it’s true: but not in any way he’s admitting. To hear his “closing argument,” here’s a sample of what he and Paul Ryan are fighting for:

We will save and secure Medicare and Social Security, both for current and near retirees, and for the generation to come. We will restore the $716 billion President Obama has taken from Medicare to pay for his vaunted Obamacare.

We will reform healthcare to tame the growth in its cost, to provide for those with pre-existing conditions, and to assure that every American has access to healthcare. We will replace government choice with consumer choice, bringing the dynamics of the marketplace to a sector of our lives that has long been dominated by government.

I’m sure you know by now how Mitt ‘n’ Paul plan to “save” Medicare. The “save Social Security” bit presumably refers to “reform” plans they haven’t had the guts to reveal, though Ryan was an early backer of partial privatization and Romney has talked vaguely about means-testing benefits.

But it’s the “health care reform” claim that is really incredible. By repealing Obamacare, Romney and Ryan would eliminate health insurance coverage for 30 million people who would otherwise be covered beginning in 2014. The Medicaid block grant they propose would according to the most credible indeeliminate coverage for another 17-23 million people. That’s 47-53 million Americans who will have to find some other way to secure health care or simply do without. And what are the “reforms” proposed instead? The Romney campaign has already been forced to admit that its candidate’s deep concern for people with pre-existing conditions extends only so far as preserving current laws allowing people to pay both employer and employee shares of health premiums after they’ve lost their jobs, or try to buy terrible, expensive policies through state risk pools. But believe it or not, the big and bold Romney/Ryan agenda would make things worse by the “market-based” reform of interstate insurance sales, which would create a race to the bottom sure to eliminate most of the protections available to poorer and sicker people.

I won’t even get into the hypocrisy of talking about getting government out of health care while demanding that the single-payer Medicare program keep paying insurance companies and providers $716 billion in unnecessary reimbursements. But the gap between what Romney is saying on health care and other issues, and the reality of his agenda, already gigantic when this campaign began, has only grown. If you like your dishonesty big and bold, he’s your man.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 26, 2012

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Moral Case For President Obama”: The Exercise Of Conscience And Judgment

We’ve talked a lot of policy on the Dish this election cycle – airing legitimate differences on how to handle foreign policy, or taxes, or how best to run a healthcare system. And that’s absolutely part of an election, and I fully accept the validity of the views of those who legitimately disagree with me on what are essentially prudential judgments. I’ve supported Democrats and Republicans in my adult life, for different prudential reasons at different moments in time. In politics, I’m a conservative; not an ideologue.

But there is another dimension to politics and it’s about morality. Some issues are not subject to prudential or utilitarian reasoning, but are fundamental a priori moral questions. Let me cite three areas where I think the difference between Obama and Romney is a deep and moral one and requires the exercize of conscience as well as judgment.

The first is universal access to healthcare. I’ve long been a fan of the great parts of America’s private healthcare system: its treatment of patients as customers they want to keep, as opposed to human beings they are simply mandated to treat; the innovation of the pharmaceutical companies in a free market; private hospitals and doctors. But the fact that tens of millions of human beings cannot afford access to this often excellent private healthcare, even in a basic form, remains, to my mind, a scandal. That there are two nations in this country – one with the security of healthcare and one with no security at all – remains, to my mind, a moral disgrace.

That view comes ultimately from my Catholic faith. But it also comes from my surviving a plague and seeing so many die in often unbelievable neglect. It comes from realizing that if I encounter a sick person, every particle of my being wants to see that person get care, and it’s only by looking away that I can ignore this core truth. It comes from understanding that as someone with a pre-existing condition, I would be bankrupted if I ever lost insurance through an employer. And I am so much more privileged than so many.

I don’t believe in the kind of socialized medicine they have in my home country, where the government really does run the industry. But I do believe as a core moral principle in universal access to basic healthcare in wealthy countries.

This election is really asking you: do you believe everyone should be able to have access to private health insurance or not? When I examine my conscience, my answer has to be yes.

I believe in equal human dignity, and denying someone medicine to live healthily denies that dignity. To run a campaign in favor of removing that kind of security for tens of millions of Americans and replacing it with nothing remotely comparable is simply, deeply, morally wrong.

Torture is also a non-negotiable issue for me. It is simply unacceptable. It is the negation of the West’s entire founding principles. Any candidate of any party who supports it rules himself out for me on that ground alone. Romney will bring it back. He will make America a torturing nation again. He would employ the former war criminals of the dark years of Bush-Cheney and legitimize them still further. He would reinforce the idea, propagated by Cheney, that torture is a “no-brainer”, giving comfort to every vicious dictator on the planet to do the same. This was not the case in 2008, when both candidates disavowed torture, and one of them had actually suffered by the exact torture techniques approved by Bush-Cheney.

Finally, I cannot reconcile a pre-emptive war against a country that only has the technical ability to make a nuclear bomb, but has not weaponized it or threatened its use, with any reading of just war theory.

I have no illusions about the evil in the Tehran regime. This page was obsessed with the suppressed Iranian revolution three years ago and covered it like no other. I despise theocracy perhaps more than any other form of government – because it is a blasphemy as well as a dictatorship. But when the Supreme Leader of that theocracy publicly declares as religious doctrine that using a nuclear bomb is a sin, and when the opposition in Iran favors the nuclear program as a matter of national pride, and when Iran’s nuclear capability would still be no match for Israel’s massive and fully actionable nuclear apparatus, then pre-emptive war is morally unconscionable. To use an expression like “mowing the lawn” to decribe such acts of war that would kill countless people makes me sick to my stomach.

If the Iranian theocrats were to constuct an actual nuclear bomb and directed it toward other countries, I still would favor containment. I believe in the doctrine of deterrence. But I can see, given the evil nature of the regime, especially its disgusting anti-Semitism, why some may disagree with that view, including the president. I can also see why the Jewish people, given the enormities they have suffered and the extraordinary achievement of their dynamic, tiny state, would lean on the side of extreme caution. But to launch a war with necessary ground troops and brutal bunker-busting bombs simply because a country has the technical capability to enrich enough material for a nuclear bomb – that’s immoral. It’s unjust. When that country poses no threat to the United States itself, it’s way outside the parameters of a just war.

Romney favors such a pre-emptive war based merely on Iran’s capability. Obama favors it based on the actual decision to construct a nuclear weapon. Both, I believe, are morally troublesme, from a just war perspective. But Romney’s is far worse. I’m no pacifist. But I also deeply oppose war except in self-defense with as few civilian casualties as is possible.

I’m not citing civil rights issues, but they of course factor in. The GOP’s institutional bigotry toward gay people and our lives and families and its stated intent to keep a whole class of us disenfranchized from the basic right to marry the person you love appalls me. But I understand this is a state matter, not a federal one. And I’m addressing presidential decisions here. I endorsed George W. Bush and Bob Dole who explicitly opposed marriage equality. Heck, I supported a Democrat named Barack Obama who did at the time as well. But I believe in federalism on this. And always have.

On the universality of access to healthcare, on torture, and on pre-emptive war, my conscience therefore requires me to withhold support for the Republican candidate. I disagree with him on many prudential policy grounds – but none reach the level of moral seriousness of the above. Yes, a lot of this comes from my faith in the teachings of Jesus and the social teaching of the Catholic tradition in its primary concern for the poor and weak and the sick – rather than praising, as Romney and Ryan do, the superior morality of the prosperous and strong and healthy. But on all three topics, a purely secular argument also applies, simply based on the core dignity and equality of the human person, and the fragile advances we have made as a civilization against barbarism like torture.

That matters. It matters in a way that nothing else does.

 

By: Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast, October 26, 2012

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Not An Isolated Incident”: Todd Akin Tied To Religious Paramilitary Right-wing “Domestic Terrorist”

New documents show Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin donated to the political campaign of a violent antiabortion activist named Tim Dreste, whose ties to Akin we reported on earlier this week.

Dreste, as the Riverfront Times described him, was a “domestic terrorist, religious fanatic, [and] paramilitary right-wing nut.” In 1999, Dreste was convicted in federal court of making “true threats to kill, assault or do bodily harm” to abortion doctors. Before that, as we reported, Akin popped up in several groups led by Dreste, who was one of St. Louis’ most prominent pro-life activists until his conviction. Dreste was also chaplain in the militia that Akin praised in a letter just a few months before the Oklahoma City bombing.

Now, as it turns out, Akin was one of only a handful of contributors to Dreste’s 1993 run for the Missouri state House. Then-state Rep. Todd Akin’s campaign gave Dreste $200, according to campaign finance records, making him Dreste’s third largest contributor, tied with a pro-life PAC. The records were obtained by Progress Missouri from the secretary of state’s archives and provided to Salon.

Dreste’s campaign brought in only $2,325 in cash contributions that year, so Akin’s donation represents about 8.6 percent of his total haul. There are only seven other itemized donors (those who give under $100 don’t have to be listed individually), including two pro-life groups and two other candidate committees. Dreste ran for the state Legislature four times, but 1993, a special election, was his best showing, when he captured 35 percent of the vote.

Defenders of Akin — Akin spokesman Rick Tyler declined to comment for this story — might note that Dreste wasn’t convicted for another five years, so Akin couldn’t have known how radical he was in 1993. But Dreste was well known in Missouri at the time for his controversial stunts.

Akin’s contribution came in October of 1993, but in March, “Dreste was the talk of the anti-abortion and abortion-rights camps when, after the murder in 1993 of Dr. David Gunn in Florida, he carried a sign asking, ‘Do You Feel Under the Gunn?’” St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jo Mannies wrote in 1995. Gunn’s murder was a watershed moment in the volatile abortion wars of the decade, but Dreste used it to make an implicit threat against other doctors. Specifically, he showed up outside the clinic of abortion provider Dr. Yogendra Shah with the sign: “Dr. Shah, do you feel under the Gunn?” Mannies also noted: “Wearing a hat adorned with shotgun shells, Tim Dreste is a familiar sight among the anti-abortion protesters who regularly picket the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City.”

In May of ’93, the Post-Dispatch published a controversial letter to the editor from Dreste in which he accused gay people of spreading AIDS-infected blood. “Further, Operation Rescue’s leaders have continuously disavowed violence as a means to achieve their goals, while animal-rights groups destroy medical testing facilities and militant homosexuals invade church services and spread AIDS-infected blood in legislative chambers, all the while being cheered on by the left for standing up for their cause,” Dreste wrote.

He concluded: “As this area’s leader for Operation Rescue, I have only one response: Throw some extra bunks into Manuel Noriega’s and John Gotti’s cells; we’ll soon join them.” It turned out to be prescient.

Of course, it’s possible that Akin, a committed anti-choice activist who was arrested multiple times while protesting abortion clinics in the 1980s and defended a woman convicted of battery against an abortion nurse, somehow missed all of Dreste’s controversial activities. Sean Soendker Nicholson, the executive director of Progress Missouri, doesn’t think so. “This isn’t an isolated incident. No amount of threats of violence or extremism encouraged Akin to cut ties with Dreste.”

 

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, October 25, 2012

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Against What Works”: Paul Ryan Takes A Side In The War On Poverty

Paul Ryan has a right to be wrong. He can believe that anti-poverty programs don’t work.

But he does not have a right to foster the fantasy that his opinion is grounded in reality.

Unfortunately, media reports on the Republican vice presidential candidate’s “big” speech on how to address poverty, focused on Ryan’s glib one-liners rather than the fact that his basic premises are false.

Ryan says that: “In this war on poverty, poverty is winning.”

That’s a nice play on words. But there’s a problem. Ryan wants us to believe that the “war on poverty” is what’s causing poverty.

Seriously.

The Republican candidate says:

With a few exceptions, government’s approach has been to spend lots of money on centralized, bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs.

The mindset behind this approach is that a nation should measure compassion by the size of the federal government and how much it spends.

The problem is, starting in the 1960s, this top-down approach created and perpetuated a debilitating culture of dependency, wrecking families and communities.

So, in Ryan’s opinion, the “war on poverty” that President Lyndon Johnson declared in 1964 as part of a broader Great Society initiative made matters worse.

But that’s just wrong.

How do we know? Census data.

In 1959, 22.1 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line.

In 1969, 13.7 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line.

The poverty level has varied since 1969. It has gone as high as 15 percent. But it has never again gotten anywhere near where it was in 1959.

What changed during the 1960s to dramatically decrease poverty?

“Centralized, bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs” like Medicare (1965), Medicaid (1965), the initiatives launched with the Food Stamp Act of 1964 and Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 programs such as the Jobs Corps (1964) and Head Start (1965).

Those programs worked.

Brilliantly.

They’re still working.

Brilliantly.

An honest political leader who really wanted to do something to finish the “war on poverty” would propose to expand them, with, for instance, an expansion of Medicare to cover all Americans, and a real Jobs Corps that would put Americans to work rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of America.

But Paul Ryan does not believe that.

He says “the problem” started in the 1960s.

Indeed, if Ryan is known for anything it is for his determination to downsize, voucherize and privatize the programs that have worked, that are working, to fight poverty.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would get at least 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in non-defense budget cuts over ten years (relative to a continuation of current policies) from programs that serve people of limited means.”

Paul Ryan’s challenger is his other 2012 race—a bet-hedging run for an eighth term in the US House—is calling this one right:

“If poverty’s winning the war, it’s because of policies Paul Ryan supports,” says Wisconsin Democrat Rob Zerban. “By doubling down on his radical plot to gut Medicaid, privatize Social Security, and decimate food assistance programs, Paul Ryan is betting against working families—all to hand out new tax breaks for millionaires and Big Oil.”

Paul Ryan has taken a side in the war on poverty. He’s against what works.

Ryan has a right to take the positions that he does.

But no one should confuse those positions with a sincere commitment to fighting, let alone ending, poverty.

 

By: John Nichols, The Nation, October 26, 2012

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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