February 7, 2008

Romnian Reflections: The Few Made the Difference

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:32 pm

Here’s an e-mail I received from someone you’ve heard of, a person whose name I won’t reveal because I’m not sure that person would want it revealed:

We all owe a debt to Brian Camenker, John Haskins and Amy Contrada. This trio of Massachusetts activists never gave up. With no money and no staff besides themselves, their organizations — MassResistance and Parents Rights Coalition — became the clearinghouse for the truth about this charlatan named Mitt Romney. Hundreds of reporters visited their website and countless stories were developed based on their info.

Even opposition research people from other campaigns used their info. Along with Gary Glenn and a few other people, this merry band of warriors started warning Americans years ago about the impending Romney campaign. They defeated a juggernaut that spent over 40 million dollars.

I am convinced that without these heroes, Mitt Romney would now be our nominee.

Establishment historians and beltway political consultants will probably never acknowledge their sacrifice but as long as I live, I will tell the story of how a few committed people affected the course of America.

All of you are true patriots and I salute you.

I agree with the e-mail’s author, with one exception: The nation owes Brian, John, and Amy a debt that can’t be repaid, but the mountain of money they had to climb over was more like $100 million.

After hearing talk host after talk host go on today about how “conservative” Mitt Romney is, when he was the most liberal candidate in the field, it’s good to see that one authentic reality-based community is getting at least a bit of what it’s due.

So let the historical record show that the e-mail’s author is right. A few brave people in the Cradle of Liberty helped to deliver the nation from a serious, and potentially catastrophic, error.

I for one can’t escape the parallels to a more localized event over 2-1/2 years ago in the Spring of 2005. That was when another charlatan, with the help of many of the very same people who tried to foist Mitt Romney onto an unsuspecting GOP electorate, tried to hijack Ohio’s Second Congressional District. That both efforts failed is more important than most will ever appreciate.

Here’s hoping for another historical parallel — Ohio’s Second District charlatan tried again the next time around in 2006, and was again turned back. Absent a wholesale, credible reinvention AND a list of sincere “I was wrong, I am sorry” statements a mile long to ALL who are owed them, there will be no way “Romney 2012 = Reagan 1980.” Count on it. By itself, time does not heal Objective Unfitness.

After the 2006 election I just referred to, I wrote something that eerily applies to what has transpired thus far in 2008:

(We learned tonight that) That the “Christian Right” can be taken in by clever messengers who say the right things and are successful at not revealing their true selves.

Add “most of ‘conservative’ talk radio, many ‘conservative’ pundits, and a lot of ‘conservative’ bloggers who should know better,” and you have the nearly lethal 2008 Romnian brew.

Speaking of what is owed, the list of those other than the candidate who owe Mass Resistance, and especially Brian, mea maxima culpas is very, very long. The line forms here.

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UPDATE: Other post-mortems —

UPDATE 2 (revised, 10:45 a.m., Feb. 8): From Republicans for Family Values

Departure of ‘Fake Conservative’ Romney from Race is Good News

Peter LaBarbera, founder of the website Republicans For Family Values, issued the following statement today:

We who know his real record celebrate the news that the media’s favorite fake “conservative,” Mitt Romney, has abandoned his GOP presidential bid. Congratulations to Mass Resistance’s Brian Camenker and all those who worked so hard to expose the truth about this man who, frankly, deceived many. Camenker’s report, “The Mitt Romney Deception,” was the linchpin of our campaign to expose Romney’s incredible string of flip-flops, anti-family sellouts and conveniently-timed conversions to the pro-family cause.

Said Camenker: “It’s quite astonishing that a rag-tag army of truth-tellers was able to take down the most well-funded and best organized political campaign in modern times — which was also in collusion with the “mainstream” conservative movement.”

Sadly, Brian is correct: the facts about Romney’s record that should have been reported by major “conservative” and pro-family leaders – such as his continued embrace of homosexual “special rights” laws and the $50 co-pay for abortion as a “benefit” resulting from his state health insurance plan — were left untold. Curiously, major conservative opinion-leaders like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Hugh Hewitt – who readily bashed Mike Huckabee and John McCain for being too liberal — couldn’t bring themselves to expose the Real Romney.

Worse yet, some major Christian pro-family leaders failed in their role to inform the public about Romney’s social liberalism. Curiously, some embraced Romney even though his (post-pro-life-conversion) record on abortion paled in comparison to Mike Huckabee’s 100% pro-life record — and despite the fact that Romney’s (current) pro-homosexual-special-rights advocacy broke with decades of pro-family tradition. We know that some of these groups accepted large donations from Romney.

Right up to Super Tuesday, millions of Christians and conservatives – relying on talk radio and not hearing the truth from some major Christian organizations – were ignorant of Romney’s pro-homosexual, liberal record, demonstrating the lack of fair play of key conservative and pro-family leaders who — at the very least – should have exposed equally the warts of all the GOP contenders.

Politics is a tough business, but is it wrong to expect conservatives – and especially Christian leaders – to conduct it with more integrity?

This was a David vs. Goliath battle, and shows that truth is more powerful than fiction. Now we must be vigilant as many of the same opinion-leaders will try to perpetuate their own myth by selling Romney as the “conservative” standard bearer waiting in the wings.

The talkers know darn well that with great power, comes great responsibility. In this case, most of them — call them the Anybody-But-McCain Coalition of the Duped — shirked it.

Rumor Breaking: Romney Suspending Campaign (Live-Blogging Mitt’s CPAC Speech and Rush’s Reax)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:39 pm

Mark Halperin at Time is saying so.

As is CNNPolitics.com.

We’ll see.

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2:25 p.m. – Romney CPAC snip is here (HT Hot Air).

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Live-blogging:

12:50 p.m. – Romney speaking at CPAC. Mentions number of states voting for him and total votes.

12:55 p.m. – “Unless America changes course, we could become the France of the 21st Century.”

12:57 p.m. – Rush cut away from the speech (and never went back — Ed.), and is saying that NBC and Fox are confirming Romney campaign’s suspension.

12:58 p.m. – Rush is ad-libbing a commercial, I believe so he doesn’t have to cut away to canned commercials ….. Nope, he cut away.

1:00 p.m.AP on Yahoo!

John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign. “I must now stand aside, for our party and our country,” Romney prepared to tell conservatives.

“If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror,” Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

That is a valid, important, and well-made point.

1:02 p.m. – Fox News Radio is reporting that Romney, by suspending, will hang on to his delegates and perhaps have the ability to have influence at the convention.

1:05 p.m.Further from AP

….. But he was dogged by charges of flip-flopping, a criticism that undermined the candidacy of another Massachusetts hopeful — John Kerry in 2004. In seeking to unseat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1994, Romney said he would be a better advocate for gay rights than his rival and he favored abortion rights.

Someday, people who fled to Romney in the name of “conservatism” are going to have to accept the fact that these were credibility bridges that Romney failed to cross convincingly.

1:08 p.m. – In an e-mail — “Kudos to the amazing activists from Massachusetts who stood for principle
and helped bring this about!” I am honored and humbled to have been involved with outstanding, principled, dedicated people such as these.

1:10 p.m. – The Romney campaign has apparently informed Rush that it’s officially true. Rush is in a “Where was this during the campaign?” mode.

1:12 p.m. – Romney apparently is saying that he’s suspending “for the good of the party and the good of country” — Rush doesn’t like that part.

1:15 p.m. – Paraphrasing Rush — “It is up to John McCain to demonstrate leadership and not merely rely on fear and loathing of Hillary or Obama (though fear and loathing of Obama won’t work). Leadership is being more than the anti-Hillary, and it’s up to the candidate to demonstrate leadership.”

I couldn’t agree more, but unlike Rush, Laura Ingraham (who apparently referred to Romney as “the conservatives’ conservative” in her introduction of him at CPAC), and others, those who really understood Mitt Romney’s record knew that he could and would NEVER be that leader.

The question is whether John McCain is. I pray that is the case. Rush and others who were all wrong on Romney remain entirely correct on this point: If he wants active, effective support, the burden is on McCain to reconcile himself with Reagan conservatives and to explain how his principles are consistent with our principles. It’s not the other way around.

Come home, John.

That’s it. Maybe more later.

Advocate for Repealing the 19th Amendment Acts As an Exemplar of the Case for It

Here is an excerpt from this person’s column in February 2000:

Reconsidering the 19th Amendment

As a class, women have never borne collective responsibility for work, they have never learned how to store food for the winter, and they have not generated economic growth. (At least not by dint of hard work.) Nor have women borne responsibility for electing Republican Presidents.

Then there’s this, from October 2007:

If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

Well, I can think of ONE single woman who has promised to vote “so stupidly” (also, Jan. 31 Hot Air video; Feb. 1 vid; “From Goldwater Girl to Hillary Girl“).

She is the author of the two excerpts above.

She has also, in essence, endorsed Mitt Romney, and has accused those who don’t bow to the Mittster of not doing their homework:

I’ve been casually taking swipes at Mitt Romney for the past year based on the assumption that, in the end, Republicans would choose him as our nominee. My thinking was that Romney would be our nominee because he is manifestly the best candidate.

I had no idea that Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire planned to do absolutely zero research on the candidates and vote on the basis of random impulses.

Dear Republicans: Please do one-tenth as much research before casting a vote in a presidential election as you do before buying a new car.

….. The candidate Republicans should be clamoring for is the one liberals are feverishly denouncing. That is Mitt Romney by a landslide.

This woman, who is/has been a constitutional lawyer, has, I can assure you, been informed by those who have done their homework about the extra-constitutional, oath-of-office-breaking, and unilateral imposition of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts perpetrated by Mitt Romney — the offense that has earned him the moniker “Objectively Unfit Mitt.”

Those of us who have made her aware of this matter, and who have seen her non-responses when it is raised, are certain that she fully understands its seriousness, and that she acquiesces to the validity of the points Mass Resistance and others have been making nationally for well over a year.

Yet she not only strongly opposes the GOP front-runner, which is understandable, but persists in making excuses for and proactively supporting Mitt Romney, which is incomprehensible.

Further, if she doesn’t get her way (wahhhh), she’ll ignore the very real possibility that the War on Terror will go on hiatus for four years, or worse (see Bill Whittle comment at link; HT Instapundit), and vote for someone from the other party.

Talk about reacting emotionally.

Okay, Ann Coulter, you’ve convinced me. Repeal the 19th. ASAP. Before November.

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Footnote: Please — Yours truly does NOT actually advocate repealing the 19th Amendment.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (020708)

IBDeditorials.com, unlike much of Old Media and a number of bloggers who should know better, fully understands that what Bill Clinton said last week about reducing economic growth in the name of environmental purity — regardless of its “context” — was an expression of a core belief. Though, like on so many other things, it wasn’t something he would expend any political capital for (bold is mine):

In a typically verbose speech, he put forth his idea of what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do: “We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions ’cause we have to save our planet for our grandchildren.” Sounds like he should cut back on his own.

….. Clinton’s sense of urgency to save the planet was not so apparent back when he was renting out the Lincoln Bedroom. As president, and even with Al Gore warning that the Earth hung in the balance, he never submitted the original Kyoto pact for ratification.

The fact that a contemporaneous preemptive Senate resolution that called for rejecting Kyoto passed 95-0 might have something to do with that.

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From the “Nothing Here, Move Along” Department:

2 seeking state gambling deals gave thousands to Strickland, Democrats

Lobbyists and executives for two firms with a chance to operate the state-run keno gambling machines proposed by Gov. Ted Strickland have donated thousands of campaign dollars to the Democratic governor and his party.
The money came from representatives of GTech Corp., the state’s online gaming vendor, and Intralot USA, which has bid against GTech and a third firm for a new state contract for online lottery services that went out in October.

Lottery spokesman Mardele Cohen said the contract did not specifically include keno, which the governor said Thursday could raise $73 million of the $733 million he needs to address a projected budget deficit.

Uh, the projected deficit ranges from $733 million to $1.9 billion.

The linked article was written by the Associated Press, and carried by the Toledo Blade. That AP had to provide the story must mean that the Blade’s Pulitzer Prize winners who covered Tom Noe’s doings, which have in the long run cost the state very little, while virtually ignoring Mark Lay, whose mis-investments cost the state over $200 million, apparently had more important things to do.

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E-X, X-O-N (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap): Reader Joe C. sent a link to something that I had read in passing elsewhere that needs some cleaning up —

Over the last three years, Exxon Mobil has paid an average of $27 billion annually in taxes. That’s $27,000,000,000 per year, a number so large it’s hard to comprehend. Here’s one way to put Exxon’s taxes into perspective.

According to IRS data for 2004, the most recent year available:

Total number of tax returns: 130 million

Number of Tax Returns for the Bottom 50%: 65 million

Adjusted Gross Income for the Bottom 50%: $922 billion

Total Income Tax Paid by the Bottom 50%: $27.4 billion

Conclusion: In other words, just one corporation (Exxon Mobil) pays as much in taxes ($27 billion) annually as the entire bottom 50% of individual taxpayers, which is 65,000,000 people! Further, the tax rate for the bottom 50% is only 3% of adjusted gross income ($27.4 billion / $922 billion), and the tax rate for Exxon was 41% in 2006 ($67.4 billion in taxable income, $27.9 billion in taxes).

Trouble is, that $27 billion reflects income taxes worldwide (Page 80 at link). The US portion is substantial, though, at somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion. Probably about $1 billion of that is paid to the states, and the rest goes to Uncle Sam. If you dug into the 2004 IRS data referred to at the link provided by Joe C, you could probably conclude that only one company pays as much in federal corporate income taxes as about 30%, maybe 40%, but not 50%, of US individual taxpayers.

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An AP story in USA Today last week on Communist China’s expansion of its censorship efforts into Internet video sure didnt get much of a reaction, and should have:

China tightens Net video control

China will take a new step Thursday to tighten control of the Internet when rules go into force limiting online video-sharing to state companies. But regulators, wary of hurting a fast-growing industry, are expected to let private operators work around the restrictions.

The rules are aimed at expanding a Chinese censorship system that tries to block Internet use to spread dissent while promoting it for business and education. Communist leaders are especially anxious about unflattering video showing up online ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August, a major prestige project.

Where’s the Old Media outrage? And which member(s) of the BizzyBlog Internet Wall of Shame might be assisting in the enforcement of this latest expansion of the Chinese police state?

Imagine What She Would Do with Trillions

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:42 am

Here’s a headline most thought they’d never read about the Hillary Clinton Campaign Gravy Train:

Clinton Lent Campaign $5 Million, Considers More

There was a clear warning sign that it might come to this in November 2006, referred to at the final item here at BizzyBlog at the time (bolds are mine):

November 21, 2006
Clinton Won Easily, but Bankroll Shows the Toll

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 — She had only token opposition, but Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton still spent more on her re-election — upward of $30 million — than any other candidate for Senate this year. So where did all the money go?

It helped Mrs. Clinton win a margin of victory of more than 30 points. It helped her build a new set of campaign contributors. And it allowed her to begin assembling the nuts and bolts needed to run a presidential campaign.

But that was not all. Mrs. Clinton also bought more than $13,000 worth of flowers, mostly for fund-raising events and as thank-yous for donors. She laid out $27,000 for valet parking….. and — above all — paid tens of thousands of dollars a month to an assortment of consultants and aides.

Throw in $17 million in advertising and fund-raising mailings, and what had been one of the most formidable war chests in politics was depleted to a level that leaves Mrs. Clinton with little financial advantage over her potential rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination — and perhaps even trailing some of them.

The campaign’s financial record has fueled some criticism among Democratic activists and prompted concern among Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, including complaints from some of her fund-raisers that her top aides exercised a lack of discipline.

….. Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s pollster and longtime adviser, received at least $1.1 million. Mandy Grunwald, her longtime communications strategist, received more than $930,000. Hudson Media Partners, an offshoot of the Glover Park Group consulting firm where two prominent Clinton advisers, Howard Wolfson and Gigi Georges, work, received nearly $200,000.

Campaign aides said much of the consulting work went toward building a donor list that would be vital in a presidential race. But they did not specify the work done by each of the consultants or say exactly how much of the money they received went to preparing for a presidential run rather than Mrs. Clinton’s Senate re-election. And the figures have raised eyebrows among the people who raise money for her.

“We’re not in this business to make consultants rich,” said one fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton who was granted anonymity in order to speak freely about the direction of the campaign.

“The wasting of money — it drives everybody crazy,” the fund-raiser said. “She’d better get a handle on this if she is going to run for president.”

Too late for that, it would appear.

Latest Pajamas Media Column Is Up: ‘It’s the Economy, Stupid — And the GOP Hasn’t a Clue’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:21 am

It’s here.

I will post the column here at the blog on Saturday morning (my title is “The Election Will Be About the Economy; the GOP’s Candidates Aren’t Ready”) when the blackout comes off.

Positivity: I was scared, says ferry hero

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:52 am

From Manchester, England (there is also video at the link):

2/ 2/2008

AN RAF hero admitted he was terrified after he winched sailors from a ship battered by 60mph winds.

Master aircrewman Rich Taylor, from Timperley, helped rescue 23 crew and passengers from a stricken Irish Sea ferry.

Rich, 38, and his RAF colleagues have been called `heroes’ by the transport minister. But the winchman played down his bravery at his base, RAF Valley, in Anglesey.

He said: “Without sounding cheesy, we were only doing our jobs. There’s an element of risk and crews do have the option if it’s too risky to back away but we realised the situation required us to get on.”

The vessel, called Riverdance, was grounded off the coast near Blackpool when a huge wave smashed into her.

She is being monitored by the coastguard in case of any oil spills as she is carrying 150 tonnes of fuel.

Rich said he feared for the people on board when he first saw the ship as she was leaning at a dangerous angle.

He said: “If it had gone over, the chances would not have been good for me or anyone else. With the fear of it rolling over, it focused minds.

“As I started winching people up there was a big swell and the aircraft pulled and the highline broke and one guy swung away from the boat. But we managed to get him and seven others onto the aircraft. I have seen some rough decks in my time but this was a good one.”

Tony Redding, from Seatruck Ferries which owns the Riverdance, paid tribute to Rich, his colleagues Flight Lieutenant Lee Turner, the co-pilot Flight Lieutenant Giles Ratcliffe and winch operator Sergeant John Stephens and the ship’s captain.

He said: “What the aircrews did in 60mph gusts with the boat listing and managing to get everybody off without injury was exceptional. We are also very proud of our own crew.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

The Election Will Be About the Economy; the GOP’s Candidates Aren’t Ready

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:00 am

Super Tuesday appears to have resolved very little, except that political junkies relishing the prospect of a brokered convention may actually get their way — twice.

Government and other reports during the past week relating to growth and employment should assure that that economy will be a major topic of discussion during the remaining primaries.

First came Wednesday’s GDP report for the fourth quarter of 2007. I thought, based on positive reports on employment and business activity that preceded it, that growth might come in as high as 3%. Oops — try 0.6%. I think that revisions to fourth quarter GDP growth will probably be upward, and lead to a final number as high as 1.5%. But even if that happens, the economy’s growth during the quarter was a major disappointment after the two stellar quarters that preceded it.

Then on Friday, the Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics came in mixed. The good news was that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9% from 5.0% the previous month, reversing a slow upward trend throughout the second half of 2007. But that good news was accompanied by the first reported loss of jobs (-17,000) in the economy in over 4-1/2 years.

The pain of the Employment Report was alleviated a bit 90 minutes later Friday morning, when the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released its January Manufacturing Index, covering about 15% of the economy. Surprising just about everyone, the index came in at 50.7, indicating that manufacturing was in expansion mode, if only slightly, during the month (any reading above 50 indicates expansion), after slipping into contraction for the first time in nearly a year in December.

With the three reports just described pointing towards a lukewarm but not necessarily troublesome situation, economists were anxious to see Tuesday’s Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) from ISM, which covers most of the rest of the economy, to get the last word on where we are.

The word: Ouch. The services sector went from a decent expansion in December to a very decided contraction. The report’s Business Activity Index dropped from 54.4 to an anemic 41.9. That drop was the largest on record in the 11 or so years of the index’s existence. While it’s possible that the drop is a one-month anomaly, I doubt it.

With the economy slowing and a now-legitimate possibility of a recession, you would hope that at least one of the GOP’s remaining viable candidates might have a credible platform for addressing the challenges. It appears not (Both Democratic candidates appear so determined to raise taxes and implement nationalized healthcare that their claims for having any genuine ideas for improving the economy cannot be taken seriously).

John McCain has taken a lot of deserved heat for not supporting the Bush tax cuts in 2003. However, he does say he would now make them permanent. But anyone who thinks that he would fight for the kind of further tax reduction that would truly stimulate the economy into long-term growth mode again is probably doomed to disappointment. His health care plan, while at least not statist, is not exactly a model of coherence either.

Mike Huckabee, who after his Super Tuesday performance has to be seen as McCain’s leading challenger, has a record of raising taxes and fees while he was governor of Arkansas, and of personal opportunism both while he was in office and shortly thereafter. He has attempted to allay concerns about his fiscal bona fides by advocating the “Fair Tax,” which is, in effect, a high-rate national sales tax designed to completely replace the income tax and many other smaller taxes. I believe that Huckabee’s Fair Tax adoption is opportunistic, insincere, and fails to address the reality that as president he would not get any kind of congressional cooperation. What are you going to do in the real world, Mike?

I referred to McCain’s mishmash of healthcare ideas earlier. You might expect that Mitt Romney, McCain’s remaining credible challenger, given his business and management background and his four years of experience governing Massachusetts, would have something to offer for health care and the economy as a whole. Unfortunately, whatever Romney says will be drowned out between now and convention time by what he has done. He imposed a “universal” health care plan on the Bay State in his final year before he left office that naturally led to skyrocketing and out-of-control costs. It will serve an an ongoing embarrassment to a man who should have known better than to have even tried. Voters will correctly see any attempt by Romney to further distance himself from his Bay State Blowup as a demonstration of irresponsibility.

The GOP’s last best hope may be to knock some sense into these guys if and when they attend CPAC. Attendees should have their suggestions and arguments at the ready.