Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everyone's Ganging Up On Poor Widdle Willard


Yes, as the press is reporting this morning, Willard averted a disaster in Michigan yesterday. He took 41.1% of the vote in the state where he grew up and where his father was a beloved governor. Santorum's extremism drove Republican women towards Romney. And in Arizona, Romney won every single county. But news of his two victories had to share the national headlines with Olympia Snowe's announcement that she's retiring next year and with a stupendous populist speech by President Obama to the UAW. And, what a great Obama speech it was! I wish he'd govern more the way he speaks-- at least when he speaks like this. And, notice, he never says "Romney," "Mitt," "Willard," or even "weird." But everyone knew exactly who he was talking about. Here's part of it:
You helped write America’s story. And today, you’re busy writing a proud new chapter. You’re reminding us that no matter how tough times get, Americans are tougher. No matter how many punches we take, we don’t give up. We get up, we fight back, we move forward, and we come out the other side stronger than before.
You are showing America what’s possible. So I’m here today to tell you one thing: you make me proud.
Take a minute to think about what you and the workers and families you represent have fought through. Just a few years ago, nearly one in five autoworkers were handed a pink slip.  00,000 jobs across this industry vanished the year before I took office. And as the financial crisis hit with its full fury, America faced a hard and once unimaginable reality: two of the Big Three-- GM and Chrysler-- were on the brink of failure.
The heartbeat of American manufacturing was flatlining. And we had a choice to make.
With the economy in complete freefall, there weren’t any private companies or investors willing to take a chance on the auto industry. Anyone in the financial sector could tell you that. So we could have kept giving billions of taxpayer dollars to the automakers without demanding real change or accountability in return. But that wouldn’t have solved anything. It would have just kicked the problem further on down the road. The other option we had was to do nothing, and allow these companies to fail. In fact, some politicians said we should. Some even said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt.”
Think about what that choice would have meant for this country. If we had turned our backs on you; if America had thrown in the towel; GM and Chrysler wouldn’t exist today. The suppliers and distributors that get their business from those companies would have died off, too. Then even Ford could have gone down as well. Production: shut down. Factories: shuttered. Once proud companies chopped up and sold off for scraps. And all of you-- the men and women who built these companies with your own hands – would’ve been hung out to dry. 
More than one million Americans across the country would have lost their jobs in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In communities across the Midwest, it would have been another Great Depression. Think about everyone who depends on you-- schoolteachers and small business owners; the server in the diner who knows your order and the bartender who’s waiting for you when you get off. Their livelihoods were at stake, too. 
And so was something else. How many of you who’ve worked the assembly line had fathers and grandfathers who worked that same line? Or sons and daughters who hope to? These jobs are worth more than just a paycheck. They’re a source of pride. They’re a ticket to a middle class life. They make it possible to own a home, to raise kids and send them to college, to retire. These companies are worth more than just the cars they build. They’re a symbol of American innovation; the source of our manufacturing might. And if that’s not worth fighting for, what is? 
So no, we were not going to take a knee and do nothing. We were not going to give up on your jobs, your families, and your communities. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We said the auto industry would have to truly change, not just pretend that it did. We got labor and management to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Everyone involved made sacrifices. Everyone had some skin in the game. It wasn’t popular. And it wasn’t what I ran for President to do. But I ran to do the tough things-- the right things-- no matter the politics. 
And you know why I knew this rescue would succeed? It wasn’t because of anything the government did. It wasn’t just because of anything management did. It was because I believed in you. I placed my bet on American workers. And I’d make that same bet again any day of the week. Because three years later, that bet is paying off for America. Three years later, the American auto industry is back.
Today, GM is back on top as the number one automaker in the world, with the highest profits in its 100-year history. Chrysler is growing faster in America than any other car company. Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories, and plans to bring thousands of jobs back home. All told, the entire industry has added more than 200,000 new jobs over the past two and a half years. 200,000 new jobs.   
And you’re not just building cars again. You’re building better cars. After three decades of inaction, we’re gradually putting in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history for our cars and pickups. That means the cars you build will average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade-- almost double what they get today. That means folks will be able to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, saving the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time. That means we’ll cut our oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day. 

...Because I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet. These are the folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.” Now they’re saying they were right all along. Or worse, they’re saying that the problem is that you, the workers, made out like bandits in all of this; that saving the American auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really? Even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you-know-what. About 700,000 retirees saw a reduction in the health care benefits they had earned. Many of you saw hours reduced, or pay and wages scaled back. You gave up some of your rights as workers. Promises were made to you over the years that you gave up for the sake and survival of this industry, its workers, and their families. You want to talk about values? Hard work-- that’s a value. Looking out for one another-- that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together-- that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper-- that is a value.
But they’re still talking about you as if you’re some greedy special interest that needs to be beaten. Since when are hardworking men and women special interests?  Since when is the idea that we look out for each other a bad thing? To borrow a line from our old friend Ted Kennedy: what is it about working men and women they find so offensive?

 This notion that we should have let the auto industry die; that we should pursue anti-worker policies in hopes unions like yours will unravel-- it’s part of that same old you’re-on-your-own philosophy that says we should just leave everyone to fend for themselves. They think the best way to boost the economy is to undo the reforms we put in place to prevent another crisis, and let Wall Street write its own rules again. They think the best way to help families afford health care is to undo the reform we passed that’s already lowering costs for millions of Americans, and go back to the days when insurance companies could deny your coverage or jack up your rates whenever and however they pleased. They think we should keep cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans so that billionaires can keep paying lower tax rates than their secretaries. 
I don’t think so. That’s the philosophy that got us into this mess. And we can’t afford to go back.  Not now. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a long way to go before everyone who wants a good job can find one. We’ve got a long way to go before middle-class Americans regain the sense of security that’s been slipping away since long before the recession hit. But over the last two years, our businesses have added about 3.7 million new jobs. Manufacturing is coming back for the first time since the 1990s. Companies are bringing jobs back from overseas. The economy is getting stronger. The recovery is speeding up. And now is the time to keep our foot on the gas.
We will not settle for a country where a few people do really well, and everyone else struggles to get by. We’re fighting for an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony profits. We’re fighting for an economy that’s built to last-- one built on things like education, energy, manufacturing things the rest of the world wants to buy, and restoring the values that made this country great: Hard work. Fair play. The opportunity to make it if you try. And the responsibility to reach back and help someone else make it, too.

Any time Obama says anything about "an economy built to last," that's a slap in the face to the Romney predatory rape and pillage business model. But there are less subtle way to slap the shit-eating grin off Willard's face as well. Yesterday Gingrich had two of his campaign surrogates, both far right ex-congressman, Bob Walker (R-PA) and J.C. Watts (R-OK), sign a letter the campaign drafted for the media pointing out the dangers of letting a lowlife like Romney seize the White House. Is this how Republicans talk about each other these days? You bet!
Dear Publisher and Editorial Page Editor:

We write to you about what we regard as an existential threat to the integrity of the American political process.

First, however, we wish to make clear that although the signers of this letter are members of Newt Gingrich’s leadership team our immediate concern is not to seek your endorsement of his candidacy for the presidency, however much we might recommend and hope for such a result. Instead, our reason for this letter transcends any one candidate or election.

Over recent decades numerous voices have been raised about the dangers of massive amounts of money spent in the service of negative or false advertising, much has also been said about the threat that this might pose to voters’ right to accurate information about issues and candidates as well as to the civil discourse so essential to democracy.

And while obviously abuses of this sort have occurred, the fact remains that over time the truth has power and does tend to prevail. Furthermore, freedom of speech means having to sometimes tolerate the abuse of that right, any robust democratic system is by nature going to be flawed or untidy and unfair practices or untruthful claims sometimes have to be endured.

Still, when abuses of the democratic and electoral process happen that does not mean the voice of conscience shouldn’t be heard and heeded. Speaking out against attempts to corrupt the democratic process is historically a role that America’s newspapers have seen as their own. And it is in this capacity-- your role as democracy’s watchdogs-- we appeal to you now.

As you are aware Feb 7th saw a series of setbacks to the Republican front-runner Governor Romney. Indeed, the returns in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri were historic in nature. Never before had a GOP front-runner lost so badly this far into the nomination process, let alone in three states and on the same day. In Colorado, Governor Romney was not only defeated by 5 points in a state he won with 60% four years earlier but this setback came at the hands of a candidate whom he had outspent by 40 to 1.

These results were widely interpreted as voter rejection of Governor Romney’s "scorched earth" campaign tactics-- tactics that has meant $20 to $25 million spent in attacks on our own candidate, Speaker Gingrich. As you also know, these advertisements and a spending advantage of 5 to 1 are widely credited with having eliminated wide Gingrich leads both in Iowa and Florida. Moreover... Governor Romney’s tactics have deeply depressed voter turnout, with the only exception South Carolina where Speaker Gingrich’s victory in breaking through Governor Romney’s paid media storm resulted in a 22% increase in turnout. (So too, counties in Florida where Speaker Gingrich won showed an increase in voting while Governor Romney had the opposite effect.)

Now if these television advertisements had been an attack on the Gingrich record that would be one thing. Instead Governor Romney chose to run and temporarily profit from blatantly untrue TV spots, with one spot that Romney publicly defended drawing four "Pinocchios" from the Washington Post for false charges (e.g. Gingrich was "fined" for ethics violations as Speaker) or making claims like "Speaker Gingrich had to resign in disgrace" cited by the Wall Street Journal as false.

Governor Romney’s negative attack mentality, unfortunately, is a reflection of his own persona. We include documentation of numerous instances of Governor Romney resorting under pressure to the use of falsehoods-- five of them are from a single presidential debate in Jacksonville on Jan 26. Please understand, we believe that if you closely examine the record you will see that we are not discussing here lapses of memory. We are saying that the evidence is clear that Governor Romney has a near Pavlovian reflex of lapsing into falsehoods in order to rearrange reality to his liking. The record shows that when publicly challenged or at a loss for an answer, Governor Romney shows a deeply engrained habit of mendacity.

Nowhere is this better seen than in Governor Romney’s decision to follow the course suggested by attack-ad maestro Stu Stevens and opposition researcher Matt Rhoades and secure the nomination by means not of energizing party conservatives with policy positions but attack ads aimed at rivals and predicated on the politics of personal destruction.

As you are also probably also aware the Romney forces are purchasing massive amounts of advertising time in your own state to continue their false attacks.

Thus the purpose of this letter is to ask you to look at the facts we include and if you agree about the threat they pose to the integrity of the electoral process we ask that you use the mighty voice of America’s newspapers to warn voters about Governor Romney’s attempt to use money and mendacity to secure the Republican nomination.

We ask you to speak out against a candidate with a great sense of entitlement and very little sense of accountability. We ask you to protest a candidacy and a campaign without a conscience. We ask you to censure and thwart a way of politics that if left unchallenged could corrupt our electoral process and democratic system for a generation.

So, as we said and as expected, Mormons in Arizona helped Romney win big there-- 47.3%-- and he won narrowly (by around 3%) against Santorum in the Michigan popular vote, although may have actually lost to Santorum in terms of convention delegates. In the final days of the primary, Santorum scared Republican voters away with his unabashed fanaticism and religious-war rhetoric. This primary is going to go on for a lot longer than anyone expected and it seems to be helping one candidate and one candidate only: Barack Obama. As Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, even a cloddish Romney surrogate like Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, was on TV disagreeing with Romney's most basic economic stands:

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