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Mitt Romney: the 1% Candidate

2:48 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

This post confirms what you already know: Mitt Romney is the 1% candidate. He talks and acts like a 1% guy, and has the resume of a 1%er. He’s got money– lots of it. His wife has 2 Cadillacs. You already knew all that.

But wait! There’s more! The Rachel Maddow show recently spent a lot of time (18 minutes) explaining how, in every Republican primary where exit polling has been conducted, a majority of voters with incomes over $100,000 always vote for Romney, and a majority of voters with incomes with less than $100,000 vote for someone else.

Video: Rich rally for Romney as Gingrich sucks Santorum’s support

Watch Now
John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC and political writer for The New York Times, talks with Rachel Maddow about Mitt Romney’s dominance among high income voters and what that will mean for the pending southern state primaries. (The Rachel Maddow Show)

So your own perception that Romney is a 1% candidate is not your own private fantasy, but his 1%-ness is widely perceived by most rich people, as well! Furthermore, guess what: voting rates are up among 1%ers, and down among everyone else!

This is a phenomenon that I’ll even bet is shared by the majority of sentient beings. Remember back before the primaries, when it was loudly and almost unanimously predicted that Romney would be the Republican Party’s candidate for president? Well, guess how the press arrived at that judgment: they were told that by the Republican Establishment! And how much you wanna bet that most or all of the Republican Establishment are also 1%ers?

This is an unusually clear assessment. It’s usually true of Republican candidates for president, but seldom has it been so transparently true.

George W. Bush, at least, disguised his 1% status by talking like a high school dropout. But not Willard. Willard is of, by, and for the 1% class of rich Americans.

Mitt’s problem is that Mitt’s 1%ers have, um, only 1% of the vote. Which is why Republicans are doubling down on voter suppression techniques.

Other consequences for the national election this year are also apparent:

  • * Is Mitt a 1%er? Why, then, isn’t Obama also a 1%er?
    * There will also be a humongous bamboozlement campaign to make people think that Mitt really is just one of the [99%] guys. He will probably be portrayed having a beer with some blue collar guys.
    * Voter suppression by legislation at the state level is widespread.
  • Thanks to the OWS movement, we now have a widely accepted vocabulary for describing this.

    But Rachel also showed us something else, that gives me hope. And that is, clear Republican incompetence running their own primaries during this primary season. If it wasn’t for Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004, one wouldn’t think that Republicans could throw an election with this level of incompetence,
    but evidently, they can. Unless Eric Holder wakes up in time and starts doing his job.

    Bob in AZ

    Petition White House to hold Administration officials accountable for torture and other abuses

    9:44 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    Back on January 9, 2009, Bob Fertik wrote,

    Throughout the 2008 campaign, candidate Barack Obama insisted he was running not to empower himself, but instead to empower ordinary citizens like you and me.

    Now he has to prove it.

    Twice now, President-elect Obama has asked ordinary citizens to vote on the questions they most wanted him to answer. Twice I submitted this question:

    “Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”
    -Bob Fertik, New York City

    In December my question was #6, but Obama only answered the top 5. Now my question is #1, and it is getting attention beyond the blogosphere.

    This blog also quoted a NYT article about his “question.” (For links to the NYT article, and another in The Nation, follow the link to Fertik’s blog.)

    However, the Obama administration decided to “look forward,” and did not respond to this question.

    Recently, just in time for his campaign for re-election, Obama is once again asking for citizen input– this time in the form of a petition. There are limits on the number of characters in the petition, but you can also provide a “Description” of up to 800 characters.

    I decided to follow up on Fertik’s attempt at accountability and justice with a petition to the White House. However, Fertik’s “question” is too long, so I had to do some editing, besides changing the format from “question” to “petition.” The new wording is to ask the White House to
    “appoint a Special Prosecutor to independently investigate torture and other crimes of the Bush Administration.”

    My description for this petition was this:

    The purpose of this petition is to hold members of the Bush administration accountable for war crimes such as torture, as well as warrantless wiretapping and other abuses of Federal power.

    Twice now, President-elect Obama has asked ordinary citizens to vote on the
    questions they most wanted him to answer. This petition is based on the
    question by Bob Fertik
    (http://www.democrats.com/special-prosecutor-question-is-the-first-test-of-obamas-commitment-to-citizen-power)
    that ranked 6th in the first poll, and #1 in the second.

    Top-ranking members of the Bush administration have not only admitted such crimes in their books, but have bragged about them. We need to return to the high standards set by Judge Jackson during the Nuremberg Trials after WW-II, to world acclaim.

    In order to obtain a response from the White House, this petition needs 5,000 signatures within a month. So please join me in signing this petition here. I would also appreciate it if you would pass this petition on to anyone else who might sign it. Comments here also welcomed.

    Thanks,
    Bob

    1937

    7:22 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    I have been pondering this post for several days and then tonight, Rachel Maddow had a segment on this subject (not yet online), so now’s the time or never. I’m thinking specifically about the recent debate about the debt ceiling, and the Republican’s explicit attempt to “fiscally handcuff” the Democrats (Boehner) and to take “hostages” (McConnell) at this point only a few years after the Great Recession, while the economy is still quite fragile. The FAA fiasco is another example.

    It is instructive to review what happened in 1937, only a few years into our national recovery from the Great Depression. Here’s how the Wikipedia summarizes it:

    The common view among mainstream economists is that Roosevelt’s New Deal policies either caused or accelerated the recovery, although his policies were never aggressive enough to bring the economy completely out of recession. Some economists have also called attention to the positive effects from expectations of reflation and rising nominal interest rates that Roosevelt’s words and actions portended.[37][38] However, opposition from the new Conservative Coalition caused a rollback of the New Deal policies in early 1937, which caused a setback in the recovery.[39]

    The result, of course, was the Recession of 1937, which most people don’t know about. The “fiscal handcuffs” that Boehner speaks so proudly about, are likely to throw us into such a recession, hobbling our nation’s recovery.

    If there’s a silver lining to the recent debt resolution package, it is that Obama has stretched it out over 10 years, with most of the cuts happening later rather than sooner, when presumably the recovery will be well-advanced and the economy will be strong enough.

    My take-aways:
    (1.) Study 1937 and the aftermath for lessons to learn.
    (2.) Now that Republicans have shown a willingness to “take hostages” in order to shackle the administration and the Democrats with “fiscal handcuffs,” Democrats and the President had better learn in a hurry how to counter this tactic, because they’re going to see it again and again. I don’t think the Rope-a-dope is going to work.
    (3.) We need to focus on electing Democrats to Congress and re-electing Obama, for all his short-comings. If Republicans can be repudiated for their hostage-taking tactics, they won’t be able to take hostages.

    Bob in AZ

    Sliding towards Fascism

    10:39 am in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    George Orwell (1984) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) tried to warn us. Naomi Wolf more recently warned us about this slide in her widely acclaimed  The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot and provided us with a roadmap so we could see how the process unfolds. But too many Americans are in denial about what is happening. Within the last week, the Supreme Court has ruled against certain kinds of class action lawsuits– one of the few weapons the public has against the big corporations. Last year, it was the Citizens United decision, allowing corporations unlimited contributions to political campaigns in the name of “free speech.”

    We also have Midwestern governors, following the Koch Brothers script whereby they give more tax cuts to businesses and rich people like the Koch brothers, while taking benefits away from the Middle Class (Wisconsin’s Walker, et al.), in a reverse Robin Hood process. In Michigan, newly strengthened laws allow the Governor to appoint “managers” for towns in financial difficulty, voiding elections, public contracts, etc.– for example, in MI, Benton Harbor has been put in receivership in the care of a manager who is likely to convert a treasured public park into a gated private Golf Course with a $5,000 membership fee. No more Democracy in Benton Harbor. Dozens of other communities are slated for similar take-overs.

    And now this:

    Proposed Law Makes Investigation of Agribusiness a Crime
    Truthdig
    Intro: “Several states, including Minnesota, Iowa and Florida, are considering legislation that would make it a felony for activists and journalists to carry out undercover investigations of agribusiness operations, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Kansas and Montana already have similar laws in place.”
    READ MORE

    Democracy is slipping away from us unless we value it enough to do something about it!

    Bush & Co.: Hemmed in, and not forgotten

    4:27 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    This news may be old to those who follow such things, but the Center for Constitutional Rights says it is “closing in on Bush and Co.” (CCR Spring Newsletter). What they mean is that

    On February 25, the full panel of judges of the Audencia Nacional (Spain’s High Court) rejected a Spanish prosecutor’s effort to stop an investigation into the role of U.S. officials for torture at Guantanamo. This is a monumental decision that, for the first time, will enable a judge to continue a case investigating the “authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill treatment” by U.S. officials at Guantanamo. Geoffrey Miller, the former commanding officer at the Base, has already been implicated, and the case will surely move up the chain of command.

    This news was already covered by Andy Worthington and others, a month ago. As Worthington noted,

    This is exceptionally good news, [according to] the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been involved in this case (and in another ongoing case, aimed at the six senior Bush administration lawyers who authorized the US torture program)…

    In the same article, Worthington wrote this regarding Geoffrey Miller:

    …on January 7 this year, CCR and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), submitted a dossier to the court (PDF), detailing the involvement in torture of Maj. Gen. Geofffrey Miller, the commander of Guantánamo during part of the time that Lahcen Ikassrien was held, “which collects and analyzes the evidence demonstrating his role in the torture of detainees at Guantánamo and in Iraq,” where he was subsequently sent to “Gitmo-ize” operations at Abu Ghraib, leading to the worldwide scandal that erupted in April 2004, when photos of the abuse of prisoners first brought the horrors of the Bush administration’s widespread use of torture in the “War on Terror” into the open.

    Based on the information in the dossier, CCR and ECCHR believe that there is sufficient information for the court to request that a subpoena be issued for Miller to testify before Judge Ruz, and it is this that led CCR to express the hope, in its press release, that as a result “the case will surely move up the chain of command.”

    You may recall, because of Wikileaks, we know that the U.S. has already tried to interfere in this case –successfully, at first. But you may also recall that Bush had to cancel a scheduled speech in Switzerland recently, because CCR was prepared to request a criminal inquiry into his role in the US torture program. This effort, CCR notes, was not a loss, because the detailed complaint was made public and provides a strong legal basis to hold Bush accountable for having authorized torture in any of the 147 countries that have ratified the Convention Against Torture. This indictment compiles over 2,500 pages of publicly available material. CCR’s partner in these cases is the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

    Our own government should be leading this fight against torturers; it is to our shame that, instead, our government is aiding and abetting the torturers by (a) failing to prosecute, with abundant evidence at hand, and (b) strongly opposing any prosecution.

    We need another set of Nuremburg trials. Unfortunately, the U.S. is unlikely to allow any such thing here in America. One can hope, then, that somewhere in Europe, there are judges and lawyers that care enough to make sure that justice is done– in Europe, if not in the United States.

    Even though this may not be news to some, I think it is important to set it before you as a reminder that people still care about this, and have not given up. I hope you are one of those people.

    Fear Has Been Defeated

    9:18 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    photo: Rigmarole via Flickr

    Fear has been defeated — in Egypt, apparently. But Republicans are still trying to make Americans very afraid — afraid of scary brown people, afraid of those “liberal” Democrats, afraid of President Obama, afraid of Socialism, afraid of unemployment, afraid of those scary Moslems, and afraid of a host of other bogeymen that Republicans conjure up. And in November, 2010, they apparently succeeded in scaring the bejeesus out of the “mature” population that votes in off-year elections. In fact, what the Republicans fear is the loss of fear.

    The elections in 2012 may be decided by whether or not the American people are still afraid — or whether Obama can convey a sense of optimism and hope that he brewed in 2008.

    Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin are trying to make us afraid of unions — especially unions of public employees. In Republican eyes, they’ve got three strikes against them: First, they’re union. Second, they work for the government. Third, and worst of all,  most of them are Democrats! That’s why they won’t let Obama form a Works Projects/Progress Administration (WPA) like Roosevelt used to beat the Depression. But Walker and his Tea Party buddies made a miscalculation, and in Wisconsin, his union-busting proposals have driven the Youth and Labor into each others arms.  This may be the thing that will energize the under-30 demographic and get them involved, and Walker is handing this gift to Obama on a silver platter. The stakes are enormous.

    Egypt and Palestine

    2:38 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    I have been contemplating for several days a post on the “Lessons” of Egypt for Palestine and Israel. Perhaps such a post is premature, and my thoughts are still a jumble. But I feel it is time to share these thoughts.

    The American public, to the extent that it is aware at all, associates the Palestinian struggle for freedom and statehood with violence, rightly or wrongly. Mention “suicide bomber” to most Americans, and the first word they’re likely to think of is “Palestinian”. But even The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs lists only 5 suicide bombings since 2005, and none at all since 2007, and the number of suicide bombings has been declining exponentially since its peak in 2002.

    Palestinians use the word “intifada” to describe their struggle, but Americans usually associate the intifada, wrongly, with violence. The Arabic root means to shudder, awakening, uprising, from intifaḍa, to be shaken, wake up, derived stem of nafaḍa, to shake, as one would shake off a scorpion. It has nothing to do with killing, and is defensive in nature. Suicide bombing is based on an entirely different ideology.

    It is my hope that the example of Egypt will shake loose the stalemate that has existed between Israel and Palestine. Therefore, what happens next in Egypt, now that Mubarak has apparently resigned, will be very important.

    The mainstream media here in America has paid little attention to the peace movement in Palestine, nor to the mass (in Palestinian terms) movements that have been happening. One of the peace activists is Mazin Qumsiyeh, who has a blog at mepeace.org. He wrote a dispatch for Al Jazeera a few days ago on “Rallies Throughout Palestine in Solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian Popular Uprisings.

    Palestine is not just the blind recipient of good news from Egypt; they have something to contribute to the dialogue themselves (see “Palestine is the key to Arab democracy“). Notice that the source here is a British, not an American, newspaper.

    The peace movements in Israel and Palestine have relatively little use for either Hamas or Fatah. Elections have not been held in Palestine & Gaza for about 5 years– American diplomacy got a scare when Hamas won that election in Gaza. What we need, besides “Free and Fair” elections in Egypt, is new “Free and Fair” elections in Gaza and the West Bank.

    Our Mubarak in Iraq, Maliki, is getting the message.

    Just as most Americans don’t properly understand “intifada,” we don’t properly understand “Jihad” either. In American English, a “Jihadi” is synonymous with “terrorist,” but this is not a full and fair understanding of jihad. The literal meaning of jihad is “struggle,” and “holy war” is not a synonym. From an Arabic point of view, the Birmingham civil rights movement was an intifada, and because it was led by clergy, it could be called a jihad, because it falls within the range of meaning of both words.

    I hope that others will take advantage, in the comments, to provide links to other grassroots developments in the Middle East that offer hope, and especially a way out of the current impasse between Israel & Palestine. May Egypt show us the way.

    Update: I just found this article from Al Jazeera:

    Egypt’s lessons for Palestine

    Will the pan-Arab intifada reignite Palestinian streets or is the challenge facing Palestinians just too great?
    Ahmed Moor Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 15:20

    Bob in AZ

    The Tucson Memorial

    8:08 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    The Memorial Service in Tucson tonight was interesting for a number of reasons. Among the  preliminary speeches, everyone had a prepared text– except for the evening’s designated hero, UA student Daniel Hernandez. Allegedly, he is gay, but no one has made an issue of that. He alone spoke without a prepared text, and I thought he was pretty eloquent, all things considered.

    Next, I was puzzled when Secretary Napolitano’s speech consisted almost entirely of a long reading from the Old Testament — nothing about Homeland Security, nothing remotely political. Anyone could have read it. Then AG Holder followed with a reading, that anyone could have read, from one of St. Paul’s letters in the New Testament. It then dawned on me that the service had taken the form of a Christian church service, in what is sometimes called the “Liturgy of the Word”: first the call to worship, which was delivered by the Yaqui Elder; then the Old Testament Reading (Napolitano), followed by the New Testament reading (Holder). When Obama was introduced next, I knew that he was either going to read the Gospel (and I was interested to know what that might be), or he was going to deliver the Homily (or Sermon). Of course, he got the Homily.

    He began not with a quotation from the Gospels, but from some other part of scripture. He then became Cheerleader-in-Chief, as he glorified each person wounded or killed by the gunman — which was a very nice touch. He did so in what seemed to me to be a non-partisan, non-political way.

    And then to crown it all off, in appealing to a grander goal, rather than appeal to some grand political slogan (which he could have chosen from the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence), he chose instead to appeal to the hopes of the 9-year-old girl killed in the mayhem: he called on us to live up to her hopes and dreams. This was a bit of genius, it seems to me, although it was an appeal to our naive hopes, rather than to our most sophisticated political ideals. Nevertheless, I thought it was an artful appeal, and a way to dodge any accusation of partisanship.

    What caught your attention?

    Bob in AZ

    The Harvard Way?

    1:23 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    In the movie Social Network there is a scene where the two Harvard Golden Boys get an appointment with the president of Harvard at the time, Larry Summers(!). They want to complain about the upstart underclassman they hired to develop their website who instead, on his own, created Facebook in two weeks. They claim that the upstart violated Harvard’s rules, and they want him to be punished, IIRC.  However, President Summers instead slams these Sons of Privilege, telling them That’s Not How We Handle Things At Harvard. There was also his dismissive attitude towards the seriousness of the violation, including the idea that this would all blow over, and not amount to anything.

    Now, unfortunately, I don’t have a transcript of that scene; I wish I did. I saw the movie, and I don’t remember the details in quite the same way. That’s how it was retold to me in the sermon I just heard this morning. But it sounds eerily fitting– not in terms of who is complaining, but in the method of conflict resolution.  Think of Larry Summers (Harvard) as President Obama’s (Harvard) chief economic adviser while they considered back in 2008 what to do about the economic crisis. Surely there were some in the room clamoring that there were people who had committed fraud, and they should be indicted and brought to trial for their crimes. But it is easy to imagine Grand Poobah Larry Summers saying, That’s Not How We Handle Things, and besides, this will all blow over. So, that’s what they did.  And it sounds like the ghost of Larry Summers is hanging over the mortgage crisis: No hint of indictments for fraud,  and every indication that they are cooking up some kind of back room deal that will paper everything over for the time being.

    That also seems to be the way the Obama administration is handling war crimes, even when the responsible parties admit their crimes in public. Indictment for crimes? That”s Not How We Handle Things.

    I think this also aligns with an oligarchy run by the Masters of the Universe (MOTU). After all, that’s what Harvard symbolizes, doesn’t it?

    Bob in AZ

    Jon Stewart vs. Rachel Maddow

    10:24 pm in Uncategorized by bobschacht

    Jon Stewart (l.) and Rachel Maddow (r.)(source: Wikipedia)

    There is much that should be said about Rachel Maddow’s long interview with Jon Stewart today. I come at it partially as an uncle who has a nephew who claims to get all his news from Jon Stewart.  The interview was a very thoughtful piece, and includes a lot about the nature of “news” vs. “comedy,” and one of the things I learned is that Stewart sees his niche in TV as descending from the Smothers Brothers.

    I cannot even begin to do justice to the whole interview, so I’ll just say a few words about a small piece of it. Stewart claims that we on the left have our own conversation-stoppers, just like the Righties do. When Rachel asked him to name one, he offered the claim frequently heard from Lefties that George Bush is a War Criminal. I think that here, Jon Stewart may be more like Barack Obama than most of us. For Stewart, war criminals are defined by people like Pol Pot and what emerged from the Nuremberg trials. He thinks that hurling labels like “war criminals” is a form of demonization, and a conversation-stopper, rather than a serious attempt at dialogue.

    There’s some truth to that, but the American way to make that judgment is to have an investigation and see if there is a legal basis for it. That’s not what we’re doing in this country. Instead, the DOJ refuses to conduct any investigation, except for the enigmatic Durham investigation, which seems more like a black hole designed to swallow up any evidence than to produce any indictments. Instead of condemning public confessions of war crimes, as both Bush and Cheney have done, there is a collective ho hum, and nothing is done. Our president remains silent about these atrocities, rather than condemning them. So it should not count as “excess” when our leaders admit to acts which amount to war crimes, and we take them at their word and call them war criminals. The road to Hitler, and to Pol Pot, did not start with the most heinous acts, but bit by bit, and the label of “war criminal” fits even if there is only one crime, rather than dozens. So I am not satisfied by Stewart’s analysis.

    There is much more about the interview that deserves discussion. What caught your attention?