Friday, September 28, 2012

Unions and Citizens United: What Romney Doesn't Want You to Know

by Nomad


n a desperate attempt to find some issue that he can talk about- apart from foreign policy, Medicare,  gay marriage, social security, health care, tax reform or any of the other subjects he considers "political landmines"-  candidate Mitt Romney has selected an easy punching bag- teacher unions. 

Last week, Romney recently made clear his contempt for both teachers and for free speech at a roundtable discussion. He began to lecture the attendees with his opinions on teachers unions and the voucher system. When one member of the group offered her opinions on the subject, he silenced her with the imperious statement “‘I didn’t ask you a question." 
This was a monologue, not a dialogue. This conversation went one way only.

Yesterday while attempting to take another shot at teachers unions he, sadly, revealed his complete ignorance (or his hypocrisy) on one of the most important and damaging court decisions of our times.
(CBS News) Republican nominee Mitt Romney said Tuesday that Democratic politicians have a conflict of interest in dealing with teacher unions because the unions contribute so heavily to their campaigns. He suggested that money should somehow be diverted or cut off, although he did not offer details.

The bigger problem, Romney said, is that "the person sitting across the table from them should not have received the largest campaign contribution from the teachers union themselves ... [It's] an extraordinary conflict of interest and something that should be addressed."

He later added that "we simply can't have" elected officials who have received large contributions from teachers sitting across from them at the bargaining table "supposedly" to represent the interests of children. "I think it's a mistake," Romney said. "I think we have to get the money out of the teachers unions going into campaigns. It's the wrong way for us to go. We've got to separate that."
There’s a very good reason why Romney should feel embarrassed to have such a remark. He appears uneducated to the full scope of the 2010 Citizens United decision. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Bain-Fisher Effect: When Romney Visited Marshalltown, Iowa

by Nomad


n the clip below from a recent interview for a local Iowa radio station, we hear Romney doing what Romney likes best- talking about Romney and his love for the common people. He talks about his familiarity with the area, throwing in a lot of famous local landmarks to improve an illusion of sincerity and personal connection. 
More interestingly, he explains to the DJ how he himself once worked in Marshalltown, Iowa as a consultant. He mentions that he worked with a company called Fisher Controls.

So I decided to take a moment to look into the history of Fisher Controls. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aesop and The Republican Party's Problem

by Nomad

Aesop mosaic
Throughout the ages, the humble slave, Aesop was famous for his simple stories that revealed a hidden truth about human nature. I found this fable about trying to please others.
The Man and His Two Wives

In the old days, when men were allowed to have many wives, a middle-aged man had one wife that was old and one that was young; each loved him very much, and desired to see him like herself. 
Now the man's hair was turning grey, which the young wife did not like, as it made him look too old for her husband. So every night she used to comb his hair and pick out the white ones. 

But the elder wife saw her husband growing grey with great pleasure, for she did not like to be mistaken for his mother. So every morning she used to arrange his hair and pick out as many of the black ones as she could. The consequence was the man soon found himself entirely bald.
As I was reading, it struck me how much it seemed to apply to the dilemma that Republican party faces. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Musical Sanity Break- Two by CCR

Don't Look Now

Who will take the coal from the mine?
Who will take the salt from the earth?
Who'll take a leaf and grow it to a tree?
Don't Look Now, it ain't you or me.

Who will work the field with his hands?
Who will put his back to the plough?
Who'll take the mountain and give it to the sea?
Don't Look Now, it ain't you or me.

Someday Never Comes

First thing I remember was asking papa, why,
For there were many things I didn't know.
And daddy always smiled and took me by the hand,
Saying, someday you'll understand.

Friday, September 21, 2012

From Father to Son: A Look Back at George W. Romney

by Nomad

I wanted to share some excerpts from a speech by Romney. Not Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, but by his father, George Romney, who was at that time the president of American Motors, soon to be the governor of Michigan.
The speech was given as part of the annual address to male students at Brigham Young University on  November 1961.
In this speech, George Romney touched upon many themes in the speech, including his faith and how much faith in God played an important role in his life and his philosophy. 
His reflections on the American system show Romney to have been a careful observer. Like a lot of liberals today, he saw America as an unfinished experiment and keeping the status quo was not one of George Romney’s principles. 
Long ago I became convinced that very few of us really understand America. Very few of us have really thought through the fundamental things about the American system. I think we are too much inclined to take it for granted that the American Revolution has been completed, that we have arrived, that we have it made. We haven't. The American Revolution is in its very early stages. This is true politically, it is true economically, it is true socially, it is true religiously. And it is going to take some nonconformists in America to jolt America out of its lethargy and its smugness.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cameroon: Where Saying “I love you” Can Put You in Prison

I magine an existence where just texting a message to your lover could destroy your life and condemn you to a prison sentence of up to five years. 
As dystopian and far-fetched as it might sound, there are still places in the world where this can and does occur. 
Take the Mbede case in the West African nation of Cameroon.

Roger Mbede’s Story
Reporter Joe Mirabella in an article for the Huffington Post, highlights the plight of Jean-Paul Roger Mbede:
Roger was arrested last year for sending another man a text message that said, "I'm very much in love w/u." He was charged and convicted under Cameroon's law that criminalizes "homosexual behavior" and sentenced to three years in prison. He's spent more than a year in jail, while being subjected to abuse in custody, but is now finally appealing his conviction. Roger's hearing is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Smirk That May Have Cost Romney the Election

by Nomad


or quite some time, political observers have been declaring that Mitt Romney's greatest weakness (outside of the fact that he simply cannot be honest) is his complete detachment, his lack of empathy and his inability to hit the right emotional tone. In the early hours of September 12, Mitt Romney exposed his character flaws for all the world to see.

As embassy staff in Benghazi, Libya were fighting for their lives against a band of armed attackers, Romney was attempting to portray- without any justification whatsoever- that Obama had expressed sympathy for the attackers.
The statement he has used as evidence had actually been written prior to the attack and had come not from the White House but from the Egyptian embassy. That statement had been an attempt to quell protests there.

It stated that the US embassy “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims…as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

The Romney campaign reaction? Romney stated "that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." 

The following day, Wednesday, while the grim news from Libya- the brutal murder of the ambassador along with four other embassy staff- was stilling filtering in, Romney held a press conference to restate his views. It might have been an opportunity to reconsider his hasty words. Alas, Romney pressed on, with what reporters described as a smirk.  Before the reporters, he said:

"... (T)he administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values."
According to a CBS article, when asked what exactly did he had objected to, Romney went on to say:
"Their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth, but also from the words that come from his ambassadors from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department...They clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was -- was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a -- a severe miscalculation."
It soon became apparent that the miscalculation was not the president's, but the candidate's. 
Romney's clear expression of glee was repulsive in light of the national tragedy. Making use of the event to score political points seemed to prove what most people had felt about this candidate. Romney has no sense of empathy and, for Romney, satisfying his ambition supersedes all other considerations.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Musical Sanity Break- Judy Collins-Tomorrow Is A Long Time

"Tomorrow Is a Long Time" is a song written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1963. (I really thought it was much later than that.)  In this version is sung by Judy Collins who, I think, does it justice. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Why The GOP Can't Be Trusted with Foreign Policy 3/3

by Nomad

Part One- McCain's Speech
Part Two- Reagan and the Iran-Iraq War

Part 3- Reagan: Between Iran and Iraq
I will now conclude this examination of Reagan’s foreign policy, specifically his handling of two Middle-Eastern nations, Iran and Iraq, and the bloody war between them. 
In this post, we shall see how Reagan’s diplomacy failures and hypocrisies would take a disastrous turn and lead to scandal.

Crossing the Line
Let's begin with a quote:
They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.-- Ronald Reagan
The executive decision to begin arming and providing military intelligence to Saddam Hussein, despite an American pretense of neutrality in the Iran-Iraq war, had, by 1983, become more complicated when reports confirmed Hussein’s use of outlawed chemical weapons(CW) on the battlefield.
As early as November 1983, US officials were aware that top secret memos confirmed that Hussein had been using CW. Furthermore, they suspected the source of those weapons to be a US foreign subsidiary

But even then, it wasn’t so much of a moral question or even a legal one. It was a matter of public relations. 

According to a New York Times article in August, 2002, Col. Walter P. Lang, a senior defense intelligence officer at the time, explained that D.I.A. and C.I.A. officials “were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose” to Iran. “The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern,” he said. One veteran said, that the Pentagon “wasn’t so horrified by Iraq’s use of gas.” “It was just another way of killing people _ whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn’t make any difference.” 

(Compare that with the mock outrage against WMD that helped launch the Iraq Invasion and occupation.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why The GOP Can't Be Trusted with Foreign Policy 2/3

 by Nomad

Part 2- Reagan and The Iran-Iraq War

In the previous post, we reviewed John McCain’s speech at the Republican convention in Tampa and all its foreign policy implications. McCain’s call for strong leadership is a staple for the Republicans. 
It has been since the days of Reagan- the father of the neoconservative movement and founder of a revitalized American foreign policy. If only, the Republicans seem to say, today’s politicians could be as bold and decisive as Reagan, America could return to its glory days. 

Hostages of the Past
With the American engagement in Iraq finally at an end, after what can only be called a foreign policy disaster, this is a good time to look back at the long prelude. The roots of that disaster go deep. Back to the early career of Saddam Hussein when American leadership was far more interested in Iran.

On January 27, 1981- one week after Ronald Reagan had been taken the oath of office, he stated,
"Let terrorist be aware that when the rules of international behavior are violated, our policy will be one of swift and effective retribution."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why The GOP Can't Be Trusted with Foreign Policy 1/3

McCain John  by Nomad

In this three-part series we take a look back at the evidence in the case against the Republican attitude on foreign policy. We begin with John McCain who seems to have an unfailing record of being dangerously wrong on almost every pronouncement he has made about foreign relations.

Part 1- McCain’s Speech in Tampa
Lost in Paul Ryan’s flagrant dishonesty and Romney’s sticky-gooey sing-song speech, the incoherent silliness of Clint’s burlesque with an empty chair, there was an appearance that might have gone unnoticed at the Republican convention.

His was a familiar face- a bit too familiar, actually: Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Whoever decided that McCain’s appearance at the convention would enhance Mitt Romney’s paltry foreign policy credentials should probably defect to the Obama campaign before somebody catches on.