Independents are stupid.

The ones in this article are anyway:

“A Gallup/USA Today poll conducted May 10-13 found that overall, 82 percent of Americans called the “federal budget deficit and debt” extremely or very important, a level of interest comparable to unemployment. The same poll found Romney with a broad advantage on handling the budget deficit and debt, with 54 percent saying he would do a better job handling it compared with 39 percent who chose Obama.

The results mirrored an April Washington Post/ABC News poll, which found 51 percent of Americans sided with Romney on handling the federal budget deficit, compared with 38 percent for Obama. Among independents, 60 percent preferred Romney while 29 percent thought Obama would do a better job handling it.”

What? Really? Romney would do a better job handling the budget deficit and debt? This would be the guy that would add to the deficit by trillions of dollars by giving the richest Americans big tax breaks while increasing taxes on the poorest people. Because if there’s one thing we know about the poor is that they have it too easy! See for yourself:

This would be the Romney that wants to increase the military’s budget while cutting things like food stamps, veteran’s pensions and school lunches. The guy who wants to drastically reduce the funding of pell grants so less people go to college and put the banks back in the middle of student loans while the government shoulders most of the risk and hands them billions in subsidies.\

Obama in the meantime has cut all around government spending , gotten to a point where there are less people working for the government and federal spending is rising at its slowest pace in 60 years.

Have a look at this graph and tell me Romney is best to tackle the deficit:

Politics  has become such a preening, superficial parade of sound bites, faux outrage and looking good for TV that actual policy seems to have taken a back seat. People take their cues from what they hear on a 90 second clip on the 6 o’clock news instead of actually doing their own research. And with the advent of the internet, it’s never been simpler! You have no excuse to be ignorant on the issues, educate yourself, it’s your government and they don’t get into office without your vote.

In a world where politicians are celebrities, people are less concerned with what they actually believe and more about what they say and how they say it. That’s the only explanation I can think of as to why independents think Romney would be better for the economy giving what he would actually enact if he became president.

I guess the old saying is true, if you tell a lie for long enough it becomes the truth.


Mitt Romney: he’s got 99 problems and the bitch IS one (along with homosexuals, Latinos, independents and poor and middle class people)

Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

After months of campaigning, negative ads, multiple frontrunners and more mistakes than Prince Phillip making a speech in front of the United Nations, Rick Santorum has announced he is suspending his campaign which leaves Mitt Romney as the inevitable Republican nominee for the general election. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still technically, but to be honest I think Gingrich is still running to keep his name out there and to sell books and as for Ron Paul, his delegate strategy has failed to come anywhere close to what he needs to compete with the big boys.

So now the conversation can change from the primaries to the general election, and, more importantly to Romney, how exactly he can win. This is not a question so easily answered. In order to get the lead he now has, he has had to cozy up to a lot of controversial groups and politicians, such as Wisconsin governor Scott Walker who is currently facing a recall election in June for a bill that stripped unions of their collective bargaining rights among other things, and the National Organization for Marriage, who endorsed Mitt not long after Santorum suspended his campaign. NOM have been in a lot of hot water since internal documents were released that detail their campaign to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” and “accomplish a sophisticated cultural objective: interrupt the attempt to equate gay with black, and sexual orientation with race” in order to break up the democratic vote and more easily pass their anti-gay legislation. He also has the support of former Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce who crafted Arizona’s controversial immigration law who himself was subject to a recall election (and was ultimately voted out of office).

Romney has gone so far to the right in the primaries that if he tries to court centrist or independent voters in the general election he will risk alienating his far right supporters and be yet another extension to the problem that has dogged him for years – that he changes his opinion depending on who he’s talking to. Never was that more clear that when senior Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom was asked on CNN whether Romney had moved to far to the right for the general election. He replied “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign…Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.”

But let’s forget his previous opinions, numerous as they are, and instead concentrate on the positions that he has taken this time around, and the problems he faces in trying to pull himself back from the precipice of another Republican general election failure. In order to win the presidency, he will have to either stick to his guns, pull back some of these opinions or just flat out say he doesn’t have those beliefs anymore, none of which play well with certain parts of the electorate.

Lets start with Latinos.  Early in the year during a presidential debate Romney was asked about his plans to deal with illegal immigration and he said “Well, the answer is self-deportation, which is people decide that they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.” I don’t know how this would work exactly, but according to Eric Fehrnstrom this would work by cutting off their employment, their benefits and any in state tuition they may receive.

Seeing as Latinos are the largest minority group in the US with some 47 million people and 32% of Latinos say they know someone who has been deported or detained by the federal government in the past 12 months this policy could be seen as cruel, a further demonization of illegals and the wrong way to go with regards to immigration reform, especially as 53% think unauthorized immigrants should not be deported. Any support he gets from the right over this issue looks like it will be cancelled out by Latinos who have firsthand experienced discrimination, prejudice and had friends and family detained and views this as more of the same placating to the anti-immigration crowd. If you add to that the 81% who believe that life in the US is better than their home countries of countries of their ancestors it’s hard to see how Romney’s plan could work out. Add to that the endorsement of Russell Pearce and you have a man who desperately wants to be seen as super tough on immigrants.

He is also against the DREAM act and has said, as President he would veto the law if it passed congress. The DREAM act lays out a path to citizenship for illegal minors who serve in the military or attend college. You would think having more educated hard working young men and women in the services and/or at college would be a good thing but Romney doesn’t. Defending his stance he said “”I think people, whether they’re Hispanic or non-Hispanic, I think people agree that we’ll enforce immigration laws in part to secure legal immigration as an important pathway to this country…I like legal immigration, I want more legal immigration. But illegal immigration has to be stopped to make legal immigration possible.”

So apparently wants more legal immigration but would veto a bill that would make a lot of illegal immigrants legal? Even immigrants who fight and put their lives on the line for that country? Isn’t that the least we could do for them? Newt Gingrich, for all his faults, has been the only republican presidential candidate who supports this act and one of the only times I would agree with him on something. 54% of Americans support this bill, they agree that if you are willing to educate yourself and become a productive member of society and/or go overseas, protect the country and risk your life then you should be allowed to become a citizen.  I hope this gets brought up before the election because it will be fun to see how Romney reacts to trying to win the votes of more than just a very select group of Republicans.

Onto his tax plan. Anyone who shows even a cursory interest in American politics will know that Republicans are primarily the party of big business, the party of the rich, so it seems fitting that the richest man who has ever run for President multiple times over, a man who cut his teeth in the private equity sector would be in the Republican camp. In recent years we have seen an even more aggressive stance on tax cuts for the rich; from trying to make the Bush tax cuts permanent to painting the wealthiest millionaires and billionaires as “job creators” and “small business owners”. Romney has been cozying up to U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, the author of the controversial Republican budget plan which would try to solve the problem of an ever-growing deficit by hitting hard a lot of programs used by the poor, including food stamps and education, would give those making more than $1 million an average tax cut of $265,000 and down the line would change Medicare to a voucher system where people would have to buy private insurance on their own and spending would be capped. Ryan and Romney campaigned together extensively in Wisconsin before their primary and Romney has said that he and Ryan are “on the same page.”

This shows in Romney’s tax plan which would make the Bush Tax cuts permanent, reduce the top rate of tax from 35% to 28%, cut the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% and would scale back “tax expenditures”, whatever they may be. As you can probably gather this is not going to go do much for the poorest Americans, but it’s even worse than that.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which is “one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals”, analyzed Romney’s proposals and found out that for people earning less than $10,000 a year taxes will actually go up by $113, for those earning between $10,000 and $20,000 taxes will go up by $174 and for those making between $20,000 and $30,000 taxes will go up by $13 dollars. On the other side of the divide, those making more than $1 million will see them gain an extra $250,535.

This doesn’t surprise me; Mitt is clearly looking out for his uber-rich friends and allies who fund his campaign. Mitt comes from a privileged background; he is so out of touch with the average American he thinks joking around about when his father closed down a factory in Michigan is an acceptable thing to do. He travels around in rich circles and has absolutely no idea what it’s like to be poor and live from paycheck to paycheck. Coming off as aloof and distant has followed him for years and he’s never really learnt how to relate to anyone that doesn’t have a beach house in Maui.

I really hope this point gets a lot more traction in the coming months. Everyone should see Romney’s plan to increase taxes on the poorest Americans while giving the wealthiest a massive tax cut. Millionaires and billionaires may have the most money but they only have one vote each. I defy any poor American to vote for Mitt Romney knowing under him they will have to pay more in order that the wealthiest citizens have an extra quarter of a million dollars.

And how would he pay for these massive tax cuts you ask? Well speaking to his rich buddies at a private estate he said he would look to the department of education and the department of housing and urban development for cuts. Because if there are two things people don’t need, it’s education and housing! Honestly, I don’t see how cutting education and urban housing can be anything but a bad idea. The US is already 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics according to the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment report; does Romney want America to slip even more behind developed countries? Educating the young and giving them the skills and tools to succeed in life is good for them, good for the economy and good for the country overall, and that is the part of the budget Mitt Romney thinks needs cutting in order for the richest people to buy another Ferrari.

The same thing with urban housing. Getting people into sustainable affordable housing will give people the confidence, safety and security they need to get on with life and contribute more to society, what’s not to like? But then, this is a program that helps the poorest Americans, perhaps Mitt just thinks “I don’t see what the big deal is, why don’t they just go and move to their second home?” Romney is going after things he thinks his donors and supporters would like, that seems to be the only reason because seeing as education and HUD combined is less than 5% of the budget it won’t even make a dent, especially when he wants to increase defense spending.

This is a guy that doesn’t worry about the poor because they have a safety net. This is a problem I think a lot of Republicans have. They seem to have this idea that poor people are getting money hand over fist from the government and live in some kind of TARDIS-infused housing where they look shabby and derelict on the outside but on the inside are as lush and opulent as any house in Beverly Hills. 46.2 million people are in poverty, they don’t want to be there, being poor is not a glamorous lifestyle. Mitt Romney is gravely mistaken about the lives of the poor and it’s gonna cost him (no pun intended). Also, if he doesn’t worry about the poor because of the safety net why is he trying to tear bigger holes in it?! He also said he isn’t worried about the very rich which gave me a chuckle, but let’s move on.

So that’s Latinos, poor people and anyone who wants their children to get a decent education, what about women? He has said he supported adding a constitutional amendment that defines life at conception, eliminating all forms of abortion and even some birth control options. It has also recently come out that while speaking to a Manchester audience he thinks poor mothers who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits should be forced to work or else lose their benefits. “Even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work” Romney said. He also remarked he wants women “to have the dignity of work” which is rather strange given the extreme push-back that the Romney campaign gave to Hilary Rosen, a democratic strategist on CNN who said that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life”. “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work” said Ann Romney on twitter. She also said on Fox News that “we need to respect choices that women make”; something that her husband obviously doesn’t believe in. This brings up a question: does Mitt think his wife lacks dignity as she has never entered the workplace? Ironically he seems to use the word ‘work’ as flippantly as Rosen did while assuming people knew the context of what he meant, he then attacks her for it. Double standards anyone?

Unsurprisingly Mitt wants to eliminate yet another choice for poor women and force them to work.   This seems to be yet another example of alienating voters and being completely out of touch. Evidently women are only allowed to stay home and raise their kids if they have tens of millions of dollars in the bank. If you are broke, living in a 1-bedroom apartment and get assistance from the government? You need to work for that pittance!

Onto gay marriage. He did support full equality for gays and lesbians while seeking a seat in the senate in 1994 (he famously said he would be better for gay rights than Ted Kennedy), but in a turn that will shock no-one, he has now ‘come out’ against gay marriage and has said he wants to add yet another amendment to the constitution that defines marriage as a union between a man and a women. It’s odd then that some of Romney’s donors do actually support same-sex marriage and have actually given money in order for it to be passed. This is probably the position I think has the least chance of moving because the base is so vehemently opposed to such measures that any change could be very well be the last straw for them in voting for him.

However on the plus side it does seem like at least some evangelicals are lining up behind Romney, presumably because he is the lesser of two evils. Robert Jeffress, The pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas has just endorsed him even though last year he referred to Mormonism as a cult. He, along with others such as Rob Schenck, the president of the National Clergy Council have gotten behind Mitt Romney even though they have the same reservations about him a lot of others do. From questioning his policies to outright attacking his religion, evangelicals have made it clear the problems they have with him. Whether they will turn out in droves for Romney remains to be seen.

Is it any wonder that with so much to hate for so many in a new poll Obama is leading Romney by sixteen points among women and nine points overall? Granted it should be more, but I’m hoping once people realize what Romney would really be like as president and what he would enact gets more airtime that lead will increase dramatically.

It does seem like Mitt is in a tug-o-war competition between his past and present, fighting for the prize he has wanted for years, if not decades. It’ll be interesting to see how Mitt Romney pivots from the things he said in the primaries to trying to win over more moderate Americans. What will he say? Will he take back anything back? How far to the centre will he go? Only time will tell.


Republicans and the war on women

Ever since the GOP took control of the House of Representatives in 2010 and won a lot of governorships and seats at the state level, they have seen fit to try and reshape what they consider is appropriate behavior for women, whether that is requiring state-mandated ultrasounds before a woman can obtain an abortion in Virginia (and others), declaring that a woman must, if they’re being prescribed birth control pills, prove to their boss that they’re using them for non-sexual reasons in Arizona (which they could be promptly fired for, seeing as Arizona is an at-will employment state) or the multitude of others bills either proposed or passed that would seek to curb women’s rights that so many people have worked tirelessly over decades to try and make law. You only have to look at the graph at the link below to see the how the amount of enacted abortion restrictions has skyrocketed in the past few years.

That there are people on the right (Bob McDonnell, governor of Virginia and Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee Chairman) that think this assault on women’s health is somehow fictionalized or fabricated shows either a staggeringly narrow minded view on what they believe women should be allowed to do or they are so deep in their own ideological, privileged bubble that they can’t see the real world harm they are doing to women all over America.

Along with all these restrictions there have also been a number of politicians who may not only vote for these types of bills but feel like they need to verbally insult women as well, like the aforementioned Mr. Priebus who said that the war on women is a “fiction” and “If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars.”

There’s a fatal flaw here in Mr. Priebus’s logic. If the Republicans were waging a war on caterpillars then we would be able to see as much at the state and federal level. We do not. What we do see however, is a gargantuan number of bills introduced that slowly erode a women’s right to choose, make abortions providers adhere to more and more regulation (and here was me thinking the Republicans were the party of small government and free market solutions), make abortions harder to obtain and make women jump through more hoops to get one and trying to make the completely non-controversial topic of contraception a political hot potato again.

There’s also Georgia Republican Terry England who, while debating HB 954, which would bring down the time at which women could seek abortion from 26 to 20 weeks, compared women to cattle and pigs:

“Life gives us many experiences. It give us the experience- or I’ve had the experience of delivering calves dead and alive, delivering pigs dead and alive, and I want to tell you, Rep. McCall, Rep. Roberts, all of us, Rep. Anderson, that have done that, Rep. Black, that have done that, it breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it. Ya know a few years ago, I had a young man come to me in our store, and it was when we were debating- talking about dog and hog hunting I believe- and at that point there was some language inserted in there that dealt with chicken fighting. And young man called me to the side and said ‘I want to tell you something.’ And y’all, this is salt of the earth people I’m talking about. Someone I would never have expected in 100 years to tell me what he told me that day. ‘Mr. Terry, I want to tell you something. Tell those folks down there that when they stop killing babies, I’ll give them every chicken I’ve got.’”

Then there’s Chuck Winder, a Republican from Idaho. Idaho’s senate was about to pass a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to have a mandatory ultrasound, regardless if the women actually wants one or her doctor considers it necessary. Just before it passed, opponents of the bill pointed out that the bill makes no exceptions for women that have been raped, were victims of incest, or women whose life is in danger. Chuck Winder then went on to insinuate that women use rape as loophole in order to obtain an abortion:

“Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this,” he said, “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

Presidential candidates aren’t exempt from degrading women either. Rick Santorum, who seems to be running purely on social conservative issues, was asked by Piers Morgan about a hypothetical rape case. He said:

“I believe and I think that the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless, in a very broken way, a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you.”

It’s rather ironic that moments before this he talked about how his belief that Roe vs. Wade should be overturned was not based on religious values. Does it really surprise anyone that independent women overwhelmingly support Obama over the presumed GOP nomination, Mitt Romney, by 18 (and, remarkably, Santorum by less, 15) points if this is the kind of hard right the party has taken? Even Romney himself has stated he would be in favor of a ‘personhood’ amendment to the constitution, which would ban abortion outright in all cases and may even ban some hormonal birth control. Although seeing as Romney has seemingly taken every position possible on every issue throughout his political career it’s hard to gauge what he actually will put in place if he ever becomes President.

Now, I don’t know why the Republicans thought that 2010 would be a great time to start up the culture wars again, in my opinion I think they got cocky, if you’ll pardon the pun. They saw a great swing from 2008 and took it as a sign that they could pass whatever they want and the voters would just go along with it. This has quite dramatically backfired, with protests taking place all over the country by men and women who quite like being able to choose what to do with their own bodies and being personally responsible when it comes to issues of the bedroom.

It’s even happening at the federal level. The blunt amendment proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt that was tacked onto a highway funding bill (because what says ‘money for roads’ more than an amendment that says that any employer can opt out of any health service required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act for moral objections?) was defeated in the senate. This wasn’t just a completely party line vote though, three Democrats voted for this amendment and one republican voted against it so the Dems aren’t completely blameless on this one.

To me it shows that social conservative values have never really gone away, they are still there, bubbling under the surface like a spot waiting to spill forth its bacteria filled sebum everywhere. Republicans were waiting for the right time to bring America back to a fictitious rose-tinted time that only exists in the minds of other Republicans. A time where women were subservient, house cleaning, man adoring, children raising, complacent females who always did what they were told.

That time has passed, it has come and gone. We are moving forward in a society, progressing *gasp* towards a time where we will look back at this point in history and scoff at how ideologically backward we all were and how silly we were for fighting against the inevitable evolution of civil rights. Because this is a civil rights issue, it is going to happen and you cannot stop it. Look at how the perception of women has changed over the last 50 years and how many people are now in favor of equal pay and equal benefits for women. It’s very telling that young people overwhelmingly support these measures over every other age group. Each successive generation is getting more open minded, more accepting to other people and cultures and find such things as sexual orientation or gender identity increasingly irrelevant.

When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’ for talking about how a friend of hers needed contraception to fight cancer and why insurance companies should cover it under their health coverage, you saw a massive pushback by women from all walks of life and all political persuasions. Well over 100 companies stopped advertising on Limbaugh’s show and he even issued a very rare (though pretty pathetic) apology. The same thing happened when breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced they were dropping its funds to Planned Parenthood. They retracted after they were swallowed under an avalanche of bad press and well-known figures calling out the charity for halting its funds to what, for many women, is their sole place to obtain healthcare. It’s ironic to note that the sum that PP would’ve lost had Komen kept up their withdrawal of funds was more than matched by donations including from NY mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The lesson the GOP should take away from this is to never underestimate the power of women and their supporters. We live in a time where we are more connected to each other than ever before thanks to the internet and sites like Facebook, and the spread of information is ever increasing. By the time a bill has been introduced in Texas in the morning, stories have been written, protests and petitions set up and thousands (if not more) of people could be talking about before the legislators finish for the day. This works to the detriment of Republicans, who in the past have relied on no one really being that interested in politics that they can just move these bills through quickly with no fuss.

What also works to the disadvantage of republicans is having a large swatch of young, educated, informed people who have seen the tactics of the right trying to chip away abortion rights like Michelangelo with David, gay/transgender rights and women’s healthcare and have had enough. If they don’t stop soon and try to evolve with the current political climate (which might be a problem for evangelicals) Republicans are destined to languish with the young and with women which, seeing as the majority of voters are women and younger voters are the ones voting far into the future, does not bode well for their future re-election hopes.