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November 14th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio; News, Politics & History

Mitt Affirms His 47% Remarks in Pathetic 1st Stab at a Campaign Post-Mortem

I’ve been blogging less about politics since the campaign ended last Tuesday, but am still keeping my eye on the news. An item crossed my path tonight that must be shared: Mitt’s first public post-mortem since his concession speech. As reported in the NY Times this evening, Romney and his campaign finance staff held a conference call with donors today. According to quoted portions, Romney attributed his defeat to President Obama having effectively won votes of lower-income voters by awarding them with “gifts.” The loser made, basically, the same argument as those gross super-pac ads being shown until last Tuesday, where an inner-city African-American woman talks excitedly about the “Obama phone” she’d supposedly been given by the federal government. His excuse for losing–to an audience of people whom he has an interest in convincing he didn’t piss their money away– was very similar to what he told donors in the 47% fundraising pitch. Interesting that he was speaking to contributors both times. The quotes are really offensive. Here are a couple chunks of it, from Ashley Parker’s story in the Times:

In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with his national finance committee, Mr. Romney said that the president had followed the “old playbook” of wooing specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” Mr. Romney explained — with targeted gifts and initiatives.
“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said.
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African American and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers — 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics voted to re-elect Mr. Obama.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free healthcare was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

On the tactical failures of his campaign,

“I’m very sorry that we didn’t win,” he said on the call. “I know that you expected to win, we expected to win, we were disappointed with the result, we hadn’t anticipated it, and it was very close but close doesn’t count in this business.”
He continued: “And so now we’re looking and saying, ‘O.K., what can we do going forward?’ But frankly we’re still so troubled by the past, it’s hard to put together our plans from the future.” . . .Still, Mr. Romney, ever the data-driven former consultant, offered a brief post-mortem analysis of where he and his campaign had fallen short. Last Wednesday and Thursday, he had convened informal what-went-wrong sessions in his Boston headquarters, where he and a small team of senior advisors pored over the numbers with Mr. Newhouse. And on the call, Mr. Romney also echoed a theme from the campaign trail, saying that while the Mr. Obama “made a big effort on small thing,” his message had been about ‘big issues.’
“Our campaign, in contrast, was talking about big issues for the whole country —military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth,” he said. “And by the way, as you’ll hear from Neil, our strategy worked well with many people, but for those who were given a specific gift, if you will, our strategy did not work terribly well.”

You’ll note Romney indulges in the “shellshock” meme to describe his reaction to losing, with a weak claim that he, like the donors, had also believed their own polls and persuasion apparatus. He avers that like them he’s still getting over it all. On TPM there’s been a vigorous debate about whether it’s plausible that the Romney-Ryan camp was really shocked to lose last week, and is supposedly still getting over it. I have a few questions in this area: ) Could they have been so naive as to believe their own hype? 2) Should we call them true believers enclosed in a bubble they’ve stopped noticing even surrounds them? 3) Or cagey pols who want to move on from this without a taint on their reputations, having through political and moral malpractice actually misspent so many hundreds of millions? I agree with Josh Marshall that Romney and his staff would rather be associated with the former than the latter.

Not only does Mitt’s portrayal of President Obama as Gift-Bestower-in-Chief show a consistent worldview–from the 47% remarks to today–show that he really believes a majority of American voters expect ‘stuff’ from the government. Worse, though, he also degrades the ‘stuff’ given them, like they were all baubles. Healthcare, college tuition, and legal status for immigrants–these are hardly luxuries. What a selfish man, for one who has so much to believe that taxpayers and the government should be miserly with people who have so much less.

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November 3rd, 2012

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics & History

What Some of Mitt’s Supporters Think about President Obama

If you’re an Obama voter and feeling strong about the election right now, you may want to brave this 8-minute video filled mostly with interviews of Romney supporters on the edges of a recent rally in Ohio. The event was last week, the one where the Repub first uttered his lie about Jeep moving production to China. Later, the metal singer Meat Loaf endorsed Romney, all at this one rally. It’s scary, the people are possessed with a sort of cultic hatred of President Obama, and parrot many lines of critique against him. When the deft interviewer, from an organization called NewLeftMedia.com, asks them for evidence to support their claims, they often can’t summon additional words. This tape captures a fever dream of the right-wing, and shows the contempt for the president that Romney’s tapped into and amplified during his campaign. Most frightening interview subject is the woman in pink who shriekingly insists the president’s a Muslim and that his father was a Muslim, atheist, and communist, all rolled into one.

H/T Josh Marshall at TPM, who posted this on his site tonight. It’s disturbing but ought to have a wide viewing. If the president does win re-election, these people are going to refuse acknowledgement of his presidency in a second term even more vociferously than they’ve done during his first. It’s a scary thought.

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October 30th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

Mitt’s Desperate Moves in Ohio Draw Rebuke from Chrysler/Now GM Too

No sooner had I posted and shared my first post this afternoon on the latest of Mitt’s bogus claims on the auto bailout than Greg Sargent posted the audio of an obnoxious new Romney radio ad with a new version of the Jeep-moving-production-to-China lie.

So I’d posted on the rebuke Mitt Romney had drawn from Chrysler, first reported on by the Detroit News. Now I see that even GM is weighing in on the matter, in tweets below. Romney’s over-the-top rhetoric and false caricature of what the automakers know to be the truth about the auto rescue, and their dealings with China, has both companies burned. Mitt the businessman is showing himself given to alienating fellow businesspersons.  He went to London, and insulted the British–now he’s pissing off his own crowd, corporations and their chief officers, for the improbability of scoring some political points less than a week before Election Day. He’s not only lying about his opponent, President Obama, but also making up such crap about the carmakers that they’re mad at him, and taking the unusual step of getting involved in a potentially partisan political spat.

This then from TPM, in a story about how badly the Jeep malarkey is playing with voters, the mainstream political press, like Ron Fournier of the AP, and now the car makers. The tweets below are from David Shepardson, whose Detroit News reporting I also quoted in the first of this afternoon’s posts. I’m following him now, as his Twitter feed is great on all this stuff.

“Update: GM isn’t happy with Romney’s suggestion that the auto rescue benefitted China over America, either. Via Detroit News reporter David Sherpardson:

David Shepardson@davidshepardson
GM responds to new Romney radio ad: “At this stage, we’re looking at a Hubble telescope-length distances between campaign ads and reality”
30 Oct 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite
David Shepardson@davidshepardson
More GM on Romney ad: “GM’s creating jobs in the US and repatriating profits back to this country should be a source of bipartisan pride”
30 Oct 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

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October 30th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics & History

Mitt’s Desperate Moves in Ohio Draw Rebuke from Chrysler

The Romney campaign’s lies, deceptions, and sneaky messaging over the auto bailout are going beyond anything that many political professionals had thought possible. Last Friday Mitt conflated a Bloomberg wire story on Fiat setting up some Chinese factories to make Jeeps for China into ‘Jeep’s moving all US production to China,’ then getting roundly called out for the inaccuracy. However, over the weekend the campaign ignored calls for a simple correction to the record. Worse, they made clear that a correction wold not be forthcoming by releasing a TV ad using the same bogus claim. This promptly drew an ad from the Obama campaign rebuking them for their dishonesty and for trying especially to scare voters in Toledo, Ohio, where Jeep’s top U.S. manufacturing is based. Now, the Romney campaign has gone ever further by re-purposing the TV spot in to a radio ad.

Additionally, the Chrysler corporation has found it necessary to wade in to the mix, with Detroit News auto industry reporters David Shepardson and Bryce Hoffman reporting this today:

“Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne rejected an assertion from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that Chrysler is planning on moving Jeep production to China.

‘I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,’ Marchionne said in an email to employees Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News.

In fact, he said the company will continue to expand Jeep manufacturing in this country.

‘Jeep is one of our truly global brands with uniquely American roots. This will never change. So much so that we committed that the iconic Wrangler nameplate, currently produced in our Toledo, Ohio, plant, will never see full production outside the United States,” Marchionne said. “Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand. It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.’ .  . . .  [emphasis mine]

The Obama campaign began running an ad Tuesday in Toledo calling Romney’s ad a ‘lie.’

Both sides are making a big issue of Jeep in China because of how important Ohio is. They are trying to sway blue-collar voters in auto towns across the Buckeye State.

Marchionne said the Auburn Hills automaker is ‘investing to improve and expand our entire U.S. operations, including our Jeep facilities.’

He noted the company plans to ‘invest more than $1.7 billion to develop and produce the next-generation Jeep SUV, the successor of the Jeep Liberty — including $500 million directly to tool and expand our Toledo Assembly Complex, and will be adding about 1,100 jobs on a second shift by 2013.’

In Detroit, at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant, Chrysler has created 2,000 jobs since June 2009 and has invested more than $1.8 billion to build its Jeep Grand Cherokee.

However, Marchionne said the company does plan to add additional production capacity in China to build Jeeps for the Chinese market.

‘(W)e are working to establish a global enterprise and previously announced our intent to return Jeep production to China, the world’s largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand, which would not otherwise be accessible,’ Marchionne said. ‘Chrysler Group is interested in expanding the customer base for our award-winning Jeep vehicles, which can only be done by establishing local production. This will ultimately help bolster the Jeep brand and solidify the resilience of U.S. jobs.’”

Ohio newspapers, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Toledo Blade have condemned the Romney campaign for this series of deceptions, but they have refused to correct the record, instead compounding the lies. The Plain Dealer editorialized, “Mitt Romney is desperate to convince Ohio voters that he’s the candidate most committed to the U.S. auto industry–no matter how much confusion he must sow to do it.” Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker assigned Mitt’s claims his dreaded “Four Pinocchios.” It’s clear that the Romney campaign–whose first TV ad last spring attacked President Obama by falsely attributing words of John McCain’s to the president–will be ending their campaign much as they began it. Romney’s bogus Jeep claim is the apotheosis of all his lies.

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October 29th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics & History

It’s a “Lie”–the Obama Camp Goes There in Their Response to Mitt’s Bogus Jeep Claim

That didn’t take long. The Obama campaign has an ad up, in response to Mitt’s claim-–which the Romney campaign recycled in to a new ad, even after it was promptly debunked-–that Chrysler is moving production of Jeeps from Toledo, Ohio, to China. This all about Romney’s untenable position on the auto bailout-–he never supported it and now he’s trying to obscure his opposition. Worth noting too, as TPM reports, that many mainstream political reporters have been panning their latest transparent malarkey.

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October 28th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics & History

In Repub Primary Mitt Said Disaster Funding Should Be Sent Back to the States & Private Sector

During the Republican primary Mitt Romney made clear that favors de-funding FEMA and allowing states and the private sector to handle all disaster relief. This is a very telling video clip. H/T publishing friend Jill Ripley Hughes for sharing this clip tonight.

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October 28th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Media, Blogging, Internet; News, Politics & History

Thoughts on the Storm, the Election & Why FEMA Runs Best Under DEMs

As I sit here in my Manhattan stronghold, with batteries, candles, water, food, and supplies socked in, I’m thinking about the effect this storm may have on the presidential campaign. Like when the Olympics were held last summer, and the competition had the collateral effect of diverting the attention of the media and millions away from the campaign, I’m thinking there will be a smilar effect this week, with the likely effect of freezing the campaign in place.

Though surrogates will probably continue to be heard in the media, their efforts will be dampened, while campaigning by the two candidates and their running mates is coming to a near-standstill for at least 2-3 days. In the meantime, President Obama visited FEMA HQs for a briefing this afternoon. CNN reported on his FEMA visit:

“You need to take this seriously and take guidance from state and local officials,” Obama said at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington. “This hasn’t hit landfall yet,” he said. “So we don’t yet know where it’s going to hit, where we’re going to see the biggest impacts and that’s exactly why it’s so important for us to respond big and respond fast as local information starts coming in.” Before speaking to reporters, Obama said he met with officials from FEMA and other agencies, as well as spoke by phone with governors and mayors whose states and cities may be impacted by the storm. Obama said he is “confident that the resources are in place.”

Barack can do presidential things like that, but since Mitt has no job, apart from running for office, he can’t do anything constructive. He may be tempted to to do something photo-op-ish like visit a shelter or an evacuation center, but it would look excessively opportunistic, especially after Paul Ryan was recently caught trying to wash a food pantry’s pots and pans when they weren’t even dirty.

Do you remember how well FEMA operated during the Clinton administration, with James Lee Witt at the helm of the agency? Then, under Geore W. Bush, with hacks Joe Allbaugh and Mike Brown in charge, FEMA was a basket case. Katrina happened after the Bushies had let the agency go to pot. It’s so clear that government agencies like  FEMA run better under DEMs, than under Repubs. Maybe this storm will have the effect of reminding the country of that, and which party they want in charge of the White House, under circumstances like these.

Since I believe that the president is ahead in Ohio and key swing states, I’m okay with an event like this that freezes the campaign in place, though I’m disappointed with the disruption of early voting and the possible muting of the president’s case for re-election. There is no precedent for a storm like this, landing just a few days before a presidential election. It’s terra incognita in historical terms, so we really don’t know what effect this may have. Still, I’m hoping the millions of people in the storm’s path will be safe, and the country will be reminded of why we need to have an adequately funded government, with agile and responsive agencies like FEMA.

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October 28th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics & History

The Most Dishonest Romney Claim Yet, ‘Obama’s Bad for the Auto Industry’

With much of the media and the full force of the Obama campaign having battered Mitt Romney with the truth over his misguided stance on the auto industry rescue, the Romney campaign is out with an ad today that assembles a jumble of lies and misleading claims into a 30-second spot. Travis Waldron of ThinkProgress has done an excellent job synthesizing the falsehood and bogus claims, first taking quotes from the ad, then breaking them down:

1. “Mitt Romney has a plan to help the auto industry.” No specific plan is referenced in the ad, and Romney’s campaign web site does not include a plan to “help the auto industry.” In 2008, Romney wrote a New York Times editorial titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” and he re-upped his call against the auto rescue during the Republican primaries this year.
2. “[Romney] is supported by Lee Iaccoca and the Detroit News.” Chrysler Chairman Lee Iaccoca has indeed endorsed Romney. The Detroit News, a self-described “conservative newspaper,” endorsed him last week. But in that endorsement, the paper slammed Romney’s “wrong-headedness on the auto bailout.”
3. “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy.” Obama did take both companies into a managed bankruptcy, the path Romney says was originally his idea. Romney, however, supported private sector financing of the bankruptcy, a plan that was “pure fantasy” at the time since no private lenders could lend to the companies in the middle of the financial crisis. Without federal intervention, the companies would have almost assuredly collapsed, costing 1.3 million jobs, according to industry estimates.
4. “[Obama] sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.”This week, Romney claimed he read a news story that said Chrysler was planning to “moving all production to China.” The Bloomberg News piece he referenced, though, made it clear that Fiat, the Italian company that now owns Chrysler, was opening new factories in China to make Jeeps for Chinese consumers. No American plants will be closed, and no American jobs will be lost. The ad’s claim may not be as false as Romney’s previous statement, but it is certainly misleading.

Averaging all the available state polls, it is clear that in Ohio Romney is trailing President Obama by around 2-3 points. Desperate to make up that ground, he’s resorted to wild claims, such as the one about Jeep moving US operations to China, which Chrysler immediately denied. What’s more, newspapers like the Toledo Blade, which endorsed President Obama today, wrote this in their editorial this morning:  The strategy of the Romney campaign is pretty clear: drape a fog of murky ambiguity over  this issue, since it is such a clear winner for the president. Lie, obfuscate, muddle

“That [auto] rescue was vital to Ohio, which depends on the auto industry for 850,000 jobs—one of every eight. It has preserved and created assembly and parts production jobs in Toledo and across the state. Without it, Chrysler and GM likely would have gone out of business and the domestic industry and supply chain would have collapsed, taking Ford with them. Instead, U.S. automakers now are preparing to achieve huge gains in the fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks. The auto bailouts began under a Republican president, George W. Bush, but Mr. Romney has continued to oppose them. In last week’s debate, he claimed disingenuously that he would have supported federal “guarantees” of private investment in the automakers. But in the depths of the Great Recession, no such investment was forthcoming. A high-powered businessman—and the son of a Detroit auto CEO who plays up his Michigan roots—might be expected to acknowledge that.”

The strategy of the Romney campaign is pretty clear: drape a fog of murky ambiguity over this issue, since it is such a clear winner for the president. Lie, obfuscate, muddle, smile, and sow confusion, especially at this late moment, barely a week before Election Day. We can’t let it work. Thank you for reading this post and sharing as widely as possible.