What’s Up: October 31, 2012?

To read the entire article click on the title or Story Continued. Enjoy as the world turns.

· Axelrod: Romney camp won’t be saved by a bad jobs report – President Obama’s top campaign strategist, David Axelrod, told reporters that the Romney campaign would not be buoyed by a bad jobs report on Friday, the weekend before Election Day.

Romney’s various reasons for confidence include the belief that “bad jobs number Friday could give final lift,” as Politico’s Mike Allen noted in the Playbook.

“That is kind of a perverse sentiment,” Axelrod said in response on a conference call today. “I think they’re going to be disappointed.”

It may be a moot question. The Department of Labor may delay the release of the jobs numbers. “A Labor official said the agency will assess the schedule for all its data releases this week when the ‘weather emergency’ is over,” The Wall Street Journal reported today. Story Continued:

· Oliver Stone’s new book rips President Obama – A new book from filmmaker Oliver Stone offers a scathing critique of President Barack Obama’s time in office.

Stone, who wrote “The Untold History of the United States” with historian Peter Kuznick, puts forth a liberal interpretation of American history from the turn of the last century to present day. The 618-page book, slated for release Tuesday – a week before Election Day – from Gallery Books, slams Republicans and Democrats alike, and the authors’ assessment of Obama’s presidency is tinged with disappointment.

“The country Obama inherited was indeed in shambles, but Obama took a bad situation and, in certain ways, made it worse,” Stone and Kuznick wrote. “…[R]ather than repudiating the policies of Bush and his predecessors, Obama has perpetuated them.”

Obama’s election “felt like a kind of expiation for the sins of a nation whose reputation had been sullied, as we have shown throughout this book, by racism, imperialism, militarism, nuclearism, environmental degradation and unbridled avarice,” they wrote.

But on subjects from Wall Street reform to health care to Afghanistan, Stone and Kuznick rip Obama for breaking campaign promises and continuing the policies of President George W. Bush — who’s roundly condemned throughout the book. In some instances, they write, Obama went further than Bush’s White House toward anti-progressive policies.

“Obama asserted presidential power in ways that must have made Dick Cheney jealous,” they wrote.

“In 2011, Obama defied his own top lawyers, insisting that he did not need congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution to continue military activities in Libya,” they continued, in their write-up of Obama’s handling of intervention in that country.

On health care: “Obama’s failure to articulate a progressive vision was also apparent in the fight over health reform, which was to have been his signature initiative…Obama’s health care reform effort, marked by the inability to even refute Republican charges of death panels, was so unpopular that it became an albatross around the necks of Democrats in the 2010 election.”

On a troop surge in Afghanistan: “When it finally came down to decision time, Obama didn’t have the courage or integrity of a post-Cuban Missile Crisis John F. Kennedy. He settled on a 30,000-troop increase, giving the military leaders almost everything they wanted and more than they expected.”

On civil liberties: “Among the greatest disappointments to his followers was Obama’s refusal to roll back the expanding national security state that so egregiously encroached on American civil liberties.”

On ‘imperialism’: “[He] was not offering a decisive break with over a century of imperial conquest. His was a centrist approach to better managing the American empire rather than advancing a positive role for the United States in a rapidly evolving world.”

On defense spending: “While cutting defense spending, pulling combat forces out of Iraq and beginning the drawdown in Afghanistan represented a welcome retreat from the hyper-militarism of the Bush-Cheney years, they did not represent the sharp and definitive break with empire that the world needed to see from the United States.” Story Continued:

· DEMOCRATS CAN’T STOMACH THIS GOP ROCK STAR – Nancy Pelosi puts tea-party champion in crosshairs.

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She’s a gutsy, pro-life fiscal conservative who dared to vote against raising the debt ceiling.

She’s a God-fearing, gun-loving advocate of tax cuts and domestic oil drilling – and one of Obamacare’s worst nightmares.

And Democrats have painted a target on her back.

Some Democrat leaders believe the party has a chance of winning a majority in the House this November – and they look forward to the prospect of bringing back the days of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Nancy Pelosi thinks that she can pick my seat up,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told WND after she had been placed on Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red-to-Blue” list, a coveted roster of candidates they believe can unseat Republican lawmakers this election.

Because the race has made the Democrat list, the DCCC has opened up a portion of its war chest to her opponent.

‘Most important election of our lifetime’

Bachmann, a three-term congresswoman and chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus, is fighting to keep her seat in what she said is the “the most important election of our lifetime” for a number of reasons.

“We can’t get out of the drag-down welfare state if we continue with Obamacare,” she warned. “This is an extremely important election for that reason, but it’s also very important for the United States and our relationship with Israel.”

Bachmann added, “We’re about to lose our status as the economic superpower of the world, and we very well could lose our status as the military superpower of the world as well. Indicators are that China will assume that position. The world will be different if China is the economic and military superpower. I don’t think that should happen, and that’s why this is the most important election of our lifetime.” Story Continued:

· OBAMA ADMIN’S ‘LOOSE LIPS’ UNDER INVESTIGATION – Grand jury to review use of classified information for political gain.

Members of a “citizens’ grand jury” will meet next week in Ocala, Fla., to look at allegations that the “loose lips” of the Obama administration led to the deaths of dozens of members of the U.S. military and the imprisonment of a Pakistan physician who helped locate Osama bin Laden – all to “bolster” the “political agendas” of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

A proposed indictment prepared by attorney Larry Klayman, a former Justice Department prosecutor, alleges actions by the current White House – such as Biden’s decision to reveal the identity of the military team whose members ultimately eliminated bin Laden – violated the best interests and security of the nation.

It quotes Kurt Tidd, vice admiral in the U.S. Navy, who said in a sworn Freedom of Information Act statement denying access to military information, “Although it is known that [Department of Defense] conducts military and intelligence operations in foreign nations, publicly disclosing a particular military or intelligence activity could cause the foreign government to respond in ways that would damage U.S. national interests.”

Klayman pointed out to WND that by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the grand jury is not a branch of the judicial, executive or legislative branches of government, but an entity to itself.

“Loose lips” is part of the World War II advisory to Americans that “loose lips sink ships,” a warning against releasing any information that could be used against the U.S. by its enemies under any circumstances.

According to the 1990s ruling in U.S. v. Williams, the Supreme Court determined the federal courts lack the authority to require a prosecutor to present specific information to a grand jury.

The opinion rejected the argument that the concept of “checks and balances” allows a court to “exercise supervisory power over grand jury proceedings.” Therefore, Klayman told WND, it is the ideal vehicle to bypass all of the political attachments of the judiciary and cut to the chase in evaluating a president’s actions.

“Justice Antonin Scalia held … that the grand jury’s functional independence from the judicial branch is evident both in the scope of its power to investigate criminal wrongdoing and in the manner in which that power is exercised. Unlike [a] court, whose jurisdiction is predicated upon a specific case or controversy, the grand jury can investigate merely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even because it wants assurance that it is not,” he wrote.

In the same commentary, Klayman explained, the Founders of the country established the grand jury as an alternative to “violent revolution.”

It is a process by which “Americans themselves can enforce the law. This is our only recourse to hold the president and his accomplices truly accountable for their actions.”

On a website set up in support of the citizens’ grand jury, he writes, “With government corruption and treasonous acts running rampant, particularly with regard to President Obama and his administration, many have asked what ordinary American citizens can do to legally mete out justice. … There is only one strong legal mechanism that can be invoked. That is the so-called ‘citizens grand jury.’”

Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and later, FreedomWatch, has throughout his career identified and prosecuted government corruption, taking on powerful politicians on both sides of the aisle, up to and including Bill Clinton. Story Continued:

· Obama and the Economy – Robert KuttnerCo-founder and co-editor, ‘The American Prospect’

If you want to understand why the presidential race is basically tied, take a good look at Friday’s report from the Commerce Department on the state of the economy. The headline is not too bad from President Obama’s point of view. The economy grew at the rate of 2 percent in the third quarter, up a bit from the 1.3 percent in the second quarter.

But look below the headlines and it’s a dismal story for the middle class families to which both candidates are appealing.

Nearly a third of the growth came from a one-time spike in military spending that is not likely to be repeated.

Much of the uptick resulted from increased household borrowing, not from an increase in consumer incomes.

Business investment was basically flat.

Exports were down slightly.

Shrinking state and local spending continued to be a drag on the recovery.

The only good news was that the housing collapse has apparently bottomed out, and home-buying and home construction are both increasing.

But this is not a strong enough recovery to either raise wages, create the 10 million jobs that the economy needs, or increase living standards. In fact, it is the weakest recovery of all the postwar recessions, especially measured against the depth of the collapse.

There have been 13 quarters — just over four years — since the official end of the recession. At this point in the typical postwar recovery, total growth had averaged 16.8 percent — 4 percent a year. In the current recovery, total expansion has been just 7.2 percent — under 2 percent per year.

The improbable hero of the story is that radical, Ben Bernanke. By keeping interest rates rock bottom, the Fed Chairman at least assures that for those consumers and businesses who can get credit, it is dirt cheap. This puts more purchasing power in consumers’ pockets.

But the homeowners who most need refinancing can’t get it, because their homes are still underwater. And as the lousy business investment numbers demonstrate, too few businesses see reasons to expand (and by the way, tax cuts for small businesses won’t solve that problem any more than low interest rates do — businesses need to see customers with money to spend before they will expand.)

And as Bernanke is the first to point out, cheap money by itself can’t solve the problem. That takes fiscal policy. And though he dares not say it out loud, he doesn’t mean less government spending, he means more.

Bernanke has been courted by the deficit hawks to insist on the kind of deal that his predecessor Alan Greenspan imposed on Bill Clinton — lower interest rates in exchange for deficit reduction. But Bernanke is a good enough economist to appreciate that in a serious slump we need both monetary and fiscal stimulus. He is conspicuously absent from the ranks of those elites promoting budget cuts. But I digress.

The long term source of all this misery is of course right-wing economic policies. But by failing to clean out and restructure the financial system, and to at least fight for much stronger recovery measures despite Republican obstruction, our president has given his opponent an opening to make the continuing slump Obama’s fault.

All of which explains the following apparent paradox: Mitt Romney can have a dismal convention, a series of gaffes, the contempt of much of his own party’s base, as well as the highest disapproval rating of any recent major party nominee — and still fight Obama to a draw based on one better-than-expected debate performance.

The reason is that when Romney declares that the economy is lousy, it resonates with people’s lived experience.

This bulletproofs him against two fine performances by Obama in the final two debates, which only gained Obama back a point or two. Romney can even survive one appalling pronouncement after another by the Republican rape patrol and still make gains among women.

Why? Because many women tell pollsters that they don’t like Romney’s views on reproductive rights but they are inclined to vote for him based on the economy. Why would you vote for Romney based on the economy? Because he’s not Obama. Not enough voters, male or female, look at Romney’s blarney in any detail; they just know that Obama hasn’t solved a prolonged slump.

In the parlance of economists, the economy is stuck in what the economist Irving Fisher called a debt-deflation, where the continuing damage from a financial collapse acts as a lead weight on the recovery. The only entity that can blast the economy out of a debt deflation is more public spending — which of course cycles right back into the private economy.

So what is our president doing to shore up his support by reassuring voters that things will pick up in the next four years? More public investment, more jobs, more overhaul of the financial system, more relief for the mortgage mess, right?

Well, not exactly. While he gives lip service to these goals, Obama is preparing to do a major deal for deficit reduction, which will only add to the drag on the recovery. His administration has bought into the argument that the business elite and the money markets expect deficit reduction, and that it will also play well with the voters.

In his recent off-the-record conversation with the editors and publisher of Iowa’s largest paper, the Des Moines Register, which was made public under pressure from that newspaper, Obama had this to say about deficit reduction:

I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.

And we can easily meet — “easily” is the wrong word — we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth. Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.

Say what? Four trillion dollars of deficit-reduction, otherwise known as economic contraction. Really? If Obama strikes such a deal, it guarantees that a sluggish economy will continue.

Oh, and I almost forgot. The Register was so appreciative of Obama for releasing the transcript and so persuaded by his economic logic that they endorsed Mitt Romney.

Thanks to his exceptional luck in drawing Romney as his opponent, Obama will probably win a narrow re-election despite the dismal recovery. But on Wednesday morning, a struggle begins within the Democratic Party to save him (and us) from himself — to keep him from agreeing to a budget deal that will only slow growth, needlessly sacrifice Social Security and Medicare, and make the next four years much like the last four years.

What a waste, what a pity. Progressive Democrats should be resisting the economic lunacy and political sway of an extremist Republican Party. Instead, they will be working to keep their own president from capitulating to fiscal folly. Story Continued:

· Romney Willing to Win Without Honor – Leo W. Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers.

Mitt Romney kept quiet last week when the subject was rape and God’s will. He remained silent the week before when the news was all about Illinois factory workers pleading with him to stop his alma mater Bain Capital from offshoring their jobs.

At no time this year did Mitt denounce Republican employers who threatened their workers if President Obama is re-elected or condemn repeated Republican legislative attempts to suppress Democratic votes.

Throughout the campaign, Mitt Romney confronted numerous George Washington moments — opportunities to establish an aura of honor. It takes moxie to tell fellow Republicans that voter suppression is un-American. Only a guy with strongly held principles would stand up to the firm he founded and insist they stop the morally bankrupt practice of offshoring jobs from profit-making American factories. At every turn, Romney chose the ignoble path. He kept his mouth shut rather than speak up for what’s right.

Just last week, an opportunity for righteousness landed in Romney’s lap. It happened when the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Indiana, Richard E. Mourdock, said he opposed all abortions, even in cases of rape, and suggested that God intends rape to happen. Here’s what Mourdock said:

Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.

Romney could have specifically renounced this view — that God intends women to be raped and become pregnant as a result. And he could have underscored that position by ending television ads in which he endorses Mourdock.

But he didn’t. A campaign spokeswoman said Mitt “disagreed” with Mourdock on that rape thing, but still supports him. Since then, Mitt has refused to answer questions about Mourdock. And he’s kept airing his Mourdock endorsement ads.

Clearly, Mitt values a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate over a decent stand on rape.

Just the week before, heightened news coverage of the plight of workers at the Sensata factory in Freeport, Ill. gave Romney another opportunity to do the right thing.

He chose to do nothing.

The 170 workers at Sensata will lose their jobs at year’s end when Bain Capital finishes shipping the car sensor factory lock, stock and machinery to China. The workers have repeatedly petitioned Romney to intervene with Bain, a firm he created and still profits from, to stop the offshoring.

Romney stiffed them. The candidate who claims he would create 12 million jobs if elected president failed to make an attempt to save the jobs of these 170 workers at a successful, money-making American factory. He didn’t send the workers his condolences for personally profiting from their calamity. He has never even acknowledged the Sensata workers’ existence.

At virtually any moment as he ran for president over the past two years, Romney could have very publically deplored Republican attempts to suppress Democratic votes. That’s because virtually continuously over that time, Republican-controlled legislatures, Republican governors and other GOP officials have concocted a variety of measures to wrest from Democrats their right to vote. These include passing onerous photo ID requirements, limiting early balloting and aggressively purging voter rolls.

These measures disproportionately affect minority, poor, disabled, elderly and women voters, all of whom tend to vote Democrat. Among the most egregious examples occurred in Ohio where the secretary of state tried to limit poll hours in Democratic-dominated counties and extend them in Republican-controlled counties.

At any time during the massive publicity over any one of these incidents across the country — from Maine to Montana and Florida to Arizona — Romney could have stood up and spoken for fairness. He never did — not even after the Republican National Committee was forced to fire a shady voter registration firm that was caught in September submitting hundreds of fraudulent registration forms in Florida or after a Republican operative in Virginia was criminally charged in October with throwing completed voter registration forms in a Dumpster.

A simple statement from Romney would have sufficed: winning by means of voter suppression and registration fraud is craven and beneath the dignity of anyone seeking public office. But he said nothing.

Similar to voter suppression is the attempt at voter coercion that has been made by numerous employers this year. Just this past week, Mike White, owner of Rite-Hite, a Milwaukee industrial equipment manufacturer, threatened his workers with “personal consequences” if President Obama is re-elected. Earlier this month, timeshare mogul David Siegel, who is building himself a 90,000-square-foot, $100 million home, threatened to lay off his workers if President Obama is re-elected. Arthur Allen of ASG Software Solutions and the Koch brothers of Georgia Pacific, told their tens of thousands of workers they’d suffer fallout if Romney loses.

Romney could have acted as a shield for workers by condemning this intimidation. Instead, in a June conference call with business owners, Romney encouraged bullying. He told the business owners:

I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. Story Continued:

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· The Art Of Sleeping With The Enemy – Dr. Peggy DrexlerAuthor, research psychologist, and gender scholar.

I have good friends. Call them Ed and Paula. They are in a mixed marriage: she’s a Republican, he’s a Democrat. Both take their respective affiliations seriously.

They’ve always made their union of political opposites work. But this season, there is coolness in the political air. They find themselves avoiding dangerous territory.

“It’s funny,” Paula told me. It’s just harder to talk about things in this race.”

Maybe they just reflect the country as a whole — the feeling that it’s a zero-sum game. From the left: Republicans are for the rich, and against just about everybody else. From the right: Obama will preside over America’s financial ruin.

Both those positions have likely been hardened by the current climate of Congressional polarization: “I’m OK. You’re the anti-Christ.”

Evidence of a hardening of positions is visible in a paper published in Public Opinion Quarterly. Stanford University professor Shanto Iyengar points to a 1960s study that found 5 percent of couples would be upset if their child married outside their political party. A study in 2010 put that figure at 40 percent. For the record, Republicans would be more upset — 50 percent to 30 percent.

How do couples cope? There are some visible examples that say it can work.

Mary Matalin and James Carville have not only crafted a 20 year marriage out of political opposition, they’ve turned it into a lucrative traveling show. The current odd couple is vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna. He: impeccable Republican credentials. She: from a prominent Democratic family and a former high-profile D.C. lobbyist.

Mrs. Ryan was described by friends in a recent New York Times article as a liberal- leaning Democrat turned political conservative — with some reader posts calling her apparent conversion nothing less than an ideological betrayal. Ah — the things we do for love.

We might assume that the political issue would be addressed at the beginning — during dating. Political opposites would be eliminated the way a PETA member would write off a dove hunter.

The much-quoted Match.com survey, “Singles in America”, says: not necessarily. Only 17 percent of men and 20 percent of women said that someone of the same party was a “must have.” Compare that to 65 percent who said they must have respect, trust and the ability to confide in each other.

Overall, 57 percent of singles said they would marry someone with dramatically different political beliefs. That seems to make it more of a consideration than a deal breaker — perhaps on the order of your significant other’s position on reality shows.

Surveys do find one interesting political difference. Conservative Republicans are more likely to want someone who shares their values. But they are more likely than Democrats to cross party lines to find romance — something James Carville attributes to the fact that “Democrats are hotter.”

When dating progresses to marriage, there is research evidence that opinions tend to blend over time. Husbands used to dominate the shift. More recent surveys show a more mutual convergence.

Still, there are limits. Our political persuasion is a potent combination of genetics, family and where we grew up. The Match.com survey found that almost half hadn’t changed a political view in the last ten years; and almost 95 percent had never changed a political belief because of a relationship.

The majority who are willing to cross party lines for love must also confront a fact of 21st century life. In everything from choice of TV news to favorite Internet sites to living in a red or blue state, it’s very easy to insulate ourselves from all opinions that are contrary to our own. That hermetic seal is harder to maintain within the walls of a two-party home.

There are some common sense considerations for peaceful co-existence.

First: don’t try to the win the argument. You won’t, and it will never end. Agree to accept — even celebrate — your perpetual state of counter opinions. Don’t plaster the refrigerator with the latest win for your side or setback for the other. Don’t inject politics into family issues: neither Democrats nor Republicans are to blame for a tight budget or rocky relationship. Never try to win the kids to your side. One more: if your spouse puts a campaign sign on the lawn, don’t steal it in the middle of the night.

The most important thing in an age when we tend to argue positions with fingers stuck in both ears is, simply, take them out. Listen. Somewhere in the opinions from the supposed dark side there may be an idea or two to consider. That one is as useful on the other side of the aisle, as it is from the other side of the bed. Story Continued:

· Bernard-Henri Lévy on Barack Obama’s Three Revolutions Oct 30, 2012 4:45 AM EDT, In health care, the economy, and foreign policy, Barack Obama has achieved great things. Bernard-Henri Lévy on why he deserves to win a second term.

With Election Day just around the corner and the world awash in idle banter about “Obama’s broken dream,” his “vanished charm,” and even, while we’re at it, “the assassination of hope,” it is not idle to point out what should be obvious: that in four years the 44th president of the United States has pulled off no fewer than three revolutions.

First came his reform of health care—an effort no less major for being incomplete. And in the heat of the battle waged against him by the Republicans, unanimously arrayed and aided by a handful of Democrats, he was forced to retreat from many details of his plan. But he saw it through. It was a colossal struggle, but he won. And whatever the nitpickers, faultfinders, and defeatists might say, he has something to show for his trouble: 50 million people previously dispossessed by the American dream will now enjoy—thanks to a president who watched his young mother fight cancer along with a health system that denied her access to care—the right to get sick, to age, and to die with dignity. This revolution, this basic and noble expansion of human rights, others—including Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton—had tried without success to realize. History will remember Obamacare as a considerable triumph.

Next, Obama revolutionized an economic landscape in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. That revolution, too, was insufficient. Obama took to it in his own way, as a pragmatist, a centrist, a man who believes in compromise. And he did so, remember, in the midst of a storm that, we quickly forget, had the world’s leaders paralyzed with fear, forcing them to steer their ships by instinct, without the aid of instruments, knowing that each and every decision might lead to disaster. But Obama navigated well. He began to bring Wall Street into step. Cautiously but firmly, he tested some initial mechanisms of financial regulation. And through the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, followed by the $447 billion Jobs Act of September 2011, he implemented the largest recovery plan of all time. We all know that history does not generally record disasters avoided. But is it so hard to imagine what the rate of unemployment in the United States might be today in the absence of Obama’s decisions? Without the de facto (if temporary) nationalization of part of the automobile industry, without massive loans for sustainable energy development, without Keynesian reinvestment in infrastructure neglected since the 1930s—in short, without this new New Deal—what would be the state of the country, and thus of the world? The name of Franklin D. Roosevelt, architect of the first New Deal, comes readily to mind, along with that of Lyndon Johnson, author of the Great Society. For a man widely depicted as disappointing, hesitant, and even cowardly, that’s not too bad.

Last but not least, Obama profoundly altered the course of American diplomacy and, through it, his country’s image around the world. Here again his achievement was not complete. He did not have the political means necessary to allow him to carry out his decision to close Guantánamo. Moreover, no one acting alone could have toppled—no one acting alone ever will—the idol of anti-Americanism. But ponder the sequence of events that began with his speech in Cairo and the hand that he held out that day to moderate Muslims. Consider the withdrawal from Iraq and the simultaneous intensification of the war against the Taliban. And then, before taking bin Laden out of action, and making that step possible, the reconsideration of the absurd (one might even say unnatural) alliance that his predecessors had forged with the gangster state of Pakistan. Barack Obama broke with the Jacksonian impulse to fight terrorism by firing blindly into the crowd: West against the rest! America versus Islam! On with the clash of civilizations! He chose a more deliberate strategy, a targeted approach in which the concept of just war was allied with a resolute defense of enlightened Islam against barbaric Islam. Obama’s America fights only the neo-Fascist enemies of the people of the world, particularly the enemies of Arabs and Muslims who thirst for freedom.

For the most part, then, Barack Obama has kept his promises. To allow him to keep them fully, Americans need only offer him a second term—the second term that, from the first, he said he would need to carry out his program.

I do not regret having sensed, in 2004, four years before his election, the tremendous destiny of the man whom I called the black Kennedy. There is no reason to be disappointed. The hope is still there, stronger than ever. And the struggle continues. Story Continued:

There is some question about how accurate this impression is. This author is a fan of Obama and still thinks that the Hope and Change Mantra is ongoing. PdC

· Michael Tomasky on Mitt Romney’s Closing Con Gameby Michael Tomasky Oct 30, 2012 4:45 AM EDT, Mitt Romney’s latest political ad makes it clear that he’s trying to portray himself as a uniter who will heal the divisions of the Obama years. Don’t believe it for a second.

So one of Mitt Romney’s closing plays is that he’s the great conciliator. He released an ad several days ago and has been hitting the theme ever since, arguing that we need (as Romney said in the first debate, quoted in the ad) “leadership that … could not care less if it’s a Republican or a Democrat” that said leader is working with. With this, Romney makes the full leap into Orwell-land, but with signs that some folks actually buy or at the very least want very much to believe this, it’s important to point out to those voters the precise nature of this con game.

Presidential candidates always promise that they’re going to change the tone in Washington. They have to. The media demand it. Polls show them that independent and swing voters (two different things, really; the latter is a subset of the former) yearn for it. Their advisers tell them that’s how they win over the undecideds. Also, and crucially, they come equipped with egos that permit them to convince themselves that they are unique among men, and they can indeed change this “tone.”

Barack Obama ventured further than most down this boulevard of broken dreams. He had an analysis, you see: The right hated the Clintons because of certain things the Clintons represented about the ’60s because the Clintons were products of that generation. Since Obama wasn’t a product of that generation, it wouldn’t be so bad for him. He believed it. I believed it too. In a career sprinkled with its share of shoddy predictions, I think that one may have been my worst.

While Obama and I were believing—on Inauguration Day 2009, say—that things would be different, key Republicans were meeting in a restaurant not far from the very mall where the celebrations had taken place that day. They agreed, wrote Robert Draper in his book Do Not Ask What Good We Do, that very night to oppose Obama with all they had. Within the month, the Tea Party movement was born, and compromise with Obama became the moral equivalent of shaking hands with the devil.

The particulars of the ongoing opposition are well-known enough that I needn’t rehearse them all. Suffice it to say that the GOP of this Congress set records on Senate filibusters real and threatened, and en bloc (or almost en bloc) no votes. There’s never been a Congress like these past two, especially since the GOP took over the House.

Obama has tried from the start. The stimulus bill was about 38 percent tax cuts. You’d think Republicans might have gone for that. The individual mandate came from the Heritage Foundation. He cut payroll taxes (Republicans did end support for that, but only after the ludicrousness of their initial opposition to a tax cut became too much to endure). And more. But they said no every step of the way—even breaking from the precedent of Congress raising the debt limit more than 70 times since the 1940s. Now it was deemed acceptable to tie that increase to other matters and even, for the first time in history, to filibuster it.

No, no, no, no, no. And then, come 2012, they turn around and say, “See? Obama failed to unite this country.” They say it’s because he pursued a hard-left agenda, but that’s not true and they know it’s not true. What they know to be true is that most centrist voters will believe them, because the mood in Washington is still toxic and the president promised to fix that, by cracky.

Hostage-taking is one of the oldest tricks in the ideological book, and our system of government permits it.

All of that, we’ve known. But now comes the new twist. Now Romney gets to come in and say, “I will be a conciliator.” Perversely, there is a potential grain of truth to the claim, but only because Democrats in opposition don’t behave in the Leninist fashion that Republicans do. (I have demonstrated this numerically—41 percent of congressional Democrats supported George W. Bush on his four major legislative initiatives, while 6 percent of Republicans backed Obama on his top four). But bear in mind it’s going to be a very strange definition of “conciliation.” What Republicans generally mean by “working across the aisle” is terrifying just enough Democrats from red states and districts into supporting their initiatives and destroying them if they fail to, like the old ads from 2002 that impugned the patriotism of Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who left three limbs in Vietnam but opposed Bush’s war in Iraq.

And the final note that takes us into full surrealism. Republicans know very well that Obama can’t say any of this during election time because he’d sound “whiny” and will be admitting “failure” at the task of uniting the country. This is really the Ministry of Reality Suppression at work, and why I wish Mr. Orwell were around to see it.

He’d know it well, because it is, in fact, a very communist (small c) mindset, about which Orwell wrote in the Spanish context if not others: act obstreperously and disruptively, create conditions that make it impossible for the bourgeois or reformist party to succeed, and then turn around and blame the reformist party for the resulting failures. And then sit back and laugh if the reformists try to point this out and attack them as weak. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the ideological book, and it’s hostage-taking, basically, and our system of government—especially the rules of the Senate, where a minority of 40 has the power of a majority—permits it.

It must infuriate Obama that all this is true, and it must infuriate him further that, if he does win, he will still have to extend olive branches, because he will be the president and that is what people expect of the president. In the future, I hope no Democrat ever again promises to change the tone in Washington. “I’ll try,” Democrats should say. “But it takes two to tango on this.” Then at least the public might fix the blame for this problem where it so richly belongs. Story Continued:

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Filed under Left - Off Base, Politics from Just Right of Center - I want Balance!, Right - too Religous for me

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