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Romney, Who Vowed to Eliminate FEMA, Privatize Disaster Relief and Mocked Climate Change, Finds Extremist Policy Positions Inundated By Superstorm Sandy

Storms, storms, and more storms… After a storm-shortened convention in Tampa and a storm-emasculated final week of campaigning, you’d think the Romney campaign would learn to respect the powerful climate forces he’s gotten so good at ignoring.

And, perhaps, the Romney campaign is a bit taken aback. Or maybe it’s finally starting to sink in that they look like a boatload of out of touch buffoons. After ignoring reporters questions for almost a week, today Mitt Romney finally walked back his long-standing policy position that had pushed for the elimination of critical disaster relief programs like FEMA. Though it seemed a forced and painful admission, Romney, at long last, noted that he wouldn’t underfund or eliminate FEMA, as he had proposed throughout his campaign.

“I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” Romney said. “As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first-responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.”

This statement is in direct contradiction to previous statements Romney made about the role of FEMA. It is also in direct contradiction with Romney and Ryan budgets which cut about 40% from FEMA programs. Such cuts would devastate FEMA’s ability to aid localities and states in the event of a disaster like Sandy and flies directly in the face of lessons Republicans should have learned after Katrina.

The privatization program that Romney and Ryan allude to would be even worse. The result would be that those who could pay to be lifted off their homes by helicopters would be. The rest, those unable to afford a private disaster response service, would be left on their flooded homes to fend for themselves or to perish. Privatized first response would mean that only those able to pay fire services fees would receive defense from fire fighters. The rest would see their homes left to burn.

In the case of disaster response, privatization makes absolutely no sense. Injecting profit motive into a service that saves lives means that fewer lives are saved as the bottom line shifts from the goal of helping people to the goal of accumulating profit. And in the gap between the two extremes of such a heartless program, many would find themselves facing a choice between bankruptcy or having their lives or property saved.

Romney and Ryan’s myopic views on disaster relief are drastically proven wrong with each new major disaster. So it seems, finally, that they have grudgingly relented on their publicly adversarial position toward the beneficial federal agency that is FEMA. But can we trust that this change isn’t anything more than a disingenuous bow to the winds of public opinion? Can we trust that Romney and Ryan won’t sabotage FEMA if elected and attempt to privatize it and other key programs, shifting more money to plutocrats while letting the poor and middle class bear all of the greatly increasing risk?

And what of the issue of climate change? Yes. The climate change that fueled this storm, made it worse, and helped to steer it in toward the East Coast? The climate change that has increased sea levels and is increasing them ever more rapidly? What of that? Is it still drill baby drill until the heartland is burned to a crisp and the coastal cities are all flooded? A recent statement from Businessweek, I believe, provides the appropriate response to Romney’s nonsense:

On Aug. 30, [Romney] belittled his opponent’s vow to arrest climate change, made during the 2008 presidential campaign. “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet,” Romney told the Republican National Convention in storm-tossed Tampa. “My promise is to help you and your family.” Two months later, in the wake of Sandy, submerged families in New Jersey and New York urgently needed some help dealing with that rising-ocean stuff.

I, for one, doubt that the cynical and misinformation spewing Romney/Ryan campaign has one genuine bone of non-token sympathy for FEMA or the disaster victims in their bodies. They have sought at every turn to pull out the underpinnings of supports for people in harm’s way and the national response systems that help Americans who find themselves in the face of disasters of all kinds. They haven’t sought to eliminate or reduce risks. To the contrary, their policies increase them.

This fact cannot be changed by a fake canned food drives for the Red Cross. Canned food the Red Cross has already said it doesn’t need. Nor can it be changed by, yet another, alteration in extreme policy positions. The Romney/Ryan campaign has been nothing if not snarlingly critical of any positive action, but totally lacking in any decent alternative. Instead, they promise to serve up another helping of policies that lead to the likes of Katrina and will likely lead to worse. And, in cases where their positions become unpopular, they simply lie and misinform.

Message to Romney — leadership is not conducting a disingenuous and completely unhelpful photo op. Leadership is actually doing something to help people. Leadership is effectively wielding a government empowered to help those people in harm’s way. Leadership is establishing a moral structure that enables and encourages people to help one another, not one that enables people to profit from harming one another. Leadership is what we are seeing in Obama and Christie’s response in New Jersey. Not from the gimmicks, half truths, lack of response, lack of transparency, media dodging, and tortured walk-backs we are seeing from you.

I don’t know if the Koch-fueled Romney campaign realizes the tenuous and vastly irresponsible positions it has backed itself into. I don’t know if that same Romney campaign realizes that it has set itself up for a terrible moral fall, far worse than Bush, should it be elected. The sins of hubris weigh heavily on Romney and we have gotten just a small taste of it this week. Woe betide America should this …man ever be elected President.

Links:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/11/01/mitt-romney-responds-to-fema-question/

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-01/its-global-warming-stupid#p2

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“Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” Romney Attacks GM in Final Days of Election; GM Defends Record From Romney Lies, Calls Them ‘Fantasy’

Before we get into the new morass of mud and muck dredged up by the Romney campaign and slung at the US auto industry, it’s important to establish a few facts. This effort is useful as the Romney campaign, with its almost daily distortions and flip-flops, has been the most fact-free bid for the Presidency of any election cycle in modern memory. Romney’s most recent smear campaign, waged against the US auto industry and, by extension, American workers, is just the newest in a daily stream of distortions, gimmicks, smears, and attempts to terrorize the US electorate.

First, in an op-ed to the New York Times entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” Mitt Romney, in his opening sentence, stated:

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.

Coming into office and facing the worst economic decline since the Great Depression left behind by the Bush Administration, President Obama decided to act to save over 2 million American jobs by directly supporting the auto industry bailout. Though far less expensive than the TARP program to bail out the US financial sector, the auto bailout provided much more direct support to the US middle class by ensuring that auto industry and supply chain jobs were not lost and that key US industries did not collapse. Conservatives of every stripe immediately howled that such government intervention would result in an US auto industry ‘doomsday.’ And Mitt Romney added his voice to those claiming US automakers would fail if they accepted government assistance during the worst of times.

As the years passed, Mitt Romney and conservatives have been proven drastically wrong. The US auto industry has recovered. GM is again the number 1 seller of automobiles in the world. And the industry is in the process of adding US jobs and repatriating jobs from overseas. This dramatic success belies republican and Romney drama to the contrary. It shows that the leadership role Obama took to save the US auto industry is now beginning to pay off. And, most glaringly, it shows the deep, systemic, failure of the current, rigid republican economic ideology.

Meanwhile, the corporation Romney built — Bain Capital — is now preparing to dismantle a factory that manufactures sensors for the auto industry in Freeport Illinois and ship their jobs overseas. Nearly 200 workers at the Sensata factory which Bain bought-out will find their jobs outsourced to China before the end of this year. This is a result of the outsourcing and off-shoring legacy that Romney pioneered while head of Bain Capital. (See more about Sensata here.)

This dual narrative of Obama’s leadership and success combined with Romney still profiting from liquidating US factories and sending the jobs overseas has had devastating effect for Romney in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan who know all too well how damaging outsourcing and off-shoring have been to their economies. Loss of critical factories like the one at Sensata has resulted in the gutting of entire communities. Whole neighborhoods in Detroit are now ghost towns as a result of the kind of outsourcing Mitt Romney pioneered at Bain Capital. Some of these lost jobs may never come back, captured by 99 cent an hour Chinese workers and a country that is unwilling to establish laws to protect its own people from the abuses of vulture capitalists like Romney. China may as well have foisted a sign emblazoned ‘Robber Barons R’ Us.’ And, Romney, among many others, came flocking to exploit the slave wage labor there by dismantling US factories and sending them overseas.

Perhaps too late, Romney has realized how damaging these methods of employing equities firms and off-shoring practices to accumulate personal profit have become. But the realization appears to have now stuck with a vengeance. And, in typical Romney fashion, Romney is now waging a media campaign against the very business Obama was so successful in saving and that, since late 2009, has directly added thousands of US jobs.

The Romney campaign is now running a malicious and false advertisement claiming that Jeep plans to ship US jobs overseas to China. The ad comes as Jeep revealed plans to build two manufacturing plants in China over the coming years. But, contrary to Romney’s false assertion, Jeep’s China expansion is not coming at the cost of any US manufacturing. Unlike Romney’s Sensata, no Jeep facilities are being shut down. No workers are being forced to train their Chinese replacements, as Romney’s Bain is forcing Sensata workers to do so. In fact, Jeep and GM have pledged to take profits from the Chinese operation and use it to create more jobs in the US. It’s almost the exact reverse of the Romney model. Call it in-sourcing, or re-sourcing, or repatriating, or even re-shoring. But it’s definitely not the Romney/Bain model for outsourcing and off-shoring.

Since late 2009, Jeep alone has added over 4600 US jobs, showing, in fact, that Romney’s claims are patently false.

GM was quick to defend its record from Romney’s false attacks:

“We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said. “No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”

Crysler CEO Sergio Marchionne in an email to employees refuted Romney’s claims by simply laying out the facts:

“Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” Marchionne stated in the e-mail. “The numbers tell the story,” followed by specific investments Chrysler has made in Detroit, Toledo and Belvidere, Ill. “Those include more than $1.7 billion to produce the successor of the Jeep Liberty and hire about 1,100 workers on a second shift by 2013.”

The additional 1100 jobs are on top of the 4600 jobs Jeep has already added. In contrast, Romney’s Bain will, in the next couple months, send another 200 jobs to China. So the contrast couldn’t be more stark.

And the media is starting to pick up on Romney’s egregious assault of lies against the US auto industry and US workers. The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently called the Romney advertisements attacking the auto industry ‘economic terrorism.’ The Detroit Free Press has published this in-depth piece exposing Romney’s false claims. The conservative-leaning US News and World Report posted an analysis showing how the US auto expansion in China was helping to support jobs expansion at home. And FactCheck.org labeled Romney’s recent advertising blitz “flat wrong” stating:

“It’s misleading to suggest that Chrysler’s decision to expand into China will cost U.S. jobs — especially after the company has said it would have no impact on its U.S. operations.”

The fact-checking website noted a report from Bloomberg that Chrysler was considering “adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.” Meanwhile Chrysler, in a dramatic refutation of Romney’s doomsday prediction for the US auto industry, just reported a third quarter profit of $381 million, up 80 percent from a year ago.

It seems likely that the Romney misinformation machine may have just bitten off more than it can chew. Considering the wide-ranging backlash taking shape from both the US auto industry and the broader media, it appears that Romney’s false attacks against GM and Jeep are about to erupt in his face. The US auto industry is firmly on its path to recovery, with each new report showing positive results. Further, the US auto industry is in the process of adding thousands of jobs here in America. Both of these points prove Romney dramatically wrong. Wrong in his ‘Let Detroit go Bankrupt’ op-ed and wrong now. Finally, these attacks only serve to call attention to Romney’s own record of sending US jobs overseas, the most recent example of which is Sensata.

Links:

http://www.freep.com/article/20121031/NEWS15/310310091/GM-and-Chrysler-Romney-is-wrong

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/19romney.html?_r=0

http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2012/10/31/gm-on-romney-campaign-politics-at-its-cynical-worst/

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/10/31/memo-to-mitt-romney-gms-success-in-china-is-good-for-america

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-34222_162-57542993/gm-like-chrysler-refutes-romneys-auto-industry-ad/

http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/10/gm-aide-romney-ads-part-of-parallel-universe-147753.html

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/10/30/GM-Gap-between-Romney-ad-and-reality/UPI-56761351637557/

Romney Economic Policy Risks Simultaneous Deficit Explosion, Double Dip Recession

Though it has been difficult to pin down Romney’s economic policies in the public arena, they remain readily available via his campaign website. And what Romney proposes creates severe risk of economic decline as bad or worse than that resulting from Bush’s failed economic policies.

His signature economic policy is what he terms as a ‘20% across the board’ tax cut. Digging into the numbers we find that families making over a million dollars per year gain an additional 175,000 dollars or more in income. In addition, according to Bloomberg, Romney’s policies result in far less benefit for the upper middle class (about 1500 dollars), almost no benefit for the middle class, and an actual increase in taxes for the lower middle class and poor.

As an economic stimulus measure, this policy is extraordinarily weak. It gives additional money to the wealthy who have a noted tendency to hoard wealth or to send it overseas. The result is that very little of this tax cut is likely to be spent increasing economic activity in the US economy and is much more likely to be sitting somewhere in a globalized blind trust. Since the benefits to the middle class are relatively small, any additional spending by reduced taxes will likely be off set by the destabilizing effect of expanding deficits.

And the total deficit expansion under such a cut is huge. About 5 trillion dollars over the course of ten years.

So Romney’s signature tax cut provides little overall benefit to the US economy while it creates an inevitable deficit expansion.

Romney’s second signature policy is to increase military spending by indexing it to 4% of GDP. This would elevate defense spending to 900 Billion dollars per year and result in a 2 trillion dollar increase to the federal deficit, further hampering the US’s long term economic outlook. And while such an increase in defense spending may be somewhat stimulative, it is no-where near as stimulative as direct spending by government on economic programs that have direct benefit to the economy. Programs such as research and development or seed funding like that which helped to double US alternative energy production under Obama proved far more effective at creating sustained American jobs and industries independent of government spending. The military, on the other hand, will always be dependent on government spending as it is a non self-supportive enterprise.

But the real risk comes from both Romney’s and the Republican party’s tendency to cut spending and incentive programs that benefit the middle class. As governor, Romney cut taxes while radically increasing fees and penalties. The net effect of this policy was to reduce taxes on the wealthy while increasing expenses for the middle and lower classes. Romney has hinted through his numerous ‘closing loopholes’ statement that such a shifting of the tax burden to middle class homeowners may well be in the works. Such a policy would have a negative overall effect on economic growth. In addition, both Romney and Ryan have show a tendency to push for reducing government programs that help the middle class. Ending funding to Planned Parenthood would have a severe negative economic consequence for many women. Cutting social services funding would harm many working Americans. Cutting, voucherizing, or block granting Medicare would harm middle class families. Cutting food stamps would harm the already poor, especially the working poor, many of who live in red states. Cutting government overall would remove access to a pool of good-paying jobs. Lowering or abolishing the minimum wage would harm household income. Continuing to enable tax incentives for shipping jobs overseas would harm the middle class. Abolishing Obamacare would do severe harm to many American families by drastically increasing both their medical expenses and their risk of medical bankruptcy.

Enacting any or all of these ideologically driven programs would have a net negative stimulus effect on the US economy and the risk is that even as irresponsible Romney fiscal policy explodes the deficit, ideologically driven ‘anti-government’ policies targeting programs that help the middle class would result in both poor and middle class families spending less and deflating the US economy. The result would be a combined deficit explosion and double dip recession that could lead to Depression. A potential Romney depression to follow the Bush great recession.

That’s the risk of returning to trickle down, voodoo economics. Something we can avoid by re-electing the President who got us out of Bush’s mess in the first place.

Links:

http://www.economist.com/economist-asks/are-mitt-romneys-economic-policies-right-america

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/simon-jackman/house-effects-by-back-by-_b_2007907.html?utm_hp_ref=@pollster

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/paul-krugman-mitt-romney-recession_n_2008847.html?ref=topbar

Oily Spectre of Climate Silence Casts Long Shadow Over American Politics

For more than a century, the fossil fuels industry has exerted extraordinary influence over American politics. This has been true since the boom days of Standard Oil and continues today. At first, this influence was only destructive in that it created a privileged, monopolistic status for a single, albeit important, industry. Yet, today, the destructive nature of oil, gas and coal special interest influence over American politics is coming home to roost.

This year saw three major events that made seriously addressing the problem of human-caused of global warming mandatory to America’s future prosperity. The first was the revelation by a growing number of climate scientists that extreme weather, increasing in frequency and severity since  the 1980s, was directly linked to human-caused global warming. This revelation came during a year when the US experienced its most extreme weather ever recorded, its hottest year ever recorded and its most damaging fire season ever recorded. The second event, linked to the first, was a massive and ongoing drought, the worst in 55 years, that halted Mississippi river traffic, devastated the US corn crop, and now threatens US winter wheat. The current drought came at a time when the US West is experiencing its fifth driest period in 500 years and on the heels of a devastating drought just last year in Texas and Oklahoma. Scientists also linked the current drought to global warming — showing in climate models how drought grows worse and worse as human caused global warming intensifies.

But the third and probably most important event was, likely, one that most Americans ignored. This year, Arctic sea ice area fell to its lowest level ever recorded and is, according to many scientists, within a decade of melting out entirely.

These three events sent a climate shock-wave around the world causing NASA scientist James Hansen to state that we are experiencing a ‘global climate emergency.’ It is an emergency that risks violent and freakish events. It is a crisis that will almost certainly lead to the devastation of US agriculture, long term. And it is a crisis in which rising sea levels are more and more certain as the years advance.

Yet both the cause of this crisis — our incessant burning of fossil fuels — and its solutions — reducing and eliminating fossil fuel consumption — as well as the crisis itself remain largely off the political radar. Even worse, in a horrific display of ignorance and pandering to fossil fuel special interests, Mitt Romney proudly proclaimed he doesn’t believe in human caused global warming. Given the insurmountable pile of scientific evidence, he may as well have proclaimed he doesn’t believe in gravity.

But the actions of President Obama have also been far from comforting. Just this week at the Presidential debate Obama got into a rhetorical pissing contest with Romney over whether or not he had increased drilling. And though Obama was correct to assert that drilling had increased under his watch, contesting with Romney over who promotes drilling the most sends a very bad signal at a time when US fossil fuel use needs to start scaling back if we are to prevent a decades-long agricultural catastrophe that would make the Dust Bowl years seem but a prelude.

It is important to note that Obama does vigorously support solutions to the climate crisis. That he has developed wind, solar, electric vehicles and biofuels more than any other president in modern memory. He pushed CAFE standards to 55 mpg, a level Romney has vowed to repeal. Renewable energy production has doubled under Obama’s watch and US carbon emissions are beginning to decline.In addition, largely thanks to Obama’s policies, US energy independence is within reach for the first time in two generations.

In policy, he is decidedly not in the oil, gas and coal companies’ pockets. And for this reason alone, it appears that most of these companies are fighting tooth and nail to make certain Obama is not re-elected. A dirty ‘energy vote’ website and campaign has been started and oil companies are both implicitly and explicitly campaigning for a Romney Administration entirely willing to deny global warming reality in support of more oil, gas, and coal exploitation even as he cuts wind, solar, EVs and efficiencies. Millions and millions of dollars in campaign donations and in SuperPAC advertisements just keep flooding in. Furthermore, a constant stream of misinforming advertisements appears on public TV stations and the internet in a bid by oil, gas, and coal companies to keep the public misinformed.

Perhaps the only corollary to this type of public misinformation campaign is what occurred with cigarettes back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. As scientific evidence mounted showing tobacco products resulted in a drastically elevated risk of lung cancer, cigarette corporations funded advertisements to re-brand themselves, to misinform the public of health risks, and to prevent any government action to inform the public of risks or to curtail smoking in public places where second-hand smoke could harm non-smokers. Eventually the public interest won out. But it took massive and ongoing efforts to surmount the resistance put up by cigarette manufacturers.

But the damage caused by an unrelenting use of fossil fuels will be far, far more harmful than that caused by cigarettes, should oil, gas, and coal special interests continue to dominate both the political debate, the public media sphere and, most importantly, the energy policy creation process. And it is important to note that the power of these fossil fuel corporations is much, much greater than that of the cigarette companies who preceded them. The companies operate on a global scale and many have revenue streams larger than entire nations. We would have to go back to the slave trade, which was a primary contributor to the first US civil war, to find an industry with such wide-ranging political power and influence.

So it should not be a surprise that the American political system, which has been removed of all protection to special interest influence by the extremist conservatives of the Supreme Court in The Citizen’s United decision, is wracked and distorted by fossil fuel special interest money. So we should be more deeply concerned that so heavy a pall of silence over the ongoing harm caused by human global warming has settled upon Washington and casts such a long shadow on the current US election. It is the reason we find Obama forced to contest a political opponent junked up on fossil fuel campaign money in the darkness and in the quiet over an issue so important to both US and world prospects.

Many have blamed the Obama campaign for not speaking out. But this blame is misplaced. The people we should blame are the oil, gas, and coal companies who have poisoned the discourse, who have funded climate change denial at every level, and who are, at every level, trying to gag politicians and prevent them from speaking out on the most important issue of the 21rst century. They are the cause of the current crisis. They are the ones deliberately altering our politics in a blatant attempt to prevent responsible action. And they are the ones forcing this terrible code of silence upon US media and politics even as they attempt to turn the candidates into puppets for their interests.

Presidential Debate Round #2: The 47%, 8 Trillion Arithmetic, A Binder Full of Women and an “Act of Terror”

Binders and fact checks and smears oh my!

Last night’s Presidential debate, round #2 of 3, was nothing like the first. A fiery and compassionate Obama took firm command of the forum from the start and, with few exceptions, dominated the debate with clarity and candor. In direct contrast, Mitt Romney seemed lost in a tangle of the misinformation web he’d spun for himself.

47% vs the Outsourcing Pioneer

Obama set the tone by immediately calling Romney out for his 47% remarks, illustrating clearly that character is what you are in the dark or, in this case, what you are in a locked room full of millionaires and billionaires. He also returned frequently to the subject of outsourcing, rightly labeling Romney an ‘outsourcing pioneer’ and alluding to the offshoring activities Romney first innovated at Bain Capital. Activities the company Romney founded is continuing to implement (see Sensata).

Sketchy 8 Trillion Arithmetic

Obama also was quick to hold Romney accountable for the tax policy his campaign website says he’s running to implement. During the debate, Romney frequently denied the assertion that his tax cut would cut rates for top earners. Almost as frequently, he said that he wants to lower rates on the middle class. These debate ‘faux pas’ (nice word for lies) directly contradict information put out by his own campaign which still states Romney seeks an across the board 20% tax cut, including a very large and lucrative cut for top earners and very small and piddly cuts for the middle class.

Obama, rightly, ignored Romney’s false claims and continued to debate based on the facts, rather than attempt to muddle around in the smoke Romney was producing in prodigious quantities all evening long. Obama re-asserted the Arithmetic showing how Romney’s across the board cuts, when combined with a 2 trillion increase in defense spending and a 1 trillion dollar extension of the Bush tax cut f0r the wealthy, would blow another 8 Trillion dollar hole in the deficit on top of the debt already piling up from the lingering remains of Bush’s failed policies. (Failed policies the republican Congress has continued to enforce through its vow to Grover Norquist never to repeal.)

Binder Full of Women

In perhaps the most bizarre exchange of the night, Romney, when asked about how he would help women gain a more equal footing in the workplace, hearkened back to a time when his management team had no women. In his, disproven by facts, anecdote, Romney claimed he produced a ‘binder full of women’ from which to select female candidates for positions in the management staff which, Romney admitted, was largely composed of men. Reaction to this comment from women has been shrill and this particular Romneyism seemed to especially grate against the sensibilities of most women who rightly felt subtly insulted and objectified.

What is interesting to note about this particular Mitt-tale is the fact that the ‘binder’ he refers to was produced by a political organization called Mass-GAP which noted the dearth of women holding leadership positions in Massachusetts. So Romney wasn’t responsible for the recommendations of these women, it was produced by a political organization concerned about the lack of women in leadership. However, to Romney’s credit, he did appoint women from the Mass-GAP list so that fully 42% of the positions held at the start of his administration were women filled. But the story doesn’t end here. Romney apparently only filled positions which he thought were unimportant with people from the Mass-GAP program. In addition, the number of women holding positions within Massachusetts government, overall, declined by 3% during the time that Romney served. Hardly a stunning record of someone attempting to appear to care for women’s jobs.

What was most glaring, however, was his failure to mention the Fair Pay Act and, instead, rely on a mostly untrue and bumbling anecdote. I would venture a guess that women aren’t as concerned about a President picking women from a binder for cabinet positions as they are about equal access to jobs and access to a fair compensation at work. And though representation in the cabinet is important (Obama has appointed many women to these positions including political rival Hillary), what is more important is that those visible values fill out in larger society.

Obama noted he supported The Fair Pay Act and spoke for minutes passionately about the role of women in all aspects of American life. No binders. Just  policies to help women. Even more importantly, Obama alluded to women’s rights which would likely come under fire during a Romney Administration. Two Supreme Court justices and a VP nominee who has lead a crusade in Congress to overturn Roe could very well spell an end to women’s reproductive rights in our country. In addition, Obama pointed out that Romney’s past statements about ‘ending Planned Parenthood’ was another assault on women’s freedoms and access to family planning services. To this point Obama rightly noted that it’s not just about women, it’s about families too, a point that appeared lost on Romney.

The ‘Act of Terror’

Perhaps the most poignant event in the debate occurred when Romney began to assert that Obama had failed to identify the Libya attacks as a terrorist incident. This line of attack follows the presumptuous rhetoric that republicans and Romney have followed ever since the Benghazi Consulate was over-run. The day after the attacks, Romney held a press conference accusing the Obama administration of ‘failures.’ This political capitalism has also included a number of, rather fake, teary eyed speeches about those lost in the attacks. Romney’s overplaying of these speeches has lead family members of deceased security and diplomatic personnel to publicly ask Romney to stop using their family members deaths as political props. And though Romney appears to have toned down the rhetoric on diplomatic service member’s deaths, he has continued to presume that the Obama Administration is entirely responsible and at fault for these attacks, making bald and outrageous assertions before any evidence is produced.

Obama rightly called out Romney for his politicization of American deaths saying in a sharp tone that invoked all the power of the Commander and Chief of US forces: “It is offensive!”

And it is, this smarmy politicking over the deaths of Americans, this failure to stand behind American government’s effort to get to the bottom of the terrorist attacks, and the blatant betrayal of US forces by a party who only seems to care about political gain. But Romney continued up this dark path of demonization and unsupported claims. In his, not the first, allusion to misinformation produced by Fox News, Romney glommed onto the false claim that the Obama Administration didn’t recognize the Benghazi incident as a terrorist attack until two weeks afterward.

In reply to this skewed claim, Obama noted that he held a speech in the Rose Garden about the attacks, claiming that he stated ‘no act of terror would go unpunished.’ Romney refuted the President directly, saying the President said no such thing. Crowley, who appeared to be well prepared to deal with the issues in this debate, had a transcript of the President’s speech on hand and confirmed, to audience applause, that the President had indeed said what he claimed and that Romney was making an incorrect assertion.

Revelation of the Least Truthful Presidential Bid in Modern Memory

This direct fact-checking of Romney’s false statements and visible deconstruction of his entirely political and self-serving rhetoric seemed to crystallize the public’s view of Romney last night. Romney has been accused on all fronts, from Newt Gingrich to Ron Paul, from Rick Perry to Rick Santorum and, finally, to Obama himself, as running a dishonest campaign. He has visibly contradicted himself and changed positions on key policies time and time again. His campaign staff famously labeled this tactic ‘etch e sketch.’ And the informed public seems to view what Romney says as general ‘malarkey.’

But the malarkey reached a new level of ugliness when Romney began to make up stories about diplomatic security forces in Benghazi and official US response to attacks there. His self-serving rhetoric directly harmed the families involved even as it undermined ongoing government efforts to determine the attacks’ cause, reduce risk of future attacks, and care for the bereaved families of those who were lost. Further, republican efforts to de-fund diplomatic security were entirely off the radar as Romney and republicans used every trick in their attempt to turn the Benghazi attacks into a political silver bullet aimed at the President.

This ‘ugly lie’ grew and took a life of its own. Endlessly parroted by right wing outlets, the political right engaged in a war of words to degrade and denigrate US diplomatic forces. And this act and abetment by a politician running for the highest political office in the land is unforgivable.

What we witnessed last night was the unraveling of that extraordinarily damaging lie. This event is likely to send deep fractures through the Romney campaign, through the republican party itself, and to those billionaires, like the Kochs and the Murdochs, who have done so much harm to the American people. It is not the end to their ‘Castle in the Sand’ empires, but it may well be a sign of the start of their disintegration. (The final blows will come from the rising tide of climate change itself, but that is a subject for another article).

Closing Statement: The Eloquence of Obama Returns

At the end of a debate that, often, seemed to balance on the edge of a knife, Obama reclaimed his oratory eloquence to deliver this impassioned final appeal to the American people.

Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this nation that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.

That’s not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known.

I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy’s grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class.

And — and that is part of what’s at stake in this election. There’s a fundamentally different vision about how we move our country forward.

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.

Links:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/2012-presidential-debate-full-transcript-oct-16/story?id=17493848&page=11#.UH75A4ZWIfw

http://blog.thephoenix.com/BLOGS/talkingpolitics/archive/2012/10/16/mind-the-binder.aspx

Republican Congress Cut Diplomatic Security Funding Before Benghazi Attacks; Mitt Romney Attempts to Profit Politically From Death Of Navy Seal

After creating the strawman that is Solyndra and using it repeatedly as a platform from which to assault America’s solar energy industry, it should be no surprise that Republican Darrell Issa is at it again. This time, he is calling a hearing on ‘security failures’ during the Benghazi attacks on the US-Libyan diplomatic mission. Darrell’s current witch hunt draws conclusions before collecting evidence and operates under the presumptuous title ‘Security Failures of Benghazi.’

As ever, the Issa committee seems less interested in identifying actual problems that, if removed, may help make future diplomatic missions in the Middle East safer. Instead, it continues to myopically dig for any shred of evidence it can use  to politically damn the Obama Administration during a time leading up to a presidential election. Security officer, Eric Nordstrom, when repeatedly asked the question ‘was security at the site adequate?’ has responded by noting that no additional level of security for a usual diplomatic mission would have prevented an attack of this kind.

“Having an extra foot of wall, or an extra half-dozen guards or agents would not have enabled us to respond to that kind of assault,” said Nordstrom.

During the hearing, Republicans were quick to add their own assertions. “I believe, personally, with more assets, more resources, just meeting the minimum standards, we could have and should have saved the life of Ambassador Stevens and the other people who were there,” asserted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

But what Rep Chaffetz conveniently overlooked was that the Republican Congress failed to honor President Barack Obama’s request for additional security funds both this year and last year. According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel:

House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.

So this conjecture raises a few questions. First, was security inadequate at Benghazi? And if so, how much did Republican efforts to hamstring Obama by de-funding critical programs contribute to lack of security at the US embassy in Libya? And was Hillary Clinton correct in her assertion that Republican de-funding of security for diplomatic missions was ‘detrimental to America’s national security?’

It would seem the conclusions are quite obvious. As with the Republican wreckage of the US economy, it appears Republicans have again created a problem for which they are now attempting to blame the Obama Administration. This political profiteering is even more heinous due to the fact that they were warned that their cuts to diplomatic security may be harmful. But they decided to ignore those warnings. Now, after numerous incidents at US diplomatic missions where additional security may have helped, Republicans attempt to blame the Obama administration for a situation they helped make worse. Not only is this disingenuous. It is rank underhandedness and betrayal. The Republicans should both be ashamed of their witch hunt and of their past efforts to cut US diplomatic security during a time of danger.

In a related instance of political profiteering, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney attempted to use his brief acquaintance with Navy Seal Glen Doherty, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks in Libya, as a prop for advancing his political agenda. Romney repeatedly told a ‘teary eyed story’ about his meeting the young Glen, comparing his own political efforts to Glen’s heroism. But Glen’s mother has asked Romney to stop using her son’s name in speeches:

“I don’t trust Romney. He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda,” Barbara Doherty said in a statement broadcast Wednesday on WHDH-TV in Boston. “It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.”

In another interview with a Seattle radio station Doherty’s friend, Elf Ellefsen, recalled hearing Doherty talk about his encounter with Romney.

“He said it was very comical,” Ellefsen said in an interview with radio station KIRO. “Mitt Romney approached him ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale.”

“Honestly it does make me sick,” Ellefsen  said in the interview with KIRO’s Libby Denkmann. “Glen would definitely not approve of it. He probably wouldn’t do much about it. He probably wouldn’t say a whole lot about it. I think Glen would feel, more than anything, almost embarrassed for Romney. I think he would feel pity for him.”

So on the one hand you have Republicans in Congress trying to profit politically from a ‘security failure’ they abetted and on the other you have the Republican Presidential candidate transparently using this brave Seal’s death at the consulate whose security was de-funded by Republicans as a means to advance his political fortunes. In microcosm, this is a perfect illustration of why Republican policies fail. They are short-sighted, self-serving, and profit from harm caused to the American people. People like Glen who served selflessly, at great personal risk, and at little prospect for personal profit. One of the very public servants that Republicans demonize in euphemism at every turn, but who serve as nice ornaments now and then once election time crops up.

I agree with Ellefsen. It’s pitiful. Gollum-esque even.

Links:

Romney’s 5 Trillion Dollar Tax Cut By Numbers: The Arithmetic of Avarice

Silliness continues to ensue over Romney’s 5 trillion dollar tax cut. Fact checkers, again and again, have shown how Romney’s claims on his redux of the vastly unpopular Bush tax cut are ‘mostly false.’ In one example FackCheck.org, managed by the conservative Annenberg Foundation, noted:

“Romney has failed to produce evidence that what he promises is possible. And we judge that the weight of evidence and expert opinion is clear — it’s not possible.”

However, given the fact that the $5 trillion dollar number is based on some very accessible figures, it shouldn’t be difficult for anyone with a little bit of time to check and confirm that Romney is, indeed, misrepresenting himself.

First, it’s important to note where the $5 trillion number came from. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center showed that Romney’s tax plan would cost about $480 billion dollars per year by 2015. What the Obama administration did was average this number over ten years to get about 5 trillion dollars. This isn’t fuzzy math at all, since budget planning usually looks at ten year periods and decade intervals.

Here’s an overview of the math:

Cost of Romney’s tax cut this year would equal 2.1 trillion in tax revenues x .2 (a 20% tax cut) to get 420 billion dollars in lost revenue this year. Cost of Romney’s tax cut in 2015 would equal the projected revenue of 2.4 trillion x .2 to get 480 billion dollars for that year (the number the Tax Policy Center came up with). And cost of Romney’s tax cut in 2020 would be 2.8 trillion x.2 to get 560 billion dollars. Averaged over ten years, these numbers amount to around 5 trillion. So by the math, Obama’s assertion is correct. Romney creates another 5 trillion hole in the budget even before he can start filling in the deficit hole through his promised ‘cuts.’

And Romney’s 5 trillion tax cut would add to the already large 3.6 trillion dollar (per decade) tax cut enacted by President Bush, which Romney has also pledged to keep.

That’s 4.2 trillion dollars added to the debt, so far, via the Bush tax cut. Add in the 9 trillion hole caused by the Bush recession and another 5 trillion via Bush’s unpaid wars and we get to the current debt figure of about 16 trillion. When combined with republican sabotage of Obama’s $4 trillion deficit reduction proposal, it isn’t an understatement to claim the republican party wholly owns this debt problem, even if the news media has failed to identify this, rather clear, fact. And, now, to top it all off, Romney trots along with another $5 trillion over the next decade and an extension of the Bush tax cut to total $8.6 trillion or greater.

Are you beginning to feel the voodoo yet?

What’s most damning about the Romney policy, so far, is the fact that his campaign offers almost no substantive plans for where the added revenue would come from if it were to be ‘deficit neutral’ as the Romney campaign claims. In his famous ‘Big Bird’ gaffe during the most recent Presidential debate, Romney claimed he’d cut things like PBS funding. But at around 400 million per year, PBS cuts cover only 1/1000th of the revenue gap he’s created. Romney may also dump on homeowners by cutting mortgage deductions or disincentive charity by cutting reductions to charitable donations. And although these policies may fill a decent chunk of that $5 trillion dollar hole, they’re not going to fill it entirely. Meanwhile, removing those deductions greatly reduce the number of American homeowners while resulting in a severe blow to America’s charity organizations. The remainder of the money would likely come from Medicare, Social Security, and from structural tax increases to the middle class.

Fact Check’s analysis of just one piece of Romney’s plan shows how convoluted, murky, and factually devoid it is:

“The campaign hasn’t revealed where Romney would even get [the first] $500 billion in cuts. The Romney website lays out spending reductions that total $319.6 billion, which come from privatizing Amtrak, cutting funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities and foreign aid, eliminating family planning funding, cutting the federal workforce and compensation, block-granting Medicaid and work retraining to the states, and reducing “waste and fraud.” Romney also counts $95 billion a year for repealing the federal health care law. But that’s only the spending in the law, which also includes $569 billion over 10 years of new revenues that would be lost, plus another $161 billion in revenue from the individual mandate tax and penalties on employers.”

What this paragraph reveals is that Romney’s cuts come out as a potential net negative — meaning that the cuts result in more revenues lost long-term (especially when taking into account the Affordable Care Act’s repeal). Futhermore, block granting Medicaid to the states would likely result in devastating losses to seniors and the disabled who rely on Medicaid during times of health hardship. This would result in additional costs to society that would likely ripple through any budget. Loss of family planning money would hurt the already reeling poor and harm families ability to care for their future. Cutting federal workforce compensation attacks one of the pillars of the American middle class, reducing wages for hundreds of thousands. And all of this damage and sacrifice by regular Americans just to deal with the first 8% taken by Romney’s tax cut.

And what do we get for this new massive hole blown in the budget? What do we get for this sacrifice that must be born by America’s families, by the sick, and by the elderly? In a basic break down here are the cut’s results:

“The analysis concludes that Romney’s tax cuts would predominantly favor upper-income taxpayers. Those with incomes of more than $1 million would see their after-tax income increased by 8.3 percent (for an average tax cut of about $175,000). Taxpayers with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 would see somewhat smaller increases of about 2.4 percent (for an average tax cut of $1,800), while the after-tax income of taxpayers earning less than $30,000 would actually decrease by about 0.9 percent (for an average tax increase of about $130).” — Bloomberg

In the end, according to Bloomberg, taxes are raised on those members of the middle class most near to poverty, taxes are barely cut for the middle and upper middle class. Meanwhile, the already wealthy and those in no need of help gain a huge income increase — $175,000 or more each year. So on both ends of the cut, the middle class gets hit while the wealthy, who need no help whatsoever, get another hand-out.

If this narrative sounds familiar, it should. We heard it under Bush. And Romney, rather than deciding to count losses, has instead doubled down on a policy that was a major contributor to the exploding deficit and this country’s increasing and intensifying climate of class warfare. Were Romney’s policy to push through, poverty would likely increase, the deficit would explode, critical programs would be cut (Medicaid, Obamacare, middle class salaries etc.), and tensions between the rich and the rest would only continue to rise. Romney’s plan is to double down on class warfare with another vastly unfair and destructive tax cut. Simply put, it is an arithmetic of avarice.

Links:

http://factcheck.org/2012/09/romneys-economic-exaggerations-2/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-01/surprise-romney-tax-plan-favors-the-rich.html

https://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=4363

Romney, in Apology Tour of Lies, Seeks to Profit Politically From Harm to Americans

Ever since extremist-perpetrated attacks on US Embassies in the Middle East began, Romney has endlessly accused Obama of ‘apologizing for America.’ And despite every fact-checker across the political spectrum calling Romney a ‘liar, liar, pants on fire,’ he has continued to repeat this false statement over and over again.

The irresponsibility of Romney’s use of harm and danger to Americans as a political football is difficult to over-emphasize. Political adults, left and right, set aside partisan bickering to present a united front to America’s enemies at a time of national crisis, and especially during a time when war-like violence is being waged against America’s citizens abroad. The reason for presenting a unified front to our enemies is that it serves to deter further assault. It shows that we are resolved. That we will not back down. That we are not divided one against the other and, therefore, easy to take advantage of as a nation.

Romney has decidedly failed in this most basic act of patriotism. And in doing so, he empowers our enemies.

So far, at least nine Americans have been killed in this rash of unconscionable violence. We will never know how many of the attackers felt empowered by the fact that a man who could be President stood apart from those condemning the violence and instead leveled a rhetorical assault against our Commander-in-Chief. We will never know how much the crisis has been enflamed by his verbal attacks. Nor will we know how much damage he has done to the institution of the President and of national defense in his failure to behave responsibly.

Had his political attacks been true, there could, at least, be a shred of excuse for Romney’s vicious assault on US foreign policy. But Romney, in a propagandist and vitriolic manner has endlessly repeated a lie. Only in Romney’s insane political conversation with an invisible Obama in an empty chair has Obama apologized for America. Only Romney’s imaginary straw-man Obama which is as unreal as Romney’s sense of how to employ political speech to defend American interests or to defuse dangerous situations abroad. Yet now, the image grows even darker. For the empty seat Romney hurls his insults at may well harbor the ghost of an American diplomat.

If Romney were a soldier he would be placed under arrest for insubordination and risking the safety of the unit during a time of war. Instead, Romney plays the part of a chicken-hawk politician who, in a far safer position than any of the brave diplomats at these Middle Eastern embassies, imagines himself to possess a knowledge of foreign policy as great as a whale compared to its ant actuality.

And so he blunders about in a fierce, horrible, Godzilla-like fashion, leaving in his wake a bizarre and grotesque wreckage. And so his loose-cannon antics do their damage without a shred of accountability or repercussion.

During the writing of this blog, two more Americans have died. Two more American lives lost amounting to nothing more than a political tool for Romney’s personal advancement. As Americans we should not allow such crass and heartless political profiteering to the detriment of national security. As Americans we should not stand by and let a person of such high position use the national narrative and the political process for such a hollow personal gain. As Americans we should not stand by as Romney turns the deaths of Americans into a bloody political football.

Please join me in signing this petition to Stop Romney’s Apology Tour of Lies.

Halt the nonsense. Stand aside. And give America’s foreign policy and national security professionals a chance to do their work.

Mitt Romney to Bring Back Torture? A Republican Establishment of Oppressive Government.

It may have been said before. I don’t know. But, regardless, I am saying it now:

Torture is the language of tyrants written in terrible signs, visible and invisible, upon the hearts and bodies of the oppressed.

That we should harbor that possibility in this country. That a political party that represents half of government should even entertain its use is nothing short of travesty. It is the very implement of an unfair and oppressive government that republicans claim to defend against. So why would they even leave open the possibility of bringing it back?

Among the darkest chapters in this nation’s history were the deaths and human rights abuses that resulted from torture at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and sporadically around the globe during the War on Terror. That the Bush Administration laid a legal groundwork for torture and vigorously defended it in courts was a devastating assault on human rights and dignity. It was also a dreadful abuse of the American state’s immense power.

In short, it was the willful execution and legal defense of the conduct of war crimes.

When Obama became President, he signed an executive order banning the use of torture by the US Armed Forces, espionage, and counter-terrorism forces. He removed all legal justifications for torture. Furthermore, he waged a far more honorable war against terrorism. A war that was many times more effective than the one fought by the Bush Administration.

A nation’s character can be defined by the way it treats the helpless and the less powerful. The poor, women, minorities, those serving time in prison, and, yes, prisoners of war. The fact that a person fights against the United States does not rob them of basic rights as a human being. And these rights include an abolishment of torture. It is the very premise of justice and honor that the power of a state to do violence is not applied as an act of vengeance or wrath. That it does not revel in causing harm needlessly. Even the ending of a person’s life in battle, a terrible consequence of the awful but sometimes necessary act of defending a nation through violence, does not fall to the level of abuse and torture of prisoners.

So it should deeply concern you that Mitt Romney, Presidential candidate for the Republican party, has again opened the door to torture. That the shadow of torture once again falls over the face of America.

According to news reports from Politico and the New York Times, Romney campaign spokewoman Andrea Saul has said that Romney would not rule out ‘enhanced interrogation.’ As you may well recall, ‘enhanced interrogation’ was the euphemism Bush Administration officials used to justify torture techniques like waterboarding or locking prisoners for extended periods in 3×3 foot boxes. In addition, and equally worrying, Romney has belligerently rattled his sabre, making unnecessary and possibly damaging statements about countries like Russia, Iran and China.

But what is more worrying is that Romney is bringing back a key Bush lawyer who helped pave the way for legalized torture. Steven Bradbury is well known for his signing memos to the CIA and DOJ claiming that harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding were legal. In a 2008 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Bradbury claimed that harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding had a basic justification in law.

Leaving the door open for torture and inviting back legal counsel well known for its defense of wretched acts does not bode well for American democracy or for her standing as a leader of justice in an increasingly dark and difficult world. Given Romney’s stand on this and many other key issues, it is obvious that the dark spirits of the Bush Administration are far from banished. In fact, in light of economic positions and including this terrible stance on torture, it would seem that Romney is bringing all Bush’s old wraiths back with a vengeance.

Links:

http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=5A20C1AA-E60B-401D-9F43-2F7EC6D2124E

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/opinion/the-torture-candidates.html

Romney’s Plan For 12 Million Jobs — Take Credit for the Work Done by Obama

During an arguably well-delivered speech at the Republican National Convention, Romney, unfortunately, served up a number of glaring whoppers. The first was his making light of an increasingly real, damaging, and dangerous climate crisis. This bald denial of an event affecting farmers all throughout the heartland was just the first of many statements that don’t quite jibe with facts, reality, or even decency.

Unfortunately for both Romney and the rest of us, Romney’s climate change denial was only his first fault. His second error had to deal with, not making light of a serious problem that needs addressing, but with attempting to do nothing and take credit for the hard work of others. In his speech, Romney claimed that his administration would create 12 million jobs. On its face, it sounds like an ambitious plan. But let’s take a little time to analyze this promise.

The sad, sorry, rough truth is that world economic conditions aren’t so hot when it comes to jobs. We have a number of powerful corporations ranging the globe searching for ever-more-productive workers for an ever-decreasing relative wage. The net effect of this endless flight to lower paying jobs is a world-wide pressure on all middle class and, for that matter, living wage jobs. Pervasive corporate worker exploitation on a global scale has made it increasingly difficult for people to find decent-paying jobs since the 1980s.

This growing jobs crisis reached a boiling point during the great recession when states began to adopt austerity programs. These programs drastically cut the number of decent-paying government jobs available. Now workers were faced with the tough reality that even governments weren’t likely to provide nearly as much in the way of worthwhile work. Austerity resulted in a geological shift in the employment market that drastically reduced the pool of living wage jobs. And it is, perhaps, ironic to note that the same corporations and political forces pushing lower wage market jobs were the same forces pushing for austerity in many countries, including the US.

The net result is that economic prospects, unless you’re the modern version of a robber-baron, aren’t so hot globally.

The US has been somewhat insulated to this hard reality through the efforts of President Obama. He pushed a stimulus program that was vital in reducing jobs losses and in restoring the opportunity for job creation. He has recoiled against republican efforts to force austerity on the United States. As such, he has preserved many well-paying jobs that would otherwise have been cut. However, since republicans dominate the House of Representatives and hold most US Governor’s seats, they have been successful in cutting public service rolls at the state and federal level. Less firefighters, teachers, researchers, police officers, and scientists means less decent-paying jobs available. A college graduate with a science degree might be forced, instead, to take a minimum wage, bad benefits job at Staples, for example.

But despite these political pressures and the predatory corporate practices resulting in an extremely adverse world jobs climate, Obama has managed to push through a number of policies that stabilized the US jobs situation. His first efforts stopped jobs losses at the rate of 750,000 per month during the last days of Bush. And his next efforts began the hard work of creating new jobs in an extremely adverse political and economic climate. These efforts resulted in a .84% increase in jobs so far throughout his administration. This increase, ironically, is equal to the percent of US jobs lost under Bush’s second term. It is more than the jobs created under Bush’s first term. It is also more than the number of jobs created under Bush senior or even the number of jobs created during the second term of Eisenhower.

After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and in the current terrible world jobs climate, this work amounts to serious heavy lifting. But looking forward, the real benefit of Obama’s jobs policies becomes even clearer. According to a recent report by Moody’s Analytics, over the next four years 12 million jobs will be created in the US. This is the more positive jobs climate Obama worked so hard to establish. And even if no further policy measures are implemented to create jobs, according to Moody’s, those 12 million jobs will be there.

And this, at last, brings us to Romney. It seems that climate change isn’t the only thing he and his fellow republicans are in denial of. It appears he’s in denial of the plain fact that Obama’s job creation policies actually worked. But his denial isn’t so deep as to disallow a cynical attempt to steal credit for the Obama Administration’s successes. This action is similar to that of a middle level corporate manager who waits for an enterprising employee to make a breakthrough and, essentially, steals his idea. So we can see where Romney’s corporate experience is starting to ‘shine through’ during this election process. But stealing an idea from a standing President isn’t so easy as from a victimized employee. The facts, as we have noted, are plainly visible for all should they care enough to look.

As for Romney’s so-called jobs ‘policy?’ According to fact checkers it is nothing short of a vague list of notions that don’t amount to any solid position at all. Nothing more than advertising and posturing mascaraing as serious political action. The Romney paper was so lacking in substance that analytic organizations had no means to score it for potential jobs created or lost. In short, it’s a puff paper.

So what, in the end, is Romney’s jobs policy?

Do nothing. Set America adrift. Take credit for other people’s work.

Convention Speech: Romney Makes Light of Global Warming During Hottest US Year On Record

For Mitt Romney, usually a less than stunning speaker, tonight’s speech was surprising in its passion and delivery. Pundits noted this speech was likely his best. He delivered a number of compelling lines including ones that don’t quite ring true for the most obstructionist republican party in seven decades. Lines like: ‘I wish President Obama had succeeded.’ I wonder if a party that reinvented the term filibuster can honestly say they agree? If Romney felt such a sentiment, it was a good one. Sorry to see it hasn’t born out among the vast majority of republicans.

That said, the most out-of-context reference in the entire speech occurred when Romney made light of the issue of global warming. Romney, in a rhetorical jab at Obama, poked fun at Obama’s promise to help stop sea level rise and begin to heal the planet. This jab is especially concerning when one looks at Romney’s energy plan which could well be described as coughing carbon dioxide. His promise to double down on fossil fuels, including coal, will certainly do further harm to an already fragile world climate.

These assaults on the validity of global warming science fly directly in the face of fact and reality. Romney’s loud whistle past the climate change graveyard happens during a year of unprecedented sea ice melt, during the hottest year on record in America, during the worst drought in fifty years and during a year of record fires around the world.

This belittling of an issue that is sure to have ever-increasing impact is nothing short of blatant irresponsibility. Romney claims to be concerned for families, for our future. But an ever-increasing amount of harm will come to our families and our future should we fail to respond to the very real danger of climate change.

Yet the most poignant note of the convention, for me, was watching children playing in the balloon drop. What will happen to them if their republican parents are wrong in their assertions? What will happen to them if the worst potentials of climate change are brought on by a sudden increase in dependence on fossil fuels? What happens to them in 20 years when the US farmlands are even drier than they are today? What happens if coastlines start to destabilize? How much poorer, more desperate and afraid will they be in such an uncertain and increasingly hostile place?

Romney speaks of the future even as he seeks to force dependence on the energy sources that may ruin it. And he brazenly laughs at the very climate change increasing use of those fuels would intensify. History will judge Romney very harshly on these points. And such judgement will be far more harsh should a Romney Presidency steer us full-speed into the teeth of climate change.

Romney Gunning to Kill US Wind, Solar Industries, Enforce Monopoly of Dirty, Dangerous, and Depleting Fuels

Today Mitt Romney held a speech on the border of Texas and New Mexico where he laid out his plans for the US’s energy future. And if two words come to mind from his proposals they are these: Robbery and Ruin.

Just yesterday, Romney received more than $10 million dollars in campaign contributions from the coal and oil industry. Money he is trying to hand back many times over in special perks, subsidies, and give-aways to his big polluting backers.

First, Romney proposes to take public lands from the people of the US and hand it over to states who would then be encouraged to give these land rights, free of charge, to oil, gas, and coal companies. He would take a resource in the public trust, one of America’s great treasures, and hand it over to what amounts to a group of corporate looters. The ghost of Teddy Roosevelt must be turning over in his grave as Romney offers up this sacrifice to his corporate masters. For it would result in public lands being transformed from something like this:

Into something like this:

 

Romney’s second big giveaway is to cut taxes for the highly profitable oil companies again. I say again because it was the same thing Bush did when he was elected back in 2000. And it is also ironic to see a massive influx of Bush energy advisers finding places of prominence on Romney’s energy team.

This year, oil companies already received more than 2.3 billion dollars in subsidies and tax assistance. This public support after having recorded over $137 billion dollars in profits. But Romney seems to think that greed is its own virtue and has decided to give another 2.4 billion away in additional tax breaks. This 5 billion dollars in tax-payer support each year would come on top of record profits from the highest oil prices ever and the great American land giveaway described above.

But Romney’s plan goes still further. Romney would cut regulations that keep coal companies from dumping massive volumes of mercury into the air and water. Coal companies have often complained that the public health protection measure is too expensive. But what Romney and his coal backers don’t reveal is that the added pollution kills more than 30,000 people each year. For Romney and big coal, profits are far more important than lives. So the protections for Americans must go.

In general, all these policies draw support from a vast and ongoing denial over the damage caused to the United States by an intensifying climate crisis. Just this year alone, over $100 billion in damages will likely be inflicted on the US economy by a number of climate-related disasters. Romney’s push to double down on big oil and big coal will only worsen the damage that is still to come.

Romney’s plan is first a dire insult to American interests in the form of a giveaway to a destructive industry. Romney’s plan is second a harm that results in added toxins spewed into the atmosphere and an ever-decreasing likelihood of dealing with the ongoing climate crisis.

But the crowning black jewel to the whole dark and devastating Romney energy policy is this: attack the wind and solar industry.

Romney plans to bring down all competitors to oil and coal through direct policy measures. He is gunning to devastate the wind and solar industry by removing the production tax credit even as he pushes to further subsidize the heavily polluting oil and coal industries. His plan would gut US innovation and progress in wind and solar energy. It would cede leadership in a 2 trillion dollar alternative energy market to China and Germany. And it would result in the loss of tens of thousands of US jobs. Worse, it would remove the prospect for creating hundreds of thousands more jobs in the future and shackle us to an energy source that is bound to abandon us during our hour of greatest need.

Republicans and Romney often deride industries that require subsidy support. However, the oil and coal industry still receive subsidies after more than 150 years of operations. The level of subsidies they receive is far higher than those of the burgeoning alternative energy industry. Typically, for a new industry to effectively get off the ground it needs a higher level of support than a traditional, established industry. And considering that the oil industry has become so profitable through its effective cornering, total dominance and monopolization of all transportation markets, giving it any subsidy at all simply amounts to paying tribute to a tyrant. It is unnecessary, wasteful, and encourages the worst behavior.

Yet this is exactly what Romney and Ryan are pushing to double down on. And they would lay the slain carcass of the alternative energy industry at the feet of their fossil fuel masters.

Given the intensifying climate crisis. Given the depleting and increasingly expensive fossil fuels. Given the need for America to create sustainable jobs in a sustainable industry. And given the fact that if we fail to lead in the alternative energy revolution, others will in our stead, it is absolutely necessary that the American public reject Romney. Reject Ryan. Reject robbing from the American people for the profit of special interests and reject policies that will ruin our future. And, last of all, reject the vicious and anti-American agenda of the oil and coal company barons who stand behind them.

Romney Launches Hate Campaign Speech to Distract From Ryan’s Attempts to Kill Medicare, His Own Attempts to Dodge Accountability on Tax Returns

Today Mitt Romney launched a vitriolic campaign of attacks on President Obama unprecedented in Presidential politics. At a campaign speech in Ohio, Romney stated:

“Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.”

Romney’s accusation is as vicious as it is patently false, especially when it’s leveled against a President who has been the object of right wing hatred and its many manifestations: birtherism, Obama accused of being a Stalinist, the proliferation of Obama targets for the rifle range, and the endless parade of Obama faces painted up as a scary clown.

To the contrary, Obama and Democrats have only leveled legitimate criticism of Romney and Ryan. Why is Romney hiding his tax returns? Why does Romney ship his money overseas? Why did Romney outsource key middle class jobs to China during his tenure at Bain? Why did Romney support Romneycare then and oppose it now? Why did Ryan submit a budget plan that kills Medicare and gives the largess over to the wealthy? And why is Ryan lying about Obama de-funding Medicare when Obama extended the lifespan of Medicare by over a decade, cut costs to seniors, and made healthcare providers grant more of their profits for actually taking care of people?

But perhaps Ryan believes that making providers and insurance companies shift some of their profits to care is a ‘Medicare cut?’ I suppose a corporate CEO like Romney, one trained to squeeze as much profit as possible out of workers and customers, would see things this way. But what about the rest of the American people? Does Romney care a whit about them? Did he while he was shipping jobs overseas at Bain?

These are legitimate political questions to which the Romney and Ryan campaign appears to have no solid answer. And Obama has been right to continue to raise questions about these key issues, critical, in fact, to an economy in dire need of recovery and an end to Republican obstructionism and doubling down on policies that only benefit the wealthy and not the rest of America.

So it is understandable, perhaps, given the twisted, misleading, untrue, and convoluted logic of their campaign, that Romney is dearly wanting for a distraction.

But one wonders about his judgement in shifting so immediately to hatred. One wonders what is his fascination with the word, so vitriolic to many of his republican followers, who so recently slavered over Glenn Beck’s fantasy of poisoning Nancy Pelosi when Beck still had his show on Fox?

And this brings me to a very valid concern. Is Romney trying to incite violence? The word hatred itself is something that shouldn’t be used as part of a Presidential speech. The word itself is overly incendiary and shows Romney’s own deep lack of responsibility to the American public. So why is he using the word? This word. This terrible word. Why?

This is another issue for which Romney should be held to accounts. Why must he lean on hatred?

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Romney ‘Outsourcer in Chief’ Standard Bearer for Republican Assault on Middle Class Jobs

In the most recent ‘etch e sketch’ attempt to gain traction against Obama, the Mitt Romney campaign has tried to apply the label ‘outsourcer in chief’ to President Obama. For many reasons, this is comical, not the least of which is the fact that I’ve been calling Romney a would-be ‘outsourcer in chief’ based on his experience at Bain Capital closing down US companies and shipping jobs overseas since early this year.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/08/republican-debate-new-hampshire-gop-sunday_n_1192370.html

Just take a look at the comments section, about #20 down the list.

What Insanity Looks Like

Though my statements were rhetorical, they were based on a very real concern. The current Republican ideology is based in the belief that policies strictly aimed at benefiting the wealthy create jobs. This is little different from the policy views of the Bush Administration which resulted in millions and millions of jobs lost, saw declining wages, and caused the worst recession since the Great Depression. This record, alone, should be enough to make Republicans reconsider their political platform. Unfortunately, they have not. They simply push the same policies that wrecked the economy the last time and expect a different result.

As Einstein wisely said ‘Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.’

But if Republicans doubling down on terrible policy positions weren’t enough to demoralize any thinking American, all one would have to do is look at the political and business resume of their presidential candidate: Mitt Romney. One would think that a Presidential candidate, someone who wishes to lead this great nation, would show a few elements of real patriotism, a few instances of putting the interests of country and fellow citizens first, of serving the greater good for America.

This is dramatically not the case with Mitt Romney.

Romney’s Lack of Patriotism on Taxes, Middle Class Jobs

First, rather than keeping his money in the United States, where it might actually do some work to support American jobs, he’s shipped loads of it overseas to foreign bank accounts, likely in an attempt to avoid US taxes. If this is the case, by outsourcing his money to offshore banks, he’s undercutting the jobs of soldiers, teachers, scientists, researchers and so many other middle class jobs created through government expenditures.

If his actions weren’t enough, Romney’s endlessly negative rhetoric is, at times, aimed directly at these workers, blaming them as if they were the cause of America’s problems and not its victims. In June, Romney provided us with a stark example of these attacks:

“He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

The message of Wisconsin? The message of Wisconsin was that big money can control a state’s political process so as to force greater economic pain on the middle class by denying the rights of teachers, police officers, and firemen. The message of Wisconsin was that a GOP possessed by the maniacal ghost of the John Birch Society hates the American worker.

Profits From Impoverishing the American Worker

Apparently, not only did Romney not seem to ‘get’ the lesson of the lost 8 years under Bush — cut government-based middle class jobs and key regulations too much and it deeply hurts the American people — he also seems to think that a lawless, uneducated America where homes and businesses are allowed to burn down is a fine place to live. And based on this statement, one would think that Romney supports the current minimum wage pay for policemen and firefighters in Scranton, after draconian cuts have forced devastating wage reductions there.

But even if Romney’s campaign rhetoric isn’t damaging or revealing enough, we have his past business record to look at. In short, he was CEO at Bain Capital, a firm whose primary job was to target companies that appeared to be at risk of financial difficulty, gain a controlling stake in those companies’ stocks and then cut wages and benefits, eliminate jobs, and sell company assets in order to make a profit. The fact that certain investment firms behave in this fashion is one of the uglier aspects of capitalism. It is a sort of predatory opportunism that tends to concentrate wealth at the expense of workers and the economy as a whole. In many cases, this loot and pillage ‘capitalism’ wrecks entire communities, leaving behind wasted industrial lands that will never again be revitalized. The companies that function in this fashion often operate under the euphemism ‘private equity,’ which makes what they do seem innocuous. But when looking at the process, it’s pretty ugly and harmful.

Even worse, it doesn’t seem those at Bain were very contrite about how they’d made their profits. Take a look at this celebratory picture and it’s pretty easy to see that Romney and his buddies at Bain had very little pathos for the American workers whose jobs they wrecked:

Image

Bain’s Record of Outsourcing Jobs to China

But not only did Bain engage in corporate raiding and pillaging activities that wrecked a number of previously vital US communities, they also engaged in activities that shipped US jobs overseas. According to a recent Washington Post article:

“During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

In essence, Bain profited from wrecking industries within the US and then took the money and invested it in factories and call centers in China. To a company like Bain, this meant big bags of money. To America, this meant loss of family-supporting jobs, economy-supporting middle-class consumption, and deficit-reducing and middle class jobs-supporting taxes.

The sad fact is that these kinds of ugly activities do happen in capitalist economies. But it doesn’t mean that a corporate raider whose record involves wrecking US communities and using the profits to build factories and businesses in China should be able to run for President on ‘business acumen’ and a record of ‘job creation.’ Quite to the contrary, Romney shows that he is completely out of touch with the struggles most American families now face. A dire struggle he, in part, is responsible for creating.

Republican Spin: They Will Now Attempt to Misinform the American Public On China and Alternative Energy

Because the Obama Administration has rightly held Romney accountable for a past that involved economically destructive business activities, for actively outsourcing American jobs, and for a record of offshoring his wealth to other countries, the Republicans are now desperate. They are in the process of attempting to create a new narrative. And this narrative conflates a number of their implicit goals.

First, defame Obama as outsourcer.

In this new twisted argument, the Republicans will attempt to label Obama as an oursourcer. This is their best defense because it takes Romney’s glaring weakness and own terrible record of outsourcing and attempts to turn it into a strength by making Obama look as bad as Romney on this issue.

Second, attack the alternative energy industry.

Ever since Republicans have stymied funds for US wind and solar industries, they have been complicit in handing leadership in this key industry to China. The results of their failures have been the bankrupting of solar manufacturers and ceding massive numbers of manufacturing jobs to China. At the same time, Republicans make political hay by attacking Democrats for the failures their own policies and inaction have caused. And this is simply the argument of saboteurs and those who have made careers out of blaming the victim.

For example, for years, Republicans looked the other way as China dumped solar panels at lower than the cost of production on the US market. Cynical monied interests shorted these industries at the same time. When Solyndra, unable to compete under market conditions of unfair dumping and investor flight, went bankrupt, the Republicans rushed in to blame the victim, trying to label it another Enron.

Now, Republicans are attempting to capitalize on a condition their policies created in order to blame Obama for outsourcing.

First, they have labeled an economic condition they caused — flight of wind and solar industry jobs to China — ‘outsourcing.’ Second, they are blaming Obama for loss of jobs due to Chinese solar panel dumping. These actions are aimed at a final goal — fossil fuel market dominance.

Third, pave the way for fossil fuel resurgence in the US.

If Republicans are successful in their attempts to label Obama and to turn the US alternative energy industry into an abject failure, they will pave the way for increased US dependence on the kinds of fuels that will wreck our future: oil, natural gas, and coal. These attacks will also serve to set the renewable industry back decades at a time when it is most necessary to deal with the combined problems of energy security and climate change. In short, the loss of the US alternative energy industry to these malicious special interests will be both devastating to the economic future of the US, our standing in the community of nations, and a climate that supports a vital US agricultural industry.

Republican Failures, Cynical Political Manipulation and Blame-Making Requires a Real Response by Leadership

Because the issues have been confused by Republican political operatives, it will be unlikely that the American people will understand the causes of these economic conditions unless they are directly brought to light. It is, therefore imperative that Obama create a set of policies directly aimed at aiding the US alternative energy industry, creating jobs in the US alternative energy sector, and holding China and investment firms accountable for damaging the US alternative energy industry. As Republicans move to oppose any legislation that will have a real impact on shoring up this industry, it will become clear which side they are on — that of China and outsourcing and not that of the American worker.

One has to show these cynical attacks for what they really are — a disingenuous attempt to regain and concentrate power and to provide no help at all for struggling American families. IF Republicans had been serious about preventing US alternative energy jobs from going to China, they would have supported the stimulus, they would have supported the GM bailout, and they would have joined those sounding alarms about China’s trade war on US alternative energy rather than attempting to kill that industry in favor of dirty, dangerous and depleting fossil fuels. The pretense, under which Republicans are operating: that they are actually concerned about loss of US alternative energy jobs to China is laughable. And the laissez-faire and dirty industry supporting policies they would enact if they gain power would only speed US loss of alternative energy leadership to China and the flight of key American jobs to overseas entities.

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Rush, Romney in Denial over Renewable Energy

Mitt Romney, in a recent tirade against the clean energy industry, gave progressives another gift today.  “You can’t drive a car with a wind mill on it,” he said, clownishly. One wonders what Romney’s fixation with cars sporting various things strapped to the top is. I suppose the dog wasn’t enough for him and now he’s trying wind mills? If he were smart, he might have first tried a solar panel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jsqf5CEUI0

Behold, Romney, your worst nightmare — a solar Prius. Dog kennel not included…

Romney’s own tirade follows directly on the heels of Rush Limbaugh who, after losing many of his advertisers for his mad dog slut-shaming of Sandra Fluke, has shifted his eyes to fresh meat — the U.S. renewable energy industry. But this particular attack involves a rhetorical disappearing act.

The problem with the Volt is just like all of Obama’s green energy, there’s no business there yet. There’s no solar energy business yet. There’s no wind energy yet,” Rush said on his radio show today.

I suppose Rush missed the 50 gigawatts of wind energy capacity the US now boasts. Or, perhaps, Rush is unaware of the 5 gigawatts of solar energy systems now in place? That 71 billion dollars worth of solar power sales in 2010? Nada, according to Rush. Or the Chinese dumping of solar panels in an attempt to bankrupt a rocketing U.S. alternative energy market? Rush says it all never happened.

As for no business for the Volt — it sold more than 1000 units last month, more than the comparatively priced Corvette. Rush must also have missed the millions of hybrid electric vehicles on the road worldwide or the 150,000 all-electric vehicles now on highways in California.

It seems that Rush and Romney would both like to deny the existence of an industry that now produces more energy than all the nuclear power plants in the world. Much like climate change, they’re trying to hide something that is undeniably real with another smoke and mirrors act.

Pay no attention to the oil man behind the curtain…

http://thinkprogress.org/green/2012/03/07/439938/oil-lobby-chief-jack-gerard-uses-out-of-context-finding-to-protect-oil-subsidies/

 

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