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EditorBlog (1654)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash at Truthout had warned awhile back that Mitt Romney was going to opportunistically take advantage of any harm that would come to Americans abroad before Election Day.  We didn't just surmise that at BuzzFlash: Romney actually said it himself during his infamous "47 percent" question and answer remarks.  

The BuzzFlash commentary (posted on October 1) was entitled, "Romney Promised to Take Advantage of Foreign Policy Crisis in 47 Percent Remarks." Mother Jones, who obtained the secretly recorded tape of Romney's words, noted in its article about the full transcript:

Envisioning a pre-election hostage crisis, à la Iran and Jimmy Carter, [Romney said], "If something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity."

Romney's shocking statement came after a fat cat in the audience specifically brought up how Ronald Reagan used the Iranian hostage crisis to his campaign's advantage.

It is important to remember that the 47 percent – and other – fundraiser remarks were before the tragic killings of the US Ambassador to Libya and other foreign service representatives.

Sure enough, once the murders occurred, Romney rashly held a press conference that incorrectly conflated the deaths with a prior US Cairo Embassy news release and cast blame on Obama.  However, the Romney campaign backed off for awhile due to a general condemnation by the DC punditry, many leading Republicans, and the corporate media of his reckless remarks.
 
But then Romney, who has no foreign policy or military experience (he was a Mormon missionary in France for two years though and received a deferment), returned to accusing the White House of not providing enough security for the diplomats who were killed.  This attack line started to have some resonance when State Department "traffic" indicated that one or more verbal requests had been made for increased protection in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.  (Who said what to whom and when is still being sorted out.)

Fast forward to the debate on Tuesday night.  Based on a question from an audience member named Kerry Ladka, President Obama took full responsibility for handling the Benghazi situation and responded in a dignified fashion that honored the loss of life in the line of duty.

Then three words set in motion the defining moment of the debate when Crowley offered Obama a brief chance to respond to Romney saying that the president began his term with "an apology tour" through the Middle East.

Obama returned to the bloodshed in Benghazi. In his brief remark, he included these words: "The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It is all too fittingly and tragically ironic that a couple of confidence men who sell the snake oil of anti-government rugged individualism consider a woman's body to be public property.

Perhaps it is the vestige of Christian fundamentalists who believe in Colossians 3:18: "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Perhaps it is the male hormonal urge to have women submit as sexual objects for gratification, without the man bearing any consequences.  Perhaps it is the clinging to an effort to preserve male control over women.

Likely, it is all that and more.

In an election in which a Republican senate candidate espouses what many other Republican males won't say -- that there is a notion of "legitmatized rape"  --  this is no minor difference of social policy. When a political party seeks to force women to have children; and when women are denied contraception to prevent childbirth -- often into poverty -- and an unwelcome world due to these same men; then clearly the government is asserting control over a woman's body.

In this sense, all the talk of "too much government" and the squashing of individual rights just throws smoke on an agenda to preserve a male hierarchy – and generally a white one at that.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There's nothing like asking people who were represented by an elected official about his performance.

According to a list of polls assembled by the generally conservative site, Real Clear Politics (RCP), Romney is likely to receive a whopping rejection from the people he once served as governor.  RCP averages polls and as of October 15 has President Obama leading former Massachusetts Governor Romney by 20.4 percent, with the Boston Globe giving a 27 point lead to Obama.

Yes, Massachusetts the home of Romney as he built Bain Capital into a role model for vulture capitalists and the forerunner of outsourcing jobs to China; the state that Romney became governor of by proclaiming to be a moderate on issues like abortion; the state where he created Romneycare as his self-proclaimed most important accomplishment as governor (only to denounce it now as the Affordable Care Act under Obama); yes, this state is – short of some deux ex machina -- going to reject his campaign for presidency in a momentous landslide.

If you are a politician claiming Zeus-like leadership skills, aren't the people you already have governed a good judge of how you delivered on your promises and performed in office?  In that case, Romney is getting the heave-ho from the residents of Massachusetts.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

bigbird75

Rick Santorum, who is sort of the deranged Torquemada guru of the Opus Dei/End Times crowd, decided to grab a fist full of sand. 

According to a report in the Washington Post,

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum got philosophical on CNN Thursday night when asked about Mitt Romney’s pledge to cut off PBS funding.

“I’ve voted to kill Big Bird in the past,” Romney’s ex-primary rival said. “I have a record there that I have to disclose. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Big Bird. You can kill things and still like them, maybe to eat them, I don’t know."

But even Santorum knew he might have hyper-sound bited and asked if he could amend his Big Bird on the turkey platter declaration.  Alas for Santorum, you can't cough up your Big Bird stuffing, once you've swallowed it.

In many ways though, that one interchange in the debate between Romney and Jim Lehrer about killing off Big Bird represented a glimmer into the Bain Capitol founder's view on vulture capitalism: "I got nothing personally against you, but if I'm going to make my million dollar profit, you've got to walk the plank."

Don't take it personally, Romney is saying, it is just that money trumps the well-being of individual lives.

Now, all we need to know is how the Romneys and the Santorums baste a Big Bird?

Sweet potatoes, anyone?

(Photo by SixTwo Points of View)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

mittdebate2

It is reassuring to the DC punditry world and the corporate journalism industry to write up a post-debate headline, such as this one over a Los Angeles Times article: "Mitt Romney makes smooth shift to center in debate with Obama.
In his first debate with the president, the Republican works on his empathy problem and appears to gain momentum." 

Let us concede that in the television age, style often triumphs over substance.  This goes back to the first pivotal television debate in 1960.  Allegedly, a poll was done after the Kennedy/Nixon debates and Nixon won among those who listened on the radio (which was still a major source of programming in many homes then) and Kennedy among those who watched on television.   Maybe it's folkore, but Kennedy on television came across as a young optimistic dynamic handsome candidate – and Nixon had his famous dour stubbly bristle look on TV.

If you watched television last night with the sound off, Romney gave the visual cues of the kind of guy who is so bursting with confidence in himself and his "product" that he could sell you a junk car rendered permanently inoperable in an accident and make you believe that it is a brand new Cadillac with the fresh smell of leather seats.  Meanwhile, President Obama took the route of trying to appear above the fray, but ended up looking sedated and sour – and failing to find a unifying narrative.  George Lakoff (the master "framer" of progressive themes) and Elizabeth Wheling wrote about Obama's epic rhetorical failed opportunity for BuzzFlash at Truthout this morning.

It's a great American weakness and strength that optimism is appealing, except that it is so often a style of optimism built upon a dry gulch. There are shyster optimists who are con artists with ebullience and there are true believers. Romney is a bit of both. 

(Image by DonkeyHotey)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

votingbooth

And about that smoking gun concerning the Republican Party and the Romney campaign claiming they didn't know what Sproul was up to?

Sproul belies that very claim in an interview with the Los Angeles Times:

Sproul said he created Strategic Allied Consulting at the RNC's request because the party wanted to avoid being publicly linked to the past allegations. The firm was set up at a Virginia address, and Sproul does not show up on the corporate paperwork.

"In order to be able to do the job that the state parties were hiring us to do, the [RNC] asked us to do it with a different company's name, so as to not be a distraction from the false information put out in the Internet," Sproul said. 

In essence, Sproul is asserting that the Republican National Committee knew of his sordid reputation and told him to disguise his involvement in his legally questionable strategies to "register" Republican voters while driving down Democratic voter registration.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the epicenter of where the Sproul voter registration fraud scandal broke out, Governor Rick Scott (whose company committed Medicare fraud to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, but he didn't go to jail due to 1% immunity) is still trying to disenfranchise people entitled to vote.

According to Time Magazine, Scott's "approval rating currently stands at a lowly 38%, with 50% disapproval. Moreover, a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll shows Scott losing the 2014 gubernatorial race to both his 2010 Democratic rival, Alex Sink, and former Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent who may soon turn Democrat."

Of course, if Scott can limit voting to the 38% of Floridians who approve of him, he just might win. He'll just need some assistance from Nathan Sproul.

(photo by magrippi)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT                                    vote

Yes, you remember the ACORN cause célèbre of the rabid GOP attack squad on claiming voter fraud (which is technically different than voter registration fraud). ACORN was a target because it was an organization that engaged in voting registration outreach to the poor and minorities as part of its empowerment mission.  The Republicans built a trumped up case against ACORN -- with the ludicrous media frenzy over misleading sensational tapes taken by the convicted and on probation James O'Keefe -- and got Congress to prohibit federal contracts with ACORN.  Eventually, the grassroots agency went bankrupt as a result.  No court convicted ACORN; it was trial by FOX.

Subsequent government investigations, including the Office of the Attorney General and the Government Accounting Office found no violations of the law committed by ACORN or misuse of federal funds. But the damage was done in killing off an organization that brought the powerless into the voting booth.

Yet, now there is a massive Republican scandal, as Brad Friedman points out, that actually has just done what ACORN was accused of  – and nary a word has been herd about it from members of Congress, the media in general, and conservative or even liberal activists.

Just more proof that when it comes to Republicans rigging elections by rigging the vote, there's no vigorous force to intervene and stop them.

If it weren't for the caging scandal that denied tens of thousands of minorities the right to vote in Florida in 2000 – and the various GOP engineered election place voting snafus --  Al Gore would not only have won the national vote by more than a half a million votes (which he did), he would have won a decisive victory in the Sunshine State.

In many ways, many of the Republican presidential elections of the last 50 years have been stolen either through election manipulation or foreign policy interference (as BuzzFlash at Truthout detailed yesterday ).

Will the theft of democracy succeed once again?

(Photo: League of Women Voters)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A cynical foreign policy/campaign strategy bombshell lurks, largely unnoticed, in the full transcript of the now-infamous "47 percent" tape secretly recorded at a Romney fundraiser.  The remarks (revealed in the full Mother Jones transcript of the Florida mega-bucks gathering) further reinforce the dangerous gamble that the Romney campaign is making that if Americans were to be harmed or held hostage between now and election day,  the Romney campaign would attempt to use such a nightmare as a "game changer" in the 2012 election.

A key current Romney campaign thrust (even after the candidate's opportunistic Libyan fiasco) is to attack Obama on foreign policy. Given that this is an area of polling strength for Obama, one can possibly speculate that the Romney campaign is hoping for increased upheaval in the Middle East that will lead to either American deaths or hostages.  

Does this sound just overbearingly cynical and unfair?

Not according to Romney's own words, as posted on Mother Jones, which included this note in their summary of the former governor's comments that day: "Envisioning a pre-election hostage crisis, à la Iran and Jimmy Carter, [Romney said], "If something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you were superstitious about all the poll trending showing Obama on a surge in the key swing states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida, it's official now: the race is over.  How do we know: the right wing Neo-con prime minister of Israel, American-educated (MIT) Benjamin Netanyahu, used a UN speech yesterday to end his flirtation with Mitt Romney and compliment Barack Obama at the same time.

Netanyahu had been using a "red line" against Iran's nuclear program to make it seem like Obama would not support an Israeli strike on the nation's nuclear facilities this autumn, while tilting toward Romney.

But his September 27th speech to the UN, complete with a blow-up of a Rocky and Bullwinkle type of fuse bomb, was a message to Mitt that the courtship is over.  Perhaps it was the polling trends that scared off Netanyahu from trying to assist Romney with the Jewish vote; perhaps it was just the never-ending Romney bumbling that got Mr. Neo-con of the Jewish State nervous.

But as the New York Times (NYT) reported:

netenyahu1

Photo by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Brad Friedman reports on a remarkable story of seemingly systematic Republican voter registration fraud occurring nationally. Although he focuses on Palm Beach County, Florida, where the elections supervisor recently found more than 100 questionable registration irregularities submitted by a "vendor" for the GOP, Friedman exposes a much broader trend across the nation of Republican state parties and the Romney campaign abusing the voter registration system.

Occasionally, pieces of this likely illegal manipulation of the voting process, get picked up by local mainstream press, such as the Palm Beach Post. It reported on the most recent Florida abuse:

The Republican Party of Florida is dumping a firm it paid more than $1.3 million to register new voters, after Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flagged 106 “questionable” registration applications turned in by the contractor this month.

Bucher asked the state attorney’s office to review the applications “in an abundance of caution” because she said her staff had questions about similar-looking signatures, missing information and wrong addresses on the forms.

The state GOP hired Strategic Allied Consultants of Glen Allen, Va., for “voter registration services” and get-out-the-vote activities. The firm got identical payments of $667,598 in July and August.

But the national press seems to write more about a false Republican narrative about virtually non-existent Democratic voter fraud than the GOP effort to violate voter registration laws.

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