Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Romney food drive would be funny were it not so foney!

Pastor Romney's reaction to the serendipitous advantage that Hurricane Sandy provided Obama was just plain silly.  It would have better for him if he had just been honest and held a rally with an allusion to the disaster and commentary on what he was going to do about the economy.  His desperate and futile attempt to insert himself into the disaster relief efforts was doomed to exposure.  

The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event, and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo-op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it "did donate supplies to the relief effort," but would not specify how much it spent.)

It typifies Romney's inept campaign. Other than his sleight of hand in pulling the wool over GOteaParty members and moderate republicans, his campaign, along with his "foot in mouth" disease, has been a disaster.  With a few questions his managers could have discovered that aid organizations prefer cash to supplies. Romney would have been wise to just hold his rally honestly and donated the $5000 to the Red Cross - or better yet a couple $Million of his own money.  

The sad thing is that Pastor Romney might be elected and we have NO idea of what to expect.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Racism is more important than the economy in this election.

Mitt Romney is probably a good man.  He could not actually adhere to all the positions he has taken. It would be impossible because he has taken the exact opposite positions on key issues.  Particularly troubling is his position(s) on the emotional issues of a woman's right to choose and gay marriage. He has been a Bishop in his church but he prefers to refer to his calling as a Pastor.  There can only be one reason for this; to be less objectionable to the Christian right who find Mormons as objectionable, calling them non-Christian and a cult.  One might ask why he would do this and risk alienation of Mormon voters.  The answer is, there is no risk. There is nothing "Pastor"Romney could do to lose the Mormon vote. Nothing, that is, except run as a Democrat. He will get 75% of the vote in Utah and Idaho, states with high Mormon populations.

I have read several testimonials from members of his Ward who cite the good things he has done for them. They are no doubt sincere and true.  As a Bishop and Stake President, this is his job - just as was earning a profit at Bain Capital.There are others who are not Mormons who praise him for his kindness and he probably is a kind man.  But his feelings for people in front of him and people in the abstract seem to be different as displayed by his candid remarks regarding 47% of the voters  secretly recorded as he spoke to wealthy fund raisers. But regardless of his personal character, he has not been a good candidate.  He has been caught in the worst kind of dissembling and even lying. Yet, he is even in the popular vote with President Obama.

Regardless of the poor economy that Obama inherited which is slowly rebounding, his success in foreign affairs and his health care act, Obama has been a disappointment to constituents to his left who are disappointed with lack of a government option in the health care act and his lack of attention to the environment. There are many protest votes in states like California where he cannot lose. Romney has told the extreme right what they want to hear and the moderates what they want to hear. He is lying to one group. Most likely neither group believes him. Mormons don't care. He is a Mormon AND a republican. The distasteful truth is that a large majority of the votes Romney will get are really anti-Obama votes. Probably as high as ten percent...or maybe higher. As hated as Mormons are to evangelicals, he is a more acceptable option than a black man. Latent racism has boiled to the surface. I have seen this racism first hand.

I was called to serve my country in 1950 during the Korean War. I was 21 years old. I wasn't really into politics at the time. I grew up during the depression and pretty much saw FDR as a hero. That was the extent of my political interest.  I grew up poor, very poor.  I had no attitude regarding minorities – one way or the other. There were few where I lived.  Although, I always lived on the wrong side of the tracks, communities, even poor communities, were segregated.  My early years were in South Gate. Immediately south was Watts. I was raised LDS so I was expected to have an attitude of kindness toward other people. I didn’t always comply but I tried.

I had my first conversation with a black person (they were called colored then) in Basic training (there were just a few in my company). His name was Bernard Turner and he was funnier than a stand up comic. He did a lot for our morale. I considered him a friend but never hung out with him. I don’t know why.

After Basic training, I was transferred to the 82nd Airborne. The 82nd was the elite of the Army and it was totally segregated. All the black troopers were in an all black unit. We were stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. This was 1951. It was my first real exposure to man’s inhumanity to man. I was appalled at how blacks were treated. If they wanted to go to a movie, they had to sit in the balcony. All the theatres I attended had balconies.  They rode in the back of the bus. It was against the law for them not to. They couldn’t drink out of the same public water dispensers as whites.  But I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. I was white.

Sometime prior to 1951, Truman ordered the integration of all military units.  Most said it wouldn’t work. My platoon was chosen in 1951 as the first white unit in the entire 82nd to be assigned a black trooper. His name was David A. Dansby. He was from Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m sure was hand picked. He was quiet, friendly, intelligent and NON-CONFRONTATIONAL. I couldn’t believe how he was treated by my friends, particularly those from the South. Far from giving him some emotional room, the “nigger” jokes ran amok.  Dansby was obviously irritated and hurt but he kept his mouth shut.  I didn’t participate but neither did I do anything to stop it. I could have. I wasn’t afraid of anybody in my platoon but didn’t feel the need to get into fights over Dansby. He was not very big or physically imposing – probably about 5-10 and 170 pounds.

Like my black friend in basic, he was funny and personable. Gradually the guys grew to like him and the bad taste jokes pretty much stopped. We grew to respect his feelings. I was probably more his friend than anyone else.  I had a car. I was driving to Fayetteville one day and I saw him waiting for the bus. I stopped and offered him a ride but he politely declined. I coaxed him but to no avail. I guess I knew but insisted on an answer as to why. He feared being seen in Fayetteville getting out of a car driven by a white man. I’m not making this up. In my best bravado, I told him that I wasn’t afraid of those locals. His reply was, “I am.” He took the bus. It piqued my interest.

Shortly after my discharge I was hired as a cop by the Anaheim Police Department. From that day forward, most of my friends were cops. I love cops. They are the best people in the world except for their attitudes about blacks; pure irrational hatred for the most part. I still wasn't very political but I became more vocal in defending them when the civil rights movement developed.  We had some heated discussions in the station house and in the local watering holes.

After the civil rights bill was passed the schools and neighborhoods were gradually integrated, people got to know them, made friends with them, played ball with them and married them. Racism, at least as it existed before, phased out and those who were unable to make the adjustment were outnumbered and learned that if they were too vociferous, they would be isolated. But their hatred continued to simmer down deep.

But we have entered into a new phase. We learned to accept our next door neighbor being black, the mixed marriages, seeing a black doctor and, in the south, letting them ride in the front of the bus. We grew to love, even worship in a sense, the black athletes who play on “our” teams. Most of us, at least more than 50% of us are even ready to have a black President; but not all.

The thin veneer of decency and tolerance of a relatively small group of our citizenry has been overcome by their reemerging and now un-controlled hatred. These people have taken over the Republican Party and have become irrationally vocal. You saw them at the Town Hall meetings where they completely blocked any dialogue.

They have kept their racism and hatred below the surface for the past thirty years or so because blatant racism became unpopular. Now the election of an African American president has brought it back to the surface. They are so blind with rage, they no longer care what decent people think. They have retreated into their own ideological commune. Of course there has always been the animosity between the right and the left that had nothing to do with race. But the re-emergence of racism has intensified that as well. Politics has become ugly and has to a large extent grown to define friendships. I can remember when you were more likely to get into a shouting match over whether your Ford was better than his Chevy than over who was running for president.

An example of this hatred can be seen in the opposition to Obama’s programs – particularly health care reform. Of course rational opposition to the health care reform that has just become law can exist. But there has been no rational debate. The opposition, aware that the status quo is not defensible  at least as it relates to the vast majority of Americans who don’t own insurance companies or who earn less than $250,000 per year, have resorted to mendacity, pure lies on the extreme and distortion as a minimum.  The opposition has been fueled by hatred not logic and has resulted in the so called Tea Party. They are a potpourri of opposition and hatred.  The most visible thread of commonality is their hatred of Obama.

Nothing will change these people. Obama’s programs have been weakened by intransigent Republican opposition but will, over time, improve the lot of the middle class, just as Social Security, Medicare and the banking reforms of the thirties did, but this will only be met with more hatred by the Tea Party people who would rather see our society go down the tubes than see a successful African American president.

A white candidate would be 20 points ahead of Parson Romney. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Can you judge Romney by his friends?

It's a widely held belief that you can judge a man by the company he keeps.  Let's look at who "Pastor" Romney hangs around with.

Indiana senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock who believes a child conceived by rape is an act of God and the victim should be required by law to carry the child.

Todd Akin Missouri senatorial candidate who Implies that a woman's body has mechanism to shut down  a pregnancy in a legitimate rape therefore if a victim claims she got pregnant while being raped, she is lying.

His running mate Paul Ryan and at least 12 senatorial candidates who would deny abortion for impregnated rape victims. Indeed, he has tacitly, if not explicitly adopted that position along with the mainstream of the new republican party.

John Sununu, the Romney campaign's version of Archie Bunker who states Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama is racial.  Of course Archie was never fired as a White House adviser because, in addition to being disruptive, was accused of using military aircraft for personal and political purposes.

Donald Trump whose buffoonery and racism is common knowledge and needs no documentation.

Ohio Secretary of State who went all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to block early voting in Ohio.

And finally, but not exclusively, Pennsylvania legislator Mike Turzai who announced that the newly passed voter ID law which would assure that Romney wins the state of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is Richard Mourdock a symptom or a symbol?

What kind of people are we?  What kind of society have we become.  I am at once, saddened and angered.   The debate statement by Richard Mourdock, that a pregnancy induced by rape was still a gift of God and was part of God's intention, was instantly repugnant and nearly universally rejected even by his own party. Republican candidates assiduously distanced themselves from him. He awkwardly and ineffectively tried to weasel word it...but it was out there for everyone to see and parse.  His statement was clear. His meaning was clear. The implications ARE clear.  It is also clear, at least it seems clear to me, that the initial knee-jerk negative reactions reflected true feelings, like John McCain's;  true feelings that, after careful study by strategists, could only harm them because the right wingers, Teapartyers,  are the most fragile part of their constituency. They cannot afford to offend them.  They love what Mourdock said.  They agree with what he said. He meant what he said. Later Mourdock abandoned any efforts to backtrack. He realized it wasn't necessary. He proudly announce publicly that his statement would give him more votes. Sadly he is right.

Think for a minute about what he said.  He said that since abortions should be illegal, even abortions of  pregnancies produced by a forcible rape, a woman having one is not only committing a sin but a crime and should be criminally prosecuted.  Sadly, this position is either supported or accepted by 50% of the population - give or take a few percentage points. Imagine a woman in your family, a daughter perhaps, being beaten up raped and impregnated by a monster; after being healed physically (she will never be healed mentally), having to decide whether to have the child or go to jail. Even worse, given the willingness of the new GOP to intrude into individual lives, imagine her being incarcerated until birth of the child.

This doesn't just sadden me, it sickens me. It is a terrible thing to see.  It is bad when it is happening in the general population but geometrically worse, to me, when the leader of that party is a Mormon who knows better! The rest of my message may not be germane to non Mormons; but maybe it is. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. He is a Mormon who has held very important callings. He is a Mormon who has earned the love and trust of many in his ward and stake who have seen him at his best; who have seen him truly serving.  But he is a Mormon, and this is most distressing to me, who has abandoned his past service and core principles out of ambition - a lust for power.  A hint into his current proclivity may be seen in how he has made a fortune on the backs of working people, how he expressed disdain for nearly half of the American people in a secretly recorded address to wealthy contributors; and by how went against his church's official position on abortion as a candidate for office in the liberal state of Massachusetts.

Now he is doing it again for political expediency.  This time he is on the other side of the official Mormon position which is non-partisan and unwavering.  It allows for abortions in cases of rape or incest or health of the mother. He also disavows the church position regarding when life begins.  He has officially adopted the right wing position that life begins with conception.  Implicit in the church position on abortion is that a fetus is not a living soul. If it were, the church would be condoning murder under the terms of its official position. Further, Mormon scripture, the Pearl of Great Price,  states in several verses that God created man, breathed the breath of life in him and he became a living soul. For example: Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

With or without scripture, the concept of life, that is, life with a soul, beginning with conception and has no basis in scripture or physiology. The soul is what distinguishes man from other forms of animals. There are countless scientific treatises on the beginning of life ranging from conception to when the umbilical cord is cut but they all are talking of generic life. A plant has life.  Scientists could probably clone a human... but they could not install a soul.  The development of a fertilized egg into a viable fetus takes place on a continuum with no distinct break in the process. The most profound change in the life of a human, or any other mammal, is when it is free from the mother and breathes. This has been the position of law since human existence.

The establishment of a fertilized egg as a human life with a soul requires a change in the law.  Richard Mourdock and other right wingers are trying to change that law.  They tale that position out of what they call as love of life. Strangely, once the child is out of the mother's womb, it loses it's importance. They don't care if it starves.  This attitude seems to have been adopted by half of the American population.  I know that Mitt Romney doesn't buy into this but he says he has...and that is sad to me. Richard Mourdock will likely become a United States senator.

Where is the party of Lincoln? Where are the Teddy Roosevelts and the Dwight Eisenhowers?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

American Exceptionalism - What is it anyway?

American Exceptionalism!  Does anyone know what this means? Where did the phrase come from?  While used today by conservatives as a litmus test for patriotism – if you don’t accept American Exceptionalism, you are not a patriot – along with the omnipresent American flag lapel pin.  (The flag pin, incidentally, was made popular by the John Birch Society and having seen that group at its worst, makes me uncomfortable when worn by our president.)

The expression , made popular by Newt Gingrich his his book, A nation like no other, is an appeal to anarchy and means, as he explained it in a speech at the Palmetto Freedom Forum, a God bestowed gift to the American people which has been usurped by the federal government. Actually the phrase was used in a more negative way by Joseph Stalin circa 1927 in decrying the leaders of the American Communist party for declaring that the US would eventually succumb to the contradictions of capitalism but was not ready. The word "exceptional" means rare or unusual and can be either positive or negative as is a gifted child or a handicapped one. 

Over the years, the convoluted definition of New Gingrich notwithstanding, American Exceptionalism has morphed to imply or signify the superiority of American people, culture, politics, industry, character, religion and, more importantly today, military!  It has been the rationale for imposing the American will on the world. It first reared its head in the form of geographic expansion  with the justification of Manifest Destiny, a belief widely held by Americans in the 19th century that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was later used, implicitly, to expand beyond our borders into the Pacific Rim. Make no mistake about it, this was a good thing - both for those in the newly acquired areas and for the USA. Who isn't happy it happened? But don't make the mistake of thinking it was purely altruistic. 

More recently,  American Exceptionalism and Post WWII exigencies, including the Cold War made us the world police force and later the world bully. Sometimes with a sincere feeling of  need for national security as in Korea and Viet Nam and sometimes, perhaps more often, as excuse for commercial exploitation such as in the oil countries and into Latin America, Indonesia and and other undeveloped countries in search of cheap labor. 

Today, questioning American Exceptionalism is an unpatriotic act at best and treason at worst.  Even President Obama is forced to assure his acceptance of it....whatever it is! Ironically, the ones who are using it most as a mantra are the international corporations who have divested themselves of any responsibility to the United States. They avoiding being taxed to pay for the wars that they promote, and they have all but destroyed the middle class by eliminating bargaining power of the American worker through importation of cheap labor and off shoring manufacturing where they have, through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, assured a plentiful supply of slave-like labor. 

What American Exceptionalism means today is that we are the only civilized nation who is in a cultural/political war over the provision of health care, security for the aged and fighting poverty; those considered by Romney as the 47% who choose to be victims and refuse to take charge of their own lives. Half of Americans, possibly more than half (we are about to find out), consider the exceptionalism of a nation  to be determined more by the military strength than by how we take care of the helpless. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Still another edition of Mitt Romney or

You stand for something or you think we'll fall for anything. Tonight, in another total makeover, he not only embraced Obama's foreign policy, he kissed it on both cheeks and claimed it was his and always has been his. GOPhonies are thrilled because he lied with such good technique.  Look at where he has been:

On February 10, 2012, while seeking the nomination, Mitt proclaimed his extremism.  Check the look of sincerity as me tried to convince the audience, while debating Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann  and several right wing stalwarts that he was indeed more right (wing) than them.  Of course it was OK because he was trying to convince the teaparty and the evangelical right that they could trust him to carry out their mission to destroy government.

On October 3 a totally revised Mitt showed up. During the Republican Primary Romney repeatedly stated that he would cut taxes 20% across the board and boasted that it would cut taxes for the top 1%. In spite of his claim that he would offset the cuts with closing loopholes, most experts said that it would add up to a $5 trillion negative cash flow over five years.

At the debate, the new Romney, now a moderate denied that he planned a tax cut (experts state that his tax cuts will increased the deficit) falling back on the supply side argument that job creation and and closing loopholes will make his tax cut neutral.

Earlier, when speaking candidly and off the record to a group of supporters in Florida, Mitt declared that peace in the Middle East was impossible and the best we could do was kick the ball down the road. Five days later in a major campaign speech, derided Obama for failure to resolve the issue and said that Obama's hope was not a strategy. 

He has been on both sides of the issue on roe v wade and a woman's right to choose. He has taken both sides, depending on the audience and time line on both the auto industry and tarp as well as health insurance.
Romney's position change on key issues is legend and well documentedIn addition to his chameleon-like depth on issues, he has a bigger problem of mendacity. He has made dissembling an art form.

In my opinion, Romney was a moderate conservative from the beginning and told whatever audience he was in front of what they wanted to hear. This gives me some comfort in the eventuality that he is elected.  I am glad he is not actually a Teapartier. On the other hand, I worry about the basic character of someone who would lie to get a job and if he doesn't toe the party line, he will be no better off than Obama in moving legislation through the process. There is no doubt that he is tough and decisive - he can make the tough decisions - he had no problem firing workers and eliminating their benefits in his startling success at Bain Capital.  I also worry about his commitment to America, at least to its economy vs globalism with his investments in sweat shops in China and tax evasive deposits in places like the Cayman Island.  As he himself said in the debate, you can find out where a man's heart is by where he puts his money.

The biggest fear, however, is how he really feels about the unfortunate members of our society. A man's conversation is more likely to reflect his true feelings when he is talking off the record to his friends. The Mother Jones tapes show convincing evidence of his total lack of empathy for what he calls the 47% who will vote for Obama because they like being dependent on government and refuse to take control of their own lives. Immediately after he learned of the tapes existence, he doubled down and stood by his remarks but later totally recanted and claimed it didn't reflect what he did in his lifetime, apparently forgetting about GST Steel and AMPAD. And despite his hubris and indictment of Obama's policy in the middle east, I am concerned that he will only give the problem perfunctory attention because he is convinced that peace in the Middle East is not possible.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Obama not American enough?

Throughout his entire first term as president, critics or haters of Obama have claimed he was not American enough to be President of the United States.  The most outrageous have challenged his birth. Nearly two thirds of Republicans still believe he was born in another country - in spite of the available of a picture of his birth certificate and a clipping from a local newspaper announcing his birth the day after his birth. The reason, of course, is racial.  Stupidity can't account for it. Aspersions of his non American attitude or demeanor by conservative media and politicians  have been consistent and shameful. The necessary conclusion, of course, is that he can't possibly understand America or Americans.

Romney, on the other hand, is as American as quiche; or caviar! Didn't he hold a fellow student dowwhile the cut his offensive long hair? What is more American than hazing at an exclusive private school like Cranbrook in Detroit Michigan? On the other hand, his candid off the record 47% comment would seem to indicate that the real disconnect to American and Americans would be Romney's. He has lived in a rich man bubble his entire life. He grew up in the city of  Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which is one of the five wealthiest cities in the United States. Over half the residences in 1990, 22 years ago, were valued at over $ one million. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with this - I would like to live there myself - but someone growing up there and moving into better neighborhoods could give someone an unusual, or even, distorted picture of America and Americans. One might even get the opinion that someone not living there might be "takers." It is true that Romney attended public schools - in Bloomfield Hills - and understands American school kids.

From there, after his a year at Stanford followed by a Mormon Mission (he is to be commended for giving up three years of his life in a truly altruistic activity), he and new wife Ann struggled while living in a basement apartment  "getting by"  by selling off some stock that was given to them. The stock was worth a mere $60,000 in 1969 - the equivalent of $377,000 today. There is nothing wrong with being helped through school. I was aided by a salary of around $800 a month from the City of Anaheim. So I guess I was among the 47% that Romney considers takers. I suppose that, with four children, I wasn't paying a lot of taxes...except sales taxes on my entire income that was spent monthly.

From there, Romney, who had blossomed into a brilliant student graduated from BYU,  attended Harvard where he obtained a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration. He was a brilliant student and successful businessman. Having been born on third base, he turned it into a home run! His college years were the closest Romney ever came to being a regular member of an average society. As he mixed an extremely business career, having mastered the art of exploiting workers, he segued into politics as he lived in some above average homes:

The LaJolla home is soon to have an elevator for his car. This is the America that Romney knows.  How could he not have empathy for the rest of us. Who knows us better??? Certainly not a guy with an unAmerican name like Barach Obama who worked for a living.