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“Why Should You Vote?”: Visualize Romney World And Move America Forward

My wife, Jan Schakowsky, and I are friends with a wonderful woman named Bea. Bea is now 95 years old. Bea was born in 1917.

She was born in a country where women couldn’t vote. In some areas of the country, just fifty years before, slavery had been legal. Collective bargaining was not recognized under the law. Poverty was rampant — especially among the country’s oldest citizens.

Bea was born in a country where there was an unimaginable gulf between a few fabulously wealthy oligarchs, and the masses of ordinary people. It was a country where only a tiny fraction of the population ever went to college — or even graduated from high school — a country were hardly anyone was considered “middle class.” It was a country where there were few regulations to protect health and safety on the job, no national child labor laws, no federal minimum wage, and very little to prevent corporations from recklessly destroying the environment.

Bea was born in a country where people of color were considered second-class citizens and discrimination against them was enshrined into law — a country where gays and homosexuals could be prosecuted for their sexual orientation.

Bea was born in the United States of America.

Over her lifetime, Bea has been involved in many of the great social movements of our time — movements that helped transform our country into the envy of the world.

She was active building the labor unions that build the middle class. won a living wage, weekends and a 40-hour work week, pensions for retirement, and the passage of Social Security and Medicare that ensured a retirement free of poverty.

She marched with the civil rights movement that gave people of color an equal status in American society.

Bea became a public school teacher and helped educate an ever-expanding number of ordinary Americans — watching more and more of them go on to college to fulfill their dreams.

She was part of the women’s movement that demanded equal status and equal pay for women — as well as the right for women to control their own decisions about contraception and abortion.

This year, Bea — at 95 years old — is working on a phone bank to turn out voters for Barack Obama. She says that if Mitt Romney and the Republican Right win the election on Tuesday, they have made clear that they absolutely intend to destroy all of the things for which she has struggled her entire life. She’s right.

Mitt Romney has demonstrated over the years that he has only one real core value: his own success.

Throughout his career, Mitt has demonstrated that he will do whatever is necessary to benefit himself — and his investors. At Bain Capital he didn’t flinch when it came to destroying other people’s jobs and lives if it would make him and his investors money.

Now his “investors” are the oligarchs of the Republican Right — people like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson — who, between them, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get him elected. Many are the same people who funded the Tea Party movement. Others are the Wall Street hedge fund barons whose recklessness collapsed the economy and came very close to recreating a Great Depression.

These people — and their Tea Party allies in Congress — have shown the country that they have no intention of compromise. They are intent upon rolling back all of the things Bea has fought for — on sending us back to the Gilded Age. They truly believe that America would be a better place without labor unions. They want to eliminate Medicare and replace it with vouchers of ever-shrinking value that pay private insurance companies.

They want to be free to despoil the environment, do away with public education, eliminate jobs, cut wages, and continue to appropriate every dime of economic growth that is generated by our increasingly productive labor force.

As President Obama said in the second presidential debate, they want send us back to the foreign policy of the 1980’s, a social policy of the 1950’s and an economic policy of the 1920’s. They believe in a society where the law of the jungle reigns supreme — where you look out for yourself above all else — where, if you believe you are your brother and sisters’ keeper, that we shouldn’t leave anyone behind, that we should have each other’s back — you’re simply a chump.

If Mitt Romney becomes president, Republicans keep control of the House and win the few seats necessary to control the Senate, there will be nothing to restrain them from making their vision of society a reality in America — from taking America backward to a time most of us cannot imagine.

What are some of the things a President Romney has promised to do?

  • Eliminate Medicare and convert it into a voucher for private insurance — ending the most popular and successful health care program in American history and raising out of pocket costs for seniors by6,500 a year.
  • Privatize and cut Social Security – handing over the Social Security Trust fund to Wall Street and eliminating guaranteed benefits.
  • Appoint — most likely two — Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, outlawing abortion rights — and most likely make the Court a firm ally of unrestrained corporate and Wall Street power for generations.
  • Repeal Wall Street Reform. Return us to the pre-crash law that would allow Wall Street to once again run wild, gamble with more and more exotic financial instruments, make a fortune for itself — and once again wreck the economy.
  • Repeal ObamaCare. That by itself would end the promise that no one will ever again be bankrupt by a sudden illness. It will return us to a very recent time when someone who has a pre-existing condition can be denied insurance coverage – and that insurance companies can call the shots when it comes to your health care.
  • Pass the Ryan Budget. That would mean slashing critical federal expenditures that benefit the middle class and those who aspire to the middle class, like cutting Medicaid that pays for health care for the poor, children and those in need of nursing homes or home care — and slashing funds for education and college grants.
  • Increase military spending by two trillion dollars above the amount requested by the military leadership. That might benefit big defense contractors, but it would make it practically impossible to reduce the giant federal deficit.
  • Give the wealthy an additional 5 trillion dollar tax cut and pay for it by increasing the effective tax rate paid by the middle class.
  • Stop funding for Planned Parenthood and any other family planning programs that we fund around the world that use their own funds to pay for abortions.
  • Try to pass the “Personhood” Amendment that would effectively outlaw all abortions and many forms of hormonal contraception.
  • Allow many of the same Neo-Con foreign policy advisers who got us into the Iraq War to once again take control of American foreign policy.
  • Veto the Dream Act that would allow young people who were brought to America as children to apply for citizenship.
  • Eliminate the Presidential Directive that prevents the deportation of Dream Act-eligible young people.
  • Empower people like Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who wrote the Arizona “papers please” law and now serves as Romney’s chief adviser on immigration.
  • Slash environmental regulations and investment in clean energy development.

The list goes on and on.

But worse than the individual initiatives that Romney and Ryan have made clear they would undertake, is the attitude they would bring to decision-making.

Romney’s true views were laid bare in the now famous “47 percent video” where he explained how he could not convince 47% of Americans to take responsibility for their lives — people like retirees who worked all of their lives for their Social Security and Medicare — people like veterans who risked their lives for the country — people like the disabled — in fact, pretty much anyone who doesn’t agree with his “we’re all in this alone” view of American society.

If Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected on Tuesday, they will turn back the clock on progress in America. If they are allowed to do so by a Republican House and Senate, they would return us to a time we could scarcely imagine.

For those who believe in a society where we’re all in this together, Tuesday’s election is the mother of all battles.

But if we all vote, we will win — it’s that simple. If you care about the future society we leave to our children; if you believe that we can once again have an expanding, robust middle class; if you believe that the American Dream is not dead and that our children should be able to look forward to more opportunity than was available to their moms and dads — there is no excuse not to vote.

We simply cannot allow the millions of right wing special interest money to buy America’s democracy.

Where you can, vote early. Regardless, get to the polls. If you need to stand in line, stay there until you vote. Everyone who is in line will have a chance to vote, even if the lines are long.

However it turns out, Tuesday will mark a decisive, historic turning point in American history. Together, if we all vote, we have the power to continue America’s progressive tradition. We have the power to move America forward, not back. We have the power to assure that at this decisive moment we once again bend the arc of history toward justice.


By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post Blog, November 4, 2012

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Shooting Yourself In The Face”: Why And How The Romney Campaign Screwed Up

In the last week or so, Mitt Romney has accused Barack Obama of focusing his campaign on “small things,” but let’s be honest—at this point, everybody is focused on small things. And these small things are unlikely to make much of a difference with so little time left. Which is why it was odd to see the Romney campaign stumble so badly with the Jeeps being built in China attack. How did they manage to take a criticism that would likely have just glanced off Obama anyway, and turn it into something that not only had everyone talking about Obama’s best case to Ohio voters (the auto bailout), but also made Romney look cynical and dishonest?

Here’s what I think happened. They heard the first, somewhat unclear report that Chrysler was going to be manufacturing Jeeps in China, without quite understanding what it meant, namely that they will be making them for the Chinese market (because of Chinese tarriffs, Chrysler would only be able to sell the Jeeps there if they make them there). By the time they figured out all the facts, Romney had already mentioned it on the stump, saying inaccurately that the company was “thinking of moving all production to China.” So the campaign probably figured, we can still use this to try to discredit the bailout, we’ll just be careful about the words we use.

And that’s where they didn’t quite grasp the implications of what they were doing. If you look at the ad they made, you’ll see that though it’s obviously meant to deceive people into thinking American jobs are being sent to China as a result of the bailout, the words are literally true. “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy,” the ad says, “and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps [pause for effect] in China.” The Romney campaign thought they could play by the ordinary campaign rules, which say that if you say something true but intentionally misleading, you will usually be judged not guilty. Reporters will discuss the issue in the he said/she said format, with you saying you’re telling the truth and your opponent saying you aren’t, and you can declare victory.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, Romney got a wave of negative coverage over the issue, with journalist after journalist saying forthrightly in their stories that the Romney attack is misleading or deceptive. This was particularly true in Michigan and Ohio, where the state of the auto industry is kind of important. Why did they do that? Two reasons, I think. The first and less important one is that after so many shamelessly false statements by Romney and his campaign, journalists’ tolerance for this stuff may have run out. But the more important reason is the car companies stepped up to act as third-party validators of the truth. The Chrysler CEO wrote an emphatic letter to the company’s employees assuring them no American jobs were moving to China, and a GM spokesperson criticized the ad as well.

Which, if the Romney campaign had been a bit more thoughtful, they might have expected. Don’t forget that Chrysler and GM have their own interest in maintaining support for the bailout. They got lots of help from American taxpayers, and they want those taxpayers to see the bailout as a success story, continue to feel good about American car companies, and continue to buy their cars. They might stay silent while Republicans criticize the bailout, but if you accuse them of a specific act that they aren’t guilty of, they’re going to speak up. Romney stepped over a line from attacking Barack Obama to attacking Chrysler, and he should have anticipated that Chrysler wouldn’t take it lying down. When Chrysler spoke up and explained the facts, that gave the press permission to step out of the he said/she said bind and report accurately that Romney was being misleading.

And that’s how, just a few days before the election, Romney shot himself in the foot in the one state he absolutely, positively can’t afford to lose.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Beyond Idiotic”: Mitt Romney Insults The American Electorate One Last Time

Yesterday in Springfield, Ohio, the crowd listening to Barack Obama booed when the President brought up Mitt Romney and the Republican Congress. That prompted Obama to say:

“No, no, no — don’t boo, vote. Vote! Voting is the best revenge.”

Romney promptly pretended to be very outraged by this. He told his supporters:

“Yesterday, the President said something you may have heard by now. That I think surprised a lot of people. Speaking to an audience, he said, ‘voting is the best revenge.’ He told his supporters — voting for revenge. Vote for revenge? Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you. Vote for love of country.”

Romney picked up that refrain a second time:

“Did you see what President Obama said today? He asked his supporters to vote for revenge — for revenge…Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country.”

Of course, Obama was only encouraging people to vote. He was telling them that the real way to express opposition to GOP policies is to vote against them, rather than to merely boo them.

And guess what: You may have forgotten about this one, but this isn’t the first time Romney has attacked Obama for encouraging people to get more engaged in the political process. In September, Romney blasted Obama for saying that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.” That September quote from Obama, however, also constituted urging people to get more involved in politics:

“The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside. And that’s how the big accomplishments, like health care, got done, was because we mobilized the American people to speak out…something that I’d really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people, so they can put pressure on Congress to move some of these issues forward.”

Romney pretended to be very outraged about that, too, just as he is doing with regard to Obama’s perfectly innocuous “revenge” quote.

The important thing to remember here is that the GOP argument for a Romney victory rests explicitly on the hope that those who turned out to vote for Obama last time won’t be quite as engaged this time around. Republicans are hoping the electorate is not as diverse as it was in 2008, and they are arguing that the GOP base’s enthusiasm is much higher than that of core Dem constituencies. The Romney camp seems to think it will help whip GOP base voters into a frenzy — and perhaps boost turnout — if Romney casts the way Obama is urging Democratic base voters to get more involved in the process as something sininster and threatening. This is beyond idiotic; it is insulting to people’s intelligence.

The Post editorial board, in a widely cited piece, has claimed that the one constant about the Romney campaign has been that it is driven by “contempt for the electorate.” To make this case, the editorial cites Romney’s nonstop flip flops, his evasions about his own proposals, his refusal to share basic information about his finances and bundlers, and his monumental Jeep falsehood and all his other big lies. It’s fitting that Romney’s closing argument rests heavily on one last sustained expression of that contempt for the electorate — one focused squarely on a call for more engagement in the political process, i.e., on something that is fundamental to democracy itself.


By: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post Plum Line, November 4, 2012

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Hanging Chads Of 2012”: Eleventh-Hour GOP Voter Suppression Could Swing Ohio

Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted has become an infamous figure for aggressively limiting early voting hours and opportunities to cast and count a ballot in the Buckeye State.

Once again Husted is playing the voter suppression card, this time at the eleventh hour, in a controversial new directive concerning provisional ballots. In an order to election officials on Friday night, Husted shifted the burden of correctly filling out a provisional ballot from the poll worker to the voter, specifically pertaining to the recording of a voter’s form of ID, which was previously the poll worker’s responsibility. Any provisional ballot with incorrect information will not be counted, Husted maintains. This seemingly innocuous change has the potential to impact the counting of thousands of votes in Ohio and could swing the election in this closely contested battleground.

“Our secretary of state has created a situation, here in Ohio, where he will invalidate thousands and thousands of people’s votes,” Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgessOhio, said during a press conference at the board of elections in Cuyahoga County yesterday in downtown Cleveland. Added State Senator Nina Turner: “‘SoS’ used to stand for ‘secretary of state.’ But under the leadership of Jon Husted, ‘SoS’ stands for ‘secretary of suppression.’ ”

In 2008, 40,000 of the 207,000 provisional ballots cast in Ohio were rejected. The majority of the state’s provisional ballots were cast in Ohio’s five largest counties, which are strongly Democratic. Moreover, provisional ballots are more likely to be cast by poorer and more transient residents of the state, who are also less likely to vote Republican.

The number of discarded provisional ballots could rise significantly due to Husted’s directive. It’s also very likely that more provisional ballots will be cast in 2012 than in 2008, thanks to a wave of new voting restrictions in Ohio and nationwide. The Associated Press reported that 31 percent of the 2.1 million provisional ballots cast nationwide in 2008 were not counted, and called provisional ballots the “hanging chads of 2012.”

A series of missteps by the secretary of state and new rulings by the courts have increased the use of provisional ballots and could delay the outcome of the election and the legitimacy of the final vote.

In Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) and Franklin County (Columbus), voters who requested absentee ballots were wrongly told they were not registered to vote and should cast provisional ballots. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections quickly followed up with 865 such voters, but in Franklin County a sample of rejected absentee ballot requests found that 38 percent were mistakenly listed as “not registered,” according to an analysis by Norman Robbins of Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates. An untold number of would-be absentee voters could fall into this category in Ohio’s other eighty-six counties. “The deadline has passed to send these voters absentee ballots,” writes Robbins. “Therefore, there needs to be an immediate and broad public announcement that all voters who have been officially informed that they are ‘not registered’ and who believe they truly are registered, should definitely vote a provisional ballot so that their votes might be counted when better searches are done on their provisional ballots.” (A computer glitch by the secretary of state’s office also delayed the processing of 33,000 voter registration forms, which Husted just sent to local boards of elections this week).

Moreover, any voter who requested an absentee ballot but decides, for one reason or another, to vote in person must cast a provisional ballot. Of the 1.3 million absentee ballots sent to Ohio voters, 1.1 million have been returned, according to Husted’s office. But that still leaves up to 200,000 potential votes unaccounted for.

Recent court decisions will also impact the counting of provisional ballots. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that ballots cast in the “right church, wrong pew”—at the right polling place, wrong precinct—must be counted, despite Husted’s objections. But the court sided with Husted that ballots cast at the “wrong church, wrong pew”—at the wrong polling place and wrong precinct—won’t be counted, and that election officials are not required to tell voters that they’re at the wrong location.

A coalition of voting rights groups have filed an emergency injunction against Husted’s last-minute provisional ballot directive. Husted’s briefs are due in court by November 6. According to Ohio law, provisional ballots won’t be counted until ten days after the election. So, if the presidential election comes down to Ohio and the margin is razor-thin, as many are predicting, we won’t know the outcome until well after Election Day. And only then will we find out how many eligible voters were wrongly disenfranchised by the secretary of state.


By: Ari Berman, The Nation, November 4, 2012

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Major Step Backwards”: How Mitt Romney Would Treat Women

In this year’s campaign furor over a supposed “war on women,” involving birth control and abortion, the assumption is that the audience worrying about these issues is just women.

Give us a little credit. We men aren’t mercenaries caring only for Y chromosomes. We have wives and daughters, mothers and sisters, and we have a pretty intimate stake in contraception as well.

This isn’t like a tampon commercial on television, leaving men awkwardly examining their fingernails. When it comes to women’s health, men as well as women need to pay attention. Just as civil rights wasn’t just a “black issue,” women’s rights and reproductive health shouldn’t be reduced to a “women’s issue.”

To me, actually, talk about a “war on women” in the United States seems a bit hyperbolic: in Congo or Darfur or Afghanistan, I’ve seen brutal wars on women, involving policies of rape or denial of girls’ education. But whatever we call it, something real is going on here at home that would mark a major setback for American women — and the men who love them.

On these issues, Mitt Romney is no moderate. On the contrary, he is considerably more extreme than President George W. Bush was. He insists, for example, on cutting off money for cancer screenings conducted by Planned Parenthood.

The most toxic issue is abortion, and what matters most for that is Supreme Court appointments. The oldest justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a 79-year-old liberal, and if she were replaced by a younger Antonin Scalia, the balance might shift on many issues, including abortion.

One result might be the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which for nearly four decades has guaranteed abortion rights. If it is overturned, abortion will be left to the states — and in Mississippi or Kansas, women might end up being arrested for obtaining abortions.

Frankly, I respect politicians like Paul Ryan who are consistently anti-abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. I disagree with them, but their position is unpopular and will cost them votes, so it’s probably heartfelt as well as courageous. I have less respect for Romney, whose positions seem based only on political calculations.

Romney’s campaign Web site takes a hard line. It says that life begins at conception, and it gives no hint of exceptions in which he would permit abortion. The Republican Party platform likewise offers no exceptions. Romney says now that his policy is to oppose abortion with three exceptions: rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at stake.

If you can figure out Romney’s position on abortion with confidence, tell him: at times it seems he can’t remember it. In August, he abruptly added an exception for the health of the mother as well as her life, and then he backed away again.

Romney has also endorsed a “personhood” initiative treating a fertilized egg as a legal person. That could lead to murder charges for an abortion, even to save the life of a mother.

In effect, Romney seems to have jumped on board a Republican bandwagon to tighten access to abortion across the board. States passed a record number of restrictions on abortion in the last two years. In four states, even a woman who is seeking an abortion after a rape may be legally required to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.

If politicians want to reduce the number of abortions, they should promote family planning and comprehensive sex education. After all, about half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on reproductive health.

Yet Romney seems determined to curb access to contraceptives. His campaign Web site says he would “eliminate Title X family planning funding,” a program created in large part by two Republicans, George H. W. Bush and Richard Nixon.

Romney has boasted that he would cut off all money for Planned Parenthood — even though federal assistance for the organization has nothing to do with abortions. It pays for such things as screenings to reduce breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Romney’s suspicion of contraception goes way back. As governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed a bill that would have given women who were raped access to emergency contraception.

Romney also wants to reinstate the “global gag rule,” which barred family planning money from going to aid organizations that even provided information about abortion. He would cut off money for the United Nations Population Fund, whose work I’ve seen in many countries — supporting contraception, repairing obstetric fistulas, and fighting to save the lives of women dying in childbirth.

So when you hear people scoff that there’s no real difference between Obama and Romney, don’t believe them.

And it’s not just women who should be offended at the prospect of a major step backward. It’s all of us.

By: Nicholas D. Kristof, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, November 3, 2012

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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