Posts tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

Collusion? Chaos as Policy?

Here is a report from the Daily Beast Cheat Sheet:

A new New Yorker profile of Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele reports on a lesser-known memo the former MI-6 spy allegedly discussed with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. According to the report, in late November 2016, Steele relayed information from his Russian sources that senior Kremlin officials had intervened to block Mitt Romney as President-elect Trump’s choice for secretary of State. Reporter Jane Mayer writes that Moscow had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be willing to lift sanctions related to Ukraine and cooperate with Russia’s involvement in Syria. Romney, long a vocal hawk on Russia, declined to comment for the report. The White House said the former GOP presidential nominee was never a first choice for the job, and declined to comment on “any communications that the Trump team may have had with Russia on the subject.”

Okay, they deny it.  They deny a lot of things that are absolutely. My guess is it is true and Republicans will normalize this when it comes out as consulting with our allies on a good fit.  Think about that.  Again, if this were Obama, how do you think Republicans would react to Russia weighing in on our choice of Secretary of State.  Note the guy who got the nod was unknown to President DFF and was a Russian advocate for lifting sanctions.  Suspicious?  Of course it is.  Note the story today about the State Department receiving $120M to counter Russian meddling and they have spent zero.  What does that tell you?  Again, imagine if Obama had done this.

Meanwhile as the noose tightens and Jareed and Ivanka start to unravel, in a peak of anger, President DFF issues a policy on aluminum and steel.  While President DFF’s enablers are out there trying to pretend this is the way he works and it is good for the country, the Daily Beast reports:

Donald Trump “emphatically” promised to exempt Australian steel and aluminum from import tariffs during a meeting with Australia’s prime minister last year. The vow was witnessed by senior lawmakers on both sides, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC, reported. The promise was made in the “steel cage,” the president’s mobile secure-communications pod, on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017. The Australian government has, therefore, been stunned by statements by U.S. officials that there will be no country-specific exemptions to the tariffs. The tariffs were announced in an impromptu fashion by Trump last week, when he said that he intends to impose a 25 percent tax on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, on national-security grounds. Australia exports about $500 million of steel and aluminum to the U.S. a year. The U.K. has also been blindsided by the move; Prime Minister Theresa May raised her “deep concern” over the proposed new tariffs in a phone call with Trump on Sunday. The EU is said to be preparing retaliatory measures.

Now we can quit pretending.  He was thinking about this and it was a wild outburst.  This is not going to end well and those who try spin it, are doing a great disservice to the country.  There was clearly an obstruction of justice (why is the critical question), there was clearly money laundering and maybe pay for play by the kids, there was clearly collusion and we are just waiting to see who, we know the Russians tried to affect the outcome of the election, and we know that nothing has been done about it.  How much more do you need?

The America that President DFF and his cronies envision is a nightmare version of the American dream and an attack on the fundamentals on which our Constitution was founded upon (Enlightenment ideas).  Yesterday we watched the Oscars trying to celebrate our most basic value, diversity and the freedom for anyone to be creative.  In the meantime on the other side of the country the swamp that the Know Nothings wanted to clean up has grown exponentially and they are in denial about it.  We are in a fight for who we are, and when the realization of who and what President DFF is and represents hits home, we will enter very dangerous times as there is not telling what he might do while Republicans fiddle.  Hey, it is just Monday.

Waking Up

I guess you saw where Senator Corker, R-Tenn, said that Donald Trump was a peril to the country:

“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful — and our nation and our world needs for him to be successful, whether you are Republican or Democrat.”

“He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today. And he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that. Without the things I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”

Well Bob, it is never going to happen and maybe it is time to recognize that and do something about it. Then there is Mitt Romney this morning:

Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.

 …The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.

 This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children. They are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country.

Of course he won’t because on Tuesday he spoke what he really believes. Same as on Thursday when he tweeted that morally repugnant and untrue story of General Pershing in the Philippines. Yes Mitt, this is a defining moment for Republicans, for our moral integrity, and for our democracy. But Trump, the Village Idiot, has already failed that test over and over. Republicans are starting maybe to wake up to this Faustian bargain. But I have my doubts. Here is from a survey yesterday about whether the nation buys the two sides are responsible bull shit (not to mention the statue misdirection):

The majority of the voting rabble in the Republican Party think Trump is right and are oblivious to the reality of what went on there. That maybe why Republican Senators and Congress members will not take action against this demented man. We will soon find out whether they care more about their job than the good of the United States of America.

I experience this moral denial first hand in a Facebook exchange which I described in an earlier post. It went on and on with so many misdirections it was hard to focus on the main issue, if you don’t see the fallacy of the moral equivalency argument, you are the problem. Trump supporters are truly blinded by the light and they try to just tire you out. I was not going to just give up because that is how we got the moron President in the first place. But it backs up what the poll shows, they are blind to the damage this man is doing to the very basis of our democracy. What was sad was all the other readers went silent and did not want the uncomfortable confrontation.  That is how we got where we are today.

When I posted this in the thread, my Facebook protagonist was offended and could not see that this is the argument in it’s simplest terms:

I think we knew who Donald Trump was before he was elected, with the birther lies, then his blatant racism during the campaign, lack of knowledge of history or workings of our government, incitement of violence, attack on our basic institutions (judiciary and free press) and morally depraved (grab her pussy). Yet those GOPers put him in office and hoped for the best.

Well the worst has happened and the damage he is doing to the nation may be irreparable. Maybe they are waking up because Trump is never going to say he is sorry, or learn anything. It will just get worse and worse and Republicans fail to act hoping for their agenda. So here we are, with a real moral test of the nation and Mitt Romney nailed it. The only thing they have wrong is still hoping Trump can somehow change course or get a better or controlled message. What was it Einstein was purported to say, “Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.”

Update:  Trump is purported to be pushing out Bannon.  My thought here is nothing changes.  Maybe the generals will be able to cage him better, but he is who he is and Tuesday was not Bannon, but Trump.  And make no mistake, the Republican Party and their base may just go to war.  We live with an unhinged president, and an unhinged Republican party that controls all levers of power in government.  We truly live in dangerous times.

Mitt Versus Trump

Mitt did a good job today in taking apart the Donald on facts and policies.  Actually he said what the press should have reported all during this campaign because it is facts and analysis of his policies.  But our press is brain-dead. They have created him by laughing at his outrageousness without debunking it. To me as a Progressive, all of this is obvious so will it have any impact at all?  Answer yes.  Watch the Republican Civil War get real.

The only thing I can really laugh at is that Mitt felt Ted or Marco were worthy replacements when they are just the Donald being more subtle.  And an analysis of their policies would indicate the same disasters.  Well, let the cannon fire begin. Let the 24/7 coverage of the Donald Trump rebuttals begin.  Who again does this work for?

UPDATE:  I don’t actually think any of this will make a difference.  Here is the problem for Republicans:  The Trump phenomenon is about the failure of conservative policies to help working people.  So being a “real” conservative is not really what is at work here.  And what new ideas do they bring to the table?  We will do conservative stuff only better and harder?  They have represented the rich guy not the working guy.

They have generated a whole base who is angry at government in general and is looking for scapegoats.  They have convinced them we can go back in time.  Then they don’t do it.  So this group doesn’t care about policies or reality, just attitude against the man.  So at best I see a fracturing of the Republicans.

Now the debate could interesting tonight.  Donald can take one of two tacks.  One is to trash Mitt and his commitments if he has the material.  The other is to say the establishment Republicans are setting up a trap for him and withdraw from the  debates where he can’t control the topics.  We will see.

One thing is for sure.  There will be a fragmented Republican Party that opens the door for Democrats.  Will they stand for something this time and bring change or will we see another timid, play it safe failure by these boys and girls?

Religious Thinking

The New York Times reported this morning that “A prominent Republican delivered a direct request to Mitt Romney not long ago: He should make a third run for the presidency, not for vanity or redemption, but to answer a higher calling from his faith.” For most this would say well, isn’t it good that your faith requires you to serve. But something makes me very uncomfortable about this. Here is that something:

Kirk Jowers, a Mormon family friend who lives in Utah and chaired Mr. Romney’s leadership PAC, said that Mr. Romney’s contemplation of a third bid is motivated by an “almost devout belief that he needs to do something for this country.” … But many close to him also point to the perseverance he learned as a missionary; the sense of American exceptionalism and public service central to the church’s teachings; and his belief — buttressed by his faith — that if he feels in his heart he has something to offer the country, he is compelled to pursue it, regardless of the obstacles.

Religious thinking is mostly antithetical to logical thinking. You believe something on faith and you don’t let anything shake that belief. I have often argued that we compartmentalize religious and logical thinking in our brains so we can stay faithful, because logic in many cases challenges religious belief. But this compartmentalization bleeds over and that is when we get political ideological thinking unshakeable by facts. I would argue that those most ideological in our political sphere today are also born again Christians, mostly in the Republican Party.

For Mitt Romney what worries me is that he has led a sheltered life not subject to the experiences of most of us. During the Vietnam War he was on a “mission” in France. He was always someone’s good old boy and his climb through the business world was focused on the dollars, not the social impact. So now he thinks he is on a mission, and dare I say it, a mission from God, to be President. And if he succeeds, isn’t that proof that he is God’s man and he doesn’t have to spend time questioning his policies because he has the faith and he was chosen?

That is what scares me and quite frankly America’s need for a religious man who keeps saying “God Bless America” at the end of every speech. While we like to believe in American exceptionalism, the last few years are proving we are anything but as we ignore our problems, and pretend we can get a free ride on making a few people rich. Oh, and as the environment is collapsing, well it is God’s will. No, I have no use for more religion in government. I want a man who has faith in science, logic, and facts so we can deal with our problems with things that work, not bleed overs from faith based thinking.

Oh and by the way, logic and facts can arrive at humanitarian philosophies just as well as a belief in God. The advantage is we keep evaluating our beliefs and improving upon them. Let’s not forget that those who don’t want to recognize gays as humans, or think women are second class citizens, or think divorce gets you kick out of the church, are supported by their religious faith. How do we hang on to these antiquated ideas? Religion. Now connect the dots.

The Republicans New Found Friends

It has always been somewhat amazing to me that a lot of white middle class America votes for Republicans because their policies don’t benefit them. On the other hand their policies “protect” them from the huddled masses they see as trying to take away what they do have. But the game is changing and now the Republicans are showing new interest at least in the poor and middle class who they know the next election will depend on.

Mitt Romney, vowing a campaign to “end the scourge of poverty” if he runs for president a third time, has backed raising the minimum wage over the wishes of congressional leaders.

This is the same Mitt Romney who when asked about the poor in the last presidential election, said he did not worry about the poor, they have programs for them.

At a closed-door retreat last week, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the new majority leader, encouraged the Republican troops to refocus policy on the stagnant middle class.

I could go on with the pronouncement of Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, or Paul Ryan, but you get the point. The fight is going to be over who really helps the middle class, Republicans or Democrats. Now one could argue that wealth has been migrating to the wealthy and with them getting more and more of the pie over the last 50 years, both sides are somewhat to blame. But that is because Democrats have foolishly bought into this voodoo economics over time.

I think the movement got really going (and the numbers so indicate) during the Reagan Administration when “greed was good”, making money was now the virtue we aligned with making our economy strong. We started looking up to rich people as though they were imbued with certain special qualities we should all admire. We still do sadly. But underlying this was the belief that a high tide lifts all boats, that flowdown occurred, that these wealthy people created jobs. We have come to learn that it doesn’t work that way. We are awash in high tide on Wall Street, and only the yachts are getting raised.

Here is the real problem for Republicans. They believe that capitalism, left alone, will benefit everyone. That the market place will assign winners and losers, and with large incentives for winning, the competition will be fierce and new jobs and businesses will be created. Except like flowdown, it doesn’t work that way. First, our economy has moved away from manufacturing and the big dollars are to be made in finance. In the run up to the economic collapse in 2007 and 2008, obscene amounts of money were being made creating junk investments which created no jobs.

The second problem is the business model itself. Said simply, reduce costs, maximize profits. Labor is a cost. I would bring up the Robber Barons of the 19th century, but we only have to look at Governor Scott Walker today destroying public employee unions to bring down the cost of government, but also stifling the middle class. The Republicans are focused like a laser beam on creating a favorable climate for business. That means low taxes (you can’t afford much government), little regulation, and low labor costs. If you keep undercutting labor, how do they earn enough to buy your products?

So here is a group that generally is against raising the minimum wage ensuring a livable wage and not subsidized by food stamps and Medicare; against unions that would allow workers to share in increased profits as a result of increased productivity; reduced regulations that protect the health and welfare of workers and prevent monopolies; against government spending (and taxation) that would help the middle class improve their position; and still believing in flow down. Tell me how they are going to frame policies that would actually work for the middle class if you finally understand flowdown doesn’t work?

Oh, I know what is coming. First will be all the pronouncements that they care. See above. They will claim that their policies will create jobs even though those same policies have failed to do so in the past. They will frame it as a messaging and communication problem. If people only understood that less government, lower taxes for the wealthy, and less regulation would create a bonanza of new enterprises and jobs, then they would flock to us. Except what happens is we degrade our environment, disenfranchise workers, and protect monied special interests like oil and gas. We don’t spend appropriately on infrastructure, or invest in people, and wealth migrates to the top. We have been down this road.

So I guess what I am trying to tell you here is that we really do need a more balanced economy, but it is Republican conservative economic ideas and Democrats co-opting them (See Bill Clinton) that has led to to the economic inequality and stagnation of the middle class. The pie has to be shared more equally and given the very nature of the business model, only government can see that this happens.

It could do this through insuring a fair minimum wage, making sure labor unions can compete with large corporations for profits, investing in people and infrastructure, protecting health and welfare of workers, ensuring equal pay for equal work, ensuring the tax code is fair and does not favor special interests, and limiting the power and reach of corporations.

Sure the Republicans will tell you they are going to do some of these things wrapped in less government, less regulation, less taxes, and of course “simplifying” the tax code. But the devil is in the details and you will find that whatever they propose, at the heart of it is maintaining the status quo. Flow down lives! Maybe this time, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. I hope Abe was right.

Republican Resurgence?

Mitt Romney is in Park City Utah hosting a conference whose title is, “The Future of American Leadership”. As the New York Times tells us:

Leading lights of an anxious Republican establishment have journeyed to Utah’s Deer Valley this weekend for the third annual retreat organized by Mitt Romney, who has sought to transform the rump of his presidential campaign into a kingmaking force for his largely leaderless and divided party.

Part right-leaning “ideas festival” and part Romney political family reunion, the event featured early-morning yoga sessions, late-night cocktails, and a lecture on teamwork and fortitude by Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos quarterback.

Here is the problem: They don’t have any ideas. Obamacare was a Republican idea, so are most of President Obama’s domestic proposals that they now hate. In fact that is all they have: If President Obama wants it, it must be bad.

Most of their economic ideas have been disproven. Flowdown, the rich get richer and we all advance, does not happen except in the first part, the rich getting richer. Lower taxes simply empties our treasury of needed funds for infrastructure investments for our future while making the rich, richer with, you guessed it, no flow down. And it turns out the lower taxes in our present economy doesn’t create jobs. And finally, that fewer regulations ends up having serious blowback in many cases. What is a poor conservative to do?

Well, they can liberalize their social views. You know, embrace gays, not as the evil incarnate of the devil, but as people who deserve equal rights. But that would be a liberal position. They could get behind immigration reform and do something about the Dreamers, but that too would be a liberal position. They could re embrace science and recognize global warming, maybe go with cap and trade because they are afraid of the T-word (carbon tax), but alas, that too is a liberal approach.

I guess they are right after all. Liberals are evil because they have sucked up all the good ideas. What is a poor conservative to do? Well they still have anti-intellectualism, racial politics, hate anything Obama, guns, state’s rights (when it suits them), and trying to rig elections. It truly is the Grand Old Party.

Another Who Said It Best Today: Jonathan Chait

In his NY Magazine op-ed, Jonathan points out how President Obama’s major policy achievements from Obamacare to regulation of the Environment came from Mitt Romney. Tells you just about everything you need to know about how far to the right we have drifted.

Trampling on Conventional Wisdom

I call this new segment of my blog Trampling on Conventional Wisdom because part of the point of this blog is to look at what we take for granted, and poke holes in it. We base so much of our politics on erroneous assumptions that it is amazing we still exist. Here is one from Dean Baker, economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, that ought to get you thinking about “energy independence” or said another way, “drill baby drill”:

“As those of us who took intro economics have tried to explain to the reporters covering the campaign, being energy independent doesn’t mean anything unless we are at war and somehow cut off from foreign oil supplies. (If this is our concern then drilling out our oil and gas now is incredibly stupid. That means that it will not be there if we ever face such a crisis.)

Oil prices are determined on world market just like the prices of wheat and corn. When a drought in Asia sends up the price of wheat, we will pay more for wheat in the United States even though we are a huge net exporter of wheat. And, as the Planet Money crew showed us, when the world price of oil skyrockets people in Canada pay more for gas even though they are energy independent, as would we even if we were energy independent.”

Real energy independence would be not being dependent on oil for our major source of energy. That doesn’t mean drilling more. It means finding other sources of energy to wean ourselves from fluctuating oil markets. No Duh, but we have, I would bet, 90% of Americans thinking the answer to our problem is drilling more. It is another one of those anologies to home economics that doesn’t apply in the world market place and why simpletons like Sarah Palin will never get it.


Will the price of oil ever go down? I don’t think so because the drilling that is supporting the expanded oil exploration and shale oil extraction is expensive and is only justified when the price is above $90/barrel. If the price were to come down, the market would correct to limit drilling and supply to push the price right back up there. Remember in the debate between Mitt the Nit and President Obama when President Obama made the point that he was taking away oil leases because they weren’t drilling on them? Oil and gas companies aren’t stupid and want oil prices at certain levels before they will incur the cost of exploration.

Alternate souces of energy do not include “clean coal” because there isn’t any, from the extraction methods to the burning of it. It means renewable sources that the rising price of oil are making more and more competitive. It may just be the high cost of oil that will save us from our enviromental destroying ways. Carbon emissions are already way down because we are burning more natural gas because of its abundance and the high cost of fuel oil. The verdict on fracking is still out and may make natural gas not such a cost effective approach either although easier on carbon emissions in the short run.

Finally, why were President Obama and Mitt the Nit having a pissing contest in one of the debates about who is opening up more land for drilling if all the above is true? They are not stupid people. Well for Mitt the Nit, the answer is the oil and gas companies that basically want nothing to change. For President Obama, sadly, he was pandering to the mistaken beliefs of most Americans. I am not sure what that says about his future leadership if he panders to mistaken beliefs to get elected instead of leading with the truth.

Mitt Losing Ground

The latest is that Mitt continues to lose ground on all fronts, the economy, foreign policy, you name it.  Why?  Well pundits think he needs to be more specific about his policies for our future.  But the reality is those policies are retread conservative Neocon saber rattling and cutting taxes and less regulation of George Bush.  And we are surprised he is losing ground?  Republicans are just terrified we won’t maintain the status quo, and for most Americans, the status quo is not acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong.  President Obama is not my ideal candidate, but at least he is trying although timidly, he doesn’t lie, and he shows us an integrity totally lacking on the Romney side.  There really is no choice.  Bye Mitt.

Who Said It Best Today and Why Focusing on the Economy is the Republican’s Achilles Heel

Paul Krugman, in his blog laid out what I have been saying about all the politicos advising the Republican candidate to focus on the economy and better craft his message (what message?):

What, after all, does Romney have to run on? True, he hasn’t offered specifics on his economic policies — but that’s because he can’t. The party base demands tax cuts, but also demands that he pose as a deficit hawk; he can’t do both in any coherent fashion without savaging Medicare and Social Security, yet he’s actually trying to run on the claim that Obama is the threat to Medicare. On fiscal matters, doubletalk and obfuscation are his only options.

And no, Paul Ryan didn’t show that it can be done differently. His plan was, as I’ve documented many times, a fraud. Furthermore, he’s basically a Beltway creation; the Ryan legend was based on the desire of Washington type to anoint a Serious, Honest Conservative; expose him to the wider scene, and it all falls apart.

Nor can Romney do the Bush thing of running as America’s defender against gay married terrorists.”

As Paul said, “But let me say that even if he does spend election night weeping in his car elevator, his critics from the right are being unfair. Yes, he’s a pretty bad candidate — but the core problem is with his party, not with him.”