Despite what Romney may try to claim to avoid uncomfortable questions about, e.g., wanting to "voucherize" Medicare by selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney has fully embraced Paul Ryan's budget and related tax proposals and spending cuts.[...]
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(Mitt Romney's 'Faith In America' Speech)
I've written a lot about what Mormons believe, their history and the influence they have over Mitt Romney, including a story about his polygamist great-grandfather and their exodus to Mexico. If I asked 100 people to name the head of the LDS Church, or what the First Presidency is, I bet not one would know the correct answer.
In our history the media went crazy over John F. Kennedy being the first Catholic to run for President and he was forced to address it and disavow how much influence the papacy would have over his presidency. Fox News went ballistic over Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his "Black Liberation Theology", forcing Barack Obama to step down from his church. But apparently Mitt Romney is given a complete pass when it comes to his faith. It's astounding.
Here's something you may not know.
Mormons have no full-time paid clergy, and instead are led by an all-volunteer lay male leadership.
Mormons do not have a paid clergy to run their church so males make up the entire infrastructure and as usual, women need not apply. Mitt was ordained at the age of twelve, like other Mormon males. He became a Bishop in 1981 and Boston Stake President in 1986. The dedication each Mormon makes to his faith is as a high as any minister, priest, rabbi, imam or cardinal. The reason a Catholic bishop (I'm Catholic) has never run for public office is because he cannot separate his religious beliefs from governing a secular United States made up of many different faiths and non-faiths. His religious views would dictate exactly how his votes would be cast and how his policies were shaped. That's not a dig against this hypothetical bishop, that's exactly what everyone would expect him to do.
So I ask again, why isn't Mitt receiving a serious look into his religious views?
And by the way, every member of the Mormon faith must pay out 10 percent of their wages to remain in good standing with the church, a practice known as tithing. That's why he has given so much money to the LDS church, according to the only tax return we've been able to see.
Romneys "gave away $7 million in charitable contributions over the past two years, including at least $4.1 million" to the LDS Church. Paying 10 percent of their annual income in tithing, what members of the LDS Church refer to as "a full tithe," makes Romney, if nothing else, a typical Mormon.
I love how the Deseret News frames Mitt with his millions of dollars of charitable giveaway as just typical Mormon on 'tithing."
Huffington Post: The Mormon Moment -- Postponed
In the last few months, considerable attention has been devoted to Mitt Romney's tax returns and his former company's "job-creating performance," but there has been insufficient discussion about what arguably has had the greatest role in shaping who he is and how he views the world: his Mormon religion. Despite his reluctance to address the subject directly, public interest in Mormonism remains at historic levels.
His "Mormon Moment" is laden with obligation: never in the history of the United States has an ordained minister been a major party's candidate for the presidency. The Mormon Church has a lay priesthood, and by virtue of his ordination to the offices of Bishop and Stake President, Romney has occupied ecclesiastical positions equivalent to those within the Roman Catholic Church of Priest and Bishop. Were a Catholic Bishop to run for the presidency, there would doubtless be a demand that he address aspects of his religion in far greater detail than would be required of candidates never ordained to the ministry -- and thus Gov. Romney's obligation.
In 2007, Romney was forced to give a speech on religion called "Faith In America" . Not surprisingly, he mentions the word "Mormon" only once! Instead, he chose to give a series of platitudes and generalities. Of course, he made sure to include a heavy statement about 'religious tolerance' to dissuade the demand for any specifics:
"There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.
That's a nice cop out. If you question Mormons on some of their more bizarre beliefs, then you're an intolerant lout. Obama had to discuss his beliefs in great detail. John F. Kennedy had to do the same. But there's one big difference with Romney's faith. Many religions do believe and preach that they are the true faith of God, but Joesph Smith, the founder of Mormonism stated quite clearly that either you follow the God of Joseph Smith or you follow evil. Via Krakauer's Under The Banner Of Heaven
Joseph preached something he called ?free agency?; everyone was free to choose whether to be on the side of the Lord or the side of wickedness; it was an entirely personal decision?but woe to those who decided wrong. If you knowingly chose to shun the God of Joseph and the Saints, you were utterly undeserving of sympathy or mercy.
In the Huff Po piece that I cited above, they ask a germane question for Romney to answer:
What your church labels "sacred" is frequently termed by others "secret" or even "sinister," leading many to conclude that Mormons may not always be telling us what they truly believe. How can you assuage these suspicions by articulating your beliefs?
Mitt Romney will never challenge a Mormon principle, ever. Nor will he be open about what the LDS church teaches.
Here's a segment of Meet The Press from 12/16/2007. You'll notice that Romney will not condemn his church for their odious treatment of African Americans until 1978.
MR. RUSSERT: You, you raise the issue of color of skin. In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown vs. Board of Education, desegregated all our public schools. In 1964 civil rights laws giving full equality to black Americans. And yet it wasn't till 1978 that the Mormon church decided to allow blacks to participate fully. Here was the headlines in the papers in June of '78. "Mormon Church Dissolves Black Bias. Citing new revelation from God, the president of the Mormon Church decreed for the first time black males could fully participate in church rites." You were 31 years old, and your church was excluding blacks from full participation. Didn't you think, "What am I doing part of an organization that is viewed by many as a racist organization?"
GOV. ROMNEY: I'm very proud of my faith, and it's the faith of my fathers, and I certainly believe that it is a, a faith--well, it's true and I love my faith. And I'm not going to distance myself in any way from my faith. But you can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at, at our lives. My dad marched with Martin Luther King. My mm was a tireless crusader for civil rights. You may recall that my dad walked out of the Republican convention in 1964 in San Francisco in part because Barry Goldwater, in his speech, gave my dad the impression that he was someone who was going to be weak on civil rights. So my dad's reputation, my mom's and my own has always been one of reaching out to people and not discriminating based upon race or anything else. And so those are my fundamental core beliefs, and I was anxious to see a change in, in my church.
I can remember when, when I heard about the change being made. I was driving home from, I think, it was law school, but I was driving home, going through the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I heard it on the radio, and I pulled over and, and literally wept. Even at this day it's emotional, and so it's very deep and fundamental in my, in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God. My faith has always told me that. My faith has also always told me that, in the eyes of God, every individual was, was merited the, the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter, and I, and I had no question in my mind that African-Americans and, and blacks generally, would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons.
MR. RUSSERT: But it was wrong for your faith to exclude it for as long as it did.
GOV. ROMNEY: I've told you exactly where I stand. My view is that there--there's, there's no discrimination in the eyes of God, and I could not have been more pleased than to see the change that occurred.
Romney was thirty-one years old when he supposedly pulled his car off the road and wept with joy, but he never once spoke out publicly in defense of Black America prior to that, so we're supposed to take it on faith that he always believed in it. In reality, the pressure of their bias became too great for the Mormon Church to handle along with the fact that they also wanted to build a massive temple in Brazil so the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a prayer session reversed the horrible century-old law. I bet you never heard of the Quorum of Twelve, right? When Russert tried to get Mitt to admit Mormonism was wrong to be so biased against African Americans. Romney ducked the question and reiterated that there is no discrimination in the eyes of the Lord. He makes my point for me.
However, in the eyes of Mitt Romney's 'Lord' it was just to exclude blacks from the priesthood. He slyly tells a story about his father supporting MLK, but he avoided any sentence that would have even hinted that Mormonism was fallible. He'd never say anything against his church, even with their discriminatory practices. To clarify, blacks were not allowed to enjoy the hereafter before 1978. But that exclusion--the lifting of which brought Mitt to tears--was not enough to question his faith or criticize it even retroactively.
Now I imagine most think that Mormons, as all Republicans, believe that life begins at conception. Actually, that's not true in Mormon teaching. For Mormons, life begins in spirit children from a premortal world. These human spirits live with heavenly Father and Mother. Jesus is there to help Mormons get over sin and death and all their earthly trails and tribulations on earth. Mortals have no memory of their spirit life The only reason why they're born into a corporeal being at all is so they can be tested by how Mormons live their life.
But that's not what most Republicans believe, so when Russert quizzes him on this point, he waffles through it.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe life begins at conception?
GOV. ROMNEY: I do. I believe, I believe from a, from a, a political perspective that life begins at conception. I, I don't, I don't pretend to know, if you will, from a theological standpoint when life begins.
Romney is lying outright by saying he doesn't pretend to know from a theological standpoint when life begins. Mitt Romney understands every bit of Mormon theological viewpoints thoroughly. He can teach it to you. He's a Bishop, remember?
Another hugely important point about the Mormon religion is that so much of their rituals are secret. Why? If they are proud in their beliefs today why not share them with the rest of us including entering their over 100 Temples around the world? Or maybe the promise of the afterlife. There are three kingdoms (Telestial, Terestrial. Celestial) in the afterlife a mortal can exalt to. How strictly people adhere to Mormon teachings will determine their destination. It's a plan of salvation, so to speak. God's plan was for all his spirit children to be able to transform into God as well, ruling their own kingdom with their spirit mate and children. When so many of the Republican Party identify themselves as fundamentalist Christians, don't you think they deserve to know this about the man for whom they are expected to vote?
Helen C. Whitney and Gregory A. Prince conclude their piece with this:
We realize that in addressing these issues, Gov. Romney would likely open himself to criticism from some quarters. However, the office to which he aspires demands of its aspirants a level of openness and clarity that he has yet to reach. Ironically, his reluctance to be open about his religion only reinforces the last and arguably most enduring of all Mormon stereotypes: its secrecy. Given the overwhelming importance of his religion in shaping who he is and how he views the world, we see the above questions as an opportunity for him to begin to emerge from obscurity.
At least someone other than moi is asking finally....
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s wife, Janna, has previously worked as a lobbyist for a “roster of clients [that] included pharmaceutical and insurance clients such as Novartis, Cigna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield,” a Reuters profile reveals. Janna isn’t the only member of the family who has profited from the private health insurance industry. Campaign finance records show that Ryan has received significant funds during the 2011-2012 cycle, raking in $81,850 from pharmaceuticals and $37,468 from HMOs — $65,650 of which came from healthcare-affiliated PACs. Ryan touts a Medicare plan that would expand the role of private insurers by replacing the traditional Medicare plan with a voucher program that seniors could use to purchase private health plans.
Top Romney adviser Kevin Madden defended VP pick Paul Ryan’s lack of private sector experience on the TODAY show Monday morning, arguing that Ryan’s Washington career does not conflict with Mitt Romney’s oft-repeated charge that Washington’s problems stem from “career politicians” and people who have not worked in the private sector.
TODAY’s Susannah Guthrie asked Madden to explain the contradiction between Ryan’s resume and Romney’s disparaging of public sector work experience:
GUTHRIE: The hall mark of Romney’s argument to be president is that he’s a Washington outsider who has primarily private sector expertise. In Congressman Ryan, you have somebody who’s spent his entire life in Washington and has zero private sector experience. How do you square that?
MADDEN: They have very complementary skills and very complementary resumes. Governor Romney, as you did point out, did spend a lot of time in the private sector, he knows how jobs come and go and also his experience running the Olympics and executive experience as being a governor. I think one of the things that Congressman Ryan brings to the ticket, not only does he know how Washington works, but he also knows how Washington doesn’t work…Congressman Ryan has an experience knowing what needs to be done to fix the way Washington works.
But Madden was singing a different tune just a couple years ago, praising the Tea Party movement for “basically sending a message to Washington that they weren’t going to send the same people back to Washington, career politicians.”
Here are just a few more examples of the anti-insider messaging the Romney campaign now disavows:
Ryan launched his government career before he even graduated college, interning in the Senate in 1991, then working for Sens. Bob Kasten (R-WI), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp. During his 13-year tenure in the House of Representatives, only 2 of his bills have become law.
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney has consistently attacked the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which aimed to reform financial regulation in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Both Romney and his economic advisers say that they would repeal the law entirely, and they have given no indication of what they would do to upgrade a regulatory framework that so obviously failed.
But Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has written a budget — approved by House Republicans — that, while it doesn’t repeal the law entirely, removes one of its most important aspects, known as resolution authority. This power, which the government did not have in 2008, would allow the unwinding of failing financial firms without resorting to ad hoc bailouts. Under the process, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp would dismantle collapsing, yet too-big-to-fail, banks, and any loss to the taxpayer would be recouped from the sale of the failed bank’s assets.
This is a much better alternative to the strategy employed in 2008, when financial behemoths were allowed to continue their existence after receiving hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. Then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has said that the resolution authority power the Ryan budget repeals would have been useful during the crisis in 2008. ?We would have loved to have something like this for Lehman Brothers. There?s no doubt about it,? Paulson said. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the same thing: ?If a federal agency had had such tools on September 16, they could have been used to put AIG into conservatorship or receivership?That outcome would have been far preferable.?
Ryan himself has been a bit all over the place on financial reform, writing a budget that guts an important aspect of it but, at one time, seeming to endorse the concept of breaking up too-big-to-fail banks. Ryan also seemed to endorse the Volcker Rule, which is meant to prevent banks from engaging in risky trading solely for their own benefit.
But he also opposes singling out the biggest banks for more stringent regulations, calling such a move “not healthy.” And he is now half of a ticket that is calling for removing Dodd-Frank entirely, allowing the casino-like mentality of Wall Street to continue unabated.
With sequestration set to happen in early 2013 if Congress fails to make a deal on deficit reduction, the defense industry has mobilized in a major way to stop the cuts to the Pentagon budget. The main thrust of the offensive has been a huge public relations campaign aimed at convincing Americans that the cuts would devastate defense contractors and the broader economy, causing the loss of about a million jobs. To be fair, the cuts that would be made under sequestration are far from trivial. But, when viewed in their proper historical context, they start to look much less threatening ?- and the largest contractors appear to be well positioned to weather them.
The last ten years have seen massive growth in defense industry profits. In 2002, the combined profits of the five largest U.S.-based defense contractors were $2.4 billion (adjusted for inflation); by 2011, that figure had increased by a whopping 450 percent to $13.4 billion (according to net Income TTM data from ycharts.com for five largest U.S.-based defense contractors). This success applied both to companies with large civilian sections of their businesses and to those almost wholly dependent on defense funding. In short, the largest defense contractors have prospered to a degree that would have looked very unlikely just eleven or twelve years ago.
Unsurprisingly, this growth in profits has been fueled in part by massive increases in the U.S. defense spending. In the decade since 9/11, the total Department of Defense budget (PDF) increased by about 55 percent in real terms, from $460 billion in FY 2002 to $715 billion in FY 2011. And the portions of the budget most relevant to military contractors -? the money allocated to procurement and to Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation ?- kept pace, growing 55 percent from $139 billion in 2002 to $216 billion in 2011.
The defense industry has continued to enjoy this prosperity during a recession that has had a devastating effect on both businesses and families across the country. For example, median household income, a broad indicator of economic prosperity, was hit hard by the recession, with more than a decade of growth being wiped out between late 2007 and 2011. Defense profits dipped slightly at the recession?s start, but unlike household income, they rapidly recovered, rising over 40% between 2008 and 2011 and nearly returning to their 2007 peak.
In other words: after ten years of exponential growth in profits, defense contractors are much better positioned to weather prospective budget cuts than they claim to be. And they are certainly in a better position to deal with the cuts than the millions of hardworking American families who would be impacted by domestic sequestration and its cuts to health care, education, child care, food stamps, and other programs.
This does not mean that defense sequestration is a good policy: the automatic, over-broad, and sudden cuts that it mandates are not a smart way to reduce defense spending. But against this historical backdrop, apocalyptic claims like those of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, who has argued that sequestration would ?cripple our economy and our defenses in a single blow,? look painfully exaggerated. Defense contractors seem to be in a good position to withstand the coming cuts, whether they come through sequestration or a Congressional deficit-reduction deal like that recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. The defense industry can and should absorb its fair share of the spending reductions that will be necessary for this nation to get its fiscal house in order.
Mitt Romney to the left of Ted Kennedy? Down the memory hole.It sure must be a relief for Mitt Romney to have someone to do his dirty work for him now, since he doesn't really have the stomach for the outright bugfuck crazy hatred the Republican Party demands of its leaders.
Oh, he'll sign their pledges to hate the hell out of gay people. And he'll refuse to condemn the booing of a gay soldier, something even Rick freakin' Santorum was willing to do. But, like every other issue, Mitt has a complicated past when it comes to how he really feels about gay rights:
When he ran against Ted Kennedy for the Senate in 1994, Romney wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Log Cabin Club, pledging that as "we seek to establish full equality for American gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent." During that same campaign, Romney was accused of once describing gay people as "perverse." In response, Romney's campaign vehemently denied that he used the word "perverse" and said that he respected "all people regardless of their race, creed, or sexual orientation."Lucky for Mitt, he's got Paul Ryan, aka Rick Santorum with a widow's peak, to the rescue with the consistent gay-hating voting record Romney needs. As Zack Ford at Think Progress notes:
In fact, Ryan has a voting record to reflect every anti-LGBT position that Romney has taken. [...] By selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney is guaranteeing his commitment to rolling back much of the progress the LGBT community has achieved over the past two decades.Now Romney can send Junior out on the trail to give those fire-and-brimstone gay-hating speeches the rabid Right loves to hear, and Mitt Romney can pretend that he never, ever promised "to establish full equality for American gay and lesbian citizens."
This email press release was supposed to be good news for the RYAN-(romney) ticket:
AMAC: Poll shows seniors like Ryan for VP by wide marginWhat is the Association of Mature American Citizens? From their About page:
Ryan's Medicare proposal is especially appealing to older Americans.
BOHEMIA, NY, Aug 13 - A survey of members taken on August 11, the day Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan was his pick for VP, showed 82% thought it was a "great choice," said Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.
"Although the poll was taken on short notice, a statistically relevant 1,200 members responded with the overwhelming majority opting for Ryan over Marco Rubio and other potential choices," Weber noted. He said that AMAC's membership has consistently proved to be up to date on the issues and that he believed they voted the way they did because the Ryan Federal budget plan, as passed by the House, "makes sense," particularly in light of the fact that President Obama has not submitted a budget at all for more than three years.
The AMAC chief said that Ryan's Medicare proposal "is especially appealing to older Americans. It's carefully crafted and ensures that seniors will continue to receive Medicare benefits. Additionally, it would let them opt out to select other choices, such as plans similar to what our Senators and Members of the House now enjoy. What we like most about it is that it puts the patient in the driver's seat, instead of a government bureaucrat in Washington."
Who founded AMAC, and why?They are a right-wing group that decided the AARP was too liberal by advocating for programs that seniors use, like Medicaid and Social Security.
Dan Weber, a family business owner in New York, founded AMAC because he felt the other major 50+ organizations were too liberal and did not represent his views. Rather than do nothing, Weber decided to begin his own organization. AMAC is a conservative, non-partisan organization with the goal of representing those whose core beliefs are not represented by other major 50+ organizations.
So in essence, you have an organization of right-wing seniors who are by default hostile to entitlements, and 18 percent of them think Paul Ryan was a terrible choice. Just think about what effect Ryan will have on normal seniors.
I'll say it again: It was very bold of Mitt Romney to take one of the few reliable demographic groups left to Republicans?white seniors?and put them in play.
Are Ryan's hands bloodied, too?Mitt Romney has just one answer to the big elephant in the room that's keeping Paul Ryan out of Florida. Ending Medicare as we know it? Yeah, well, Obamacare!!!! The least subtle attack came from Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
?This president stole ? he didn?t cut Medicare ? he stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare, [...] If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it?s Barack Obama. He?s the one that?s destroying Medicare.?And here's Romney himself, Ryan-less, in Florida.
"The president's idea for instance for Medicare was to cut it by 700 billion dollars," Romney continued. "That's not the right answer. We want to make sure we preserve and protect Medicare."It's not new. He's been telling this lie for months. It's always been a lie. There aren't Medicare benefits cuts in the Affordable Care Act. No senior has been bloodied by any of those cuts, and no senior will be.
But here's the really awkward part of this for Romney and Ryan: the Ryan budget has exactly the same cuts to Medicare as Obamacare. That's one of they ways Ryan figured out to control Medicare costs, steal from Obama. And almost every Republican in the House voted for it. Twice. Republicans in the Senate did it, too.
Shameless. If Romney hates Obama's Medicare cuts so much, why did he pick the guy who got all House Republicans to support them?
Former VP hopeful Tim Pawlenty gave Romney "several years" of tax returnsMitt Romney thinks he's got more of a right to know what's in his vice president's tax returns than the public does to know what's in his.
So far, Romney has publicly released just one year's worth of tax returns (though it was missing a document about his Swiss bank account). He's also promised to release his 2011 tax returns when they are ready, whenever that might be.
But last night on CBS's 60 Minutes, Paul Ryan told Bob Schieffer that he'd given several years worth of returns to the Romney campaign during the vetting process. (As you can see in the video at the top of the post, Tim Pawlenty told ABC the same thing.)
Ryan's answer gave Schieffer an obvious follow-up question to ask of Romney, who was sitting by Ryan's side. If Mitt Romney wouldn't hire a running mate without checking multiple years of tax returns, why does he think the public should hire a president without doing the same?
Of course, Schieffer didn't ask the follow-up. He's the softest interviewer on broadcast television and Romney's campaign knows it. That's why they gave Schieffer the Romney-Ryan interview. Because there are some questions Mitt Romney just doesn't want to answer.