FROM today, 28JUN13, I am not posting entire articles to this page, just links to the articles which are posted on my blog. Exceptions will be extremely large articles / series, and will be so noted. So click the links to view any of the articles after today, prior to today, the past full articles added to this page before 4JAN13, are below. I moved all the post on the page titled mitt romney,LIES, mormonism & bain capital UPDATED 9JAN14 to this page on 1 APR 16 below the post 'TEA PARTY TENSION'
Americans, Brace Yourselves for the Bunga Bunga 2MAR16 / Donald Trump and the Great Size Scandal & The Trump Test: How Much Does He Hate You? 5MAR16 / John Oliver Destroys Donald Trump (Full Segment) & Springtime for Hitler or Donald Drumpf 28FEB&2MAR16 / Republicans attack double amputee veteran for 'not standing up for our veterans' 8MAR16 / Donald Drumpf wrongly links Ohio campaign event protester to ISIS 13MAR16 / This Elizabeth Warren Takedown Of Donald Trump Is Going Viral 14MAR16 / Elizabeth Warren calls out Donald Trump 21MAR16 / Elizabeth Warren Slams Donald Trump's Lies About Being a Business Success & Elizabeth Warren Lists All the Ways She Considers Trump a "Loser" 31&21MAR16 / (VIDEO & Article) The Second Part of Trump's Answer That Got Audible Gasps From the Audience &Trump: GOP-approved? (video) 30MAR&1APR16 / #backpfeifengesicht ted cruz, Tatiana Maslany Reveals The German Word For Ted Cruz & Is Ted Cruz Really an Awful, Terrible Jerk? & Why Ted Cruz’s Facial Expression Makes Me Uneasy 1APR&25&1JAN16 / Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State 21FEB14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/essay-anatomy-of-deep-state-21feb14.html/The Obama administration wants a former SOPA lobbyist to negotiate the TPP. We can't let that happen. & WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW WILL HURT YOU & Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) - IP Chapter 14MAR14&13NOV13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-obama-administration-wants-former.html /CPAC Celebrates Free-Market Entrepreneurship With CEO Whose Company Was Built On Federally Backed Loans 7MAR14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/cpac-celebrates-free-market.html /PICTURE OF ATTENDEES AT CPAC'S PANEL DISCUSSION ON MINORITY OUTREACH 7MAR14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/picture-of-attendees-at-cpacs-panel.html /Here Are 5 Infuriating Examples of Facts Making People Dumber & Study: You Can't Change an Anti-Vaxxer's Mind 5&3MAR14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/here-are-5-infuriating-examples-of.html
/Simpson-Bowles anti-debt group (the can kicks back) is—pause to laugh—deeply in debt & Anti-debt group finds itself in red 13&12FEB14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/simpson-bowles-anti-debt-group-can.html
Pete Sessions Is A Shameless GOP Hypocrite. But That's Redundant! 6FEB14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/pete-sessions-is-shameless-gop.html
VIDEO Watch Elizabeth Warren Slam the GOP for Blocking Unemployment Benefits 4FEB14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/video-watch-elizabeth-warren-slam-gop.html
The Koch Brothers Left a Confidential Document at Their Last Donor Conference—Read It Here 5FEB14 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-koch-brothers-left-confidential.html
This Study Said the South Is More Racist Than the North & The Formula & Maps Behind the Voting Rights Act 25&22JUN13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/this-study-said-south-is-more-racist.html
/ Inside Groundswell: Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a "30 Front War" 25JUL13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/inside-groundswell-read-memos-of-new.html / The Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. We must act now. 27JUN13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-supreme-court-gutted-voting-rights.html / Bob Cesca - Supreme Court Helps the GOP Revive the Era of Jim Crow 27JUN13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/bob-cesca-supreme-court-helps-gop.html / Michele Bachmann decries “huge national database” run by IRS with "personal, intimate" details 15MAI13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/michele-bachmann-decries-huge-national.html / Tom Coburn says after national park gun ban lifted, violent crime fell by 85 percent 9MAI13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/tom-coburn-says-after-national-park-gun.html
ON this page; / Birch Society Republicans: America Now Has Three Major Political Parties 4JAN13 / The nineteen new Republican House committee chairmen are all white males 27NOV12 / 15 Things the GOP Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes and the Debt 2SEP12 /CHARTING GOVERNMENT DEPENDENTS 18SEP12 / VIDEO: Paul Ryan's Version of "47 Percent"—the "Takers" vs. the "Makers" 5OKT12 / Todd Akin In 2008: Doctors Give Abortions To Women Who Aren't Pregnant & Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (VIDEO) 2OKT12&19AUG12 / Racist, Offensive Mecklenburg, VA Republican Committee Photos Show What We're Fighting Against 26SEP12/ Prosecutor: Ga. murder case uncovers terror plot 27AUG12 / Mitt Romney repeats claim that Obama went around the world apologizing for the United States 22SEP11 / Why Do The koch brothers Want To End Public Education? & How The koch brothers Funded Public School Segregation / Covert Operations, The Billionaire Brothers (koch) War Against Obama (And the rest of America) / Asked If Bank Of America Paying Nothing In Corporate Taxes Is Fair Pawlenty Responds: Taxes Are 'Too High' / 12 examples of Stunning Hypocrisy from Tea Party Republicans In One Short Month / We're headed for a Major Battle with the Tea Party Crowd over the Constitution Itself / Tea Partiers:The Most Oppressed Minority? /How Republicans and Their Big Business Allies Duped Tens of Millions of Evangelicals into Voting for a Corporate Agenda/ 1) Lynn Cheney Wants You To Be Afraid, 2) Small Town Rejects Fearmongering, 3) Sen Shelby (R-AL) Holds Senate Hostage For Alabama Pork, 4) "Hows That Hopey, Changey Stuff?" Palin Asks, 5) Rachel Maddow On GOP Terror Trial Smear, 6) The Birthers Next Target: Hillary Clinton, 7) Dick Cheney Confessed To A War Crime. Prosecute Him, 8) Who's Raising Money For The Tea Party Movement?/ Palin, Beck, The Tea Party and the Big Lie About Saving "Children and Grandchildren"/ The Tea Party's Tension: Religion's Role In Politics,
This is the Birch Society, not the populist Tea Party from 2009.
Effectively, based on "Fiscal Cliff" votes and the changeover to 2013, we have three distinct caucuses in the House of Representatives:
-- Regular Democrats (now 201 Members)
-- Business Republicans (84 Members)
-- Birch Society Republicans (150 Members)
Birchers are anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-compromise, and opposed to taxes in all forms and appearances. The Bircher billionaires' agenda is not the mainstream Republican businessmen's agenda.
The Koch family helped found the John Birch Society. They have financed Birchers since 1984 and remain the prime backers for these Bircher Republicans. They assure that JBS ideological slogans and xenophobic paranoia define Bircher campaigns.
Bircher infiltration of the Republican Party (1984-2004 and 2010) is covered in comments from our Jim P and others. As well an array of pro-Birch Society comments from ernie1241 are worth the price of admission by themselves.
Meanwhile President Obama has set about playing off the House's Bircher and Business Republicans against each other. Significantly, Obama has timed his alternating "Cave"/"No Cave" messages during "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations to maximize the Bircher schism.
Email: Business Republicans are now a minor party at 19% of the House.
For more on the emergence of the Birchers as a political party, read on below le chignon d'orange.
Nationally these Bircher Republicans show up pushing traditional John Birch Society positions, often using language that goes back decades. These positions range from eliminating use of fluoride in drinking water to opposing the teaching of evolution to anti-communism and anti-Islam to cutting off use of non-real estate tax revenues to help educate minority students.
Their public statements and the language of the Bills they pass in the House of Representatives fall far outside the bounds of mainstream Bush or Reagan or Eisenhower Republicanism. Still, JBS approved candidates began to achieve success as early as 1984. They replaced normal conservative Republicans steadily through 2004 and then made further inroads in 2010.
The official Tea Party Caucus has 60 members. Hard core Birchers show up with approximately 150 votes on key issues.
Large sums of money flow into some 250 congressional races. The propaganda arm of this movement has centered, in recent years, on Freedomworks. Dick Armey, Jack Kemp, C. Boyden Gray, Bill Bennett, Matt Kibbe, and Steve Forbes served as the familiar right wing mavens. Koch money goes for such as $10 million worth of campaign paraphernalia bearing modernized JBS slogans.
Bircher Republicans say, increasingly, that they are willing to shut down the day-to-day operations of the federal government, to default on debt payment, and to freeze all actions in Congress. Pursuit of the Bircher billionaires' agenda is what matters.
You would be hard pressed to find one elected national-office Democrat who is on board for the main elements of the Bircher agenda. Sixteen Democrats voted against this recent fiscal deal, but none of them are Birchers. (Alan Grayson in Florida helped fund Peg Dunmire. She served as an unwitting False Flag candidate, presenting as a Bircher-Fascisti. She attracted racist voters from a mainstream Republican opponent.)
A typical Bircher Republican reaction to the "Fiscal Cliff" vote is provided by Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina:
"We have not cut spending. In fact, the one place we were supposed to cut spending was on the sequester [and associated measures.] But that got delayed. So our question as conservatives is, when are we going to start this battle over spending? We've waited two years now. We're not going to wait much longer."Background The Birchers have run the country to the edge of default and over this "fiscal cliff." What does it take to make a political "battle" in their eyes?
The goals you see in their slogans are difficult to translate to law, except for fighting taxes:
· Honor the Constitution · Reduce the size and intrusiveness of the governmentOf course they oppose any and all jobs bills. Their ideas for traditional values run to bigotry, gun-nut fantasies, and a Pax Americana global militarism. They demonstrate no awareness of the management issues that underlie the big long-term budget issues. They never say a word about the Big Buck problems: medical expenses for chronic care and elderly disabled patients; the "mission creep" that has driven military spending since the Korean War; and our failure to keep up America's infrastructure of bridges, anti-drought reservoirs, and the like.
· Stop raising taxes
· No more bailouts or crony capitalism
· Repeal Obamacare
· Cease out-of-control spending
· Reduce the national debt
· Bring back American prosperity and jobs; and as noted by spud1,
· Restore traditional American values
"No awareness" is the key. Bircher candidates go out of their way to maintain Know Nothing status. At public events they refuse to answer questions. They never publish position papers or endorse professional work that establishes planned-and-budgeted government policy alternatives.
They like prayer. They do not like government action. And that is the prime drive of 150 Members of this 2013 session of the House of Representatives.
Essentially they are hostile to democracy, which for the United States of America developed from the sceptical, reality-testing premises of the Enlightenment. Here is the text, written by Gouverneur Morris as head copywriter of the 1787 "committee of style" (supporting the legal work of James Madison), that set forth our core goals and named the country:
Preamble to the Constitution We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.These Birch Society Republicans oppose large-scale government actions that would either "establish Justice" or "promote the general Welfare." They would stop at setting up police and sufficient schools to turn out some number of students with passable literacy. They were perfectly willing to go to the barricades to eliminate a simple CDC program to get rid of poisonous lead in the environment. The lead is thorooughly documented as poisonous. It affects millions of children. The Birchers would have none of it for federal lead abatement.
They are careful to keep their analysis statements to one-liner slogans. Here are the slogans that win top place in one of their polls:
· Dear President Obama, Did They Accept Our Apologies? · It Is When People Forget God That Tyrants Forge Their Chains (Patrick Henry)Apart from references to Soros and Obama, this could be the 1950s Birch Society. "Quanity" is a misspelling. Might have been done by the "moran" guy. And the alleged quote from John Jay is bogus.
· George Soros, Puppet Master
· God Has Given Us a Christian Nation (John Jay, 1st US Chief Justice)
· U.S. Out Of U.N.
· We Are Not Tolerant of Treason!
· Public Schools: Leftist Re-Education Camps
· An Education Without the Bible Is Useless (Noah Webster, Founding Father)
· Liberal Congress: Killing Our Economy and Raising Unemployment, Since 2006
· Seal The Borders NOW
· If Liberals Could Win an Election, Why Would They Need So Much Voter Fraud?
· Sheriff Joe Arpaio - A Real American!
· GOP Leaders, You Are the Problem! We Don't Want Moderates!
· BUILD THE FENCE
· It Isn't the Quanity (Term Limit), Its the Quality (Character)
· Loss of Sovereignty At Core of Obama Agenda
· Background Checks and Questionaires for All Politicians, Judges
· We Want an In-Depth Investigation of Soros, Obama, and Acorn!
· Get 'em Out Now! Every Day They Destroy America More!
· Mainstream Media, Hollywood - Guilty of Treason? Yes, They Are!
· Don't Expect Wicked Men to Pass Good Laws
· Clean Up the National Voter Registration System Up Now!
· Thank God for the 2nd Amendment
· Remove the RINOs from the Republican Party!
· Bring Family Values Back From Liberal Perversions
· Spend Our Taxes on National Security, Not Liberal Stupidity!
· Wipe Voter Roles Clean! Re-Register "Legal" Voters Only!
· Impeach Obama!
· O.B.A.M.A. = One Big A** Mistake, America
Plus that Noah Webster opposed religious education, developed his famous dictionary, and was a supporter but not a participant in the founding of the country. He served Alexander Hamilton by editing the Federalist Party's newspaper from 1793 and then continued successfully in the newspaper and printing business in New York.
The slogans attack the U.N., gun control, moderate Republicans, public schools, Hollywood, and a perceived wickedness in the elected officials of our democracy.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s one of the big John Birch Society themes of the day argued that the Supreme Court had a majority of "secret Communists." These guys today do not get to repeat that claim.
So that is what you've got for the Third Party. They are what they do.
The presidency is likely out of reach for them. As with Senate seats in the larger-population states, excepting Texas and Florida, there is too much publicity generated with the presidency for Birch Society Republicans to win a general election.
Presidential primaries are at the balance point. You could see a Bircher win a primary.
Low-population states' Senate seats are another matter. Rural House seats and Bible Belt seats are also winnable for these candidates. Where the winning total is under 500,000 votes and education level is below average, expect Birchers to do well.
State and local elections are raw meat for their candidates. Beware your local school board. They feast on low turnout elections.
The Deb Fischer campaign in Nebraska is typical of successful efforts. She offered no discrete policy proposals, repeated the same dozen slogans throughout, and ended up taking 57.8% of the popular vote (455,593 ballots) over Bob Kerrey.
Nebraskans think she is a centerist.
Similarly, Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District is represented by John Kline. They have no idea how he votes on issues. His campaigns echo Bircher slogans, but omit the anti-immigrant rants to achieve a 54.1% victory (193,586 ballots.) There is no local coverage for his actions in Congress.
People there in MN-02 think John Kline is a centerist.
In fact he gets a 97.8% rating on the right. That is about as far right as you can find, as most of these congressmen vote for "left" bills that support their local businesses and regional initiatives. For the fiscal deal, Kline voted with Boehner. Publicly he spoke against compromise with Obama.
It's all a shell game. Birch Society Republicans get campaign contributions from far right billionaires. For those functions they present as Americanize "Fascisti" with fundamental opposition to democratic ideals. They target other contributors bound up with Fundamentalist religiosity and all-out tax avoidance.
They are threats to win seats. They hold at least 150 House seats now and likely have a dozen more Members who backed the fiscal compromise for reason of expediency.
This is a strong political party. They may or may not see themselves as a distinct party. They run as a pack, not as a disciplined political party.
The Bircher clast is not like your father's Republican Party. It is the John Birch Society in word and deed. They conceal their agenda -- like Deb Fischer and John Kline -- and present publicly as moderates and good compromisers.
It is in too-large a part the "nut cases," such as the hate-driven bigots that Barry Goldwater worked to remove from his own conservative movement during the 1970s and 1980s.
It is fundamentally destructive.
Obama has succeeded in enhancing this split in his opposition by sharpening the self-identification of Members who vote in the Bircher caucus. Whether the split widens or goes back to status as a hidden fault line remains to be seen.
Obama has worked an effective strategy. He starts out issuing public statements that appear to "cave" on policy issues. Then a day or so later there follow detailed policy proposals from his Cabinet that undo the "caves" and infuriate Business Republican leadership. Political analysis within the two Republican camps is driven to utter confusion.
Birch Society Republicans, more than not, have had no idea what was going on. Birchers do not participate in negotiations.
As the Bircher came to distrust their Business Republican partners, they broke off in mid-December and formed their own political clast.
Obama has to know that the Birchers have no strategy whatsoever for their actions in the House of Representatives.
Birchers in the House have the one mainstream tactic: they vote against taxes. Nothing if not predictable. Even that tactic is in trouble, come March of 2013, because the debt ceiling and the "sequester" deadline are now set for the same day.
Consider the language of Obama's position on the debt ceiling:
President Obama in his weekly address, Honolulu, Hawaii. January 4, 2013.The main backers of the Business Republicans will need to see expensive alterations to the "sequester" deal to satisfy their donors -- not possible without offsetting tax increases. Obama presents these revenue increases as "closing loop holes." Business Republicans also have no use for Bircher squabbles related to the federal debt limit. Their backers live and die by NYSE stock prices.
And as I said earlier this week, one thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up. If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic. The last time Congress threatened this course of action, our entire economy suffered for it. Our families and our businesses cannot afford that dangerous game again.
"Divide and conquer" goes back to Julius Caesar and to Phillip II of Macedonia before him. You betcha, Barack Obama is aware of the concept.
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Thank you for the RECOMMEND upgrade.
The comments, here, are quite good. A half-dozen or so take up the effects of this divide amongst the Republicans and carry the analysis further than this diary by miles. Hopefully this will lead to several standalone diaries.
Birch Society Republicans have been "hiding in plain sight." They present themselves as "moderates" in congressional newsletters.
They form up as a major force in American politics -- overtly dishonest, destructive to governance and to democracy. We need to do a lot more than writing them off as a Mad Hatter "Tea Party."
As Joe Biden might say: "This is a big deal."
Originally posted to bontemps2012 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 08:59 PM PST.
Also republished by John Birch Society.
It didn't take Jennifer Bendery long to figure out what 100% of the new GOP House committee chairmen have in common, as she reports in House Committee Chairs Will All Be White Men In Next Congress.
WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced who will chair all of the major House committees in the next Congress. And it turns out they all have something in common besides party affiliation: they're all white men.Remember all the discussions about the Republican Party learning valuable lessons about the need to reach out and broaden their appeal to women and minorities? It doesn't look like they are getting off to a very good start.
There isn't a single woman or minority included in the mix of 19 House committee chairs announced Tuesday -- a stark reality for a party desperate to appeal to women and minorities after both groups overwhelmingly rejected Republicans just weeks ago in the presidential election. The one female committee chair that House Republicans currently have, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is stepping down because her term is up. While there are still two lower-tier House committees awaiting a chair assignment -- the Ethics Committee and House Administration -- neither committee has any women or minority members. ...
"Disappointed to see House committee chairmanships in the 113th Congress will not include a single woman. -PM," tweeted Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who included a link to Boehner's press release announcing the chair posts.
Of course, the Not Intended to Be a Factual Statement Party long ago concluded that the truth will not set them free. So when Romney pollster Neil Newhouse insisted "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," he was merely confirming the Republicans' standard operating procedure now in place for over 30 years.
So, as the Republicans make Mitt Romney their official nominee for President of the United States, here are 15 things the GOP doesn't you to know about taxes and the debt.
(Click a link to jump to the details for each below):
- President Obama Cut Taxes for Almost All Working Americans
- Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
- George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
- Reagan Raised Debt Ceiling 17 Times, Bush Seven
- Tax Cuts Don't Pay for Themselves
- Almost All Working Americans Pay Taxes
- The GOP's "Job Creators" Don't Create Jobs
- Low Capital Gains Taxes Fuel Income Inequality...
- ...But Not Investment
- The Estate Tax Has Virtually No Impact on Family Farms and Businesses
- Income Inequality Has Reached an 80 Year High...
- ...While the Federal Tax Burden Has Hit a 60 Year Low
- Romney-Ryan Plan Another Massive Tax Cut Windfall for the Wealthy
- Romney, Ryan Won't Say Which of the $1 Trillion in Tax Breaks GOP Will End
- Romney-Ryan Will Add More Debt Than President Obama
Back in April, Bloomberg News correctly reported that "Obama Delivers on Tax Cut Promises as Increases for Rich Blocked." Of course, you'd never know if you listened to Mitt Romney, who claimed that the President "has already raised taxes on millions of Americans, but he won't stop there."
During the campaign four years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama called for families making over $250,000 a year to return to their Clinton-era of income tax rate of 39.6 percent, up from 35 percent under President Bush. With his stimulus program in February 2009, President Obama as promised delivered tax relief for 95% of working families. As Steve Benen noted at the time, it was the largest two-year tax cut in American history. But thanks to the jet-engine decibel level of right-wing rage, a cacophony willingly amplified by the media, that accomplishment was drown out. As the New York Times asked just before the 2010 midterm elections, "What if a president cut Americans' income taxes by $116 billion and nobody noticed?"
In a New York Times/CBS News Poll last month, fewer than one in 10 respondents knew that the Obama administration had lowered taxes for most Americans. Half of those polled said they thought that their taxes had stayed the same, a third thought that their taxes had gone up, and about a tenth said they did not know.And that was before President Obama and Democrats in Congress secured a two-year reduction in Americans' payroll taxes.
What Americans may also not know if that both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan plan on delivering another windfall for the wealthy (below) even as they hike taxes for working Americans.
2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
Among the Republicans who prophesied the default doomsday scenario that almost unfolded last summer was none other than conservative patron saint, Ronald Reagan. As he warned Congress in November 1983:
"The full consequences of a default -- or even the serious prospect of default -- by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar."Reagan knew what he was talking about. After all, the hemorrhage of red ink at the U.S. Treasury was his doing.
supply-side tax cuts in 1981 quickly produced even more massive annual budget deficits. Combined with his rapid increase in defense spending, Reagan delivered not the balanced budgets he promised, but record-setting debt. Even his OMB alchemist David Stockman could not obscure the disaster with his famous "rosy scenarios."
Forced to raise taxes eleven times to avert financial catastrophe, the Gipper nonetheless presided over a tripling of the American national debt to nearly $3 trillion. By the time he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan more than equaled the entire debt burden produced by the previous 200 years of American history. It's no wonder Stockman lamented two years ago:
"[The] debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts."It's also no wonder the Gipper cited the skyrocketing deficits he bequeathed to America as his greatest regret.
3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
Following in Reagan's footsteps, George W. Bush buried the myth of Republican fiscal discipline.
Inheriting a federal budget in the black and CBO forecast for a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years, President George W. Bush quickly set about dismantling the progress made under Bill Clinton. Bush's $1.4 trillion tax cut in 2001, followed by a $550 billion second round in 2003, accounted for the bulk of the yawning budget deficits he produced. (It is more than a little ironic that Paul Ryan ten years ago called the tax cuts "too small" because he believed the estimated surplus Bush eviscerated would be even larger.)
In words and pictures, the New York Times tells the tale of what transpired:
rosy scenario to claim he would halve the budget deficit by 2009. Before the financial system meltdown last fall, Bush's deficit already reached $490 billion. (And even before the passage of the Wall Street bailout, Bush had presided over a $4 trillion increase in the national debt, a staggering 71% jump.) By January 2009, the mind-numbing deficit figure reached $1.2 trillion, forcing President Bush to raise the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion.
4. Reagan Raised Debt Ceiling 17 Times, Bush Seven
"Reagan," Vice President Dick Cheney famously declared in 2002, "proved deficits don't matter." Not, that is, unless a Democrat is in the White House.
For their part, Republicans want to pretend history began on January 20, 2009. While Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling claimed last year that for Republicans raising the debt ceiling is "contrary to our DNA," House Minority Leader Eric Cantor protested during his party's debt ceiling hostage-taking, "I don't think the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they're going to vote for a debt ceiling increase."
As McClatchy showed, Republicans are as bad at genetics and history as they are at economics:
when Bush left the White House for good.
The Republicans haven't always been against increasing the federal debt ceiling. This is the first time in recent history (the past decade or so) that no Republican has voted for the increase. In fact, on most of the ten other votes to increase the federal debt limit that the Senate has taken since 1997, the Republicans provided the majority of the votes in favor.As it turns out, Republican majorities voted to raise the U.S. debt ceiling seven times while George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office. (It should be noted, as Ezra Klein did, that party-line votes on debt ceiling increases tied to other legislation is not solely the province of the GOP.) As ThinkProgress pointed out, during the Bush presidency, the current GOP leadership team voted 19 times to increase debt limit. During his tenure, the U.S. national debt doubled, fueled by the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, the Medicare prescription drug plan, TARP and the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor voted for all of it and the debt which ensued because, as Orrin Hatch later explained:
"It was standard practice not to pay for things."5. Tax Cuts Don't Pay for Themselves
In his version of the Republican myth that "tax cuts pay for themselves," President Bush confidently proclaimed, "You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase." As it turned out, not so much.
This chart shows just how dire the tax revenue drought has become. For those Republicans who claim "tax cuts pay themselves," it's worth noting that federal revenue did not return to its pre-Bush tax cut level until 2006. (While this graph shows current dollars, the dynamic is unchanged measured in inflation-adjusted, constant 2005 dollars.)
Bush tax cuts accounted for half of the deficits during his tenure, and if made permanent, over the next decade would cost the U.S. Treasury more than Iraq, Afghanistan, the recession, TARP and the stimulus - combined. (See chart at top.)
As the Washington Post summed up the CBO's conclusions regarding the causes of the nation's mounting debt earlier this year, "The biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts." The analysis by the Times echoed that finding:
With President Obama and Republican leaders calling for cutting the budget by trillions over the next 10 years, it is worth asking how we got here -- from healthy surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and the promise of future surpluses, to nine straight years of deficits, including the $1.3 trillion shortfall in 2010. The answer is largely the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions.But as Ezra Klein explained in the Washington Post, the revealing Times chart doesn't tell the full story of the impact of Bush-era policies on future debt facing Barack Obama:
What's also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama's major expenses were temporary -- the stimulus is over now -- while Bush's were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn't just lower revenue for 10 years. It's clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost. Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years. And Boehner, Ryan and others voted for these laws and, in some cases, helped to craft and pass them.Nevertheless, as the Republican Party waged its all-out attack in 2010 to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the GOP's number two man in the Senate provided the talking point to help sell the $70 billion annual giveaway to America's rich. "You should never," Arizona's Jon Kyl declared, "have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans." For his part, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rushed to defend Kyl's fuzzy math:
"There's no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject."That may have been a view universally shared by virtually every Republican, but it happens to be wrong.
6. Almost All Working Americans Pay Taxes
Going back to the 2008 campaign, Republicans have kept up a steady drumbeat that "half of Americans don't pay taxes." That claim is no more true now than it was then.
In 2010, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt urged Americans to "look closer":
With Tax Day coming on Thursday, 47 percent has become shorthand for the notion that the wealthy face a much higher tax burden than they once did while growing numbers of Americans are effectively on the dole.
Neither one of those ideas is true. They rely on a cleverly selective reading of the facts. So does the 47 percent number.Labeling the 47% argument a "distraction" from "who really pays what in taxes," Leonhardt explained:
Even if the discussion is restricted to federal taxes (for which the statistics are better), a vast majority of households end up paying federal taxes. Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. The number 10 is obviously a lot smaller than 47.
The reason is that poor families generally pay more in payroll taxes than they receive through benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit. It's not just poor families for whom the payroll tax is a big deal, either. About three-quarters of all American households pay more in payroll taxes, which go toward Medicare and Social Security, than in income taxes.(Over the years, the Earned Income Tax Credit has enjoyed bipartisan support from the White House. Among its admirers was Ronald Reagan, who praised the EITC as "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.")
As Ezra Klein explained in April in the Washington Post:
But when we focus on the federal income tax, we miss all the taxes that low-income Americans do pay. The payroll tax, for instance. And state sales taxes. And lots of local taxes. Indeed, Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning tax policy group, produces a study every year showing the total tax burden for different groups once federal, state and local taxes are taken into account. And when you include all the taxes people pay, then, as you can see in the graph atop this post, it turns out that most Americans do pay taxes, and they in fact pay about as much as the rich.7. The GOP's "Job Creators" Don't Create Jobs
For years, Republicans have warned that President Obama's proposal to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the top two percent of taxpayers would crush "job creators." As Speaker Boehner protested:
"The top one percent of wage earners in the United States...pay forty percent of the income taxes...The people he's [President Obama] is talking about taxing are the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy."If so, those expectations were sadly unmet under George W. Bush. After all, the last time the top tax rate was 39.6 percent during the Clinton administration, the United States enjoyed rising incomes, 23 million new jobs and budget surpluses. Under Bush? Not so much.
On January 9, 2009, the Republican-friendly Wall Street Journal summed it up with an article titled simply, "Bush on Jobs: the Worst Track Record on Record." (The Journal's interactive table quantifies his staggering failure relative to every post-World War II president.) The meager one million jobs created under President Bush didn't merely pale in comparison to the 23 million produced during Bill Clinton's tenure. In September 2009, the Congressional Joint Economic Committee charted Bush's job creation disaster, the worst since Hoover.
That dismal performance prompted David Leonhardt of the New York Times to ask last fall, "Why should we believe that extending the Bush tax cuts will provide a big lift to growth?" His answer was unambiguous:
Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7...
Is there good evidence the tax cuts persuaded more people to join the work force (because they would be able to keep more of their income)? Not really. The labor-force participation rate fell in the years after 2001 and has never again approached its record in the year 2000.
Is there evidence that the tax cuts led to a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation? Again, no. The rate at which start-up businesses created jobs fell during the past decade.faster economic growth or more jobs for Americans.
Mark Shields asked and answered in April:
"Do tax cuts help 'job creators' or 'robber barons'?"Just days after the Washington Post documented that George W. Bush presided over the worst eight-year economic performance in the modern American presidency, the New York Times in January 2009 featured an analysis comparing presidential performance going back to Eisenhower. As the Times showed, George W. Bush, the first MBA president, was a historic failure when it came to expanding GDP, producing jobs and even fueling stock market growth. Apparently, America's job creators can create a lot more jobs when their taxes are higher - even much higher - than they are today.
CBO data on effective tax rates by income quintile.)
8. Low Capital Gains Taxes Fuel Income Inequality...
For years, Republicans have also wanted to slash capital gains taxes. (The 2011 and 2012 House GOP budgets authored by Paul Ryan would eliminate them altogether.) Predictably, that would only serve to make the very rich much, much richer.
In September, an analysis by the Washington Post concluded that "capital gains tax rates benefiting wealthy feed [the] growing gap between rich and poor." As the Post explained, for the very richest Americans the successive capital gains tax cuts from Presidents Clinton (from 28 to 20 percent) and Bush (from 20 to 15 percent) have been "better than any Christmas gift":
While it's true that many middle-class Americans own stocks or bonds, they tend to stash them in tax-sheltered retirement accounts, where the capital gains rate does not apply. By contrast, the richest Americans reap huge benefits. Over the past 20 years, more than 80 percent of the capital gains income realized in the United States has gone to 5 percent of the people; about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent.This convenient chart tells the tale:
poverty was rising and average household income had fallen - the 400 richest taxpayers saw their incomes double to an average of $345 million even as their effective tax rate was virtually halved. As the Washington Post noted, "The 400 richest taxpayers in 2008 counted 60 percent of their income in the form of capital gains and 8 percent from salary and wages. The rest of the country reported 5 percent in capital gains and 72 percent in salary."
Mitt Romney, who thanks to the "carried interest exemption" pays the low capital gains rate for most of income, told Newt Gingrich during a GOP debate:
"Well, under [your] plan, I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years."9. ...But Not Investment
Much lower tax rates for capital gains than income earned through labor, conservatives claim, spur investment, catalyze economic growth and fuel job creation. But if that Republican theology isn't true, then the United States has for decades done nothing more than deliver a massive windfall to the wealthiest Americans needing it least. Unfortunately, that's precisely what the data show. As it turns out, lower capital gains taxes increase income inequality - and not investment - in America.
As Paul Krugman recounted, the historically low capital gains rate enjoyed by the likes of Mitt Romney hasn't always been 15 percent. In the not-too-distant past, it reached 39.9 percent and before the Reagan tax reform of 1986 was the same as the top tax rate on income. But successive presidents of both parties lowered the capital gains rate on investment income because they believed, the Washington Post explained, "it spurs more investment in the U.S. economy, benefiting all Americans."
But as Jared Bernstein demonstrated with the chart below, there's no evidence to support that claim.
Hard to see anything in the picture supporting the view that either the level or changes in cap gains taxes play a determinant role in investment decisions.
Remember, the ostensible reason for the favoritism in tax treatment here is to incentivize more investment and faster productivity growth. But that's not in the data and the reason it's not in the data is because investors aren't nearly as elastic to cap gains rates as their lobbyists say they are (more precisely, they'll carefully time their realizations to maximize their gains around rate changes, but that's not real economic activity-that's tax planning).Reviewing other analyses, Brad Plummer of the Washington Post concurred with that assessment that low capital gains taxes don't necessarily jump-start investment in the economy:
The top tax rate on investment income has bounced up and down over the past 80 years -- from as high as 39.9 percent in 1977 to just 15 percent today -- yet investment just appears to grow with the cycle, seemingly unaffected...Billionaire Warren Buffett, the inspiration for the "Buffett Rule" advocated by President Obama and his Democratic allies, couldn't agree more. As he told the New York Times last year:
Meanwhile, Troy Kravitz and Len Burman of the Urban Institute have shown that, over the past 50 years, there's no correlation between the top capital gains tax rate and U.S. economic growth -- even if you allow for a lag of up to five years.
"I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone -- not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 -- shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off."But if lower capital gains tax rates have had little impact on investment, they have had an outsized impact on income inequality in the United States. As the Congressional Research Service (CRS) explained in December
Capital gains and dividends were a larger share of total income in 2006 than in 1996 (especially for high-income taxpayers) and were more unequally distributed in 2006 than in 1996. Changes in capital gains and dividends were the largest contributor to the increase in the overall income inequality. Taxes were less progressive in 2006 than in 1996, and consequently, tax policy also contributed to the increase in income inequality between 1996 and 2006.10. The Estate Tax Has Virtually No Impact on Family Farms and Businesses
The Republican scam over the so-called "death tax" is as bogus now as it was when President Bush first perpetrated it during the 2000 election. Both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to eliminate the tax - and the billions in annual revenue it generates for the U.S. government - altogether.
As former Nevada Senator John Ensign griped, "It destroys a lot of small businesses and a lot of family farms and ranches in America," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) groused:
"People who aren't wealthy, who may have built up value in land over generations and many family farms find themselves in situations where they've got to sell the farm in order the pay the taxes."Sadly for conservative myth-makers, that claim, too, is completely false.
less than a quarter of one percent of American estates each year. Despite Republican mythology to the contrary, the Tax Policy Center reported that in 2009 fewer than 2,700 family farms and businesses owed the tax to Uncle Sam. But thanks to successful Republican brinksmanship, the December 2010 tax cut compromise lowered the rate from 45 percent to 35 percent while boosting the estate tax exemption to $10 million per couple, dropping the number of families impacted to just 40 a year. Now, Mitt Romney wants to make sure those 40 richest estates estimated to now pay the tax each year could keep billions of dollars away from the federal government.
And among those 40 estates would be his own. With President Romney zeroing out the estate tax, his five sons and 18 grandchildren would get a golden shower when their grandparents Mitt and Ann leave the scene. Their payday courtesy of all other American taxpayers could reach $84,000,000, that is, 35 percent of $240 million. (The Romney clan's winnings courtesy of the U.S. Treasury pale in comparison to the billions to be saved by the billionaires who back Mitt Romney and his Super PAC.)
11. Income Inequality is at an 80 Year High...
As ThinkProgress demonstrated (see charts above), historically lower tax rates for the richest Americans did not produce either more job creation or faster economic growth. (In fact, the Bush years produced what Leonhardt rightly labeled as "The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II.") But what the conservative cornucopia for the gilded-class does reliably produce is unprecedented income inequality.
CBPP) found a financial Grand Canyon separating the very rich from everyone else. Over the three decades ending in 2007, the top 1 percent's share of the nation's total after-tax household income more than doubled, from 7.5 percent to 17.1 percent. During that time, the share of the middle 60% of Americans dropped from 51.1 percent to 43.5 percent; the bottom four-fifths declined from 58 percent to 48 percent. As for the poor, they fell further and further behind, with the lowest quintile's income share sliding to just 4.9%. Expressed in dollar terms, the income gap is staggering:
Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1 percent rose by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation -- an increase in income of $973,100 per household -- compared to increases of 25 percent ($11,200 per household) for the middle fifth of households and 16 percent ($2,400 per household) for the bottom fifth.economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty documented, income inequality isn't just as it highest level since the Great Depression. The rich, it turns out, have already more than recovered from the impact of the Bush recession which began in late 2007:
They have found that the trends have mostly continued. From 2000 to 2007, incomes for the bottom 90 percent of earners rose only about 4 percent, once adjusted for inflation. For the top 0.1 percent, incomes climbed about 94 percent.
The recession interrupted the trend, with the sharp decline in stock prices hitting the pocketbooks of the rich. But the income share of 1 percent has since rebounded. Data that the two economists released in March showed that the top 1 percent of earners got nearly every dollar of the income gains eked out in the first full year of the recovery. In 2010, the top 10 percent of earners took about half of overall income.12. ...While the Federal Tax Burden is at a 60 Year Low
During the height of the Republicans' debt ceiling hostage-taking last summer, Speaker Boehner said the road to a compromise was my way or the highway:
"Medicare, Medicaid - everything should be on the table, except raising taxes."Which purely by the numbers (if not ideology) is an odd position to take. After all, as a percentage of the U.S. economy, the total federal tax bite hasn't been this low in 60 years.
AP reported, "as a share of the nation's economy, Uncle Sam's take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way." In January, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) explained that "revenues would be just under 15 percent of GDP; levels that low have not been seen since 1950." That finding echoed an earlier analysis from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last April, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded, "Middle-income Americans are now paying federal taxes at or near historically low levels, according to the latest available data." As USA Today reported in May 2010, the BEA data debunked yet another right-wing myth:
Federal, state and local taxes -- including income, property, sales and other taxes -- consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.
"The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts," says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.Or as former Reagan Treasury official Bruce Bartlett explained it in the New York Times:
In short, by the broadest measure of the tax rate, the current level is unusually low and has been for some time. Revenues were 14.9 percent of G.D.P. in both 2009 and 2010. Yet if one listens to Republicans, one would think that taxes have never been higher, that an excessive tax burden is the most important constraint holding back economic growth and that a big tax cut is exactly what the economy needs to get growing again.13. Romney-Ryan Plan Another Massive Tax Cut Windfall for the Wealthy
Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would reduce corporate taxes from 35 to 25 percent. The top marginal income tax rate would be slashed from 35 percent to 25 percent (for Ryan) or 28 percent (for Romney). But while the former Massachusetts Governor is offering a 20 percent across-the-board cut to all of the current tax brackets, Ryan wants to move to only two: 10 and 25 percent. Ryan-Romney also ends the AMT and by repealing the Affordable Care, the taxes on higher-earners used to help pay for it. (Both men also want to eliminate the estate tax, a move which could theoretically deliver the Romney heirs an $80 million windfall.)
The result of the Ryan plan is predictable. As ThinkProgress explained:
In all, those tax breaks amount to a $3 trillion giveaway to the richest Americans and corporations, according to the Tax Policy Center. Repealing the repatriation tax would add roughly $130 billion to that.ThinkProgress:
Romney's claim that his plan would promote job and economic growth while reducing the deficit is also likely false. The Bush tax cuts were promoted under the same guise, only to blow a $2.5-trillion hole in the federal budget that was accompanied by worst performance of any post-war expansion" for growth in investment, GDP, and job creation. Romney's tax cuts are even more expensive, clocking in at a cost of more than $10.7 trillion over the next decade and reducing revenue to a paltry 15 percent of GDP, according to Linden. Balancing the budget on those terms, as Romney claims he will do, would be next to impossible.In a nutshell, Romney's massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy makes George W. Bush look like Karl Marx.
Tax Policy Center revealed, that chart actually understates just how regressive Romney's tax plan really is. Even after assuming the closure of tax loopholes and deductions which disproportionately favor the rich (see below), TPC forecast that President Romney would cut taxes for the richest five percent of earners while increasing the tax bill for the other 95 percent of Americans.
Ezra Klein concluded that "'broadening the base and lowering the rates' is anti-family tax reform," adding:
"The size of the tax cut he's proposing for the rich is larger than all of the tax expenditures that go to the rich put together. As such, it is mathematically impossible for him to keep his promise to make sure the top one percent keeps paying the same or more."14. Romney, Ryan Won't Say Which of the $1 Trillion in Tax Breaks GOP Will End
Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have promised to slash tax rates and yet still balance the budget by getting "rid of the special interest loopholes, special deductions, lower everybody's tax rates, bring in at least as much revenue to the government." But because neither Romney nor Ryan has had the courage to publicly state which loopholes and deductions they would end, the inevitable result (see 15, below) would be trillions in new national debt.
But their cowardice is to be expected. As the New York Times recently revealed, that trillion dollars in annual tax expenditures is now larger than Uncle Sam's take from the income tax each year. And as the Washington Post highlighted last year, "ever-increasing tax breaks for U.S. families eclipse benefits for special interests"
estimated $1.3 trillion in annual tax expenditures in 2015 (a figure larger than the entire 2012 budget deficit and equivalent to about a third of the $3.8 trillion in federal spending next year) benefit working and middle income Americans. For example, the home mortgage tax deduction was worth $89 billion in 2011. Tax-deferred 401K accounts cost the Treasury $63 billion. The Earned Income Tax Credit had a similar $63 billion price tag last year.
Yet, as Paul Krugman pointed out in "Pink Slime Economics," the deductions and loopholes are the mystery meat in Paul Ryan's budgetary dog food:
We're talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That's a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?
None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That's the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)In April, the New York Times put Krugman's question into a handy chart of "Who Gains Most from Tax Breaks":
15. Romney-Ryan Will Add More Debt Than President Obama
Mitt Romney may "love data", but he has a serious problem with math. He has simultaneously promised to (a) extend the Bush tax cuts and then slash all rates by an additional 20 percent; (b) keep Uncle Sam's total take "revenue-neutral" and (c) eventually "Cut, Cap and Balance" the budget while (d) ensuring "that high-income people would continue to pay the same share of the tax burden that they do today." Like guaranteeing that the sun will rise in the west and set in the east, Romney's pledge is literally impossible.
His running mate does little better. That may seem like a surprising result, given Rep. Ryan's declaration that his mission is to "prevent an explosion of debt from crippling our nation and robbing our children of their future." But even with his draconian budget blueprint that cuts Medicaid by a third, ends Medicare as we know it, adds 48 million people to the ranks of the uninsured and by 2050 would result in ending all non-defense discretionary spending, over the next decade Ryan would unleash torrents of red ink from the U.S. Treasury. Ezra Klein explained how Paul Ryan came up $6.2 trillion short:
The Tax Policy Center looked into the revenue loss associated with House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to cut the tax code down to two rates of 10 percent and 25 percent. They estimate the changes would raise $31.1 trillion over 10 years, or 15.4 percent of GDP. That's $10 trillion less than the tax code would raise if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, and $4.6 trillion less than it would raise if all of the Bush tax cuts were extended.
The Republican congressman says he'll "broaden the tax base to maintain revenue...consistent with historical norms of 18 to 19 percent." So let's say Ryan needs to find close-enough deductions and loopholes to hit 18.5 percent of GDP. That means he'd need to close about $6.2 trillion in tax deductions and loopholes over 10 years.But Ryan evades the responsibility for making the numbers work and taking the heat for ending popular deductions, a role he punts to the House Ways and Means Committee to "show how they would go about doing this." It's no wonder Greg Sargent said Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" plan simply "is not serious" while the New York Times called it "careless."
And one other thing. Over the next 10 years, the Ryan House budget would add substantially more to the national debt than President Obama's proposed 2013 plan.
As the Center for American Progress explained, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of the Ryan budget "did not test Rep. Ryan's claims about how his policies would actually affect spending or revenue," but "merely showed what would happen to the debt if his claims were true." In a nutshell, they are not:
But the House budget's entire claim to deficit reduction is built on the foundation of those fantasy revenue levels. Without them, the debt goes up, not down. In fact, with all the House budget's tax cuts properly accounted for, revenue would average just 15.3 percent of GDP from 2013 through 2022, not 18.3 percent. The result: deficits would never drop below 4.4 percent of GDP, and would rise to more than 5 percent of GDP by 2022.
The national debt, measured as a share of GDP, would never decline, surpassing 80 percent by 2014, and 90 percent by 2022. By comparison, President Barack Obama's budget proposal, released in February, would stabilize the debt by 2015, and bring it down to 76 percent by 2022.Mitt Romney also rolled out a new economic plan, one which similarly hemorrhages red ink.
As it turns out, Romney's scheme to "Cut, Cap and Balance" the federal budget does nothing of the sort. For starters, while gutting the social safety net in order to fund yet another tax cut payday for the gilded-class, Romney also wants to expand U.S. defense spending to its highest level in decades. All told, he would lavishly expand Pentagon spending by $2.1 trillion over the next decade:
Washington Post explained in its discussion of an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, "until the campaign offers a more specific plan, Budget Watch analysts said Romney's entire framework would add about $2.6 trillion to the debt by 2021." (As ThinkProgress and the Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Ezra Klein all explained, that's likely a conservative estimate.)
CAP put it this way:
The various fiscal promises Gov. Romney makes simply cannot work together. He cannot simultaneously cut taxes as he's proposed, increase defense spending, protect Social Security and Medicare for current and near-future retirees, and also balance the budget. It is mathematically impossible.Mathematically impossible and, for the American people, catastrophic.
CHARTING GOVERNMENT DEPENDENTS 18SEP12
…you don't owe federal income taxes because you're a working mom, a soldier, a millionaire, or a corporation.
…just pretty wealthy
…living in a red state
…the lucky Beneficiary of republican tax policies
…down on your luck
…a Senior Citizen
…in a combat zone
Mitt Romney's "47 percent," meet Paul Ryan's "takers."
Romney is finally backing off his controversial comments, but the theme that the nation is divided into makers and government-dependent takers is one of long standing for both Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. The GOP vice presidential candidate has repeatedly made statements that suggest he sees America in Ayn Randian terms—that many citizens are just takers, parasites who leech off productive citizens, the makers. As this collection of rarely seen videos shows, this has been a recurrent talking point for Ryan in small gatherings for years.
"Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes," he said on the June 2010 edition of Washington Watch. "So we're going to a majority of takers versus makers." By November 2011, in an address he gave at an American Spectator event, Ryan put the number of takers at 30 percent. (That remark was first reported by Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post.)
Ryan has also warned about President Barack Obama creating "more of a permanent class of government dependents"—language that echoes Romney's take on the "47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
Todd Akin In 2008: Doctors Give Abortions To Women Who Aren't Pregnant & Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (VIDEO) 2OKT12&19AUG12
As Slate's Amanda Marcotte reported Tuesday, Akin gave a speech on the House floor in 2008 denouncing abortion providers as "terrorists," claiming that they sometimes perform abortions on women who "are not actually pregnant":
"It is no big surprise that we fight the terrorists because they are fundamentally un-American, and yet we have terrorists in our own culture called abortionists. One of the good pieces of news why we are winning this war is because there are not enough heartless doctors being graduated from medical schools. There is a real shortage of abortionists. Who wants to be at the very bottom of the food chain of medical profession? And what sort of places do these bottom-of-the-food-chain doctors work in? Places that are really a pit. You find that along with the culture of death go all kinds of other law-breaking: not following good sanitary procedure, giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant, cheating on taxes, all these kinds of things, misuse of anesthetics so that people die or almost die."Akin's allegation of doctors performing abortions on non-pregnant women is particularly puzzling, since, by definition, an abortion cannot be performed if there is no pregnancy to terminate.
Akin, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, also gave a speech in 2005 on stem cell research, expressing his concern that a science-fiction story his daughter wrote about humans being harvested for body parts could become reality.
"Oppose public funding that destroys little yous and mes, and oppose this harvest of destruction," he urged his congressional colleagues considering a stem cell research bill.
Despite the overwhelming backlash to Akin's "legitimate rape" claim, the Republican has a good chance of beating incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in next month's election. The latest polling shows Akin with a lead of one percentage point over McCaskill, and a number of Republicans, including Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint and Newt Gingrich, have come out in support of Akin in recent weeks.
Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (VIDEO) 19AUG12
In an interview with KTVI-TV on Sunday, the GOP Senate nominee was asked if he supported abortion in the case of rape.
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."
Akin won a three-way primary on Aug. 7 for the rights to a November battle against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). McCaskill was "stunned" by Akin's Sunday comments.
After Akin's primary win, McCaskill wasted little time in pouncing on his conservative record, calling the congressman "out of touch."
"We're going to prove to Missourians that Todd Akin is out of touch with their problems, out of touch with the pain that they feel, and out of touch with the views that they hold dear," she said back on Aug. 8.
Akin's comments on abortion and rape come less than two weeks after he suggested banning the morning-after pill.
“As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country,” he said in an Aug.8 interview with KCMO radio.
UPDATE (5:25 p.m. ET): Akin's campaign released a statement Sunday on the issue, where the congressman admitted that he "misspoke" in the KTVI interview.
"As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve. "I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/19/todd-akin-abortion-legitimate-rape_n_1807381.html?utm_hp_ref=todd-akin
"But I also believe that this election is about a wide range of very important issues, starting with the economy and the type of country we will be leaving our children and grandchildren. We've had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs. That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats' failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead."
Racist, Offensive Mecklenburg, VA Republican Committee Photos Show What We're Fighting Against 26SEP12
The Mecklenburg County Republican Party of Virginia has disgraced itself (on its Facebook page), but at the same time it's also clearly demonstrated what today's John Birch Society, aka "Republican Party," is all about (note: also recall the recent mock lynching of "Nobama" in Centreville). It also reminds us, as clear as can be, what we're fighting against this election (and in general against this version of the Teapublican Party): unabashed racism, extremism, anger, hatred, intolerance, Islamophobia, insanity, and ignorance. Check out a sampling of photos they find amusing, and which really say it all. Oh, and don't forget: VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6 for EVERY DEMOCRAT on the ballot!
P.S. The Republican Party of Virginia has ordered that these offensive photos be taken down, but I'd point out a couple things: 1) they were up there for a while, nobody noticed or found them offensive until now?!?; and 2) as of this morning, they're still up...
P.P.S. As someone asks in the comments, where are the pictures of the Republicans' good ideas? That's right, there aren't any; just bigotry, hatred, ignorance, anger, etc.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention, GREAT work by Progress Virginia in uncovering these images and shining a light on them!
BY THE BY, DON'T SEND A VIRGINIAN (george allen) WHO WASN'T OFFENDED BY THESE IMAGES UNTIL THE REST OF THE WORLD FOUND OUT ABOUT THEM TO THE US SENATE THIS FALL. SUPPORT, DONATE TO AND VOTE FOR TIM KAINE ON 6 NOV, HE WILL REPRESENT ALL VIRGINIANS WITH THE INTEGRITY AND CIVILITY WE DESERVE.
That's the only way to describe the images that the Mecklenburg County Republican Committee has posted of President Obama as a witch doctor, caveman, and thug. They've been denounced across the state, but the committee's chairman is unapologetic. You won't believe what this guy said:
"If that group is that sensitive, I'm sorry, they're just not human.It's not American. If they've got a problem with it, we're not going to change what we do." He added, "they don't have to look at it.I'm not ashamed of it."
This hateful imagery and harsh rhetoric are exactly the kind of divisiveness we don't need in our politics -- and there's no place for it in our Commonwealth. When Tim Kaine talks about how folks in politics can't just go into their partisan corners and refuse to work together, this is what he means.
Tim has a record of bringing people together to work on behalf of Virginians, and he's committed to taking that bridge-building approach to Washington. But with the other side spending more than $13 million in divisive attacks against him, he needs powerful grassroots support to get there.
Make a contribution today to help us reach our goal of raising $500,000 before our critical end-of-quarter deadline on September 30th.
This isn't the first time we've seen offensive content coming out of a Virginia Republican committee. Last year, the Loudoun County committee distributed an image of President Obama with a bullet in his head, and in March, the Greene County committee called for "armed revolution" if the President is re-elected. You can't make this stuff up.
Tim believes that politics should be about getting people to participate in our democratic process, not tear it down. Spreading incendiary words and pictures are below our standard for political discourse here in Virginia -- and we have to reject it forcefully by sending leaders to Congress who will focus on finding common ground instead of engaging in extreme partisanship.
Contribute to help us reach our goal and reject the politics of division.
More photos on the "flip"
Mitt Romney repeats claim that Obama went around the world apologizing for the United States 22SEP11
President Obama "went around the world and apologized for America."Mitt Romney on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 in a debate in Orlando, Fla.
Mitt Romney repeats claim that Obama went around the world apologizing for the United States
President Obama "went around the world and apologized for America," Romney said, in response to a question about Israel and the Middle East.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has made this charge several times. The first time we checked it was when he made the charge is his own book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.
Here’s the claim from Romney’s book that we checked back then:
"Never before in American history has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined," Romney wrote. "It is his way of signaling to foreign countries and foreign leaders that their dislike for America is something he understands and that is, at least in part, understandable. There are anti-American fires burning all across the globe; President Obama's words are like kindling to them."
In the book, Romney specifically named the speeches he was referring to:
"In his first nine months in office, President Obama has issued apologies and criticisms of America in speeches in France, England, Turkey, and Cairo; at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City. He has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, and for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations and for feeding anti-Muslim sentiments; for committing torture, for dragging our feet on global warming and for selectively promoting democracy."
At the time, we rated the claim False.
Romney made a similar claim in June 2011 during a campaign appearance when he said, "A few months into office, (President Barack Obama) traveled around the globe to apologize for America." We rated that one Pants on Fire, because he implied the trips were intended to offer the president a forum to apologize to other countries. That was hardly the case.
Let’s recap our specific findings.
What Obama said
For starters, as we looked over Obama's remarks, we noticed that he never used the word that is the universal hallmark of apologies: "sorry." Merriam-Webster defines an apology as "an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret."
We read the seven Obama speeches cited in Romney’s book and selected the passages that seemed the most critical, apologetic or conciliatory, and then ran them by several experts with different points of view. Because of their length, we've compiled those passages into a separate document with links to the full remarks, and we encourage you to click over and read those remarks now.
At times, Obama uses an on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand formulation that he tends to employ right before he asks the two sides to come together.
At a town hall meeting in France, for example, Obama encouraged Europe to work with the United States, and admitted that the United States "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." But he immediately said that Europe has been guilty of a "casual" and "insidious" anti-Americanism. "On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated," Obama concluded. And at a major address to the United Nations, Obama said, "I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. And this has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction."
At other times, Obama doesn't seem so much to be criticizing the United States as he is criticizing the foreign policy stances of the Bush administration. In England, a reporter said that during the 2008 campaign, Obama had said that the power and authority of the United States had diminished in recent years. Obama was quick to turn the question toward the Bush team. "Well, first of all, during the campaign I did not say that some of that loss of authority was inevitable," Obama said. "I said it was traced to very specific decisions that the previous administration had made that I believed had lowered our standing in the world.... I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world."
At a speech in Cairo on relations between the United States and the Islamic world, Obama got very close to regretting decades-old U.S. actions in Iran. But then he immediately countered with criticism of Iran. He did not make a formal expression of regret, but suggested both countries simply "move forward." Here are his exact remarks: "In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward."
Looking at all the remarks Romney cited, we noticed that Obama is most conciliatory when discussing torture and detention at the U.S. military installation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama mentioned this in four separate instances that Romney cited in his book. Typically, Obama would say that the United States must always stay true to its ideals, and that's why Obama "unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year." (He has not been successful with his order of closing Guantanamo; we’ve rated it a Promise Broken.)
Obama's most pointed remarks on Guantanamo were at the National Archives, in a major speech on fighting terrorism. Obama said that after 9/11, "our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions." He also said that the Guantanamo prison "likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained. So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies."
Did Obama apologize?
Back in 2010, we sent Obama's remarks to several different experts on foreign policy and apologies, to see if they thought Obama was apologizing.
• Nile Gardiner, a foreign policy analyst with the the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Obama is definitely apologizing, and it's not good. He co-wrote the Heritage analysis, "Barack Obama's Top 10 Apologies: How the President Has Humiliated a Superpower."
"Apologizing for your own country projects an image of weakness before both allies and enemies," Gardiner said. "It sends a very clear signal that the U.S. is to blame for some major developments on the world stage. This can be used to the advantage of those who wish to undermine American global leadership."
He noted that Obama tends to be most apologetic about how the United States has fought terrorism and its approach to the Iraq war. "There is a very strong partisan element to his apologies, but the biggest driving factor is Obama's personal belief that the U.S. is not an exceptional, uniquely great nation," he said.
• John Murphy, a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studies presidential rhetoric and political language. He said Obama is using conciliatory language for diplomatic purposes, not apologizing.
"It's much more a sense of establishing of reciprocity," Murphy said. "Each side says, okay, we haven't done great, but we have a new president and we're going to make a fresh start and move forward. I don't think that's an apology. ... In rhetorical history, an apology is generally considered an account of some kind of bad behavior in which you are going to take responsibility and express regret."
Romney's criticisms of Obama are part of a conservative tradition that emphasizes steadfastness in foreign policy, particularly in the wake of the Vietnam War. "There's long been a strain of conservative rhetoric that argues that what matters most for the United States in the world is our will," Murphy said. "The difficulty with that was shown in the second Bush administration, when will power is not quite enough. In Iraq, for example, you have to have a battle plan that makes sense and understand the situation you're going into'' and have enough resources to do that.
• Lauren Bloom, an attorney and business consultant, wrote the book, The Art of the Apology, advising businesses and individuals on when to apologize and how to do it.
She said Obama's words fall short of an apology, mostly because he didn't use the words "sorry" or "regret." "I think to make an effective apology, the words 'I'm sorry' or 'we're sorry' always have to be there," Bloom said.
Obama's remarks are really non-apologies, and they're not good in business or personal relationships, Bloom said. The one area where they can be useful: international diplomacy.
"Gov. Romney is trying to appeal to the inner John Wayne of his readers, and that has a certain emotional appeal," Bloom said. "For the rest of us, a level assessment of less-than-perfect human behavior is perfectly reasonable."
• Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann, a professor who studies international human rights, maintains the Web site Political Apologies and Reparations, a database of documents on apologies. Many of the apologies in the database relate to genocide or slavery.
"To say the United States will not torture is not an apology, it is a statement of intent," Howard-Hassman said. "A complete apology has to acknowledge something was wrong, accept responsibility, express sorrow or regret and promise not to repeat it."
Obama's Cairo address in particular was a means of reaching out to the Islamic world, not an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, she said.
"Whether he's apologizing or not, he's saying 'I respect your society, and I respect your customs.' Maybe that's what Romney considers an apology, that gesture of respect," she said. "But a gesture of respect is not an apology."
Other presidential apologies
Short of conducting a full review of all American presidents to see if any others had ever apologized, we decided to narrow our focus and look at Obama's two immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Several sources we reviewed discussed Clinton's remarks about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and described them as an apology. But Clinton did not explicitly apologize, and he assigned responsibility to the international community, not just the United States. "The international community, together with nations in Africa, must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy as well," Clinton said in Rwanda in 1998. "We did not act quickly enough after the killing began. We should not have allowed the refugee camps to become safe haven for the killers. We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide. We cannot change the past. But we can and must do everything in our power to help you build a future without fear, and full of hope."
Clinton did apologize, forcefully, to the survivors and families of the experiments conducted in Tuskegee, Ala., in which government doctors left sick men untreated as part of a research study on syphilis. "The United States government did something that was wrong -- deeply, profoundly, morally wrong," Clinton said at a formal ceremony in 1997. "To the survivors, to the wives and family members, the children and the grandchildren, I say what you know: No power on Earth can give you back the lives lost, the pain suffered, the years of internal torment and anguish. What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry."
Bush made remarks in 2002 about American slavery, which some people construed as an apology, at Goree Island, Senegal. But Bush did not formally apologize or express regret, instead opting to praise the Americans in history who worked to end slavery. "My nation's journey toward justice has not been easy, and it is not over," he said. "The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times. But however long the journey, our destination is set: liberty and justice for all."
Bush did, however, specifically apologize to King Abdullah of Jordan for the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The 2004 apology took place privately, but Bush and Abdullah spoke soon after at a Rose Garden press conference. "We also talked about what has been on the TV screens recently, not only in our own country, but overseas -- the images of cruelty and humiliation. I told His Majesty as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice, and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America," Bush said. "I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America."
Obama's praise and motivations
While Obama has admitted mistakes, he has also praised America. Romney acknowledged as much when he wrote that Obama, "always the skillful politician, will throw in compliments about America here and there."
In Cairo, Obama called the United States "one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. ... We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words -- within our borders, and around the world." At the Langley speech, Obama told the CIA staff, "What makes the United States special, and what makes you special, is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy; even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it's expedient to do so. That's what makes us different. So, yes, you've got a harder job. And so do I. And that's okay, because that's why we can take such extraordinary pride in being Americans. And over the long term, that is why I believe we will defeat our enemies, because we're on the better side of history."
And at his speech accepting the Nobel Prize, Obama said: "Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity."
What’s new from the debate
What Romney said at the debate in Orlando -- "He went around the world and apologized for America" -- is very similar to what he said at his campaign stop in June -- "A few months into office, he traveled around the globe to apologize for America."
At the debate, Romney added this comment: "He addressed the United Nations in his inaugural address and chastised our friend, Israel, for building settlements and said nothing about Hamas launching thousands of rockets into Israel."
We looked again at Obama's first speech at the United Nations. It's true that he does not specifically mention Hamas. But it's certainly not a one-sided chastisement of Israel. Obama repeatedly calls on Palestinians to understand and respect Israel's security needs. And he specifically mentions the fear Israeli civilians have of rocket attacks.
"We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It's not paid by politicians," Obama said. "It's paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It's paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own."
Some of the Obama speeches that Romney cited in his book certainly laid out Obama’s foreign policy ideas, and it seems fair to say that a less confrontational approach was among Obama’s goals. Obama had made no secret during the campaign that he intended to set a different course on foreign policy than Bush -- a committed unilateralist -- had pursued.
Still, we think it’s incorrect for Romney to portray these early speeches as part of a global apology tour. Using Romney’s standard, you could argue that any change in foreign policy that’s undertaken after a presidential transition and announced to the world would constitute an "apology" for the previous policy.
On the substance of Romney’s charge, we believe that what we wrote in March 2010 still stands. While Obama's speeches contained some criticisms of past U.S. actions, those passages were typically leavened by praise for the United States and its ideals, and he frequently mentioned how other countries have erred as well. We found not a single, full-throated apology in the bunch. And on the new angle Romney has added -- that the trips were intended to offer the president a forum to apologize to other countries -- we think it’s a ridiculous charge. There’s a clear difference between changing policies and apologizing, and Obama didn’t do the latter. So we rate Romney’s statement Pants on Fire.
HERE are the speech excerpts referenced above
Obama took questions at a town hall meeting in Strasbourg, France, on April 9, 2009. He opened the meeting with remarks on the U.S.-Europe relationship and said that the U.S. and Europe need to work together.
"Not more than a generation ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that the inability of somebody to pay for a house in Florida could contribute to the failure of the banking system in Iceland. Today, what's difficult to imagine is that we did not act sooner to shape our future. Now, there's plenty of blame to go around for what has happened, and the United States certainly shares blame for what has happened. But every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead, especially now, for whether it's the recession or climate change, or terrorism, or drug trafficking, poverty, or the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we have learned that without a doubt there's no quarter of the globe that can wall itself off from the threats of the 21st century."
At another point, Obama addressed transatlantic attitudes:
"In recent years we've allowed our Alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated."
During a visit to London in April 2009, Obama answered questions at a press conference. A reporter asked Obama which country was to blame for the financial crisis:
"I would say that if you look at the sources of this crisis, the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that had taken place in the global financial system."
At another press conference, a reporter said Obama during the campaign had spoken of the "diminished power and authority of the United States over the last decade" and asked if Obama was seeing evidence of that.
"Well, first of all, during the campaign I did not say that some of that loss of authority was inevitable," Obama said. "I said it was traced to very specific decisions that the previous administration had made that I believed had lowered our standing in the world. And that wasn't simply my opinion; that was, it turns out, the opinion of many people around the world. I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world. And although, as you know, I always mistrust polls, international polls seem to indicate that you're seeing people more hopeful about America's leadership."
Obama gave a major address to the Turkish parliament in April that seemed to be largely a diplomatic outreach to an Islamic ally and to the Islamic world at large.
"I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam."
He also said this:
"Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That's why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. That's why we prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture. All of us have to change. And sometimes change is hard. Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans. Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History is often tragic, but unresolved, it can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past."
The Obama administration billed a speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, as a major diplomatic outreach to the Islamic world.
"Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. ...
"In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward."
CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.
On April 20, 2009, Obama visited the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va. Much of his brief remarks were thanking the CIA officers for their work. But he visited them not long after his administration released records on brutal interrogation tactics. Whether those methods met the legal definition of torture is one thing; they certainly met the common usage definition, "to cause intense suffering." Obama's visit was seen as a move to reassure the agency's staff.
"Don't be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we've made some mistakes. That's how we learn. But the fact that we are willing to acknowledge them and then move forward, that is precisely why I am proud to be President of the United States, and that's why you should be proud to be members of the CIA."
The National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Obama used the setting of the National Archives to discuss his thoughts on fighting terrorism, particularly about how terror suspects should be tried. During the speech, Obama said he intended to keep some prisoners in indefinite detention.
"After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era -- that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.
"Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us -- Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens -- fell silent.
"In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach -- one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. ...
"There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. In fact, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law--a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
"So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies."
United Nations General Assembly
Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2009, in New York City. Obama urged countries to work together under the auspices of the UN to address issues such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change and economic development. Obama also used the speech to discuss his actions since taking office only nine months before.
"I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. And this has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction. ...
" For those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.
On my first day in office, I prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture by the United States of America. I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law. Every nation must know: America will live its values, and we will lead by example. ..."
"Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect. Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people and in its past traditions. And I admit that America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy. But that does not weaken our commitment; it only reinforces it."
Subjects: Foreign Policy
Fox News/Google debate transcript, accessed via CQ Transcriptswire, Sept. 22, 2011
Mitt Romney, presidential announcementspeechin Stratham, N.H., June 2, 2011
Mitt Romney, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, 2010
PolitiFact, "Obama's remarks never a true 'apology,'" Mar. 15, 2010
The Heritage Foundation, Barack Obama's Top 10 Apologies: How the President Has Humiliated a Superpower, June 2, 2009
The American Spectator, Conservatve (sic) Leaders Speak Out Against Obama's Apology Tour, Sept. 25, 2010
Rush Limbaugh, Obama Attacks America Again Ahead of Muslim Apology Tour, June 2, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President at a town hall in Strasbourg, France, April 3, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President at joint press availability in London, April 1, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President at a news conference in London, April 2, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President on national security at the National Archives, May 21, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President to CIA employees, Langley, Va., April 20, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President to the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 23, 2009
Interview with Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation
Interview with John Murphy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Interview with Lauren Bloom, author of The Art of the Apology
Interview with Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann of Wilfrid Laurier University
Wilfrid Laurier University, Political Apologies andReparationsdatabase
The National Archives, speech of President Bill Clinton in Rwanda, March 25, 1998
The National Archives, remarks of President Bill Clinton "in apology for study done in Tuskegee,"May 16, 1997
The National Archives, speech of President George W. Bush at Goree Island, Senegal, July 8, 2003
The National Archives, remarks of President George W. Bush with King Abdullah of Jordan, May 6, 2004
Fox News, Bush apologizes for prisoner abuse, May 7, 2004
The White House, Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 2009
Foreign Affairs, The Carter Syndrome, by Walter Russell Mead, January 2010
Written by: Angie Drobnic Holan
Researched by: Angie Drobnic Holan, Louis Jacobson
Edited by: Martha Hamilton
Why do the Koch brothers want to end public education? & How the Koch Brothers Funded Public-School Segregation 19 & 15AUG11
How the Koch Brothers Funded Public-School SegregationBy Andy Kroll
In its response to AFP, Brave New Foundation stood by its story. BNF pointed to several statements of AFP-NC's in support of its claims, including a 2008 blog post of Woodhouse's saying AFP-NC "is on record as supporting the parents of WakeCARES, through significant financial contributions as well as other support." In the fall of 2009, WakeCARES endorsed the four school board candidates who opposed Wake County's busing policy, and a former AFP-NC director later credited WakeCARES with paving the way for the four candidates' victories. BNF alleged AFP "funneled" financial support to the candidates through Art Pope, a wealthy Raleigh businessman and an AFP national director, who gave more than $15,000 to the Wake GOP which in turn spent nearly all of its political donations in 2009 on backing the four conservative school board candidates. AFP-NC's Woodhouse also told Newsweek in January that his group did voter education and mobilized volunteers for the school board election.]
At first glance, the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers and the Wake County, North Carolina, school board couldn't be more disparate. Charles and David Koch, the brains behind the massive Koch Industries conglomerate and the funders of so many right-wing political causes, are national figures, credited with (or accused of, depending on your political persuasion) launching the tea party movement and waging war on the Obama administration and its agenda. The Wake County public school board is, well, just that.
In reality, there are deep connections between the Kochs and Wake County, and it's all about the money. The latest installment in the left-leaning Brave New Foundation's "Koch Brothers Exposed" video series reveals how a Koch-founded and funded outfit, Americans for Prosperity, fueled a campaign to "resegregate" the schools of Wake County, a prosperous area in central North Carolina that's home to the cities of Raleigh and Cary, among others.
The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.
by Jane Mayer August 30, 2010
One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.
With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
In April, 2009, Melissa Cohlmia, a company spokesperson, denied that the Kochs had direct links to the Tea Party, saying that Americans for Prosperity is “an independent organization and Koch companies do not in any way direct their activities.” Later, she issued a statement: “No funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, or Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” David Koch told New York, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.”
At the lectern in Austin, however, Venable—a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, and who has worked for Koch-funded political groups since 1994—spoke less warily. “We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!” she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a subsequent interview, she described herself as an early member of the movement, joking, “I was part of the Tea Party before it was cool!” She explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.”
Venable honored several Tea Party “citizen leaders” at the summit. The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. On June 14th, West, writing on her site, described Obama as the “cokehead in chief.” In an online thread, West speculated that the President was exhibiting symptoms of “demonic possession (aka schizophrenia, etc.).” The summit featured several paid speakers, including Janine Turner, the actress best known for her role on the television series “Northern Exposure.” She declared, “They don’t want our children to know about their rights. They don’t want our children to know about a God!”
During a catered lunch, Venable introduced Ted Cruz, a former solicitor general of Texas, who told the crowd that Obama was “the most radical President ever to occupy the Oval Office,” and had hidden from voters a secret agenda—“the government taking over our economy and our lives.” Countering Obama, Cruz proclaimed, was “the epic fight of our generation!” As the crowd rose to its feet and cheered, he quoted the defiant words of a Texan at the Alamo: “Victory, or death!”
Americans for Prosperity has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception. In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a Web site offering supporters “Tea Party Talking Points.” The Arizona branch urged people to send tea bags to Obama; the Missouri branch urged members to sign up for “Taxpayer Tea Party Registration” and provided directions to nine protests. The group continues to stoke the rebellion. The North Carolina branch recently launched a “Tea Party Finder” Web site, advertised as “a hub for all the Tea Parties in North Carolina.”
The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”
A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”
The Kochs and their political operatives declined requests for interviews. Instead, a prominent New York public-relations executive who is close with the Kochs put forward two friends: George Pataki, the former governor of New York, and Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher and real-estate magnate. Pataki, a Republican who received campaign donations from David Koch, called him “a patriot who cares deeply about his country.” Zuckerman praised David’s “gentle decency” and the “range of his public interests.”
The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”
Koch married Mary Robinson, the daughter of a Missouri physician, and they had four sons: Freddie, Charles, and twins, David and William. John Damgard, the president of the Futures Industry Association, was David’s schoolmate and friend. He recalled that Fred Koch was “a real John Wayne type.” Koch emphasized rugged pursuits, taking his sons big-game hunting in Africa, and requiring them to do farm labor at the family ranch. The Kochs lived in a stone mansion on a large compound across from Wichita’s country club; in the summer, the boys could hear their friends splashing in the pool, but they were not allowed to join them. “By instilling a work ethic in me at an early age, my father did me a big favor, although it didn’t seem like a favor back then,” Charles has written. “By the time I was eight, he made sure work occupied most of my spare time.” David Koch recalled that his father also indoctrinated the boys politically. “He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government,” he told Brian Doherty, an editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, and the author of “Radicals for Capitalism,” a 2007 history of the libertarian movement. “It’s something I grew up with—a fundamental point of view that big government was bad, and imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good.”
David attended Deerfield Academy, in Massachusetts, and Charles was sent to military school. Charles, David, and William all earned engineering degrees at their father’s alma mater, M.I.T., and later joined the family company. Charles eventually assumed control, with David as his deputy; William’s career at the company was less successful. Freddie went to Harvard and studied playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. His father reportedly disapproved of him, and punished him financially. (Freddie, through a spokesperson, denied this.)
In 1967, after Fred Koch died, of a heart attack, Charles renamed the business Koch Industries, in honor of his father. Fred Koch’s will made his sons extraordinarily wealthy. David Koch joked about his good fortune in a 2003 speech to alumni at Deerfield, where, after pledging twenty-five million dollars, he was made the school’s sole “lifetime trustee.” He said, “You might ask: How does David Koch happen to have the wealth to be so generous? Well, let me tell you a story. It all started when I was a little boy. One day, my father gave me an apple. I soon sold it for five dollars and bought two apples and sold them for ten. Then I bought four apples and sold them for twenty. Well, this went on day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until my father died and left me three hundred million dollars!”
David and Charles had absorbed their father’s conservative politics, but they did not share all his views, according to diZerega, who befriended Charles in the mid-sixties, after meeting him while browsing in a John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita. Charles eventually invited him to the Kochs’ mansion, to participate in an informal political-discussion group. “It was pretty clear that Charles thought some of the Birch Society was bullshit,” diZerega recalled.
DiZerega, who has lost touch with Charles, eventually abandoned right-wing views, and became a political-science professor. He credits Charles with opening his mind to political philosophy, which set him on the path to academia; Charles is one of three people to whom he dedicated his first book. But diZerega believes that the Koch brothers have followed a wayward intellectual trajectory, transferring their father’s paranoia about Soviet Communism to a distrust of the U.S. government, and seeing its expansion, beginning with the New Deal, as a tyrannical threat to freedom. In an essay, posted on Beliefnet, diZerega writes, “As state socialism failed . . . the target for many within these organizations shifted to any kind of regulation at all. ‘Socialism’ kept being defined downwards.”
Members of the John Birch Society developed an interest in a school of Austrian economists who promoted free-market ideals. Charles and David Koch were particularly influenced by the work of Friedrich von Hayek, the author of “The Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that centralized government planning led, inexorably, to totalitarianism. Hayek’s belief in unfettered capitalism has proved inspirational to many conservatives, and to anti-Soviet dissidents; lately, Tea Party supporters have championed his work. In June, the talk-radio host Glenn Beck, who has supported the Tea Party rebellion, promoted “The Road to Serfdom” on his show; the paperback soon became a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon. (Beck appears to be a fan of the Kochs; in the midst of a recent on-air parody of Al Gore, Beck said, without explanation, “I want to thank Charles Koch for this information.” Beck declined to elaborate on the relationship.)
Charles and David also became devotees of a more radical thinker, Robert LeFevre, who favored the abolition of the state but didn’t like the label “anarchist”; he called himself an “autarchist.” LeFevre liked to say that “government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.” In 1956, he opened an institution called the Freedom School, in Colorado Springs. Brian Doherty, of Reason, told me that “LeFevre was an anarchist figure who won Charles’s heart,” and that the school was “a tiny world of people who thought the New Deal was a horrible mistake.” According to diZerega, Charles supported the school financially, and even gave him money to take classes there.
Throughout the seventies, Charles and David continued to build Koch Industries. In 1980, William, with assistance from Freddie, attempted to take over the company from Charles, who, they felt, had assumed autocratic control. In retaliation, the company’s board, which answered to Charles, fired William. (“Charles runs it all with an iron hand,” Bruce Bartlett, the economist, told me.) Lawsuits were filed, with William and Freddie on one side and Charles and David on the other. In 1983, Charles and David bought out their brothers’ share in the company for nearly a billion dollars. But the antagonism remained, and litigation continued for seventeen more years, with the brothers hiring rival private investigators; in 1990, they walked past one another with stony expressions at their mother’s funeral. Eventually, Freddie moved to Monaco, which has no income tax. He bought historic estates in France, Austria, and elsewhere, filling them with art, antiques, opera scores, and literary manuscripts. William founded his own energy company, Oxbow, and turned to yachting; he spent an estimated sixty-five million dollars to win the America’s Cup, in 1992.
With Charles as the undisputed chairman and C.E.O., Koch Industries expanded rapidly. Roger Altman, who heads the investment-banking firm Evercore, told me that the company’s performance has been “beyond phenomenal.” Charles remained in Wichita, with his wife and two children, guarding his privacy while supporting community charities. David moved to New York City, where he is an executive vice-president of the company and the C.E.O. of its Chemical Technology Group. A financial expert who knows Koch Industries well told me, “Charles is the company. Charles runs it.” David, described by associates as “affable” and “a bit of a lunk,” enjoyed for years the life of a wealthy bachelor. He rented a yacht in the South of France and bought a waterfront home in Southampton, where he threw parties that the Web site New York Social Diary likened to an “East Coast version of Hugh Hefner’s soirées.” In 1996, he married Julia Flesher, a fashion assistant. They live in a nine-thousand-square-foot duplex at 740 Park Avenue, with their three children. Though David’s manner is more cosmopolitan, and more genial, than that of Charles, Brian Doherty, who has interviewed both brothers, couldn’t think of a single issue on which the brothers disagreed.
As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America. Charles’s goal, as Doherty described it, was to tear the government “out at the root.” The brothers’ first major public step came in 1979, when Charles persuaded David, then thirty-nine, to run for public office. They had become supporters of the Libertarian Party, and were backing its Presidential candidate, Ed Clark, who was running against Ronald Reagan from the right. Frustrated by the legal limits on campaign donations, they contrived to place David on the ticket, in the Vice-Presidential slot; upon becoming a candidate, he could lavish as much of his personal fortune as he wished on the campaign. The ticket’s slogan was “The Libertarian Party has only one source of funds: You.” In fact, its primary source of funds was David Koch, who spent more than two million dollars on the effort.
Many of the ideas propounded in the 1980 campaign presaged the Tea Party movement. Ed Clark told The Nation that libertarians were getting ready to stage “a very big tea party,” because people were “sick to death” of taxes. The Libertarian Party platform called for the abolition of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., as well as of federal regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Energy. The Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes; it proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide. Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights. William F. Buckley, Jr., a more traditional conservative, called the movement “Anarcho-Totalitarianism.”
That November, the Libertarian ticket received only one per cent of the vote. The brothers realized that their brand of politics didn’t sell at the ballot box. Charles Koch became openly scornful of conventional politics. “It tends to be a nasty, corrupting business,” he told a reporter at the time. “I’m interested in advancing libertarian ideas.” According to Doherty’s book, the Kochs came to regard elected politicians as merely “actors playing out a script.” A longtime confidant of the Kochs told Doherty that the brothers wanted to “supply the themes and words for the scripts.” In order to alter the direction of America, they had to “influence the areas where policy ideas percolate from: academia and think tanks.”
In recent decades, members of several industrial dynasties have spent parts of their fortunes on a conservative agenda. In the nineteen-eighties, the Olin family, which owns a chemicals-and-manufacturing conglomerate, became known for funding right-leaning thinking in academia, particularly in law schools. And during the nineties Richard Mellon Scaife, a descendant of Andrew Mellon, spent millions attempting to discredit President Bill Clinton. Ari Rabin-Havt, a vice-president at the Democratic-leaning Web site Media Matters, said that the Kochs’ effort is unusual, in its marshalling of corporate and personal funds: “Their role, in terms of financial commitments, is staggering.”
Of course, Democrats give money, too. Their most prominent donor, the financier George Soros, runs a foundation, the Open Society Institute, that has spent as much as a hundred million dollars a year in America. Soros has also made generous private contributions to various Democratic campaigns, including Obama’s. But Michael Vachon, his spokesman, argued that Soros’s giving is transparent, and that “none of his contributions are in the service of his own economic interests.” The Kochs have given millions of dollars to nonprofit groups that criticize environmental regulation and support lower taxes for industry. Gus diZerega, the former friend, suggested that the Kochs’ youthful idealism about libertarianism had largely devolved into a rationale for corporate self-interest. He said of Charles, “Perhaps he has confused making money with freedom.”
Some critics have suggested that the Kochs’ approach has subverted the purpose of tax-exempt giving. By law, charitable foundations must conduct exclusively nonpartisan activities that promote the public welfare. A 2004 report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a watchdog group, described the Kochs’ foundations as being self-serving, concluding, “These foundations give money to nonprofit organizations that do research and advocacy on issues that impact the profit margin of Koch Industries.”
The Kochs have gone well beyond their immediate self-interest, however, funding organizations that aim to push the country in a libertarian direction. Among the institutions that they have subsidized are the Institute for Justice, which files lawsuits opposing state and federal regulations; the Institute for Humane Studies, which underwrites libertarian academics; and the Bill of Rights Institute, which promotes a conservative slant on the Constitution. Many of the organizations funded by the Kochs employ specialists who write position papers that are subsequently quoted by politicians and pundits. David Koch has acknowledged that the family exerts tight ideological control. “If we’re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent,” he told Doherty. “And if they make a wrong turn and start doing things we don’t agree with, we withdraw funding.”
In 1977, the Kochs provided the funds to launch the nation’s first libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. According to the Center for Public Integrity, between 1986 and 1993 the Koch family gave eleven million dollars to the institute. Today, Cato has more than a hundred full-time employees, and its experts and policy papers are widely quoted and respected by the mainstream media. It describes itself as nonpartisan, and its scholars have at times been critical of both parties. But it has consistently pushed for corporate tax cuts, reductions in social services, and laissez-faire environmental policies.
When President Obama, in a 2008 speech, described the science on global warming as “beyond dispute,” the Cato Institute took out a full-page ad in the Times to contradict him. Cato’s resident scholars have relentlessly criticized political attempts to stop global warming as expensive, ineffective, and unnecessary. Ed Crane, the Cato Institute’s founder and president, told me that “global-warming theories give the government more control of the economy.”
Cato scholars have been particularly energetic in promoting the Climategate scandal. Last year, private e-mails of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia, in England, were mysteriously leaked, and their exchanges appeared to suggest a willingness to falsify data in order to buttress the idea that global warming is real. In the two weeks after the e-mails went public, one Cato scholar gave more than twenty media interviews trumpeting the alleged scandal. But five independent inquiries have since exonerated the researchers, and nothing was found in their e-mails or data to discredit the scientific consensus on global warming.
Nevertheless, the controversy succeeded in spreading skepticism about climate change. Even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently issued a report concluding that the evidence for global warming is unequivocal, more Americans are convinced than at any time since 1997 that scientists have exaggerated the seriousness of global warming. The Kochs promote this statistic on their company’s Web site but do not mention the role that their funding has played in fostering such doubt.
In a 2002 memo, the Republican political consultant Frank Luntz wrote that so long as “voters believe there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community” the status quo would prevail. The key for opponents of environmental reform, he said, was to question the science—a public-relations strategy that the tobacco industry used effectively for years to forestall regulation. The Kochs have funded many sources of environmental skepticism, such as the Heritage Foundation, which has argued that “scientific facts gathered in the past 10 years do not support the notion of catastrophic human-made warming.” The brothers have given money to more obscure groups, too, such as the Independent Women’s Forum, which opposes the presentation of global warming as a scientific fact in American public schools. Until 2008, the group was run by Nancy Pfotenhauer, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. Mary Beth Jarvis, a vice-president of a Koch subsidiary, is on the group’s board.
Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, is the co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” a new book that chronicles various attempts by American industry to manipulate public opinion on science. She noted that the Kochs, as the heads of “a company with refineries and pipelines,” have “a lot at stake.” She added, “If the answer is to phase out fossil fuels, a different group of people are going to be making money, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re fighting tooth and nail.”
David Koch told New York that he was unconvinced that global warming has been caused by human activity. Even if it has been, he said, the heating of the planet will be beneficial, resulting in longer growing seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he said.
Fink, with his many titles, has become the central nervous system of the Kochtopus. He appears to have supplanted Ed Crane, the head of the Cato Institute, as the brothers’ main political lieutenant. Though David remains on the board at Cato, Charles Koch has fallen out with Crane. Associates suggested to me that Crane had been insufficiently respectful of Charles’s management philosophy, which he distilled into a book called “The Science of Success,” and trademarked under the name Market-Based Management, or M.B.M. In the book, Charles recommends instilling a company’s corporate culture with the competitiveness of the marketplace. Koch describes M.B.M. as a “holistic system” containing “five dimensions: vision, virtue and talents, knowledge processes, decision rights and incentives.” A top Cato Institute official told me that Charles “thinks he’s a genius. He’s the emperor, and he’s convinced he’s wearing clothes.” Fink, by contrast, has been far more embracing of Charles’s ideas. (Fink, like the Kochs, declined to be interviewed.)
At a 1995 conference for philanthropists, Fink adopted the language of economics when speaking about the Mercatus Center’s purpose. He said that grant-makers should use think tanks and political-action groups to convert intellectual raw materials into policy “products.”
The Wall Street Journal has called the Mercatus Center “the most important think tank you’ve never heard of,” and noted that fourteen of the twenty-three regulations that President George W. Bush placed on a “hit list” had been suggested first by Mercatus scholars. Fink told the paper that the Kochs have “other means of fighting [their] battles,” and that the Mercatus Center does not actively promote the company’s private interests. But Thomas McGarity, a law professor at the University of Texas, who specializes in environmental issues, told me that “Koch has been constantly in trouble with the E.P.A., and Mercatus has constantly hammered on the agency.” An environmental lawyer who has clashed with the Mercatus Center called it “a means of laundering economic aims.” The lawyer explained the strategy: “You take corporate money and give it to a neutral-sounding think tank,” which “hires people with pedigrees and academic degrees who put out credible-seeming studies. But they all coincide perfectly with the economic interests of their funders.”
In 1997, for instance, the E.P.A. moved to reduce surface ozone, a form of pollution caused, in part, by emissions from oil refineries. Susan Dudley, an economist who became a top official at the Mercatus Center, criticized the proposed rule. The E.P.A., she argued, had not taken into account that smog-free skies would result in more cases of skin cancer. She projected that if pollution were controlled it would cause up to eleven thousand additional cases of skin cancer each year.
In 1999, the District of Columbia Circuit Court took up Dudley’s smog argument. Evaluating the E.P.A. rule, the court found that the E.P.A. had “explicitly disregarded” the “possible health benefits of ozone.” In another part of the opinion, the court ruled, 2-1, that the E.P.A. had overstepped its authority in calibrating standards for ozone emissions. As the Constitutional Accountability Center, a think tank, revealed, the judges in the majority had previously attended legal junkets, on a Montana ranch, that were arranged by the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment—a group funded by Koch family foundations. The judges have claimed that the ruling was unaffected by their attendance.
To defend its reputation, Koch Industries hired Robert Strauss, then a premier Washington lobbyist; the company soon opened an office in the city. A grand jury was convened to investigate the allegations, but it eventually disbanded, without issuing criminal charges. According to the Senate report, after the committee hearings Koch operatives delved into the personal lives of committee staffers, even questioning an ex-wife. Senate investigators were upset by the Kochs’ tactics. Kenneth Ballen, the counsel to the Senate committee, said, “These people have amassed such unaccountable power!”
By 1993, when Bill Clinton became President, Citizens for a Sound Economy had become a prototype for the kind of corporate-backed opposition campaigns that have proliferated during the Obama era. The group waged a successful assault on Clinton’s proposed B.T.U. tax on energy, for instance, running advertisements, staging media events, and targeting opponents. And it mobilized anti-tax rallies outside the Capitol—rallies that NPR described as “designed to strike fear into the hearts of wavering Democrats.” Dan Glickman, a former Democratic congressman from Wichita, who supported the B.T.U. tax, recalled, “I’d been in Congress eighteen years. The Kochs actually engaged against me and funded my opponent. They used a lot of resources and effort—their employees, too.” Glickman suffered a surprise defeat. “I can’t prove it, but I think I was probably their victim,” he said.
The Kochs continued to disperse their money, creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names, and this made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington. In 1990, Citizens for a Sound Economy created a spinoff group, Citizens for the Environment, which called acid rain and other environmental problems “myths.” When the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigated the matter, it discovered that the spinoff group had “no citizen membership of its own.”
In 1997, another Senate investigation began looking into what a minority report called “an audacious plan to pour millions of dollars in contributions into Republican campaigns nationwide without disclosing the amount or source,” in order to evade campaign-finance laws. A shell corporation, Triad Management, had paid more than three million dollars for attack ads in twenty-six House races and three Senate races. More than half of the advertising money came from an obscure nonprofit group, the Economic Education Trust. The Senate committee’s minority report suggested that “the trust was financed in whole or in part by Charles and David Koch of Wichita, Kansas.” The brothers were suspected of having secretly paid for the attack ads, most of which aired in states where Koch Industries did business. In Kansas, where Triad Management was especially active, the funds may have played a decisive role in four of six federal races. The Kochs, when asked by reporters if they had given the money, refused to comment. In 1998, however, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that a consultant on the Kochs’ payroll had been involved in the scheme. Charles Lewis, of the Center for Public Integrity, described the scandal as “historic. Triad was the first time a major corporation used a cutout”—a front operation—“in a threatening way. Koch Industries was the poster child of a company run amok.”
During the 2000 election campaign, Koch Industries spent some nine hundred thousand dollars to support the candidacies of George W. Bush and other Republicans. During the Bush years, Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies enjoyed remarkable prosperity. The 2005 energy bill, which Hillary Clinton dubbed the Dick Cheney Lobbyist Energy Bill, offered enormous subsidies and tax breaks for energy companies. The Kochs have cast themselves as deficit hawks, but, according to a study by Media Matters, their companies have benefitted from nearly a hundred million dollars in government contracts since 2000.
In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy was accused of illegitimately throwing its weight behind Bush’s reëlection. The group’s Oregon branch had attempted to get Ralph Nader on the Presidential ballot, in order to dilute Democratic support for John Kerry. Critics argued that it was illegal for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization to donate its services for partisan political purposes. (A complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission; it was dismissed.)
That year, internal rivalries at Citizens for a Sound Economy caused the organization to split apart. David Koch and Fink started a new group, Americans for Prosperity, and they hired Tim Phillips to run it. Phillips was a political veteran who had worked with Ralph Reed, the evangelical leader and Republican activist, co-founding Century Strategies, a campaign-consulting company that became notorious for its ties to the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Phillips’s online biography describes him as an expert in “grasstops” and “grassroots” political organizing. The Kochs’ choice of Phillips signalled an even greater toughness. The conservative operative Grover Norquist, who is known for praising “throat slitters” in politics, called Phillips “a grownup who can make things happen.”
Last year, Phillips told the Financial Times that Americans for Prosperity had only eight thousand registered members. Currently, its Web site claims that the group has “1.2 million activists.” Whatever its size, the Kochs’ political involvement has been intense; a former employee of the Cato Institute told me that Americans for Prosperity “was micromanaged by the Kochs.” And the brothers’ investment may well have paid off: Americans for Prosperity, in concert with the family’s other organizations, has been instrumental in disrupting the Obama Presidency.
In January, 2008, Charles Koch wrote in his company newsletter that America could be on the verge of “the greatest loss of liberty and prosperity since the 1930s.” That October, Americans for Prosperity held a conference of conservative operatives at a Marriott hotel outside Washington. Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of the conservative blog RedState.com, took the lectern, thanked David Koch, and vowed to “unite and fight . . . the armies of the left!” Soon after Obama assumed office, Americans for Prosperity launched “Porkulus” rallies against Obama’s stimulus-spending measures. Then the Mercatus Center released a report claiming that stimulus funds had been directed disproportionately toward Democratic districts; eventually, the author was forced to correct the report, but not before Rush Limbaugh, citing the paper, had labelled Obama’s program “a slush fund,” and Fox News and other conservative outlets had echoed the sentiment. (Phil Kerpen, the vice-president for policy at Americans for Prosperity, is a contributor to the Fox News Web site. Another officer at Americans for Prosperity, Walter Williams, often guest-hosts for Limbaugh.)
Americans for Prosperity also created an offshoot, Patients United Now, which organized what Phillips has estimated to be more than three hundred rallies against health-care reform. At one rally, an effigy of a Democratic congressman was hung; at another, protesters unfurled a banner depicting corpses from Dachau. The group also helped organize the “Kill the Bill” protests outside the Capitol, in March, where Democratic supporters of health-care reform alleged that they were spat on and cursed at. Phillips was a featured speaker.
Americans for Prosperity has held at least eighty events targeting cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. Speakers for the group claimed, with exaggeration, that even back-yard barbecues and kitchen stoves would be taxed. The group was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and waged a crusade against international climate talks. Casting his group as a champion of ordinary workers who would be hurt by environmentalists, Phillips went to Copenhagen last year and staged a protest outside the United Nations conference on climate change, declaring, “We’re a grassroots organization. . . . I think it’s unfortunate when wealthy children of wealthy families . . . want to send unemployment rates in the United States up to twenty per cent.”
Grover Norquist, who holds a weekly meeting for conservative leaders in Washington, including representatives from Americans for Prosperity, told me that last summer’s raucous rallies were pivotal in undermining Obama’s agenda. The Republican leadership in Congress, he said, “couldn’t have done it without August, when people went out on the streets. It discouraged deal-makers”—Republicans who might otherwise have worked constructively with Obama. Moreover, the appearance of growing public opposition to Obama affected corporate donors on K Street. “K Street is a three-billion-dollar weathervane,” Norquist said. “When Obama was strong, the Chamber of Commerce said, ‘We can work with the Obama Administration.’ But that changed when thousands of people went into the street and ‘terrorized’ congressmen. August is what changed it. Now that Obama is weak, people are getting tough.”
As the first anniversary of Obama’s election approached, David Koch came to the Washington area to attend a triumphant Americans for Prosperity gathering. Obama’s poll numbers were falling fast. Not a single Republican senator was working with the Administration on health care, or much else. Pundits were writing about Obama’s political ineptitude, and Tea Party groups were accusing the President of initiating “a government takeover.” In a speech, Koch said, “Days like today bring to reality the vision of our board of directors when we started this organization, five years ago.” He went on, “We envisioned a mass movement, a state-based one, but national in scope, of hundreds of thousands of American citizens from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms that made our nation the most prosperous society in history. . . . Thankfully, the stirrings from California to Virginia, and from Texas to Michigan, show that more and more of our fellow-citizens are beginning to see the same truths as we do.”
While Koch didn’t explicitly embrace the Tea Party movement that day, more recently he has come close to doing so, praising it for demonstrating the “powerful visceral hostility in the body politic against the massive increase in government power, the massive efforts to socialize this country.” Charles Koch, in a newsletter sent to his seventy thousand employees, compared the Obama Administration to the regime of the Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. The Kochs’ sense of imperilment is somewhat puzzling. Income inequality in America is greater than it has been since the nineteen-twenties, and since the seventies the tax rates of the wealthiest have fallen more than those of the middle class. Yet the brothers’ message has evidently resonated with voters: a recent poll found that fifty-five per cent of Americans agreed that Obama is a socialist.
Americans for Prosperity, meanwhile, has announced that it will spend an additional forty-five million dollars before the midterm elections, in November. Although the group is legally prohibited from directly endorsing candidates, it nonetheless plans to target some fifty House races and half a dozen Senate races, staging rallies, organizing door-to-door canvassing, and running ads aimed at “educating voters about where candidates stand.”
Though the Kochs have slowed Obama’s momentum, their larger political battle is far from won. Richard Fink, interviewed by FrumForum.com this spring, said, “If you look at where we’ve gone from the year 2000 to now, with the expansion of government spending and a debt burden that threatens to bankrupt the country, it doesn’t look very good at all.” He went on, “It looks like the infrastructure that was built and nurtured has not carried the day.” He suggested that the Kochs needed “to get more into the practical, day-to-day issues of governing.”
Koch’s corporate and political roles, however, may pose conflicts of interest. For example, at the same time that David Koch has been casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a “known carcinogen” in humans.
Scientists have long known that formaldehyde causes cancer in rats, and several major scientific studies have concluded that formaldehyde causes cancer in human beings—including one published last year by the National Cancer Institute, on whose advisory board Koch sits. The study tracked twenty-five thousand patients for an average of forty years; subjects exposed to higher amounts of formaldehyde had significantly higher rates of leukemia. These results helped lead an expert panel within the National Institutes of Health to conclude that formaldehyde should be categorized as a known carcinogen, and be strictly controlled by the government. Corporations have resisted regulations on formaldehyde for decades, however, and Koch Industries has been a large funder of members of Congress who have stymied the E.P.A., requiring it to defer new regulations until more studies are completed.
Koch Industries became a major producer of the chemical in 2005, after it bought Georgia-Pacific, the paper and wood-products company, for twenty-one billion dollars. Georgia-Pacific manufactures formaldehyde in its chemical division, and uses it to produce various wood products, such as plywood and laminates. Its annual production capacity for formaldehyde is 2.2 billion pounds. Last December, Traylor Champion, Georgia-Pacific’s vice-president of environmental affairs, sent a formal letter of protest to federal health authorities. He wrote that the company “strongly disagrees” with the N.I.H. panel’s conclusion that formaldehyde should be treated as a known human carcinogen. David Koch did not recuse himself from the National Cancer Advisory Board, or divest himself of company stock, while his company was directly lobbying the government to keep formaldehyde on the market. (A board spokesperson said that the issue of formaldehyde had not come up.)
James Huff, an associate director at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the N.I.H., told me that it was “disgusting” for Koch to be serving on the National Cancer Advisory Board: “It’s just not good for public health. Vested interests should not be on the board.” He went on, “Those boards are very important. They’re very influential as to whether N.C.I. goes into formaldehyde or not. Billions of dollars are involved in formaldehyde.”
Harold Varmus, the director of the National Cancer Institute, knows David Koch from Memorial Sloan-Kettering, which he used to run. He said that, at Sloan-Kettering, “a lot of people who gave to us had large business interests. The one thing we wouldn’t tolerate in our board members is tobacco.” When told of Koch Industries’ stance on formaldehyde, Varmus said that he was “surprised.”
Cristián Samper, the museum’s director, said that the exhibit is not about climate change, and described Koch as “one of the best donors we’ve had, in my tenure here, because he’s very interested in the content, but completely hands off.” He noted, “I don’t know all the details of his involvement in other issues.”
The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called “the largest company that you’ve never heard of.” But with the growing prominence of the Tea Party, and with increased awareness of the Kochs’ ties to the movement, the brothers may find it harder to deflect scrutiny. Recently, President Obama took aim at the Kochs’ political network. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser, in Austin, he warned supporters that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Citizens United case—which struck down laws prohibiting direct corporate spending on campaigns—had made it even easier for big companies to hide behind “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity.” Obama said, “They don’t have to say who, exactly, Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation”—or even, he added, “a big oil company.” ♦
PHOTOGRAPH: RICHARD SCHULMAN/CORBIS
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer#ixzz1LgU8A4lZ
Asked If Bank Of America Paying Nothing In Corporate Taxes Is Fair, Pawlenty Responds: Taxes Are ‘Too High’ThinkProgress filed this report from the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix, AZ.
Last weekend, Americans around the country organized “Main Street Movement” protests to stand in solidarity with organized labor and demand that corporate interests pay their fair share. As ThinkProgress has reported, many of the nation’s largest corporate interests pay literally nothing in corporate income taxes. ExxonMobil made nearly $20 billion in profits in 2009, but paid nothing in corporate income taxes. Other extremely profitable companies GE, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Boeing similarly have had entire quarters or years without paying corporate income taxes.
At the Tea Party summit last weekend, we spoke to former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a prospective GOP presidential candidate, about corporate tax cheats. Asked about Bank of America, another wildly profitable American bank that paid nothing in corporate taxes in 2009, Pawlenty simply relied “Well actually the corporate tax rate in Minnesota and around the country is too high.” Reminded several times that Bank of America doesn’t pay it’s corporate taxes, regardless of rates, Pawlenty said that both exemptions and rates should be lowered. However, he again emphasized that he was not troubled, or even aware, of corporate tax dodging, and that corporate tax rates should be reduced:
FANG: Governor, today liberals are demonstrating all over the country in what CBS has called a liberal version of the Tea Party. Their main complaint is that a lot of corporations aren’t paying their fair share. For example, Bank of America, in 2009 paid nothing in corporate income taxes, same with ExxonMobil, GE, and a lot of other big corporations. Do you think corporations like Bank of America should pay their fair share? What are your thoughts on that?Watch it:
PAWLENTY: Well actually the corporate tax rate in Minnesota and around the country is too high. And I think one thing we could and should do is–
FANG: You think zero is too high with Bank of America paying nothing?
PAWLENTY: We have the highest corporate tax rate, or one of them, in the world–
FANG: But they use loopholes and offshore bank accounts to pay nothing.
PAWLENTY: The things I’ve called for is reducing tax rates and looking at exemptions or special deals within the tax code that give certain companies privileges or benefits. I can’t speak individually to any country, company would get in that regard, but I think one goal or direction is to simplify and reduce tax rates and clean out as many of the special deals as possible.
FANG: To be clear, do you think Bank of America pays too much in taxes already?
PAWLENTY: I don’t know what Bank of America pays in taxes. I’ll just say, setting aside Bank of America, the corporate tax rate in America is too high compared to our competitor nations.
Even Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), a Republican well to the right of Pawlenty on most issues, told us that corporate tax dodgers “broke the law.” As he prepares to run for president, Pawlenty has positioned himself close to the corporate right. Last year, we broke a story about how bailed out banks — still on the hook for taxpayer money — were funneling cash to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to kill financial reform. We asked Pawlenty if he had any problem with taxpayer-owned banks secretly lobbying against reforms for their industry. He didn’t.
12 Examples of Stunning Hypocrisy from Tea Party Republicans In One Short Month
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on February 3, 2011, Printed on February 3, 2011
It's only been a month since the new Tea Party lawmakers took office, but the entirely predictable results of their ascension are already coming in. The Republican Party's newest class of “mavericks” have again stormed into office intent on proving their theory that government is inherently evil by screwing up everything in sight.
Before we embark on our tour of the Tea Party politicians' early moves – and those of the party they were supposed to be “taking back” -- let's recall exactly what they promised: they were relentlessly focused on economic issues – and, we were told, would eschew the kind of social issues that had long marked Republican politics in the era of the Religious Right. They would bring greater transparency and accountability to government. They promised to be good fiscal stewards, respond to the wishes of the people and, above all else, they swore up and down to obey the letter of the Constitution.
Let's see how they did in the early going.
I Hate Government Health Care. Also: Where Is My Government Health Care?
The hypocrisy began before the new class of pols was sworn in. When it was reported that “a conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at an orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in,” it raised eyebrows.
When Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, the titular inspiration for the Tea Party movement, was asked if he thought it was hypocritical for members of Congress to accept government-subsidized and regulated health plans, he replied simply, “[c]ould be.”
Violating the Constitution on Day One
The Constitution is the answer to every policy debate for the conservative wing of the GOP – or at least their tenuous grasp of what it says. But they didn't take long to trash the document. As Ryan Grimm reported for the Huffington Post:
Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.As if that weren't enough, the two lawmakers, incumbent Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and newcomer Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, couldn't make the swearing-in because “they were attending a fundraiser at the U.S. Capitol even though lawmakers are barred from using official resources for campaign or fundraising activities.” That's illegal, and they did it on day one!
And Their Own Rules
The new GOP majority in Congress was supposed to be different this time. Heavily influenced by the Tea Partiers' message, they promised greater transparency. “Leaders overreach because the rules allow them to,” said newly minted Speaker John Boehner in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute. “Legislators duck their responsibilities because the rules help them to. And when the rules don’t suit the majority’s purposes, they are just ignored.”
That was before he took the speaker's gavel, however. Later, as Politico reported, “the new majority is already showing these promises aren’t exactly set in stone.”
After calling for bills to go through a regular committee process, the bill that would repeal the health care law will not go through a single committee. Despite promising a more open amendment process for bills, amendments for the health care repeal will be all but shut down. After calling for a strict committee attendance list to be posted online, Republicans backpedaled and ditched that from the rules. They promised constitutional citations for every bill but have yet to add that language to early bills.That was certainly fast. But as Boehner said, “when the rules don’t suit the majority’s purposes, they are just ignored.”
Cutting Your Grandparents' Medicare
In October, Politifact noted that “Republicans often complained the Democratic plan would cut Medicare” during the reform debate, and “they are now repeating those attacks in campaign ads against many Democratic candidates, targeting older voters who may be worried their Medicare benefits will be harmed.”
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Tea Party favorite from Texas, went so far as to suggest, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, that “the left” wanted to “cut Medicare by $500 billion to finance a corner of ObamaCare.” Given that older voters tend to skew toward the GOP, this line of attack made sense for turning out the Republicans' base.
Yet just two short months after Hensarling wrote that op-ed, the National Journal reported, “House GOP members are considering a measure to convert the government-backed Medicare program into a voucher system,” which would represent a drastic benefit cut for seniors in years to come:
Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that he expects Republicans to support the provision, which would require Medicare to give seniors an allotment of money to buy private coverage starting in 2021. The eligibility age would also be raised, from 65 to 69.Austerity for Thee; Lavish, Corporate-Sponsored Parties for Me!
They were going to represent “the people,” but one has to remember that, in the conservative worldview, big corporations are people too!
To be fair, corporate sponsors generally kick in dollars for new governors' electoral balls, but as Think Progress noted, some of the new Tea Party-backed governors took it to the extreme, allowing “corporations with a vested interest in policy outcomes from a friendly government to pay for their inaugural bashes.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) spent $3 million in funds from Florida’s business interests that have “the most at stake in his administration,” including tobacco, real estate, gambling, and drug companies seeking specific regulatory advantages for their business. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) also received a big inaugural bash courtesy of private donations from Boeing, Duke Energy, and SCANA. Several other Republican governors are following suit. According to local reports, Govs. Rick Perry (TX), John Kasich (OH), Brian Sandoval (NV), Mary Fallin (OK), and Rick Snyder (MI), are the newest state executives to join the pay-to-play club.They're Not Just on Capitol Hill
Maine's new governor, Tea Party-favorite Paul LePage, promised his transition team would look for “the best and the brightest” as it “seeks people to fill key roles in what’s expected to be a pro-business administration,” reported the Associated Press. In the end, that included not only several conservative think-tankers, but also his 22-year-old daughter Lauren, to whom he gave “a staff position within the upper echelon of his administration.”
According to the Bangore Daily News, “Lauren LePage said that although she did not study politics in college, she enjoyed her work on the gubernatorial campaign and saw this as a unique opportunity.” While salaries in the current governor's office start at $30,000 per year, the recent college grad will be pulling down $41,000 under her father, who was elected promising to clean up Augusta.
Scott Gessler was a Tea Party fave when he ran for the office of Colorado Secretary of State. “We need to trust our elected leaders,” he said on the trail. But soon after his election, Gessler gave voters reason to question whether he could be trusted when he announced that he would supplement his $68k annual salary by moonlighting with his old law firm on the side.
"To the extent he is working for his old firm and his old firm is dealing with the Secretary of State's office, it creates a real conflict," Elena Nuñez, program director for Colorado Common Cause, told the Denver Post. "In some cases it may just be the appearance of conflict."
What's more, Gessler refused to recuse the Secretary of State's office from cases involving his side job. “He said he would treat his old firm just like any other when it came to the decisions his office makes,” according to the Post.
Tennessee governor Bill Haslam may win some kind of prize for hypocrisy.
On January 16, the Associated Press reported that Haslam had “stressed the themes of transparency, responsiveness and humility at his first full Cabinet meeting.” But that statement came just 24 hours after he had signed an executive order eliminating “a requirement for the governor and top aides to disclose how much they earn.” The AP noted that “the move wipes off the books former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s first executive order of 2003, which required the top executive branch officials to make annual reports about their total earnings.” Haslam, it should be noted, had been “heavily criticized during the campaign for refusing to say how much he earned from family owned Pilot, a national truck stop chain with annual revenues of about $20 billion.”
I have always maintained that “limited government” is attractive as an abstract concept, but looks quite ugly in the real world. Evidence for that comes from Long Island, where a Tea Party-backed local pol has rapidly brought about financial disaster to Nassau County. Reuters explained the mess, which it called “a black eye for the Tea Party”:
At his January 2010 inauguration, Tea Party-backed Republican Edward Mangano marched up to the podium, pen in hand. Even before being officially declared Nassau County Executive, he signed a repeal of an unpopular home energy tax.But Mangano didn't cut spending, nor did he figure out a way to make up the lost revenues, perhaps believing the conservative myth that cutting taxes leads to more tax dollars. The problem is that the belief is firmly grounded in magical thinking.
The fiscal consequences ...were anything but cool. The repeal set Mangano on an immediate collision course with the state-appointed fiscal overseer, the Nassau County Interim Financial Authority, or NIFA. It culminated in NIFA seizing control of the wealthy New York county's finances just weeks after the new County Supervisor was sworn in.The tax had cost homeowners and average of around $7 per month – repealing it had truly been a triumph of ideology over common sense.
The Religious Right by Any Other Name ...
Last March, the New York Times reported that Tea Party leaders were “deliberately avoid[ing] discussion of issues like gay marriage or abortion.”
Tea Party leaders argue that the country can ill afford the discussion about social issues when it is passing on enormous debts to future generations. But the focus is also strategic: leaders think they can attract independent voters if they stay away from divisive issues.In September, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana – a Tea Party favorite – said that “putting our fiscal house in order, creating policies that will open the doors of opportunity to families during this difficult economy and create jobs has to be the first priority and I believe will be the first priority if Republicans are given another opportunity to lead.”
That lasted a total of 17 days after taking office. Then, Mike Pence's very first act in the new Congress was to offer legislation that would limit abortion services by redefining rape to include only “forcible" rape. “We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged,” Pence said when he unveiled the bill. “Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a house divided, America's darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles.”
Spitting on the Constitution
For a movement that pledges unwavering fealty to the Constitution, it's remarkable how many blatantly unconstitutional pieces of legislation these new firebrands are introducing.
The Iowa Tea Party is backing a “nullification” bill allowing the state to ignore federal laws, a direct violation of the Supremacy Clause. David Gray Adler, who directs the University of Idaho's McClure Center for Public Policy Research, told the Washington Post that “nullification proponents ignore the fact that one Supreme Court decision after another has gone against them.” The state's Republican Attorney General weighed in, stating the obvious: “There is no right to pick and choose which federal laws a State will follow,” which is why “no court has ever upheld a State effort to nullify a federal law.”
Jason Brodeur, a local Tea Party newcomer in Florida, also got into the act, offering a bill that would make it a crime – punishable by a hefty fine or even jail time – for a doctor to ask a patient whether there are guns in the patient's home. The constitutional problem seems obvious: it doesn't permit the government to limit a physician's free speech rights just because some lawmaker really, really likes guns. Or, as the Orlando Sentinel put it, the proposed law "protects the Second Amendment from the First."
Then there are various bills to strip citizenship from children born to undocumented immigrants. They're popular, but as the figurehead of the Tea Parties, Ron Paul, has long acknowledged, the only constitutional approach to the issue would be to lose or change the 14th Amendment. The provision has been tested in a series of Supreme Court cases, making it a “super-precedent.” Passing simple legislation to strip people of an established and tested right is unconstitutional.
Ethics, Ethics, Ethics
The new GOP caucus promised to restore the American people's confidence in their party after it had become tainted by its culture of corruption during the Bush years. During last year's campaign, Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, assured the public that the GOP would "institute a zero-tolerance policy" when it comes to lawmakers' transgressions.
Nice talk, but just a month after taking control of the lower house, a GOP freshman is already facing a serious ethics problem. As the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen reported, “not quite three weeks into the 112th Congress, a newly elected Republican congressman is facing a scandal so severe, the leadership is already preparing for his ouster.”
With Miami's David Rivera, it's not just one controversy, it's a series of head-shaking outrages that make one wonder what on earth voters in his district were thinking.Benen added that despite “Cantor's promise of a 'zero-tolerance policy,' the House Majority Leader has refused to say a word about Rivera's multiple, ongoing scandals, or the criminal investigation.”
The most recent scandal is Rivera's inexplicable decision to try to cover up loans from his mother's gambling-related marketing company, a matter that's already under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Indeed, it appears that the owners of a dog track made more than $500,000 in secret payments to a company Rivera owned.
The Republican congressman is also at the center of domestic violence allegations, has been accused of driving a truck off a road because it was carrying flyers from a rival campaign, hiding the finances surrounding foreclosure proceedings on a house he co-owned with Marco Rubio, and bizarre lies about nonexistent work he did for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
To be fair, Rivera is not a Tea Partier. But his corruption is so blatant, he deserves honorable mention here nonetheless. For more on Rivera's ethical and legal problems, see here.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America). Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.
© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/149776/
We're Headed for a Major Battle with the Tea Party Crowd over the Constitution Itself from ALTERNET 31DEZ10
The same right-wingers who happily accepted George W. Bush’s shift toward a police state – his claims of limitless executive power, warrantless wiretaps, repudiation of habeas corpus, redefining cruel and unusual punishment, suppression of dissent, creation of massive databases on citizens, arbitrary no-fly lists, and endless overseas wars – have now reinvented themselves as brave protectors of American liberty.
Indeed, the Tea Party crowd so loves the Constitution that the new Republican House majority will take the apparently unprecedented step of reading the document aloud at the start of the new congressional session, presumably including the part about enslaved African-Americans being counted as three-fifths of a white person for purposes of congressional representation.
One also has to wonder if these “constitutionalists” will mumble over the preamble’s assertion that a key purpose of the Constitution is to “promote the general Welfare.” And what to do with Section Eight of Article One, which gives Congress the power to levy taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce among the states, and “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization”?
If one were to buy into the Tea Party’s interpretation of the founding document, you’d have to denounce such concepts as “socialism” and/or “intrusions” on states’ rights.
Part of the Tea Party’s mythology is that federal taxes are an unconstitutional imposition invented by modern-day “lib-rhuls,” that the national debt is another new thing, and that regulation of commerce is outside federal authority.
Surely, there can be honest debates about what’s the best way to “promote the general Welfare,” or the wisest balance between taxation and debt, or the proper role of states in enforcing laws when there is a federal interest (as with Arizona’s anti-immigrant “present your papers” law).
But the pretense of the Tea Party is that the U.S. Constitution is definitive on these points and that the Founders favored today’s right-wing interpretation of the federal government’s powers, i.e. that taxes, debt and regulation of commerce are somehow unconstitutional.
Another curious “reform” from the new Republican House majority will be a requirement to specify what constitutional authority underpins every piece of legislation, a rather silly idea since every bill can make some claim to constitutionality even if the federal courts might eventually disagree.
But the larger truth that the Tea Partiers don’t want to acknowledge is that the Constitution represented a major power grab by the federal government, when compared to the loosely drawn Articles of Confederation, which lacked federal taxing authority and other national powers.
The Founders also recognized that changing circumstances would require modification of the Constitution which is why they provided for amendments. Indeed, the primary limitations on federal authority were included in the first ten amendments, called the Bill of Rights. Subsequent amendments included the eradication of slavery and extending the vote to blacks, and later to women.
Yet, while the Tea Partiers and the Right have embraced a mythical view of the Constitution as some ideal document that opposes federal power to tax, borrow and pass laws that improve “the general Welfare,” they have been less interested in the document’s protection of civil liberties, especially when the targets of abuse are Muslims, Hispanics, blacks and anti-war dissenters.
Many on the Right have found plenty of justifications to trample on the rights of these minorities, even when the actions violate clear-cut mandates in the Constitution, such as the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of “probable cause” before the government can engage in search and seizure and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on inflicting “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Especially when the Right’s hero George W. Bush was violating those rights last decade, there were word games to explain the unexplainable.
For instance, in 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argued that “there is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution.” But that was a point of sophistry since the Founders took habeas corpus rights for granted under English law and thus limited the reference in the Constitution to the extreme circumstances required before the government could suspend its need to justify a person’s incarceration before a judge.
Gonzales’s game-playing was similar to the argument made by Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell during a Delaware Senate debate – that the Constitution doesn’t call for the “separation of church and state,” because those specific words aren’t used.
The First Amendment does say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” which Thomas Jefferson paraphrased as the “separation of church and state.” But it has become an article of faith among many on the Right that “separation of church and state” is a myth. O’Donnell later described herself as high-fiving her aides, thinking she had won the debating point.
Many on the American Right also insist that the Founders created a “Christian nation,” even though the word “Christian” is nowhere to be found in the Constitution and the Founders pointedly set no religious exclusions for those serving in the U.S. government.
One has to wonder, too, how the Republicans on opening day will read the Constitution’s prescribed oath for the president’s swearing in, which ends with a promise to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of United States,” without the add-on “so help me God,” which was freelanced by George Washington but is not what the drafters of the Constitution wrote.
Leaving out “so help me God” might be deemed part of the war on Christmas.
Curiously, too, while supposedly revering the Constitution and its original intent, the Tea Partiers and their Republican allies simultaneously are proposing a radical revision of the founding document, an amendment that would allow a super-majority of states to overturn laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.
This neo-nullificationism smacks of South Carolina’s resistance to President Andrew Jackson’s federalism in the 1830s, a clash that set the stage for the Confederacy’s secession and the Civil War in the 1860s. The proposed Tea Party amendment, which is supported by many Southern officials including incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, could again wreak havoc on the nation.
A New York Times editorial noted that because the proposed amendment "focuses on giving states power to veto (e.g., taxes) without their shouldering responsibility for asserting it (trimming appropriations because of lost tax revenue), the unintended consequences would likely be at least as important as the intended.”
In other words, the Tea Party and the Republicans are positioning themselves as both fundamentalists embracing the Constitution's "original intent" and radicals determined to rip it up. Still, they are not likely to pay any price for their reckless ideas or their blatant hypocrisy.
If we’ve learned anything over the past several decades, it is that reason and consistency have little place in the U.S. political/media system. What counts is the size of the megaphone – and the American Right has built a truly impressive one, while the Left has largely downplayed the need for making an alternate case to the public.
As the Times noted, the Tea Party’s proposed 28th Amendment “helps explain further the anger-fueled, myth-based politics of the populist new right. It also highlights the absence of a strong counterforce in American politics. …
“The error that matters most here is about the Constitution’s history. America’s fundamental law holds competing elements, some constraining the national government, others energizing it.
“But the government the Constitution shaped was founded to create a sum greater than the parts, to promote economic development that would lift the fortunes of the American people.”
The Times also noted the inability of the American Left to make a case for more government intervention to address the nation’s deepening problems, such as high unemployment and severe income disparity. The Times wrote:
“In past economic crises, populist fervor has been for expanding the power of the national government to address America’s pressing needs. Pleas for making good the nation’s commitment to equality and welfare have been as loud as those for liberty.
“Now the many who are struggling have no progressive champion. The left have ceded the field to the Tea Party and, in doing so, allowed it to make history. It is building political power by selling the promise of a return to a mythic past.”
This means that we can expect the Tea Party’s myth-based assertions about the Founders’ intent to continue, along with the Right’s selective concern about the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
When those rights are extended to non-white minorities, it’s “lib-rhul” activism. If the rights go to multinational corporations or white folks with guns, then that’s the way it was meant to be.
Though the Tea Partiers insist that race is not a factor in their current fury against government power, they don’t explain their relative silence when Republican George W. Bush, a white man, was asserting unlimited executive power. But Barack Obama, a black man, can’t even get away with welcoming students back for the school year without howls about Orwellian totalitarianism.
Even Michelle Obama’s well-intentioned campaign for healthful eating has become a target of anger from the likes of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the Right’s powerful media machine.
So, it seems the country is in for a new round of crazy while the voices for sanity stay largely mute.
Tea Partiers: The Most Oppressed Minority? from MOJO 17NOV10
Tea party critics won’t be surprised to hear that 61 percent of people who identify with the movement said discrimination against whites "is as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities." (White evangelicals also saw doors slamming in the faces of white people, with 57 percent agreeing that discrimination against people like themselves was equal to that against minorities.) That view was shared by only 28 percent of Democrats and about half of independents. Republicans were closer to the tea party on that question, with 56 percent agreeing that discrimination against whites is a big problem.
Just as tea partiers think claims of discrimination against minorities are overrated, they also believe by a 6 in 10 margin that the government has paid too much attention to them—and to women's problems, too. While most Americans, according to the survey, believe that discrimination is still a significant problem for women, more than 58 percent of tea partiers think that women no longer face discrimination in the US.
The data can be read several ways. On the one hand, tea partiers seem to have a rosy view of the state of American equality. They seem to believe that the country has achieved equal opportunity, at least for women and minorities. Because at the same time, it’s clear that they view themselves as the country’s most victimized demographic, a perspective that tends to drive a lot of their rhetoric. Tea partiers often see themselves as under siege— by the government, by immigrants and other foreigners, by popular culture, and probably by women, too, if the survey is andy indication. The survey produces some other interesting though perhaps also not surprising data points about the tea party. Among them:
Tea partiers are no fans of Islam; 66 percent of them said that Islam is at odds with American values. Three-quarters of them also believe that their God has granted the U.S. a special role in the world, a view that makes them much more inclined than other Americans to say that torture is justified in some cases.
PRRI dug in a bit to see what various voting blocs see as priorities for the new Congress. Those findings, too, show some significant differences between the tea party movement and establishment Republicans and Democrats. The tea party movement's obsession with the health care reform law shows up in their list of top legislative priorities. Forty-one percent said they believe that repealing "Obamacare" should be the top priority for Republicans in Congress, a higher percentage than even regular Republicans, 36 percent of whom think repealing health care reform is the top issue. (Sadly, PRRI didn't ask how many of them already had government-run health care.) Meanwhile, in a signal to "annoyer-in-chief" Rep. Darryl Issa, who has said he plans 280 investigative hearings next year, only 4 percent of tea partiers thought that investigating the Obama administration should be the Republicans' primary focus. Even tea partiers, it seems, see Republican crusading as more annoying than constructive.
How Republicans and Their Big Business Allies Duped Tens of Millions of Evangelicals into Voting for a Corporate Agenda from ALTERNET 10NOV10
The bible-thumping white underclass have given a big boost to the corporate bottom line.
Tens of millions of American voters got duped badly in the 2010 election. The bible-thumping white underclass thought they hit back at what they regarded as the nefarious forces trying to “take our country away.”
They were bought, paid for, sold, traded and manipulated by the most powerful in the US election: a Billionaire Lynch Mob led by Rupert Murdoch, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and hundreds of millions in organize corporate cash. They peddled a fear agenda: fear of immigrants, fear of government control of our lives, fear that their country would become irrevocably changed.
Here's how it happened:
Where the fear and loathing began
A bedrock article of faith among many of the anti-Obama white voters is that America had “Christian origins,” and that today America must be “restored” to “our religious heritage.” The “Puritan heritage” of America is constantly cited as evidence for our need to return to our “biblical roots.” The Constitution is also waved around as if it too is some sort of Bible to be religiously believed in. Of course the Billionaire Lynch Mob doesn’t care about such quaint ideas as individual liberties, let alone “biblical absolutes,” but many of the people who believed the anti-Obama lies did care.
The earnest, mostly Evangelical dupes have a point: by calling for a “return to our roots” (be they biblical and/or constitutional) they are actually maintaining a grand old American tradition: religious delusion as the basis for conquest. The Puritans believed that they were importing “authentic Christianity” to America, especially as written in the Old Testament. They said that they were on a divine mission, even calling themselves “The New Israel” and a “city set upon a hill.” John Winthrop (governor of Massachusetts Bay) transferred the idea of “nationhood” in biblical Israel to the Massachusetts Bay Company. And the Puritans claimed they were God’s “Chosen People.” They said that they had the right to grab land from the “heathen.” These were the American Indians whom the Puritans thought of as the “new Canaanites,” to be slaughtered with God’s blessing and in the case of the Pequot Indians burned alive.
There are many threads in the anti-Obama tapestry but three are ignored at our peril: 1) The End Times fantasies of the Evangelicals; 2) The rise of so-called Reconstructionist theology and 3) the culture war launched over the legalization of abortion.
These “threads,” not the economy alone, are also the source of the vote where white lower class and white middle class Americans voted in droves against their own self-interest. Let’s unpick these fraying threads one at a time.
1. “End Times” Fantasies
The evangelical/fundamentalists/Republican far right is in the grip of an apocalyptic “Rapture” cult centered on revenge and vindication. This “End Times” death wish is built on a literalist interpretation of the Book of Revelation. This fantasy has many followers. For instance to take one of many examples, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series of sixteen novels represents both a “reason” and a symptom of the hysteria that grips so many voters.
The “Left Behind” novels have sold tens of millions of copies while spawning an “End Times” cult, or rather egging it on. Such products as Left Behind video games have become part of the ubiquitous American background noise. Less innocuous symptoms of End Times paranoia include people stocking up on assault rifles and ammunition, freeze dried food (pitched to them, by the way, by Billionaire Lynch Mob-handmaid Glenn Beck), gold (also sold to them by Glenn Beck), adopting "Christ-centered" home school curricula, fear of higher education (“we’ll lose our children to secularism”), embracing rumor as fact (“Obama isn’t an American”) and fighting against Middle East peace iniatives, lest they delay the “return of Jesus,” for instance through Houston mega church pastor John Hagee’s Christian Zionist-centered “ministry.”
A disclosure: My late father, Francis Schaeffer, was a key founder and leader of the American Religious Right. For a time in the 1970s and early 80s I joined him in pioneering the Evangelical anti-abortion Religious Right movement. I changed my mind. I explain why I quit the movement in my book CRAZY FOR GOD -- How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All - Or Almost All - Of It Back.
John Hagee, mega church pastor and founder of Christians United for Israel said: “For 25 almost 26 years now, I have been pounding the Evangelical community over television. The Bible is a very pro-Israel book. If a Christian admits ‘I believe the Bible,’ I can make him a pro-Israel supporter or they will have to denounce their faith. So I have Christians over a barrel you might say.” The assumption Hagee makes -- that “Bible-believing Christians” will be pro-Israel -- is the dominant view among American Evangelical Christians. These are the people who goad us to make perpetual war worldwide. And these are the people who supposedly follow a teacher who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
Few within the Evangelical community have dared to publically question such Haggee’s approach. The Christian Zionists led by Hagee et al even went after their very own George W Bush for backing peace talks between Palestinians and the Israeli government. So can you imagine the hatred the Christian Zionists have for President Obama, who also wants peace in the Middle East?
The momentum for building a subculture that’s seceding from mainstream society (in order to await "The End Times" has irrevocably pried loose a chunk of the American population from both sanity and from their fellow citizens. The Christian Zionist franchise holds out hope for the self-disenfranchised that -- at last -- everyone will know "We born-again Christians" were right and "They" were wrong. But here’s the political significance of the Christian Zionist dominance: the evangelical/fundamentalists’ imagined victimhood.
I say imagined victimhood, because the born-agains are hardly outsiders let alone victims. They’re very own George W Bush was in the White House for eight long, ruinous years and Evangelicals also dominated American politics for the better part of thirty years before that by enforcing a series of “moral” litmus tests that transformed the Republican Party into their very own culture wars lickspittle.
Nevertheless, the white evangelical/conservative Roman Catholic sense of being a victimized minority only grew with their successes. “You are not alone!” said Glenn Beck, playing to these “disenfranchised” “victims,” who – as the midterm results once again proved -- turn out to look more like a majority of white voters who had the power to turn Sarah Palin into a multimillionaire overnight and send the likes of Rand Paul to the Senate.
2. The Rise of Reconstructionist Theology
Where did the “victims” on the Far Right get their “theology” of perpetual damn-the-facts victimhood from? The history of theology (Christian or otherwise) is the history of people desperately trying to fit the way things actually are into the way their “holy” books say they should be. And since the facts don’t fit and never will, religious believers can either change their minds, embrace paradox, or find someone else to blame for their never-ending loss of face and self-esteem.
Most Americans have never heard of the Reconstructionists. But they have felt their impact through the Reconstructionists’ (often indirect) influence over the wider Evangelical community. In turn, the Evangelicals shaped the politics of a secular culture that barely understood the Religious Right let alone the forces within that movement that gave it its rage.
If you feel victimized by modernity (let alone humiliated by reality) then the Reconstructionists have The Answer to your angst: apply the full scope of the Biblical Law to modern America and to the larger world! Coerce “non-believers” to live in your imaginary universe! In other words Reconstructionists wanted to replace the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with their interpretation of the Bible.
Most Evangelicals are positively moderate by comparison to the Reconstructionist “thinkers.” Most libertarians, who formed the backbone of the Tea Party (at least until the Far Right Evangelicals began to take the Tea Party over) would hate them. But the Reconstructionist movement is a distilled version of the more mainstream evangelical version of exclusionary theology that nonetheless divides America into the “Real America” (as the Far Right claim only they are) and the rest of us “sinners.”
The Reconstructionist worldview is ultra Calvinist, but like all Calvinism has its origins in ancient Israel/Palestine, when vengeful and ignorant tribal lore was written down by frightened men (the nastier authors of the Bible) trying to defend their prerogatives to bully women, murder rival tribes and steal land. These justifications probably reflect later thinking: origin myths used as propaganda to justify political and military actions after the fact—i.e., to justify their brutality the Hebrews said that God made them inflict on others and/or that they were “chosen.”
In its modern American incarnation, which hardened into a twentieth century movement in the 1960s and became widespread in the 1970s, Reconstructionism was propagated by people I knew personally and worked with closely when I too was a Religious Right activist claiming God’s special favor. The leaders of the Reconstructionist movement included the late Rousas Rushdoony (Calvinist theologian, father of modern-era Christian Reconstructionism, patron saint to gold-hoarding Federal Reserve-haters, and creator of the modern Evangelical home-school movement), his son-in-law Gary North (an economist, gold-buff, publisher and leading conspiracy theorist), and David Chilton (ultra-Calvinist pastor and author.)
Reconstructionism, also called Theonomism, seeks to reconstruct “our fallen society.” Its worldview is best represented by the publications of the Chalcedon Foundation, which has been classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to the Chalcedon Foundation website, the mission of the movement is to apply “the whole Word of God” to all aspects of human life: “It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion. We must live by His Word, not our own.
It’s no coincidence that the rise of the Islamic Brotherhoods in Egypt and Syria and the rise of Reconstructionism took place in more or less the same twentieth-century time frame—as modernism, science and “permissiveness” collided with a frightened conservatism rooted in religion. The writings of people such as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and those of Rushdoony are virtually interchangeable when it comes to their goals of “restoring God” to his “rightful place” as he presides over law and morals. Or as the late Reconstructionist/Calvinist theologian David Chilton, writing in PARADISE RESTORED--A Biblical Theology of Dominion (and sounding startlingly al-Banna-like) explained:
Our goal is a Christian world, made up of explicitly Christian nations. How could a Christian desire anything else? Our Lord Himself taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6: 10)… The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer for the worldwide dominion of God’s Kingdom… a world of decentralized theocratic republics.... That is the only choice: pagan law or Christian law. God specifically forbids “pluralism.” God is not the least bit interested in sharing world dominion with Satan.The message of Rushdoony’s work is best summed up in one of his innumerable Chalcedon Foundation position papers, “The Increase of His Government and Peace.” He writes: “[T]he ultimate and absolute government of all things shall belong to Christ.” In his book Thy Kingdom Come -- using words that are similar to those the leaders of al Qaida would use decades later in reference to “true Islam” -- Rushdoony argues that democracy and Christianity are incompatible: “Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life,” he writes. “One [biblical] faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state… Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.”
3. The Culture Wars Launched over the Abortion Debate
The significance and rise of the Reconstructionists and their (often indirect) impact on the wider evangelical subculture can only be understood in the context of the January 22, 1973 Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade.
Roe energized the culture war like nothing else before or since. This war has even fed the passion that burned within the so-called Tea Party movement’s reaction to Obama’s moderate legislative health care reform predicting “Death Panels.” Roe also indirectly energized even those members of the Far Right – for instance the Tea Party’s pro-choice libertarians -- who didn’t care about abortion per se. Roe had such far-reaching effects because reactions to Roe defined the scorched-earth, winner-take-all and rabidly anti-government tone of the culture war fights since 1973.
Fast forward thirty years to the first decade of the twenty-first century: The messengers and day-to-day “issues” changed but the volume of the anti-government “debate” and anger originated with the anti-abortion movement. “Death Panels!”, “Government Takeover!”, “Obama is Hitler!” and all such “comments” were simply updated versions of “pro-life” rhetoric. And ironically, at the very same time as the Evangelicals who began the anti-abortion crusade (along with conservative Roman Catholics) had thrust themselves into bare knuckle politics over Roe, they also (I should say we also) retreated to what amounted to virtual walled compounds.
Evangelicals created a parallel “Christian America,” our very own private world, as it were, posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Our new “world” was about creating a Puritan/Reconstructionist-style holy-nation-within-our-fallen-nation.
This went far beyond mere alternative schools and home schools. Thousands of new Christian bookstores opened, countless Evangelical radio programs flourished in the 1970s and 80s, and new TV stations went on the air. Even a “Christian Yellow Pages” (a guide to Evangelical tradesmen) was published advertising “Christ-centered plumbers,” accountants and the like who “honor Jesus.” New Evangelical universities and even new law schools appeared, seemingly overnight with a clearly defined mission to “take back” each and every profession – including law and politics – “for Christ.” For instance, Liberty University’s Law School was the creation of the late Jerry Falwell, who told me in 1983 of his vision for Liberty’s programs: “Frank, we’re going train a new generation of judges and world leaders in the law from a Christian worldview to change America.” This was the same Jerry Falwell who wrote in America Can Be Saved: “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools.”
To the old-fashioned Goldwater-type conservative mantra of “big government doesn’t work,” in the 1970s the newly-radicalized Evangelicals added “the US Government is Evil!” Our swap of spiritual faith for the illusion of political power – I say “illusion” since even in the 70s and 80s the real power was in the hands of the Billionaire Lynch Mob -- meant that we would tell people how to vote, but that we didn’t want our kids going to school with theirs. We’d wind up defending not just private schools and home schooling to “protect” our children from the world, but also private oil companies and private gas-guzzling polluting cars, private insurance conglomerates and so forth.
The price for the Religious Right’s wholesale idolatry of private everything was that Christ’s reputation was tied to a cynical political party owned by billionaires from the fast-food industry, raping the earth (not to mention our health), to the oil companies destroying our climate. It only remained for a Far Right Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court to rule in 2010 (Citizens United V. The Federal Election Commission), that unlimited corporate money could pour into political campaigns – anonymously -- in a way that clearly favored corporate America and the super wealthy who long since were the only entities served by the Republican Party’s defense of the individual against the government. The “individuals” turned out to be Exxon, the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, McDonald’s and Goldman Sachs et al.
It’s a question of legitimacy and illegitimacy. What the Religious Right, including the Religious Right’s Roman Catholic and Protestant “intellectuals” (like my father) did, was contribute to a climate where the very legitimacy of our government, even any government, is up for grabs. Then the internet came along and Fox News came along and Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann et all came along and no fiction was too fantastical to be believed as fact. We passed into a high tech stone age, myth superstition and outright lies gained a new currency.
Following the election of our first black President, the “politics” of the Evangelical, Roman Catholic and Mormon Far Right was not the politics of a loyal opposition, but the instigation of race-tinged revolution first and best expressed by Rush Limbaugh when he said, “I hope Obama fails.” All that happened in the midterm election of 2010 was that the corporate interests (unleashed by the Supreme Court), the Republican Party leadership and the Tea Party
This was the politics that won in the Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections. This was the logical conclusion of the process of delegitimizing the Federal Government that was launched by the Reconstructionists, the anti-abortion movement and of course is fed by the “Left Behind”/Christian Zionist apocalyptic revenge fantasy.
The Billionaire Lynch Mob’s only sacrament is fear. Their reward for cashing in on white religiously-believing middle class American’s addiction to Bronze Age biblical mythology is to walk away with our country. And fear-filled white Americans don’t get anything in return, unless you count their fleeting visceral pleasure of putting “that uppity black man” in the White House in his place.
An Alabama Republican is holding Democrats hostage.
Enough is enough.
Your message to Harry Reid:
Enough is enough. Do not honor Sen. Shelby's shameful hold on all 70 of Pres. Obama's appointees. Stand up, fight back and make the Republicans filibuster these nominees and suffer the consequences in the court of public opinion.
A Republican Senator from Alabama has put what is by all accounts an extraordinary "blanket hold" on almost every single nomination that President Obama has sent to the Senate.
This is what happens when the Democratic leadership plays nice with bullies. The country loses. And if Sen. Richard Shelby is successful, this kind of extortion will only get worse.
At least 70 nominees to important positions at the White House, the federal judiciary, and crucial cabinet agencies — including those charged with keeping us safe from terrorism — cannot move forward until this hold is ignored or lifted. Make the Republicans filibuster. What's worse, this is not just the typical Republican obstructionism, but a brazen brand of political extortion. According to reports, Sen. Shelby will lift his hold on the President's executive appointees if the Senate agrees to pour billions of dollars into Alabama via two federal programs:
— A $40 billion contract for Northrop/Airbus to build air-to-air refueling tankers in Mobile, Ala.
— The construction of a $45 million FBI lab outside Huntsville, Ala.
It's time for Democratic leadership to stand up to Republicans, starting with Sen. Shelby. Senate Majority Leader Reid should refuse to honor Shelby's "blanket hold" on more than 70 nominees. If Republicans want to block every single Obama appointee, they must filibuster them one-by-one and deal with the very public consequences of their obstructionism. Sen. Shelby should be ashamed — but he is not.
Harry Reid has refused to honor holds in the past — including when Sen. Chris Dodd tried to block retroactive telecom immunity for big telecom companies who helped the Bush White House spy on Americans.
Imagine the gall of blocking every single one of the President's appointees, just to bring home pork to the state of Alabama.
If ever there was a time for Sen. Reid to say enough is enough, it's now. We can't let Senate Democrats simply stand by while a Republican Senator brazenly takes advantage of their spinelessness to extort billions of taxpayer dollars for boondoggle projects in his home state.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
February 7, 2010 Conservative activists in Nashville this week for the first-ever National Tea Party Convention gave a hero's welcome to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who closed the event with a speech Saturday night. Palin praised the Tea Party movement and delivered a scathing — sometimes mocking — critique of both the economic and national security policies of the Obama administration.
After three days of workshops and speeches by movement leaders far less well-known, Tea Party convention delegates got to see a bona fide conservative superstar.
"I am so proud to be an American," she called out to the cheering crowd Saturday night in a hotel ballroom at the Opryland resort. "Thank you so much for being here tonight. Do you love your freedom?"
She drew more big cheers when she told Tea Partiers that America is ready for another revolution.
This was the rare Palin speech these days to be open to the press, and she used the opportunity to tear into the president. She described his foreign policy as not recognizing the true threats America faces. She cited the decision to criminally charge the suspect in the Christmas Day airline bombing attempt as a move that she says puts the country at grave risk.
"Because that's not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we're at war, and to win that war we need a commander in chief and not a professor of law standing at the lectern."
Feb. 6, 2010On the economy, she accused the White House of pushing a stimulus package that hasn't created the promised jobs. Millions of dollars have been wasted, she said.
Palin also says the Obama administration has not been transparent, as promised during the campaign.
"This was all part of that hope and change and transparency. Now, a year later, I gotta ask the supporters of all that, 'How's that hopey, changey stuff working out?' "
The speech was short on policy specifics; the former GOP vice presidential candidate spoke of getting back to the kind of conservatism exemplified by that most revered Republican president, Ronald Reagan. In fact, she invoked Reagan's name several times during her remarks.
The speech lasted just over 40 minutes, but it was followed by 20 minutes of conversation with conference organizer Judson Phillips, who read questions submitted in advance to the conference Web site.
We all know about the Obama plan, Phillips read to Palin. What, he asked, is the Palin plan?
"My plan is quite simple," Palin answered. "To support those who support the foundation of our country when it comes to the economy. It is free-market principles that reward hard work and personal responsibility."
And on national security: "It's easy to just kind of sum it up by repeating Ronald Reagan when he talked about the Cold War, and we can apply it to our war on terrorism. We win; they lose. And we do all we can to win."
Palin said time and again that the Tea Party movement doesn't need a leader — even as she looked just like the very leader the people here would like to have.
Then came the final question.
"I can think of two words right now that scare liberals," Phillips said. "President Palin."
The cheers then became a chant of "Run, Sarah run."
Palin smiled, but didn't address the implied question. Instead she said, "I will live, I will die for the people of America. Whatever I can do tonight, this party, this Tea Party, is the future of America, and I'm proud to get to be here today."
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. ”
Rights under the Sixth Amendment
See also: Speedy trial
Defendants in criminal cases have the right to a speedy trial. The U.S. Supreme Court laid down a four-part ad hoc balancing test for determining whether the defendant's speedy trial right has been violated in the case of Barker v. Wingo:
1.Length of Delay: A delay of a year or more from the date on which the speedy trial right "attaches" (the date of arrest or indictment, whichever first occurs) was termed "presumptively prejudicial", but the Court has never explicitly ruled that any absolute time limit applies.
2.Reason for the delay: The prosecution may not excessively delay the trial for its own advantage, but a trial may be delayed to secure the presence of an absent witness or other practical considerations.
3.Time and manner in which the defendant has asserted his right: If a defendant agrees to the delay when it works to his own benefit, he cannot later claim that he has been unduly delayed.
4.Degree of prejudice to the defendant which the delay has caused.
In Strunk v. United States, 412 U.S. 434 (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that if the reviewing court finds that a defendant's right to a speedy trial was violated, then the indictment must be dismissed and/or the conviction overturned. The Court has held that, since the delayed trial itself is the state action which violates the defendant's rights, no other remedy would be appropriate. Thus, a reversal or dismissal of a criminal case on speedy trial grounds means that no further prosecution for the alleged offense can take place.
Barack Obama's not the only Democrat whose eligibility for office is being challenged in court by conservative activists.
— By Stephanie Mencimer
Tue Feb. 16, 2010 2:30 AM PST
Ever since Barack Obama started running for the White House, he’s been plagued by lawsuits from detractors who claim that he is not a natural-born citizen, and thus is ineligible to serve as president. Now the devoted conspiracy theorists of the so-called "eligibility movement" have a fresh target: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And there’s a chance that the Supreme Court might hear their challenge.
In January 2009, a longtime foreign service officer named David C. Rodearmel sued Hillary Clinton in federal court in DC arguing that an obscure provision of the Constitution blocks her from serving in Obama's Cabinet because of her previous stint in the US Senate. This argument isn’t as nutty as those used in the numerous lawsuits disputing Obama’s citizenship—in fact, it previously prevented Orrin Hatch from becoming a Supreme Court justice.
Rodearmel is relying on what's known as the Emoluments Clause, which bars members of Congress from taking a federal civil job if Congress raised the salary for that job while they were still in office. The secretary of state’s salary went up in 2008, while Clinton was still in the Senate. The provision, which was designed to combat corruption, has long been a headache for presidents seeking to tap members of Congress for their Cabinets. They’ve typically solved the problem by resorting to what’s known as the "Saxbe fix"—a move named after William Saxbe, a Republican Ohio senator Richard Nixon installed as attorney general during the Watergate scandal.
The fix is simple. All Congress has to do is repeal any pay raises for a given position so that the salary is the same as it was before the nominee's last term of elected office. Most modern presidents have adopted this solution, and after Obama nominated Clinton for secretary of state, Congress duly repealed the pay raises for the position that had gone into effect while she was serving in the Senate. Yet the fix has always been somewhat controversial. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan decided that the Emoluments Clause barred him from nominating Utah Senator Orrin Hatch to a Supreme Court seat, and he nominated Anthony Kennedy instead. Now, Rodearmel thinks the clause should be enforced against Clinton—as well as all the other former senators in the Obama administration.
Rodearmel himself says he’s just doing his best to protect the Constitution, although he's no stranger to conservative political causes: In 2004, he donated $250 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And he’s supported by some familiar Clinton antagonists, namely the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which filed numerous suits against both Hillary and Bill Clinton when they occupied the White House. His quest has also been cheered on by WorldNetDaily, the leading online promoter of the birthers’ cause, who seem eager to open up a new front in the "eligibility" fight.
Rodearmel’s case could become an irritation for the Obama administration. The US district court in DC tossed his complaint out last fall on the grounds that Rodearmel lacked standing—meaning he couldn’t actually demonstrate that he’d suffered any injury from working for a supposedly ineligible boss. (This fatal flaw has also prevented any of the birther lawsuits from going forward.) The court didn’t buy Rodearmel’s arguments that working for Clinton would violate his oath to "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution. But thanks to a quirk in federal law, such eligibility cases can now be appealed directly to the Supreme Court. So Rodearmel recently asked the high court to consider his case.
Many legal experts out there think the Emoluments Clause is a non-issue. Chief among them is Obama’s former constitutional law professor from Harvard, Laurence Tribe, who has pointed out that the clause implies that a member of Congress is only ineligible for a civil job if they personally voted for a pay raise for that position. In Clinton’s case, the raise for the secretary of state was essentially a routine cost of living adjustment, mandated by a law passed in 1990 rather than a vote that Clinton participated in. But in swinging for the high fences, it’s clear that Rodearmel is seeking to persuade one justice in particular—and it's not who you might think.
As it turns out, one of the most prominent critics of the Saxbe fix during the Watergate scandal was none other than liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, who was, of course, appointed to the bench by Bill Clinton. As a law professor, Breyer wrote a letter to Sen. Robert Byrd concluding that the "fix" Nixon was proposing in order to install Saxbe was unconstitutional. (Defending the idea, oddly enough, was Robert Bork.) Rodearmel is clearly hoping that Breyer might be intrigued enough to want to revisit the issue after all these years. And standing behind him are a host of conservative activists, hoping that this legal long-shot might just work when all the others have failed.
Stephanie Mencimer is a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. For more of her stories,
On ABC News last weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney confessed to playing a key role in the commission of war crimes during the Bush administration.
"I was a big supporter of waterboarding," boasted Cheney.
Since he has publicly confessed to ordering torture, the U.S. has no choice but to prosecute Dick Cheney for war crimes.
Waterboarding is torture and a war crime. The UN Convention on Torture, the Geneva Conventions, the Red Cross, and constitutional governments around the globe agree on this point of law. More to the point, Attorney General Eric Holder has stated publicly that waterboarding is torture. Cheney's confession legally obligates Holder to prosecute him.
Cheney apologists will no doubt turn a blind eye to this. But this is the law, plain and simple. The case has been laid out in detail by Andrew Sullivan1, Glenn Greenwald2, and Scott Horton3.
By publicly confessing his role in illegal U.S torture programs, Cheney has created an extraordinary opportunity to hold the Bush administration accountable for its crimes. One that must not — and indeed legally cannot — be ignored. Copy and paste the links below for Cheney's confession.
16 Feb 2010 10:03 am
Cheney: "I Was A Big Supporter Of Waterboarding"
Scott Horton adds to the legal ramifications of Dick Cheney's remarkable confession of committing a war crime on national television:
Section 2340A of the federal criminal code makes it an offense to torture or to conspire to torture. Violators are subject to jail terms or to death in appropriate cases, as where death results from the application of torture techniques. Prosecutors have argued that a criminal investigation into torture undertaken with the direction of the Bush White House would raise complex legal issues, and proof would be difficult. But what about cases in which an instigator openly and notoriously brags about his role in torture?
Cheney told Jonathan Karl that he used his position within the National Security Council to advocate for the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques. Former CIA agent John Kiriakou and others have confirmed that when waterboarding was administered, it was only after receiving NSC clearance. Hence, Cheney was not speaking hypothetically but admitting his involvement in the process that led to decisions to waterboard in at least three cases.
What prosecutor can look away when a perpetrator mocks the law itself and revels in his role in violating it? Such cases cry out for prosecution. Dick Cheney wants to be prosecuted. And prosecutors should give him what he wants.
Jonathan Karl has gotten a similar statement out of Cheney before, if not quite so specifically.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
1 Cheney: "I Was A Big Supporter Of Waterboarding", Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, February 16, 2010. http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=5276&id=7828-179986-IHDKWNx&t=7
2 Dick Cheney's taunting, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, February 16, 2010. http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=5277&id=7828-179986-IHDKWNx&t=8
3 Does Dick Cheney Want to Be Prosecuted?, Scott Horton, Harper's, February 15, 2010. http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=5278&id=7828-179986-IHDKWNx&t=9
JESSE VENTURA ON BUSH, CHENEY, OBAMA, TORTURE ON LARRY KING 12 MAY 09
Jesse Ventura: You Give Me a Water Board, Dick Cheney and One Hour, and I'll Have Him Confess to the Sharon Tate Murders
By Heather Tuesday May 12, 2009 9:00am
On Larry King Live Jesse Ventura takes on the Bush administration chickenhawks and Rush Limbaugh, and defends Colin Powell. After being waterboarded himself in the SERE program, Ventura makes no bones about it. Waterboarding is torture. I'd like to see Hannity have Ventura on his show to debate the issue.
King's reaction to Ventura's straight talk on how terrible of a President W was is amusing. He's shocked...just shocked I tell you, that anyone would talk so badly about our former President.
KING: Joining us now, Jesse Ventura, former wrestler, former governor of Minnesota, former Navy SEAL, the author of "Don't Start The Revolution Without Me." That book is now out in paper back. Welcome to have you back, Jesse. There you see the cover of the book. How's Obama doing?
JESSE VENTURA, FMR. GOV. OF MINNESOTA: Too early to tell, Larry, really. In my opinion, George Bush is the worst president in my lifetime.
KING: Have an opinion, will you?
VENTURA: I will. I will. And he's the worst president in my lifetime. So Barack Obama, President Obama inherited something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. You know? Two wars, an economy that's borderline depression. So it's far too early to judge him 100 days in. I think if you have me back about two years from now, I can give you a much better of how he's doing.
KING: He poked fun at himself at the White House correspondents' dinner Saturday night. Let's watch.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Finally, I believe that my next 100 days will be so successful I'll be able to complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.
KING: He's very likable.
VENTURA: Oh, yes.
VENTURA: Very intelligent, which is a change from our previous president.
KING: All right already with Bush.
VENTURA: No, I live in Mexico now, Larry. So I do a lot of reading. I don't watch much TV. This year's reading, I covered Bush's life. I covered Guantanamo and a few other subjects. And I'm very disturbed about it.
I'm bothered over Guantanamo because it seems we have created our own Hanoi Hilton. We can live with that? I have a problem. I will criticize President Obama on this level; it's a good thing I'm not president because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it. I would prosecute the people that ordered it. Because torture is against the law. KING: You were a Navy SEAL.
VENTURA: That's right. I was water boarded, so I know -- at SERE School, Survival Escape Resistance Evasion. It was a required school you had to go to prior to going into the combat zone, which in my era was Vietnam. All of us had to go there. We were all, in essence -- every one of us was water boarded. It is torture.
KING: What was it like?
VENTURA: It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.
KING: Even though you know it's not going to happen -- even though before it, you know you're not going to drown.
VENTURA: You don't know it. If it's -- if it's done wrong, you certainly could drown. You could swallow your tongue. You could do a whole bunch of stuff. If it's it done wrong or -- it's torture, Larry. It's torture.
KING: A lot of things to go into, Jesse. What do you make of the Cheney/Limbaugh --
VENTURA: I don't have a lot of respect for Dick Cheney. Here's a guy who got five deferments from the Vietnam War. Clearly, he's a coward. He wouldn't go when it was his time to go. And now he is a chicken hawk. Now he is this big tough guy who wants this hardcore policy. And he's the guy that sanctioned all this torture by calling it enhanced interrogation.
KING: Do you think Rush Limbaugh's a better Republican than Colin Powell?
VENTURA: No, not at all. In fact, if you compare the two, let's look at Colin Powell, who's a war hero, who strapped it on for his country, and didn't run and hide.
VENTURA: And then you look at Dick Cheney who ran and hid. I have no respect for Dick Cheney. I have tremendous respect for General Powell.
'This Week' Transcript: Former Vice President Dick Cheney
Transcript: "This Week" with Former Vice President Dick Cheney and George Will, Peter Beinart, Paul Gigot and Jane Mayer.
Feb. 14, 2010 —
KARL: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
CHENEY: There is no middle ground.
KARL: This morning, a "This Week" exclusive, former Vice President Dick Cheney, the administration's harshest critic...
CHENEY: The president's been largely silent. Half-measures keep you half-exposed. The White House must stop dithering.
KARL: ... with no apologies of his own.
CHENEY: I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program.
KARL: National security, Iran, politics, and...
BIDEN: Iraq, I mean, it's going to be one of the great achievements of this administration.
KARL: ... Dick Cheney takes on the current vice president, only on "This Week." Then, a Washington thaw.
OBAMA: I'm going to spend some time listening.
KARL: But can bipartisanship survive the politics of the moment?
PALIN: We need a commander-in-chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.
KARL: That and the rest of the week's politics on our roundtable with George Will, Peter Beinart of the Council on Foreign Relations, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, and Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal.
And as always, the Sunday funnies.
LETTERMAN: John McCain knew that it was Sarah Palin's birthday, and he did something very nice for her. He bought her a Toyota.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week" with ABC's congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl, live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.
KARL: Joining me now, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Mr. Vice President, welcome to "This Week."
CHENEY: Good morning, John.
KARL: Now, you have been unflinching in your criticism of this administration's handling of terrorism, counterterrorism. Most recently, talking about the Christmas Day bomber, you said, "It is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend that we are not at war." Now, this morning, we have heard from the current vice president, Joe Biden, directly in response to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We're pursuing that war with a vigor like it's never been seen before. We've eliminated 12 of their top 20 people. We have taken out 100 of their associates. We are making -- we've sent them underground. They are, in fact, not able to do anything remotely like they were in the past. They are on the run. I don't know where Dick Cheney has been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Your response?
CHENEY: Well, my reference to the notion that the president was trying to avoid treating this as a war was in relation to his initial response when we heard about the Christmas underwear bomber...
CHENEY: ... up in Detroit, when he went out and said this was the act of an isolated extremist. No, it wasn't. And we found out over time, obviously -- and he eventually changed his -- his assessment -- but that, in fact, this was an individual who'd been trained by Al Qaida, who'd been part of a larger conspiracy, and it was closer to being an act of war than it was the act of an isolated extremist.
It's the mindset that concerns me, John. I think it's -- it's very important to go back and keep in mind the distinction between handling these events as criminal acts, which was the way we did before 9/11, and then looking at 9/11 and saying, "This is not a criminal act," not when you destroy 16 acres of Manhattan, kill 3,000 Americans, blow a big hole in the Pentagon. That's an act of war.
KARL: Well -- well...
CHENEY: And what the administration was slow to do was to come to that -- that recognition that we are at war, not dealing with criminal acts. And as I say, my response there dealt specifically to the fact the president called it an isolated extremist. It was not.
KARL: Well, I want to get to that notion of treating this as a law enforcement action, but what the administration will say is, look at what they have done, 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, doubling, tripling, and maybe even more the drone attacks on the tribal areas in Pakistan on Al Qaida targets. They say that they are actually dedicating more resources to the fight against Al Qaida than you were.
CHENEY: Well, I -- you know, I'm a complete supporter of what they're doing in Afghanistan. I think the president made the right decision to send troops into Afghanistan. I thought it took him a while to get there.
Having Stan McChrystal now in charge in Afghanistan I think is an excellent choice. General McChrystal's one of the most able officers I know. I'm glad they're doing what they're doing in Afghanistan. I'm not a critic of what they're doing, in terms of how they're dealing with that situation.
But I do see repeatedly examples that there are key members in the administration, like Eric Holder, for example, the attorney general, who still insists on thinking of terror attacks against the United States as criminal acts as opposed to acts of war, and that's a -- that's a huge distinction.
KARL: OK, before we get to Eric Holder, a couple more things from the vice president. He's been out responding preemptively to you. One thing he said we heard in the open, that he believes Iraq may ultimately prove to be one of the greatest achievements of the Obama administration.
CHENEY: Well, I -- I guess I shouldn't be surprised by my friend, Joe Biden. I'm glad he now believes Iraq is a success. Of course, Obiden and -- Obama and Biden campaigned from one end of the country to the other for two years criticizing our Iraq policy.
CHENEY: They opposed the surge that was absolutely crucial to our getting to the point we're at now with respect to Iraq. And for them to try to take credit for what's happened in Iraq strikes me as a little strange. I think if -- if they had had their way, if we'd followed the policies they'd pursued from the outset or advocated from the outset, Saddam Hussein would still be in power in Baghdad today.
So if they're going to take credit for it, fair enough, for what they've done while they're there, but it ought to go with a healthy dose of "Thank you, George Bush" up front and a recognition that some of their early recommendations, with respect to prosecuting that war, we're just dead wrong.
KARL: Well, in fact, Vice President Biden says that he believes that the war in Iraq was not worth it. What do you say to that? I mean, given the resources that were drawn away from the -- what you could argue is the central front in Afghanistan, Pakistan, is he right about that?
CHENEY: No. I -- I believe very deeply in the proposition that what we did in Iraq was the right thing to do. It was hard to do. It took a long time. There were significant costs involved.
But we got rid of one of the worst dictators of the 20th century. We took down his government, a man who'd produced and used weapons of mass destruction, a man who'd started two different wars, a man who had a relationship with terror. We're going to have a democracy in Iraq today. We do today. They're going to have another free election this March.
This has been an enormous achievement from the standpoint of peace and stability in the Middle East and ending a threat to the United States. Now, as I say, Joe Biden doesn't believe that. Joe Biden wants to take credit -- I'm not sure for what -- since he opposed that policy pretty much from the outset.
KARL: I think what he wants to take credit for is taking resources out of Iraq, the fact...
CHENEY: That's being done in accordance with a timetable that we initiated, that we -- that we negotiated with -- with the Iraqis. I mean, that was our policy.
KARL: Another thing from the vice president, he also addressed the possibility of another 9/11-style attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The idea of there being a massive attack in the United States like 9/11 is unlikely, in my view. But if you see what's happening, particularly with Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, they have decided to move in a direction of much more small-bore, but devastatingly frightening attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Is he right?
CHENEY: I don't think so. And I would point to a study that was released just within the last week or two up at the Kennedy School at Harvard by a gentleman -- Mowatt-Larssen's his name, I believe. He was CIA for 23 years, director of intelligence at the Energy Department for a long time, that looks at this whole question of weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaida and comes to the conclusion that there's a very high threat that Al Qaida is trying very hard to acquire a weapon of mass destruction and, if they're successful in acquiring it, that they will use it.
I think he's right. I think, in fact, the situation with respect to Al Qaida to say that, you know, that was a big attack we had on 9/11, but it's not likely again, I just think that's dead wrong. I think the biggest strategic threat the United States faces today is the possibility of another 9/11 with a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind, and I think Al Qaida is out there even as we meet trying to figure out how to do that.
KARL: And do you think that the Obama administration is taking enough serious steps to prevent that?
CHENEY: I think they need to do everything they can to prevent it. And if the mindset is it's not likely, then it's difficult to mobilize the resources and get people to give it the kind of priority that it deserves.
KARL: OK, let's get to -- you mentioned Eric Holder, the treatment of the Christmas Day underwear bomber. How do you think that case should have been dealt with?
CHENEY: I think the -- the proper way to -- to deal with it would have been to treat him as an enemy combatant. I think that was the right way to go.
The thing I learned from watching that process unfold, though, was that the administration really wasn't equipped to deal with the aftermath of an attempted attack against the United States in the sense that they didn't know what to do with the guy.
There was talk earlier after they'd dismantled the system we'd put in place for prisoner interrogation of high-value detainees. They'd gone out supposedly to create the HIG, high-value interrogation program, but in reality, it was not up and running at Christmastime when it should have been. It started months before that, to put that in place. They need a process, a set of institutions that they can fall back on. Admittedly, this is hard. We had a hard time dealing with this. You've got the Supreme Court on one side that -- that is going to evaluate everything you do, and you've got to be careful with that. The Congress gets involved in it.
CHENEY: So I'm not saying it's an easy task, but by this point, when they've made all the decisions they've had, closed Guantanamo, end (ph) the high-value detainee program and so forth, I think those are all mistakes. Those were the tools we put in place to deal with this kind of situation. They should have had something to put in lieu of those programs, and it would look like they do not have -- have that kind of capability yet.
KARL: If you have somebody in custody like Abdulmutallab, after just trying to blow up an airliner, and you think he has information on another attack, I mean, do you think that those enhanced interrogation techniques should have been -- should have been used? I mean, would you -- do you think that he should have been, for instance, subject to everything, including waterboarding?
CHENEY: Well, I think the -- the professionals need to make that judgment. We've got people in -- we had in our administration -- I'm sure they're still there -- many of them were career personnel -- who are expects in this subject. And they are the ones that you ought to turn somebody like Abdulmutallab over to, let them be the judge of whether or not he's prepared to cooperate and how they can best achieve his cooperation.
KARL: But you believe they should have had the option of everything up to and including waterboarding?
CHENEY: I think you ought to have all of those capabilities on the table. Now, President Obama has taken them off the table. He announced when he came in last year that they would never use anything other than the U.S. Army manual, which doesn't include those techniques. I think that's a mistake.
KARL: OK. So -- so was it a mistake when your administration took on the Richard Reid case? This is very similar. This was somebody that was trying to blow up an airliner with a shoe bomb, and he was within five minutes of getting taken off that plane read his Miranda rights, four times, in fact, in 48 hours, and tried through the civilian system. Was that a mistake?
CHENEY: Well, first of all, I believe he was not tried. He pled guilty. They never did end up having a trial.
Secondly, when this came up, as I recall, it was December of '01, just a couple of months after 9/11. We were not yet operational with the military commissions. We hadn't had all the Supreme Court decisions handed down about what we could and couldn't do with the commissions.
KARL: But you still had an option to put him into military custody.
CHENEY: Well, we could have put him into military custody. I don't -- I don't question that. The point is, in this particular case, all of that was never worked out, primarily because he pled guilty.
KARL: Now, I'd like to read you something that the sentencing judge reading the -- giving him his life sentence read to Richard Reid at the time of that sentencing. Here it is. He said to Reid, "You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. We do not negotiate with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice."
The judge in that case was a Reagan appointee. Doesn't he make a good point?
CHENEY: Well, I don't think so, in a sense that it -- if it -- if you interpret that as taking you to the point where all of these people are going to be treated as though they're guilty of individual criminal acts.
I want to come back again to the basic point I tried to make at the outset, John. And up until 9/11, all terrorist attacks were criminal acts. After 9/11, we made the decision that these were acts of war, these were strategic threats to the United States.
Once you make that judgment, then you can use a much broader range of tools, in terms of going after your adversary. You go after those who provide them safe harbor and sanctuary. You go after those who finance and those who provide weapons for them and those who train them. And you treat them as unlawful enemy combatants.
There's a huge distinction here in terms of the kinds of policies you put in place going forward. And what I'm most concerned about isn't so much argument about all the stuff in the past, about what happened to Abdulmutallab or Richard Reid. I think the relevant point is: What are the policies going to be going forward?
And if you're really serious and you believe this is a war and if you believe the greatest threat is a 9/11 with nukes or a 9/11 with a biological agent of some kind, then you have to consider it as a war, you have to consider it as something we may have to deal with tomorrow. You don't want the vice president of the United States running around saying, "Oh, it's not likely to happen."
KARL: Now, on that question of trying, you know, dealing as enemy combatants or through the criminal justice system, I came across this. This is a document that was put out by the Bush Justice Department under Attorney General Ashcroft...
KARL: ... covering the years 2001 to 2005. And if you go right to page one, they actually tout the criminal prosecutions...
CHENEY: They did.
KARL: ... of terror suspects, saying, "Altogether, the department has brought charges against 375 individuals in terrorism- related investigations and has convicted 195 to date." That was 2005. Again, seems to make the administration's point that they're not doing it all that differently from how you were doing it.
CHENEY: Well, we didn't all agree with that. We had -- I can remember a meeting in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House where we had a major shootout over how this was going to be handled between the Justice Department, that advocated that approach, and many of the rest of us, who wanted to treat it as an intelligence matter, as an act of war with military commissions.
We never clearly or totally resolved those issues. These are tough questions, no doubt about it. You want my opinion, my view of what ought to happen, I think we have to treat it as a -- as a war. This is a strategic threat to the United States. I think that's why we were successful for seven-and-a-half years in avoiding a further major attack against the United States.
And I do get very nervous and very upset when that's the dominant approach, as it was sometimes in the Bush administration or certainly would appear to be at times in the new Obama administration.
KARL: Did you more often win or lose those battles, especially as you got to the second term?
CHENEY: Well, I suppose it depends on which battle you're talking about. I won some; I lost some. I can't...
KARL: ... waterboarding, clearly, what was your...
CHENEY: I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques that...
KARL: And you opposed the administration's actions of doing away with waterboarding?
KARL: I'd like to ask you about the big terror case now, which is the KSM trial. The administration very much wants to see the mastermind of 9/11 tried in civilian courts here in the United States. New York has obviously objected.
Do you think that's going to happen? Do you think this will be a civilian trial? Or are they not going to be able to do it?
CHENEY: It looks to me like they're going to have great difficulty doing it in New York. I mean, even the mayor's come out against it now. I think trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York's a big -- big mistake. It gives him a huge platform to promulgate his -- his particular brand of propaganda around the world.
I think he ought to be at Guantanamo. I think he ought to be tried at Guantanamo in front of a military commission. They've got difficulties now, because my guess is they don't want to send him back to Guantanamo, because that would validate, if you will, the value of Guantanamo. They're trying to close it, clearly haven't been able to get it done.
But my guess is, in the end, he'll end up being tried in front of a military commission on a military facility some place.
KARL: So you think Guantanamo will be open when this president leaves office?
CHENEY: I wouldn't be surprised. It's a valuable facility. There's a reason why we set it up. It makes good sense. There's obviously great reluctance on Capitol Hill to appropriate the funds to close it down. I think -- I think Guantanamo is going to be there for quite a while.
KARL: And one other point -- I just want to read also from a previous interview that you gave -- one of your points about Guantanamo is, if you release the hard-core Al Qaida terrorists, you said, that are held at Guantanamo, I think they go back into the business of trying to kill more Americans and mount further mass casualty attacks. If you turn them loose and they go kill more Americans, who's responsible for that?
And it's a real concern. We've heard from the president's homeland security adviser, John Brennan, saying that at minimum 10 percent of the more than 500 that have been released from Guantanamo have gone back into the fight.
But Brennan also wrote this. He said, "I want to underscore the fact that all of these cases relate to detainees released during the previous administration and under the prior detainee review process."
In other words, all of those released from Guantanamo that have gone back into the fight were released by your administration. Can't you make the case that the Obama administration has actually been more responsible about releasing who they release from Guantanamo?
CHENEY: I wouldn't make that -- I wouldn't make that case, John. I think -- as I recall, the percentage that we had of the recidivists was 12 percent. And we released prisoners back basically to their home countries, partly because the State Department was under enormous pressure to do so, and there was an effort to try to return them. The Saudis had a rehabilitation program for returned Saudis, and...
KARL: Did you oppose those releases?
CHENEY: I did. I didn't think that releasing anybody was the right thing to do, unless you had evidence that, you know, there was a mistake of some kind or they'd been -- been before a commission and you'd reviewed their case and found that the case didn't stand up, and that was usually the case. They were put through a thorough scrub before they were released.
Obviously, some of them got through the filter. But I think, out of the ones that remain, those are the real hard core, and I think your recidivist rate would be far higher than it was on those that have already been released.
It's a tough problem; I'll be the first to admit it. But I think you have to have a facility like Guantanamo to hold these individuals who are members of Al Qaida, who've tried to kill Americans, and who -- when they're released, they'll go back out and try to kill Americans again.
KARL: I'd like to move to Iran. Do you trust the Obama administration to do what is necessary to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?
CHENEY: I remain to be persuaded.
KARL: Do you think that sanctions can work? I mean, that's the track they've chosen.
CHENEY: Well, I think -- I hope sanctions work.
KARL: It's the same track you chose (ph).
CHENEY: We -- I certainly would hope sanctions would work, but I think they're most likely to work if you keep the military option on the table. I don't think you want to eliminate the military -- the possibility of military action. I think that's essential to give any kind of meaning at all to negotiations over sanctions.
KARL: How close did you come -- how close did the Bush administration come to taking military action against Iran?
CHENEY: Well, I would -- some of that I can't talk about, obviously, still. I'm sure it's still classified. We clearly never made the decision -- we never crossed over that line of saying, "Now we're going to mount a military operation to deal with the problem."
The president was always hopeful -- and I think everybody else was, too -- that we could find a way to deal with it within having to resort to military force. One of the problems that the Obama administration inherited was the Iranian problem, and it's a tough one.
KARL: David Sanger of the New York Times says that the Israelis came to you -- came to the administration in the final months and asked for certain things, bunker-buster bombs, air-to-air refueling capability, overflight rights, and that basically the administration dithered, did not give the Israelis a response. Was that a mistake?
CHENEY: I -- I can't get into it still. I'm sure a lot of those discussions are still very sensitive.
KARL: Let me ask you: Did you advocate a harder line, including in the military area, in those -- in those final months?
KARL: And with respect to Iran?
CHENEY: Well, I -- I made public statements to the effect that I felt very strongly that we had to have the military option, that it had to be on the table, that it had to be a meaningful option, and that we might well have to resort to military force in order to deal with the threat that Iran represented. The problem here being that a nuclear-armed Iran is a huge threat to that entire part of the world and, indeed, to the United States.
KARL: Was it -- was it a...
CHENEY: We never got to the point where the president had to make a decision one way or the other.
KARL: Was that a mistake? Was it a mistake to leave that nuclear capability intact?
CHENEY: Well, we -- we did a lot, because we were very concerned about nuclear capability in the hands of rogue states or potentially shared with terrorist organizations, and we were successful in taking down, for example, Saddam Hussein, who had messed with nuclear weapons twice previously, taking down the A.Q. Khan network, a black-market operation that was providing technology to the North Koreans, Iranians, and Libyans. We successfully obtained all the Libyan materials for their nuclear program, so we got a lot done.
We didn't get everything done. We still -- when we finished, there still was the ongoing Iranian problem and the ongoing North Korean problem. Both of them remain to be addressed.
KARL: I'd like to get your response to Sarah Palin's recent comments on Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really to come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do, if he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies, I think people would perhaps shift their thinking a little bit and decide, well, maybe he's tougher than we think he -- than he is today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: She's, of course, talking about President Obama, seemed to be implying that this would be a good political move for him. What's your take?
CHENEY: I don't think a president can make a judgment like that on the basis of politics. The stakes are too high, the consequences too significant to be treating those as simple political calculations. When you begin to talk about war, talk about crossing international borders, you talk about committing American men and women to combat, that takes place on a plane clear above any political consideration.
CHENEY: So I'd be -- I'd be very cautious about treating that kind of issue on those kinds of conditions.
KARL: We're almost out of time. We're going to get you very quickly on a few other subjects. First of all, one more on Palin. Is she qualified to be president?
CHENEY: I haven't made a decision yet on who I'm going to support for president the next time around. Whoever it is, is going to have to prove themselves capable of being president of the United States. And those tests will -- will come during the course of campaigns, obviously. I think -- well, I think all the prospective candidates out there have got a lot of work to do if, in fact, they're going to persuade a majority of Americans that they're ready to take on the world's toughest job.
KARL: OK, "don't ask/don't tell" -- you're a former defense secretary -- should this policy be repealed?
CHENEY: Twenty years ago, the military were strong advocates of "don't ask/don't tell," when I was secretary of defense. I think things have changed significantly since then. I see that Don Mullen -- or Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has indicated his belief that we ought to support a change in the policy. So I think -- my guess is the policy will be changed.
KARL: And do you think that's a good thing? I mean, is it time to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military?
CHENEY: I think the society has moved on. I think it's partly a generational question. I say, I'm reluctant to second-guess the military in this regard, because they're the ones that have got to make the judgment about how these policies affect the military capability of our -- of our units, and that first requirement that you have to look at all the time is whether or not they're still capable of achieving their mission, and does the policy change, i.e., putting gays in the force, affect their ability to perform their mission?
When the chiefs come forward and say, "We think we can do it," then it strikes me that it's -- it's time to reconsider the policy. And I think Admiral Mullen said that.
KARL: And, finally, I know that you have a reunion coming up later this month with President Bush. This'll be the first time you've seen him since leaving office, face to face?
CHENEY: Pretty much, yes. We talk on the telephone periodically, but the first time I've seen him since January 20th.
KARL: What does he think of you being so outspoken in contrast to him?
CHENEY: Well, I don't think he's opposed to it, by any means. I'd be inclined to let him speak for himself about it. The reason I've been outspoken is because there were some things being said, especially after we left office, about prosecuting CIA personnel that had carried out our counterterrorism policy or disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had -- had helped us put those policies together, and I was deeply offended by that, and I thought it was important that some senior person in the administration stand up and defend those people who'd done what we asked them to do.
And that's why I got started on it. I'm the vice president now -- ex-vice president. I have the great freedom and luxury of speaking out, saying what I -- what I want to say, what I believe. And I have not been discouraged from doing so.
KARL: And that includes writing a book?
CHENEY: Writing a book, that's correct.
KARL: Can you give us -- before you go -- a quick nugget that's going to be in the book, give us the title, give us something going?
CHENEY: Have me back about a year from now, and I'll have a copy of the book for you, John.
KARL: OK, it's deal.
CHENEY: All right.
KARL: Mr. Vice President, thanks a lot for joining us on "This Week."
CHENEY: Good to see you. I've enjoyed it.
KARL: The roundtable is next, George Will, Paul Gigot, Jane Mayer, and Peter Beinart. And later, the Sunday funnies.
Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures
by Peter Overby
February 19, 2010 A nagging question in the Tea Party movement has surfaced again: Who's actually paying the bills? Some Tea Party leaders announced earlier this month that they're forming a fundraising corporation. Its goal is to raise money from other corporations and rich individuals. But they set it up so it doesn't have to disclose who those donors are.
The head of the Memphis Tea Party is a burly businessman named Mark Skoda — a forceful presence on the national Tea Party scene.
And just as forceful at the Tea Party convention in Nashville, Tenn., where he held a press conference to roll out the new fundraising operation: the Ensuring Liberty Corp., a tax-exempt 501(c)(4), which would be followed by the establishment of the Ensuring Liberty Political Action Committee.
The PAC would be a normal political committee, following the contribution limits and full disclosure requirements of federal election law.
The 501(c)(4) is another story.
Skoda told reporters about the significance of having that tax-exempt status.
"As you know, election law allows 501(c)(4)s to raise and recruit funds that allow us to go ahead and encourage people to participate in the PAC. It allows us a greater latitude in which to execute our strategy," he said.
And he made a pledge.
"We will do that in a systematic way, with transparency that is obviously lacking in too much of the political process today," Skoda said.
But a more complete description of the fundraising rules for a 501(c)(4) like the Ensuring Liberty Corp. would go like this: It can raise as much as it can get — no limits — from wealthy donors and from corporations.
And there's no disclosure. No possible blowback against the Ensuring Liberty Corp. for taking the money, or against a corporate donor for giving it.
Skoda didn't respond Thursday to messages left on his office, home and cell phones.
But the Ensuring Liberty Corp. wouldn't be the first ally of the Tea Party movement to cross paths with big money.
FreedomWorks, headed by lobbyist and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, has said about 15 or 20 percent of its money comes from corporations.
And Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, has long been rumored to be financed by David Koch, of the family that owns Koch Industries. That's one of the biggest privately held companies in America, and the family has a long history of underwriting conservative causes.
David Koch confirmed the rumors at an AFP convention last fall. "Five years ago my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start the Americans for Prosperity. And it's beyond my wildest dreams how the AFP has grown into this enormous organization," David Koch said, according to audio from the online news site The Washington Independent.
AFP spokeswoman Amy Payne says corporations are its smallest group of donors, after individuals and foundations.
Anger At Lobbyists
If corporations were fueling a powerful new grass-roots movement, would it matter to people in the movement?
Joseph Lowndes, a political scientist at the University of Oregon, isn't so sure it would. He has written about the Tea Parties and other conservative movements.
The us-against-them anger of Tea Partiers is aimed mostly at government. But Lowndes says he sees one important part of corporate activity that could raise their hackles.
"Corporations don't seem to me to be the thing that really gets them in a lather in the same way," he says. "Except for they do see, in their kind of, you know, partly right-on and partly conspiratorial understanding of the ways in which lobbyists work in Washington."
The corporate lobbyists that worked angles in the health care debate, for instance.
But for now, the only people likely to be upset by corporate funding for the movement would be the ones who have already dug in against Tea Party groups and are spoiling for a fight.
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Two Views Of The Tea Party's Appeal Feb. 6, 2010
Tea Party Convention Kicks Off In Nashville Feb. 4, 2010
Tea Party Star Leads Movement On Her Own Terms Feb. 2, 2010
We are going to protect our young, we are going to protect the next generation of Americans, so the Mama Grizzlies are growling, we are rising up on our hind legs and saying no, we are going to change course, we need that real hope, we need that real change.-- Sarah Palin, speaking this weekend to a Patriotic Gala Celebration in San Diego.
"...[C]hildren and grandchildren..."
During late 2009 and early 2010, I criss-crossed the country talking to the rank-and-file not just of the Tea Party Movement but the 9-12 Project, the Oath Keepers and others in the backlash movement that sprung from nowhere practically in the hours after President Barack Obama's inauguration.
And there were days when it felt like if I collected a dime for every time a Tea Partier told me the main reason they threw themselves into the movement -- spending seven hours in a dank arena listening to Glenn Beck and his pseudo-historian David Barton or marching against health care reform -- was to save America for their "children and grandchildren," I'd have enough cash to pay for my travels and maybe take in a couple of NHL hockey games with all the spare change.
The idea that that weren't doing it for themselves -- struggling with their own anxieties and deep discomfort with cultural change in America -- but were fighting to save "the next generation of Americans" is a core belief. Beck -- whom I listened to for that long day at the UCF Arena in Orlando so that you didn't have to, while reporting my book The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama -- knew this and played it to the hilt. He even told the throng of mostly $134 ticket buyers on that March day to keep a Moleskine diary of their activity in the Tea Party uprising.
"I'm telling you -- our children and grandchildren will fight over who gets Grandma or Grandpa's Moleskine -- they will fight over this! You need to tell history, because whether or not you believe it yet, you're making it."This comment to another journalist at a Tax Day Tea Party from April this year sums it up well.
Many Tea Party activists say that they're motivated to speak out about fiscal responsibility on behalf of future generations.Here's the thing: Of course Tea Party activists are "genuinely concerned for their children and grandchildren" -- anyone with a pulse wants a better world for their loved ones who come after them. The tragedy is that their genuine concerns are being played -- manipulated by the high-def hucksters like Beck and Palin who've become multi-millionaires through fact-free appeals to fearful Americans and by billionaires like the Koch brothers who have a self-serving agenda.
"When I first started going to meetings, I immediately liked that everyone was friendly, organized, and genuinely concerned for their children and grandchildren," said JoAnne Carowick, a homemaker who became involved with the Tea Party in State College, Pa.
Carowick said she worries every time she thinks about her six-year-old grandson and the burden she believes he will face from excessive government spending and high taxes.
With a radical agenda that aims to bring to a standstill not just government spending but two centuries of can-do American initiative, the Tea Party Movement -- and what may be an unstoppable tsunami of voter despair on Nov. 2 -- aims, unwittingly, to usher in a sad era of national decline. In fact, the children and grandchildren of the Tea Partiers (and the rest of us, unfortunately) would attend crumbling schools that lag increasingly behind other industrialized and emerging nations, assuming their school bus can even make it through traffic-clogged highways. Unable to find jobs, many will instead enlist to fight new wars overseas for the world's shrinking oil supply, while savvier nations reap the benefits of alternative energy.
Consider the new darling of the anti-Obama backlash, macho division -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who even aced out Palin over the weekend at a straw poll of the Virginia Tea Party. Just a couple of days before, the tough-talking Christie offered a powerful symbol of the right wing's just-say-no-to-everything approach to running America, when he singlehandedly took steps to kill a multi-billion dollar new rail tunnel under the Hudson River that would greatly expand and improve mass transit in our largest metropolis. His radical approach could save New Jersey millions of dollars in the short-sighted short-run -- or it might not -- but there is little doubt that Christie will whack future economic growth that might bring in millions in new tax dollars, if the Tea Party crowd would simply allow it to take place. (Meanwhile, China -- whose supplanting of the United States as the world's economic powerhouse is a major source of Tea Party concern, and understandably so -- is building a high-speed rail system likely to put this country to shame.)
All of which means that even if our "children and grandchildren" are fortunate enough to get a job in Manhattan in 2020, they may not be able to get there. But what kind of vision did you expect from Christie, who came into office proposing $450 million in state aid cuts to public schools -- that would be "children and grandchildren," if I'm not mistaken -- and turned around and vetoed a tax on very adult, successful millionaires that would have brought in $637 million.
It's true that our progeny will suffer greatly if America were indeed on track to run out of cash. And so one does wonder why the Tea Party both celebrates Ronald Reagan -- who ushered in an era of unprecedented government borrowing -- and failed to protest George W. Bush as he squandered billions on unproductive causes like the war in Iraq. But now the bankrupting of the United States since Obama became president is largely a right-wing radio soundbite not supported by stubborn facts.
A column today by Paul Krugman in the New York Times noted there's been no appreciable increase in government spending under Obama and that 350,000 fewer Americans have government jobs since the start of 2009. The economic stimulus package -- which started so much of the Tea Party blather -- was too small to stop the long-term massive loss of jobs, hampering growth and the nation's ability to bring the budget back into balance at some future date through taxes from people who are actually employed.
That future date of this again-productive America could have been the time that my own two children -- teenagers today -- are ready to start having children of their own, if they can afford to. Like the Tea Party, I worry about their future, about their ability to find a job in an economy stagnated by our newfound lack of daring and initiative, in a world where America whiffed at its best opportunity to do anything about fending off climate change and which the only spending that goes unchallenged is to sustain wars 11,000 miles away. But my biggest worry for them and their children is living out the 21st Century in a Chris-Christie-fied "nation of no,' that that has lost its ability to dream big things and won't remember how to get that mojo back.
But that is not the Big Lie that's been foisted on and then endorsed by the Tea Party -- that we need to keep the marginal taxes on their billionaire backers like the Koch brothers at record low rates and get rid of a "death tax" that only affects the wealthy, and that any of this has to do with making our super-downsized nation a better place for the next generation to live and work.
You know, there was something else that Sarah Palin said in San Diego this past weekend about the Tea Party, that "[w]e are not the extreme ones. We are the voice of reason." But unfortunately, the exact opposite is true. And sadly, the Tea Party is only hurting the ones it loves
The Tea Party's Tension: Religion's Role In Politics
These members of the Northern Virginia Tea Party fall silent as Jonathan Moseley takes the microphone.
"I bring you news from the front of the Tea Party revolution, from the battle of Delaware," he begins dramatically. For an hour, Moseley, who was Christine O'Donnell's campaign manager in 2008, describes O'Donnell's upset victory in Delaware's Senate primary.
O'Donnell is a conservative Christian. But no one mentions that at this meet-and-greet, in part because people here don't all agree about religion's role in politics.
The 'Sleeping Giant': Religious Conservatives
On the one end of the spectrum, Stacey Hagga says that religion and socially conservative issues are simply not a factor in the Tea Party movement.
"I personally don't know the last time I was at church," she says, shifting her toddler from one hip to the other. "I think people are just generally concerned about the economy and the direction of our country. I have my 2-year-old here and I'm just concerned about his future."
Nearby, Sandy Smith, a registered nurse, sees some religious undercurrents to the Tea Party movement.
Smith is describing a "civil religion" that seems to appeal to many Tea Partiers: the idea that America was a divine experiment, that the Founding Fathers were Christian men who created a nation on biblical principles. She says America in 2010 has lost that.
"That's what started this whole downfall of America — taking God out of everything, and political correctness," Smith says. "We were founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and its like 'What's happened? Why aren't we fighting to save that?' They fought hard for that so why aren't we? So we're out here trying to fight for those principles."
And then there's Michael Giere, a mortgage banker and evangelical Christian. "We are a Judeo-Christian country, and I don't care who says we're not, we obviously are," he says.
Giere says religious conservatives are the sleeping giant in the Tea Party.
"The discussion of the day is on economics, but when you start peeling back that onion, there is devout faith spread throughout the Tea Party and spread throughout the Tea Party leadership," he says.
Polls show that Tea Party members are far more likely to be weekly churchgoers and conservative Christians than the population as a whole.
That is what Wendy Wright, president of the evangelical Concerned Women for America, has found. And she says she believes the Tea Party is prompting Americans to look closely at their religious heritage — in particular, at the faith and early writings of the Founding Fathers.
Tea Party Supporters' Religious Affiliations
|Support for |
|Total U.S.||NET AGREE|
The most prominent proponent of this nostalgia for the early days of the Republic is Glenn Beck. At an August rally, more than 80,000 people gathered on Washington's Mall and listened with rapt attention as the Fox News commentator whipped up a religious revival.
"Something beyond imagination is happening," he boomed to the roars of the crowd. "Something that is beyond man is happening. America today begins to turn back to God!"
That moment marked a turning point in the relationship between religious conservatives and the Tea Party, says Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. "There was a spiritual energy there that we haven't seen in typical Tea Party events," he says. "And my word to the Tea Party leadership is: Sit up and take notice. This is a winning issue for you, just from a purely strategic, pragmatic standpoint, to capture the spiritual energy of the American people."
For their part, religious conservatives have benefited hugely from the rise of the Tea Party. John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron, says that evangelicals and conservative Catholics were dispirited after the 2008 election. They were disillusioned by what they saw as President Bush's unfulfilled promises and a disappointing Republican presidential candidate. At the same time, once-powerful organizations such as the Christian Coalition have petered out. Enter the Tea Party movement.
"There was an opening on the right for organizations and candidates and groups that could appeal to different elements of the religious coalition," he says. "In many ways the Tea Party has filled that niche."
Green says in this year's primary elections, religious conservatives have gotten exactly what they wanted.
"If you look at many of the candidates around the country that have won Republican primaries that are identified with the Tea Party, many of them hold very conservative views on social issues and therefore are likely to appeal to conservative Christians as well as other kinds of conservatives," he says.
Christine O'Donnell, for example, has spent much of her career as an evangelical activist. In fact, every Tea Party candidate who won his or her Senate primary opposes abortion.
The Glue That Holds The Tea Party Together: Fiscal Issues
And yet, there's still tension between these two groups. For example, Fischer recently interviewed Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, on his nationwide radio program. Fischer told her that evangelicals want some signal that the Tea Party movement supports their views on abortion and marriage.
"Can we hear that message from the Tea Party leadership?" he asked.
"You're not going to hear it from me," she responded. "I'm sorry, I'm going to disappoint you."
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"As long as we stay focused on the fiscal issues, that's the glue that holds us together," she says. "If we start delving into the religious aspect or social aspect, that's when we're going to become divided and when people are going to disagree."
But Fischer says this strategy could alienate Christian conservatives.
"And if they begin to discover that the leadership of the Tea Party movement isn't going to fight for them on those issues, then I think they're going to lose their enthusiasm for movement," he says. "And they'll go back to being disengaged or they'll invest in that energy in some other direction."
It appears that these groups are mostly patching over their differences. But the question is: After the election, could their diverging priorities lead to the breakup of this political marriage?
mitt romney,LIES, mormonism & bain capital UPDATED 9JAN14
Mitt Romney's Driving Killed Leola Anderson. His Cover-Up Tale is Proved Dishonest 17JUL12http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/mitt-romneys-driving-killed-leola.html
Give me a break, STOP OUTSOURCING AMERICAN JOBS! 2OKT12 / NEW ROMNEY VIDEO: In 1985, He Said Bain Would "Harvest" Companies for Profits 27SEP12 / What Mitt Romney Really Represents 21SEP12/Did Mitt Romney Go Brownface in Attempt to Woo Latino Voters? & Did Romney Dye His Face Brown to Appeal to Hispanic Voters? & Mitt Romney: 'I Say That Jokingly, But It Would Be Helpful To Be Latino 20&17SEP12 /¿Sabía Mitt Romney Ir Brownface en un intento de atraer a los votantes latinos? ¿Sabía Romney y teñirse el rostro moreno para atraer a los votantes hispanos? Y Mitt Romney: "Yo digo que broma, pero sería útil ser hispano 20 y 17SEP12 / Mitt Romney's Role as Mormon Bishop Shows His Extremist Religious Beliefs 15SEP12/ Mitt Romney Tax Policy Studies: Candidate Seemingly Contradicts Their Conclusions 14SEP12 / Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show 2JUL12 / The Mystery of Romney's Exit From Bain 3JUL12 / No, Romney Didn’t Leave Bain in 1999 10JUL12/ What We Know About Romney and Bain, Explained 13JUL12 /5 Questions for the Fact-Checkers on Romney and Bain 16JUL12
Give me a break, STOP OUTSOURCING AMERICAN JOBS! 2OKT12
By the end of this year, I won't have a job. And despite our efforts—which are only getting stronger because of you—Mitt Romney refuses to use his influence and save our Bain Capital jobs from being shipped to China.
Mitt still makes millions each year from his time at Bain. And just a short while ago, it was revealed that he received an estimated $350,000 in tax breaks by writing off his stock in Sensata, the company that I've worked at for 33 years.
That's right - Mitt Romney is actually receiving tax breaks off of a company that is actively shipping my job overseas. This is the same person who's accused myself and 47% of country of not paying our fair share in taxes and not working hard enough. Tell me another one, Mitt.
Watch this video featuring my co-workers Tom, Dot and Bonnie—whom I consider part of my family—and pass it along to your own friends and family:
Romney's written us off twice now. The first time is when he said "[his] job is not to worry about those people" - the 47% of us who have worked hard to be where we are today. Now, he's writing off his shares in Sensata as a tax break—by transferring its worth to his own private foundation.
I don't have a private foundation. All I have is a house that I want to keep. And while all those tax breaks sit in Romney's offshore bank accounts, we in Freeport could use that money to pay our bills and keep our town alive.
Now, I may be a bit biased, but this is a story that all of your friends and family need to see before they make a decision this fall. I had no idea this issue could affect me, and yet here I am now, fighting to keep my job.
Watch this video, and pass it along:
If Mitt keeps writing us off, then maybe we need to write off Romney's failed economic model. It's about time that he sees what it's doing to America.
PS - Don't forget about tomorrow's first presidential debate at 9 PM EDT. See where the candidates stand on keeping jobs here in America.
This message was sent by Cheryl Randecker from the SignOn.org system. MoveOn.org Civic Action sponsors SignOn.org, but does not endorse specific campaigns or the contents of this message.
Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show 2JUL12
And these documents challenge Romney's claim that he left Bain Capital in early 1999.
But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney's exit from Bain.
The Stericycle deal—the abortion connection aside—is relevant because of questions regarding the timing of Romney's departure from the private equity firm he founded. Responding to a recentWashington Post story reporting that Bain-acquired companies outsourced jobs, the Romney campaign insisted that Romney exited Bain in February 1999, a month or more before Bain took over two of the companies named in the Post's article. The SEC documents undercut that defense, indicating that Romney still played a role in Bain investments until at least the end of 1999.
Here's what happened with Stericycle. In November 1999, Bain Capital and Madison Dearborn Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, filed with the SEC a Schedule 13D, which lists owners of publicly traded companies, noting that they had jointly purchased $75 million worth of shares in Stericycle, a fast-growing player in the medical-waste industry. (That April, Stericycle had announced plans to buy the medical-waste businesses of Browning Ferris Industries and Allied Waste Industries.) The SEC filing lists assorted Bain-related entities that were part of the deal, including Bain Capital (BCI), Bain Capital Partners VI (BCP VI), Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors (a Bermuda-based Bain affiliate), and Brookside Capital Investors (a Bain offshoot). And it notes that Romney was the "sole shareholder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of BCI, BCP VI Inc., Brookside Inc. and Sankaty Ltd."
The Mystery of Romney's Exit From Bain 3JUL12
Now there's a debate over when the GOP presidential candidate left his private equity firm—and what it means.
The Romney campaign and Bain maintain that he said au revoir in February 1999, when he took over the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. On Monday, I reported that documents filed in late 1999 with the Securities and Exchange Commission—including one signed by Romney—identify Romney as a participant in a Bain partnership that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste firm that in recent years has been assailed by abortion foes for disposing of aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics. The documents suggest that Romney had not fully removed himself from Bain's business dealings.
Yet here's how Bain responded to questions from me:
[A] spokeswoman for Bain maintained that Romney was not involved in the Stericycle deal in 1999, saying that he had "resigned" months before the stock purchase was negotiated. The spokeswoman noted that following his resignation Romney remained only "a signatory on certain documents," until his separation agreement with Bain was finalized in 2002. And Bain issued this statement: "Mitt Romney retired from Bain Capital in February 1999. He has had no involvement in the management or investment activities of Bain Capital, or with any of its portfolio companies since that time."And the Romney campaign, responding to a Washington Post report on Bain-bought companies outsourcing jobs, also recently insisted that Romney left Bain in February 1999 and had nothing to do with firms purchased by Bain after that point.
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No, Romney Didn’t Leave Bain in 1999 10JUL12
Now here’s even more evidence that he didn’t leave in 1999 as he now claims.
The gist of the disagreement comes down to this: There’s no question that numerous public filings and some contemporaneous press references say Romney was still running things at Bain after 1999. But his campaign insists that whatever securities filings may have said, in practice, he was so busy running the 2002 Winter Olympics that he actually had no role at Bain after early 1999. That’s possible in theory. But there’s no evidence for it besides self-interested claims by Romney. And there’s plenty of documentary evidence to the contrary. After all, what you tell the SEC is really supposed to be true.
But here’s the thing. I’ve found yet more instances where Romney made declarations to the SEC that he was still involved in running Bain after February 1999. To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet noted these.
The documents go into different aspects of Romney’s ownership of various Bain and Bain related assets. But in both Romney had to say what he currently did for a living.
Here are two SEC filings from July 2000 and February 2001 in which Romney lists his “principal occupation” as “Managing Director of Bain Capital, Inc.”
Romney’s argument is that it doesn’t matter what he said on these SEC filings. Whatever they say, he really wasn’t at Bain anymore. But absent of any evidence, how is it that anyone can be expected to disregard what Mitt actually told the SEC at the time?
What We Know About Romney and Bain, Explained 13JUL12
Romney claims he left Bain in 1999.
Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had absolutely no involvement with the management or investment activities of the firm or with any of its portfolio companies since the day of his departure. Due to the sudden nature of Mr. Romney's departure, he remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in various capacities on SEC filings during this period."Official documents and other sources contradict Romney and Bain's account.
As Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler wrote on Thursday, "For Romney to be truly off the hook politically for the stuff Bain was doing, he'd have to claim not lack of control, but lack of knowledge." It's hard to believe that Romney didn't know what was going on at a company where he was the president, CEO, chairman of the board, and owner.
UPDATE: In an interview with local DC ABC affiliate WJLA, President Barack Obama says Romney should have to answer questions about his tenure at Bain:
Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations, but again that's probably a question that he's going to have to answer and I think that's a legitimate part of the campaign.
Now, my understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does.