Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

As the war machine keeps turning

War Pigs

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’til their judgement day comes

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour

Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings

1970 Written by F. IOMMI, W. WARD, T. BUTLER, J. OSBOURNE
Performed by Black Sabbath

(Listen to it at GrooveShark.com)

Quotes suggest that Black Sabbath wasn’t all that into the anti-war movement and it’s said this song evolved from a straight witches and sorcery version called “Walpurgis” that was making record executives uneasy. Yet, it’s striking that on their second album, Paranoid, these young prototypical metal freaks hit on the major points driving the anti-war sentiment. The power structure  manufactured wars  selling them to the masses and reaping the gold and glory while the poor paid in blood, fear, and isolation. Finally, the appetite for destruction would lead only to horrible ends.

Seems like the recognition of the futility and ugliness of war was such common sentiment in the 1970s that it’s mind-boggling to see where some would take us today. After 9/11, when we allowed ourselves to be passively  led to other wars by the shock and disorientation of that terrible day, did we not once again begin to return to the common sense view of the truth about American bullying abroad?

Then why oh why are we going down this road again?

Amid the background noise bubbling up from the fear-mongering right-wing press out pops Governor Romney trying his best-est to destabilize international relations, reinforce the image of the ugly American unilaterally deciding the fate of  sovereign nations, and playing at fake deals with the Israeli Prime Minister and conservative thug, “Bibi” Netanyahu. “Oh, American people not buying the dehumanization of Palestinians to the degree that serves you, Bibi?” He talks tough with China, calls Russia “our number one geopolitical foe” and suggests that we should not be ending the Afghan occupation. The contrast between “Forward” and turning back the clock couldn’t be clearer.

Hopeless or referencing Eagles song? “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?” No habla espanol.

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Rick Perry was groomed by handlers to be Reaganesque and it served him well. Post-primary season he has been busy turning Texas into a Christian Taliban stronghold and on this smaller stage he’s having great success. Perry recently said America is engaged in “spiritual warfare” and that Religious Right activists who “truly are Christian warriors, Christian soldiers” need to stand up to “activist courts” and “President Obama and his cronies in Washington.” While 6 million in Texas (25% of the population) are uninsured, he vows to reject Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. That means he places the burden of caring for the uninsured on the already challenged financial back of the State’s hospitals. His administration backed a voter ID law that was struck down in late August around the same time a Federal court ruled that political maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature in Texas discriminated against minority voters. He’s backed The Source for Women as the model for Texas women’s health centers but it provides only counseling, no reproductive medicine services. He is positioning a move away from Medicaid’s Women’s Health Program which would starve funding for Planned Parenthood in Texas. More here.  Perry vowed to ignore the Obama administration’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” plan as a “slap in the face to the rule of law.” But we use Perry mainly to reintroduce the ghost of Ronald Reagan (while maintaining real sympathy for the majority of Texans who are not as bat-shit crazy as Perry and his base of rich preachers hell-bent on Christian rule).

The GOP establishment clearly thinks that “Reaganesque” has legs. They place Reagan in a holy, exalted place–totally pedastalized by our most backward thinkers. They refer to him as Ronaldus Magnus (Magnus meaning great in Latin) and believe an overwhelming pantload of fake history. I’m sure that portraits will be showing up with halos illuminated soon.

One of Reagan’s tactics, detailed very extensively in the new Rachel Maddow book, Drift, was to ride commie bashing to the top. Red-baiting got him elected and served as the impetus for a scheme where the false suggestion that the Soviets had passed up the U.S. in arms stockpiling and weapons production would allow him to justify the expense of a massive arms buildup. He told Walter Cronkite in 1981 that Soviet leaders were “liars and thieves” and “We’re naive if we don’t remember their ideology is without God, without our idea of morality in the religious sense–their statement about morality is that nothing is immoral if it furthers their cause, which means that they can resort to lying or stealing or cheating or even murder if it furthers their cause.”  Based on the wildly false estimates of anti-commie zealots he promoted the idea that Soviet investment in military hardware exceeded the U.S.’s by $500 billion. In his 8 years in office, he doubled military expenditures while turning America from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation.

Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev said, “It is dangerous madness to try to defeat each other in the arms race and to count on victory in nuclear war…No matter what method of unleashing nuclear war he chooses, he will not attain his aims. Retributions will ensue ineluctably.” Brezhnev’s deputy (and future General Secretary) Konstantin Chernenko said, nuclear war “must not be permitted…it is criminal to look upon nuclear war as a rational, almost legitimate continuation of policy.” Another deputy (and future General Secretary), Yuri Andropov, said “any attempt to resolve the historic conflict between these systems by means of military clash would be fatal for mankind.”

Reagan’s position? “Unlike us, the Soviet Union believes that a nuclear war is possible and they believe it is winnable.” Then he doubled down by promoting the “Star Wars” missile defense which would have broken the stalemate of mutually assured destruction had it any chance of working.

Fast forward to 2012 and Romney reintroduces the Soviet threat while talking about the immoral Jihadists as the stand-in for commies. Of course, they believe in God… but it’s not the RIGHT God.

So Romney promises to boost Pentagon spending to 4% of GDP (repeating history like it was Groundhog Day and he had a shot at Andie MacDowell). Without other spending cuts, (think Medicare and Medicaid), then that would add $2 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. Budget experts are stumped on how anyone could cut taxes and increase defense spending and reduce instead of enlarge deficit and debt. But Mr. Romney seems untroubled by details.

Some contrasting views on the topic of war.

“A military option is one which would be available to the president of the United States.”

“I think we have to also be ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we do not have any kind of weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and whether that requires troops, or whether that requires other actions by our friends and allies.

― Gov. Romney in an interview with CBS News.

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
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“Israel does not want us to make it more difficult for them to sit down with the Palestinians. Ultimately, the Palestinians and the Israelis are going to have to agree on how they’re going to settle the differences between them. My view is this: We stand with the Israeli people. We link arms with them. If we disagree with them, like this president has time and time again, we don’t do it in public like he’s done it, we do it in private. And we let the Israeli leadership describe what they believe the right course is going forward.”

― Mitt Romney in the Yahoo’s “Your Voice Your Vote” debate in Iowa, December 2011

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It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.
~Albert Camus
 
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“We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so… In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”
–Romney at Mishkenot Sha’anamim, a cultural center in Jerusalem.

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The chain reaction of evil–wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“No question in my view that we can put all manner of pressure on the regime that’s there, but they have to also know that a military option is one which we’d be willing to consider if they do not take action to dissuade a course towards nuclearization,” Romney said of Iran in an interview with CBS News.

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Force always attracts men of low morality.
~Albert Einstein

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“This is President Obama’s greatest failing, from a foreign policy standpoint, which is he recognized the gravest threat that America faced was a nuclear Iran and he did not do what was necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly… Finally, the president should have built credible threat of military action, and made it very clear that the US is willing, in the final analysis, if necessary, to take military action to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Look, one thing you can know: if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you’d like me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.”
— Romney in 2011 debate on Foreign Policy in South Carolina

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Military glory–that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood–that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy…
~Abraham Lincoln

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“Let’s consider the greatest challenge facing America–and facing the entire civilized world: the threat of violent, radical Jihad. In one wing of the world of Islam, there is a conviction that all governments should be destroyed and replaced by a religious caliphate. These Jihadists will battle any form of democracy. To them, democracy is blasphemous for it says that citizens, not God shape the law. They find the idea of human equality to be offensive. They hate everything we believe about freedom just as we hate everything they believe about radical Jihad. Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt.”
–Mitt Romney at 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference

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It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.
~General Douglas MacArthur

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The right course for America is not to negotiate with the Taliban while the Taliban are killing our soldiers.”
–Romney during  South Carolina primary debate

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All forms of violence, especially war, are totally unacceptable as means to settle disputes between and among nations, groups and persons.
~Dalai Lama

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So finally, after 2000 words, a picture to (I hope) make you smile.

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One life for yourself and one for your dreams.

You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice or so it seems,
One life for yourself and one for your dreams.
You drift through the years and life seems tame,
Till one dream appears and love is its name.

And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on,
Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone.

This dream is for you, so pay the price.
Make one dream come true, you only live twice.

Music by John Barry and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Performed by Nancy Sinatra.
(from James Bond 007 – You Only Live Twice, 1967)

You Only Live Twice (1967) was the fifth Sean Connery 007 adventure. The screenplay was written by Roald Dahl, and it was only loosely based on Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel of the same name. The Fleming book has been described as a travelogue not a novel, and only a couple of characters and locations were common to the book and film.

Fleming’s two lives were the one you were born with and the one that started after you faced death. Lyricist Leslie Bricusse knew that this theme wouldn’t make a hit song so the second life became the life of your love, apparently the thing Joe Biden referred to at the convention in the past week. (Speaking directly to wife, Jill, “You’re the love of my life and the life of my love.”) Many have been confused by the comment from Biden, this Bond song clears it up. You’re welcome. I think about 10% of that speech was repetition of the word “literally” but hey, we love Uncle Joe and when he got all teary being nominated by son Beau Biden, we got a little verklempt ourselves.

Apparently, Nancy Sinatra’s pop music career had not prepared her for the complexity of the vocals in that song. She had to record it in sections assembled in the final version. For a love song, it’s definitely got a strange dirge-like quality. It seemed to have competing messages of music and lyrics.

I  felt the Republic Convention had some severely competing messages as well. For an event that is staged scene by scene, minute by minute, cohesiveness was lacking. The first thing we all probably noticed was that GOP Big Tent. Attendees ranged from white ultra-conservatives to white super-ultra-conservatives.

One of the lines in Romney’s speech is indicative of the GOP modus operandi. “And yet the centerpiece of the President’s campaign is attacking success.” I can’t find that on the Obama for America Website. The technique of falsely defining Obama, essentially lying about what he does and what he believes in, has been the propaganda tool most despicable in the past 4 years. The whole convention premise of “You Built That” is based on the lie that Obama said to small business owners “You didn’t build that.” He was speaking about the environment for business, not the businesses. Business people didn’t build the infrastructure to make business a success: the educated workforce, the roads and bridges, the protection of intellectual capital, the financial rules that protect consumers and businesses.

Even the GOPs continuous droning about “We Believe in America” is an insulting slight to Democrats and Independents. Yes, we ALL believe in America. Yes, we ALL love America. And yes, in ourselves, our relationships, our jobs, our hobbies, etc.  we know that loving does not exclude our wishes to see improvements. Blindly believing in anything is the invitation to Fascism where the ends begin to justify the means and anything can happen.

Romney said, “In America we celebrate success we don’t apologize for success!” and it brought the crowd to its feet. That’s just another case of defining the other side falsely. Democrats and Independents want success, enjoy success, respect success. But maybe worshipping success is going too far? How many in that crowd do you think were truly successful people? If only successful people were backing Republicans then they would not be able to get more than 20% of the vote because that top quintile is probably the only segment that you could categorize as financially successful (recognizing that this definition of success doesn’t account for the many happy people in the other 80% who are relatively secure and content). If Romney’s yardstick is his own life, then success refers to the top tenth of a percent of Americans. Certainly not enough to get him elected although the super-rich continue to think they can buy that right. The truly successful weren’t wearing funny hats and cheering on command. They had sky-boxes and parties on million dollar yachts.

I was particularly disgusted when Romney played “compassionate” in his speech. President Obama is going to make it worse for poor people! Imagine that! The crowd reacted with wild enthusiasm (see below).

The crowd goes wild!

The crowd goes wild!

I feel regrettably sympathetic to Romney. He made a few hundred million with higher tax rates in place and now he has to claim that we need tax cuts for business to succeed. He’s a reasonable man but he has to appeal to the most unreasonable political faction in decades all because the Republican coalition of religious right, tea party right, and business is hopelessly bound to appeasing a core of seriously ignorant voters. But regardless of all that, his biggest problem in my eyes is his failure to understand the long-standing compact between worker and employer. He has said businesses exist to make money for owners and investors. He cannot make the leap to say that the worker has to be a partner in that success for the simple reason that the equation needs consumers. Add to that the concept that there is dignity in work–and dignity fades when exploitation rules–and we know that his moral compass is broken.

After the VP reveal, my first reaction was that Ryan was a new version of Sarah Palin. Now I’m thinking that Romney’s candidacy is more reminiscent of Kerry’s 2004 bid for the White house than anything else–a candidate that can’t break through the cynical veneer of the American public and loses appeal in direct proportion to exposure. Of course, Kerry rocked the foreign policy speech at the Dem Convention. “Ask Osama Bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was four years ago!” he asked mockingly. Then he suggested that Romney was getting his information about foreign policy ideas (concerning Russia) from Rocky IV. Bam! and Bam! again.

I, like many progressives, pride myself on a highly evolved sense of justice. I suspect it came from reading Marvel comic books as a kid. Regardless of its roots, I am angry at the lies told at the convention. In Ryan’s speech alone:
  • Paul Ryan accused President Obama’s health care law of funneling money away from Medicare “at the expense of the elderly.” In fact, Medicare’s chief actuary says the law “substantially improves” the system’s finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings.
  • Ryan accused Obama of doing “exactly nothing” about recommendations from the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Obama put all the recommendations on the table, including changes to Medicare and Medicaid, but because it included reverting to the pre-2001/2003 tax rates Ryan himself helped scuttle it.
  • Ryan said the American people were “cut out” of stimulus spending. More than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers and who among us hasn’t seen the infrastructure improvements that were done by American companies and by American workers?
  • Strangely,  Ryan suggested  Obama failed to deliver a 2008 campaign promise to keep a Wisconsin plant open. It closed less than a month before Obama took office. That was in his own state, he should have known that. Perhaps he should have actually saved the plant himself?

In a speech heavy on anecdote and short on policy, Mitt Romney avoided many of Ryan’s lies. We can see how the work was divided among them. Ryan speaking to the uneducated voter who thinks the economy collapsed under Obama and Romney making an effort to turn to the center, where elections are won.

Still, Romney exaggerated the loss in family income that has occurred under Obama by refusing to acknowledge the 13 months of losses before the president took office. Romney said “unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class,” when in fact the president has lobbied for and signed several temporary reductions and seeks to avoid Taxageddon for those making less than $250k a year.

Two lies that get a lot of traction: Newt Gingrich repeated the bogus claim that Obama “gutted” the welfare overhaul law. All he did was to allow states to seek flexibility to experiment with applying the law’s work requirement as requested by governors, including Republicans. The other whopper is that Obama pulled $700+ billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare. No funds were taken from benefits. Period. Payments were reduced to hospitals, commercial insurers who provide “Advantage” plans, and home health services. This was reform, not threats to Medicare.

BTW, if that guy in your office who sends you right-wing emails daily tries to tell you that we have more poverty than ever before, advise him (and I’m NOT suggesting you write this with your keys on his fender) that the poverty rate — that is, the percentage of all Americans in poverty — is nowhere near a record in the brief period since 1959 when the government first started measuring poverty.

In 2010 the poverty rate went up 15.1% — the highest since 1993 but that was 7.3% lower than the poverty rate in 1959. Not only that but poverty was on the increase for 2 years before Obama took office. Greatest recession since the Great Depression and poverty goes up. Imagine that.

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Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article is well worth a read: Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

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I was in Barnes & Noble this weekend and saw a book by Monica Crowley called What the (Bleep) Just Happened? Flipping it open I saw her claim that Democrats want to go back to the 70% rate for the top bracket that Reagan cut. It’s another clear case where creating fictional opponents with outlandish beliefs is de rigueur for a corrupt and lying right-wing propaganda machine. What the (Bleep) indeed.

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Throw them corrupt bankers into the cee-ment pond!

And how about Elizabeth Warren channeling both Teddy Kennedy and Grannie from the Beverly Hillbillies simultaneously? Watch it here.

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If you have a few bucks to share for Democrats unseating Republicans, I recommend you send a little toward Lt. Colonel Tammy Duckworth in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District (Joe Walsh holds the seat–not the musician, the sneering show boater) and Leslie Coolidge is running against Peter Roskam in the 6th. Roskam is a Stepford Republican steadfast to his party’s obstructionism and Coolidge is a retired partner from KPMG LLP (i.e. economic credentials) and environmentalist. We fervently hope both Districts come to their senses this November.

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When the left-wing and the more fearful of the right-wing turned against Representative and Senate hopeful Todd Akin in Missouri for saying that legitimate rapes don’t cause pregnancy, conservatives acted quickly. They marched out to Chik-Fil-A  for a sandwich reaffirming their belief that liberals are ruining this country. Later, Pennsylvania Senate hopeful Tom Smith drew a comparison to rape and out-of-wedlock births. The Democrats pounced, and Smith’s Tea Party supporters clearly signaled their values with a sandwich at Chik-Fil-A.

Paul Ryan is just an economic wonk, right? How does that explain that he co-sponsored a federal version of Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound bill, and was an early co-sponsor, along with Akin, of H.R. 3, a bill that sought to narrow the definition of rape in federal law to only include “forcible rape.”  Still, is it all window dressing? George W. Bush was anti-abortion and the GOP held the House and Senate for 6 of his 8 years and no legislation was passed. If the Grand Old Prudes wanted abortion to be anything more than a hammer they can use to pound Democrats with and a wedge into the hearts of Bible Belt voters then something surely would have happened back then!

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It’s just my craziness coming through…

Only You Know and I Know by Dave Mason

Only you know and I know
All the loving we’ve got to show
So don’t refuse to believe it
By reading too many meanings

We’re both here to be pleasing
Oh no, not deceiving
But it’s hard to believe in, aw yeah
When you’ve been so mistreated.

If I seem to mislead you
It’s just my craziness coming through
But when it comes down to just two
Aw, I ain’t no crazier than you

‘Cause you know that I mean what I say so don’t go
And never take me the wrong way
You know you can’t go on getting your own way
‘Cause if you do, it’s gonna get you someday.

(1970, Dave Mason)

Mason was a founding member of the group Traffic but moved in and out of the band as time went by. His bandmates felt that he didn’t want to write collaboratively and that he tended to show up with completed songs and give them parts as if they were his backing band. Interesting tidbit (sourced from the infallible – gulp – Wikipedia): One night Jimi Hendrix heard the Dylan song All Along the Watchtower at a party thrown by Dave Mason. He recorded his version that night with Mason on uncredited acoustic guitar.

So, Paul Ryan for Veep. That’s a pleasing pair. It’s almost as if David Axelrod was the selection committee. I had a flashback: an establishment candidate feels he had to appeal to a base he has already secured by virtue of not being the “other guy” and adds an unqualified zealot to the ticket. And she wore high heels and expensive outfits. And she pushed moderate Republicans and swing voters into the waiting arms of Mr. Barack Obama. I know nothing of Mr. Ryan’s private wardrobe, and he is marginally better qualified, but the outcome is the same. His extreme views about Randian social darwinism (survival of the fittest) and government-withering will make Republicans dismayed by the hard right turn of their party stay home and independents vote for Mr. Barack Obama.

It’s possible that the billionaires who anonymously fund the nonprofits like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity forced Romney’s hand. They outspent SuperPACs in the 2010 elections and through the spring of 2012, 91% of the ads from independent groups came from nonprofits and big business trade groups. Or maybe it was just the advice of insiders that since he was beginning to slip in the polls (the more we knew him, the less we liked him) then a so-called attractive and charismatic running mate would help. To me, it was doubling down on the plastic. How much perfect coiffing can we endure? They’re both there to be pleasing, oh no, not deceiving.

My sense is that Romney comes across as uncomfortable because he doesn’t believe much of what he feels bound to say. Like “Guvmint” and the opportunistic attacks on the poor understanding of Obama’s “You didn’t build that.” Yet we can’t muster sympathy because he’s a grown man who chooses to debase himself appealing to the untraditional GOP base.

Speaking of David Axelrod, he emailed me IMMEDIATELY:

“Lefty,” he wrote. “This morning, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stood on a platform in Norfolk, Virginia, and introduced themselves to the country as ‘America’s Comeback Team.'”

“‘Go Back Team’ would be more appropriate — because a Romney-Ryan administration is the definition of a fast track back to the failed, top-down economic policies of the past.”

“In Ryan, Romney has selected a running mate best known for designing the extreme GOP budget that would end Medicare as we know it, and — just like Romney’s plan — actually raise taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for an additional $250,000 tax break for millionaires and billionaires. As a leader of the House Republicans and a Tea Party favorite, Congressman Ryan has led the relentless, intensely ideological battle for these kinds of budget-busting policies that punish seniors and the middle class.”

And I think I’ve stumbled upon Axelrod’s battle plans and I’m sharing them with you!

Axelrod has been genius in making himself available for commentary wherever asked, even on FoxNews. He created a branding as political insider and strategist and now he can use that to sell his candidate. When he speaks, people listen. James Carville did much of the same thing but became a trifle over-exposed and therefore less effective. When you are featured in Family Guy episodes then you have probably jumped the shark.

The media has observed that for today, at least, the focus is on Ryan’s abs (P90x)  and blue eyes and not his budget plan. Remember the Path to Prosperity? Anyone? Reminder: Vouchers for Medicare costing seniors an additional $6,000 per year, Medicaid block grants reducing support for the indigent including women and children, and spending caps that ignore the need for extra spending in Recession, like the ARRA’s $800 billion that turned around 700,000 lost jobs per month. Ryan is one of those people who say the government should have no hand in owning national parks forgetting that they belong to we, the people, not them, the politicians.

Meanwhile, even the conservative press can figure out that Romney’s tax plan shifts $86 billion a year from those making over $200,000 to those making less than that. They also have figured out that the “courageous” and “visionary” Ryan budget punts the effects of the choices made downfield for the next generation to live with when they get to an age to say, “WTF, my parents got Medicare and all I get is this stinking means-tested voucher?” Romney assures us that taxes are too high for the American economy to prosper. Yet, they were higher when Mitt made his fortune at Bain. Government kills innovation and entrepreneurship, except not his ability to run a successful enterprise from 1984 to ~1999. How uncritical of people to blindly accept these premises when the Clinton years demonstrated that we could both grow the economy and balance the budget with the moderate progressive taxes then in place.

Huffington Post has Obama the winner for election 2012 (what, too soon?). See their electoral map here.

Romney praised healthcare in Israel for being 8% of GDP instead of our 18%. That’s what he wants to do here. Oops, Ezra Klein tells us how they do it: “Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.” Not very Republican, I’d say.

“I don’t think right wing social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.” — Newt Gingrich on the Ryan Budget Plan.

As Eric Idle taught us in the Olympics closing ceremony, sometimes we need to dial down our seriousness and sing along, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” But there’s one thing that can’t avoid seriousness. What is it? Click here to see and understand the full truth of the seriousness of Paul Ryan’s hair!

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Where is your magic disappearing…

Carrie Anne by The Hollies

When we were at school our games were simple
I played a janitor, you played a monitor
Then you played with older boys and prefects
What’s the attraction in what they’re doing?

You were always something special to me
Quite independent, never caring
You lost your charm as you were ageing
Where is your magic disappearing?

People live and learn, but you’re still learning
You use my mind and I’ll be your teacher
When the lesson’s over, you’ll be with me
Then I’ll hear the other people saying

Hey Carrie Anne, what’s your game now, can anybody play?

(1967 – Clarke / Hicks / Nash)

This song is pure pop and I believe that for the past 45 years I may have never thought about the lyrics because of that. Incredible harmonies (including Graham Nash’s strong voice and technique that he carried forward to his Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young days–think “Our House”) and the unexpected Caribbean flavor with steel drum break in the middle. The infectiousness of the pop “feel” clouds the mind (these are not the droids you are looking for!) and you completely miss the bite of the song.

First we wonder, what does role-playing between janitor and monitor feature? “When we were at school our games were simple / I played a janitor, you played a monitor.” I guess I shouldn’t go there–must be a British thing.

Then verse 2 lays out “You lost your charm as you were ageing / Where is your magic disappearing?” Ouch. Carrie Anne couldn’t have been too happy about that. But as she ages and falls out of favor with older boys and prefects, she becomes available to the singer again–on his terms. “You use my mind and I’ll be your teacher / When the lesson’s over, you’ll be with me.” Certainly this is male fantasy, but used as a way to reel in the misuse of female power so neither gender shines.

1967 was on the early side for the Women’s Lib movement (the second wave of feminism was credited to the sixties but rose to full flower in the seventies and eighties). Otherwise this probably would have drawn the ire of the feminist community. Again, the sing-songy pop of it clouds the meaning/message. I always wondered why the girls didn’t hate the Rolling Stones song Under my Thumb with the lyric:

Under my thumb / A Siamese cat of a girl
Under my thumb / She’s the sweetest, hmmm, pet in the world

But the girls I knew loved it. Maybe for both songs the popularity and appeal can be chalked up to two things. 1. Great songs and 2. It’s accepting of the observed real over the wished-for ideal.

On the topic of “where is our magic disappearing” I offer these views. The second video does not feature Nash because he left the group in 1968 (due to screaming fans and pop song constraints) but it is easy to see that his talent was only a part of what they had to offer.

Political ranting and more magic disappearing follows the videos.

Graham Nash and Allan Clarke from the Hollies in “modern” times

Post-Graham Nash days but an interesting window into times past

That idea of the observed real and wished-for ideal certainly plays into Presidential politics. Progressive Democrats have long seen that their ideals never made their way into the halls of power as the election of Barack Obama seemed to herald. We can conveniently blame the power of the right-wing propaganda machine but the failure of the Democrats to find an identity that would give weight to their traditions and dreams for America is purely won or lost at the messaging level. So instead of a chorus of leaders echoing President Obama’s message that within the American identity of individualism lies the truth of American collectivism (you didn’t build that) we hear only crickets chirping as the frightened Democrats step back and allow the right to twist the comments to their purposes. Instead the party establishment relies on the type of fear mongering their opponents excel at (war on women, demon Koch Bros., we must stop Boehner).

Portrayed as a modern and Obama-led shift toward Socialism, the truth of America’s collective advantage was lauded 167 years ago in Alec de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” under the concept of enlightened self-interest.

De Tocqueville wrote in 1835:

The Americans, on the contrary, are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of interest rightly understood; they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist each other, and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state.

and

The American moralists do not profess that men ought to sacrifice themselves for their fellow creatures because it is noble to make such sacrifices, but they boldly aver that such sacrifices are as necessary to him who imposes them upon himself as to him for whose sake they are made.

A little bit of a hard nut to crack, but essentially it speaks to the idea that through the very practical act of working together and helping each other we do not weaken our country, we strengthen it. This is because the weakest system there can be is one where each part works only independently of the whole. And we know that, yet many blindly buy into some instinctual fantasy about complete self-reliance. In addition to the inherent weakness of a completely self-serving system, it is also impossible. We live as a cooperative species on every single level. No man is an island. I wrote about the human and even pre-human trait of cooperativism here.

De Tocqueville also wrote about “knowledge of its true instincts for its blind instincts” and this seems to speak to the Tea Party and its insistence that government not be nanny for the people while at the same time reaping the advantages of a helpful government. The recent unresolved discussion of drought assistance brings this home. The same people who wouldn’t have helped bail out GM hold their hand out to me made whole from the widespread drought conditions.

Mitt Romney certainly taps into that meme of individual accomplishment, even while his entire career was built on the gifts of America that gave him educated colleagues, bankruptcy laws to take advantage of, and a regulated financial infrastructure that allowed him to keep so much of what he earned (that and the best tax accountants money can buy). Yet it’s the blind instinct to portray his class as individuals who made it on their own. In Poland he portrayed it this way:

“Your nation has moved from a state monopoly over the economy, price controls and severe trade restrictions to a culture of entrepreneurship, greater fiscal responsibility and international trade.”

“When economists speak of Poland today, it is not to lament chronic problems but to describe how this nation empowered the individual, lifted the heavy hand of government, and became the fastest-growing economy in all of Europe.”

This all sounds wonderful, but the truth is that Poland’s success is based on the fact that the bar was set so low in the first place (gains in a small economy are easier accomplishments) and that the EU has pumped considerable collective funds into the country. In my recent trip there I saw both the outside investment and a government with generous public benefits. Poland’s economy is now a little stalled and even with the infusion of EU cash GDP gains since 2006 aren’t outpacing U.S. gains with a much larger economy.

While Romney fantasizes about Poland’s light governmental hand he ignores their free state university education and guaranteed healthcare for 38 million citizens. If only our government would lift the heavy hand and provide the same! All the elderly receive pensions and many are on public disability pensions because the doctors are more than willing to certify them unable to work.

The endorsement by Lech Walesa was probably not the coup Romney’s supporters portray it as. Walesa has broken ties with Solidarity and both he and Solidarity have drifted to very socially conservative positions. Solidarity would not meet with Romney citing his anti-Union rhetoric. They probably don’t know that they can find just about any rhetoric in the archives as Romney is prone to bend to the winds of the most popular and self-serving positions.

*****

Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai (R-PA) finally admitted the obvious: Voter identification efforts are meant to suppress Democratic votes in this year’s election. At the Republican State Committee meeting, Turzai–apparently oblivious to what this says about his party–crowed:

“We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years…Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

If the results of the July Quinnipiac/NY Times poll hold up, Turzai will have to eat his words because it shows Obama with a lead in Pennsylvania . Is it possible that Romney’s magic in the swing states is disappearing in direct proportion to his exposure to voters?

*****

Mitt has an economic plan, or is it just a cruel joke on the middle class as Jamelle Bouie characterizes it? It promises 12 million new jobs if he is elected. Apparently this means he plans to do nothing, because we are ALREADY ON TRACK to add those 12 million jobs. No wonder it was a one-page plan. More here…

*****

Notes from an American entrepreneur:

“I’m very looking forward to a Republican being back in office. When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office.”

Porn star Jenna Jamison, endorsing Romney for president.

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