Craig Eisele on …..

March 4, 2012

Latest Reason to Be Against Romney… Eric Cantor

Yes it is True…. Eric Cantor…. one of the main people who have helped destroy my Republican Party has endorsed Mitt Romney on Meet The Press this morning…. and then he went on to do the  thing he does best that makes independents go against republicans and that is the HARD LINE RADICAL RIGHT WING rhetoric he is known for.. and the promulgation of lies and misinformation….IT HAS TO STOP!!!!

DAMN IT..  I WANT MY REPUBLICAN PARTY BACK .. the one that had values and principles and  knew  what it was the american public wanted and needed and was willing to work to  make it happen…

February 26, 2012

It’s the 0.000063% of the US Who REALLY Deciding the Presidential Election

How US politics became the politics of the “super rich”.

New York, NY – At a time when it’s become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation’s political conversation – drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99 per cent – electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the one per cent. Or, to be more precise, the .000063 per cent. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80 per cent of the money raised by Super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.

These political action committees, spawned by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision in January 2010, can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, or unions for the purpose of supporting or opposing a political candidate. In theory, Super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating directly with a candidate, though in practice they’re just a murkier extension of political campaigns, performing all the functions of a traditional campaign without any of the corresponding accountability.

If 2008 was the year of the small donor, when many political pundits (myself included) predicted that the fusion of grassroots organising and cyber-activism would transform how campaigns were run, then 2012 is “the year of the big donor”, when a candidate is only as good as the amount of money in his Super PAC. “In this campaign, every candidate needs his own billionaires,” wrote Jane Mayer of The New Yorker.

 
 

‘This really is the selling of America,” claims former presidential candidate and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. “We’ve been sold out by five justices thanks to the Citizens United decision.” In truth, our democracy was sold to the highest bidder long ago, but in the 2012 election the explosion of Super PACs has shifted the public’s focus to the staggering inequality in our political system, just as the Occupy movement shined a light on the gross inequity of the economy. The two, of course, go hand in hand.

“We’re going to beat money power with people power,” Newt Gingrich said after losing to Mitt Romney in Florida as January ended. The walking embodiment of the lobbying-industrial complex, Gingrich made that statement even though his candidacy is being propped up by a Super PAC funded by two $5 million donations from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. It might have been more amusing if the GOP presidential primary weren’t a case study of a contest long on money and short on participation.

The Wesleyan Media Project recently reported a 1,600 per cent increase in interest-group-sponsored TV ads in this cycle as compared with the 2008 primaries. Florida has proven the battle royale of the Super PACs thus far. There, the pro-Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future, outspent the pro-Gingrich Super PAC, Winning Our Future, five to one. In the final week of the campaign alone, Romney and his allies ran 13,000 TV ads in Florida, compared with only 200 for Gingrich. Ninety-two per cent of the ads were negative in nature, with two-thirds attacking Gingrich, who, ironically enough, had been a fervent advocate of the Citizens United decision.

With the exception of Ron Paul’s underdog candidacy and Rick Santorum’s upset victory in Iowa – where he spent almost no money but visited each of the state’s 99 counties – the Republican candidates and their allied Super PACs have all but abandoned retail campaigning and grassroots politicking. They have chosen instead to spend their war chests on TV.

The results can already be seen in the first primaries and caucuses: an onslaught of money and a demobilized electorate. It’s undoubtedly no coincidence that, when compared with 2008, turnout was down 25 per cent in Florida, and that, this time around, fewer Republicans have shown up in every state that’s voted so far – except for South Carolina. According to political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar, negative TV ads contribute to “a political implosion of apathy and withdrawal”. New York Times columnist Tim Egan has labelled the post-Citizens United era “your democracy on meth”.

 
 

The 0.01 per cent primary .

More than 300 Super PACs are now registered with the Federal Election Commission. The one financed by the greatest number of small donors belongs to Stephen Colbert, who’s turned his TV show into a brilliant commentary on the deformed Super PAC landscape. Colbert’s satirical Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, has raised $1 million from 31,595 people, including 1,600 people who gave $1 each. Consider this a rare show of people power in 2012.

Otherwise the Super PACs on both sides of the aisle are financed by the one per cent of the one per cent. Romney’s Restore Our Future Super PAC, founded by the general counsel of his 2008 campaign, has led the herd, raising $30 million, 98 per cent from donors who gave $25,000 or more. Ten million dollars came from just ten donors who gave $1 million each. These included three hedge-fund managers and Houston Republican Bob Perry, the main funder behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, whose scurrilous ads did such an effective job of destroying John Kerry’s electoral prospects. Sixty-five per cent of the funds that poured into Romney’s Super PAC in the second half of 2011 came from the finance, insurance and real estate sector, otherwise known as the people who brought you the economic meltdown of 2007 to 2008.

Romney’s campaign has raised twice as much as his Super PAC, which is more than you can say for Rick Santorum, whose Super PAC – Red, White & Blue – has raised and spent more than the candidate himself. Forty per cent of the $2 million that has so far gone into Red, White & Blue came from just one man, Foster Friess, a conservative hedge-fund billionaire and Christian evangelical from Wyoming.

In the wake of Santorum’s upset victories in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri on February 7, Friess told the New York Times that he’d recruited $1 million for Santorum’s Super PAC from another (unnamed) donor and upped his own giving, though he wouldn’t say by how much. We won’t find out until the next campaign disclosure filing in three months, by which time the GOP primary will almost certainly be decided.

For now, Gingrich’s sugar daddy Adelson has pledged to stay with his flagging campaign, but he’s also signalled that if the former Speaker of the House goes down, he’ll be ready to donate even more Super PAC money to a Romney presidential bid. And keep in mind that there’s nothing in the post-Citizens United law to stop a donor such as Adelson, hell-bent on preventing the Obama administration from standing in the way of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, from giving $100 million, or for that matter, however much he likes.

Before Citizens United, the maximum amount one person could give to a candidate was $2,500; for a political action committee, $5,000; for a political party committee, $30,800. Now, the sky’s the limit for a Super PAC, and even more disturbingly, any donor can give an unlimited contribution to a 501c4 – outfits defined by the IRS as “civic leagues or organisations not organised for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” – and to make matters worse, that contribution will remain eternally secret. In this way, US politics is descending further into the darkness, with 501c4s quickly gaining influence as “Shadow Super PACs”.

“Forty per cent of the TV ads in the presidential race so far came from these tax-exempt ‘social welfare’ groups.”

A recent analysis by the Washington Post found that, at a cost of $24 million, 40 per cent of the TV ads in the presidential race so far came from these tax-exempt “social welfare” groups. The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, a leading conservative Super PAC attacking Democratic candidates and the Obama administration, also runs a 501c4 called Crossroads GPS. It’s raised twice as much money as its sister group, all from donations whose sources will remain hidden from US voters. Serving as a secret slush fund for billionaires evidently now qualifies as social welfare.

The ‘income defense industry’

In his book Oligarchy, political scientist Jeffrey Winters refers to the disproportionately wealthy and influential actors in the political system as the “income defence industry”. If you want to know how the moneyed class, who prospered during the Bush and Clinton years, found a way to kill or water down nearly everything it objected to in the Obama years, look no further than the grip of the one per cent of the one per cent on our political system.

This simple fact explains why hedge-fund managers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, or why the US is the only industrialised nation without a single-payer universal healthcare system, or why the planet continues to warm at an unprecedented pace while we do nothing to combat global warming. Money usually buys elections and, whoever is elected, it almost always buys influence.

In the 2010 election, the one per cent of the one per cent accounted for 25 per cent of all campaign-related donations, totalling $774 million dollars, and 80 per cent of all donations to the Democratic and Republican parties, the highest percentage since 1990. In congressional races in 2010, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics, the candidate who spent the most money won 85 per cent of House races and 83 per cent of Senate races.

The media loves an underdog story, but nowadays the underdog is less likely than ever to win. Given the cost of running campaigns and the overwhelming premium on outspending your opponent, it’s no surprise that nearly half the members of Congress are millionaires, and the median net worth of a US Senator is $2.56 million.

 
 

The influence of Super PACs was already evident by November 2010, just nine months after the Supreme Court’s ruling. John Nichols and Robert McChesney of The Nation note that, of the 53 competitive House districts where Rove’s Crossroads organisation outspent Democratic candidates in 2010, Republicans won fifty-one. As it turned out, however, that election was a mere test run for the monetary extravaganza that is 2012.

Republicans are banking on that Super PAC advantage again this year, when the costs of the presidential contest and all other races for federal posts will soar from $5 billion in 2008 to as high as $7 billion by November. (The 2000 election cost a “mere” $3 billion.) In other words, the amount spent this election season will be roughly the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Haiti.

The myth of small donors

In June 2003, presidential candidate Howard Dean shocked the political establishment by raising $828,000 in one day over the internet, with an average donation of $112. Dean, in fact, got 38 per cent of his campaign’s total funds from donations of $200 or less, planting the seeds for what many forecast would be a small-donor revolution in US politics.

Four years later, Barack Obama raised a third of his record-breaking $745 million campaign haul from small donors, while Ron Paul raised 39 per cent from small dollars on the Republican side. Much of Paul’s campaign was financed by online “money bombs”, when enthusiastic supporters generated millions of dollars in brief, coordinated bursts. The amount of money raised in small donations by Obama, in particular, raised hopes that his campaign had found a way to break the death grip of big donors on US politics.

In retrospect, the small-donor utopianism surrounding Obama seems naïve. Despite all the adulatory media attention about his small donors, the candidate still raised the bulk of his money from big givers. (Typically, these days, incumbent members of Congress raise less than ten per cent of their campaign funds from small donors, with those numbers actually dropping when you reach the gubernatorial and state legislative levels.) Obama’s top contributors included employees of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup, hardly standard bearers for the little guy. For obvious reasons, the campaign chose to emphasise the small donors over the big ones in its narrative, as it continues to do in 2012.

Interestingly enough, both Obama and Paul actually raised more money from small donors in 2011 than they did in 2008, 48 per cent and 52 per cent of their totals, respectively. But, in the Super PAC era, that money no longer has the same impact. Even Dean doubts that his anti-establishment, internet-fuelled campaign from 2004 would be as successful today. “Super PACs have made a grassroots campaign less effective,” he says. “You can still run a grassroots campaign but the problem is you can be overwhelmed now on television and by dirty mailers being sent out … It’s a very big change from 2008.”

Obama is a candidate with a split personality, which makes his campaign equally schizophrenic. The Obama campaign claims it’s raising 98 per cent of its money from small donors and is “building the biggest grassroots campaign in American history”, according to campaign manager Jim Messina. But the starry-eyed statistics and the rhetoric that accompanies it are deeply misleading. Of the $89 million raised in 2011 by the Obama Joint Victory Fund, a collaboration of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Obama campaign, 74 per cent came from donations of $20,000 or more and 99 per cent from donations of $1,000 or more.

The campaign has 445 “bundlers” (dubbed “volunteer fundraisers” by the campaign), who gather money from their wealthy friends and package it for Obama. They have raised at least $74.4 million for Obama and the DNC in 2011. Sixty-one of those bundlers raised $500,000 or more. Obama held 73 fundraisers in 2011 and 13 last month alone, where the price of admission was almost always $35,800 a head.

 
 

An increase in small donor contributions and a surge of big money fundraisers still wasn’t enough, however, to give Obama an advantage over Republicans in the money chase. That’s why the Obama campaign, until recently adamantly against Super PACs, suddenly relented and signaled its support for a pro-Obama Super PAC named Priorities USA.

A day after the announcement that the campaign, like its Republican rivals, would Super PAC it up, Messina spoke at the members-only Core Club in Manhattan and “assured a group of Democratic donors from the financial services industry that Obama won’t demonize Wall Street as he stresses populist appeals in his re-election campaign”, reported Bloomberg Businessweek. “Messina told the group of Wall Street donors that the president plans to run against Romney, not the industry that made the former governor of Massachusetts millions.”

In other words, don’t expect a convincing return to the theme of the people versus the powerful in campaign 2012, even though Romney, if the nominee, would be particularly vulnerable to that line of attack. After all, so far his campaign has raised only nine per cent of its campaign contributions from small donors, well behind both Senator John McCain (21 per cent) in 2008, and George W. Bush (26 per cent) in 2004.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, Romney outraised Obama among the top firms on Wall Street by a margin of 11 to one. His top three campaign contributions are from employees of Goldman Sachs ($496,430), JPMorgan ($317,400) and Morgan Stanley ($277,850). The banks have fallen out of favour with the public, but their campaign cash is indispensable among the political class – and so they remain as powerful as ever in US politics.

In a recent segment of his show, Stephen Colbert noted that half of the money ($67 million) raised by Super PACs in 2011 had come from just 22 people. “That’s seven one-millionths of one per cent,” or roughly 0.000000071 per cent, Colbert said while spraying a fire extinguisher on his fuming calculator. “So, Occupy Wall Street, you’re going to want to change those signs.”

February 23, 2012

Republicans Secretly Hope for Another Candidate Soon

Could the battle for the Republican nomination go all the way to the Republican convention in August? Could we see an entirely new candidate getting into the race?

One long-time Republican leader tells ABC News the answer to both questions is yes.

“If the Republican primary voters continue to split up their votes in such a way that nobody is close to having a majority, then there is a chance that somebody else might get in,” former Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour said in an interview with ABC News.

Barbour calls such a scenario unlikely, but not out of the question.

“I think the odds of having a contested convention are not good but the fact that we are where we are and there is actually a possibility, I guess this is why there is so much talk,” he said.

A contested convention would mean another six months of Republicans battling Republicans, but Barbour says that’s not necessarily bad for the party.

“It is not accurate to say that a hotly contested convention is necessarily bad,” Barbour said. “I am not saying it is necessarily good, but I don’t think it is accurate to say it is necessarily bad. Let’s just see.”

Barbour, who has not endorsed any candidate, says Mitt Romney has never really been a true front-runner.

“In our primaries the more conservative candidates have an advantage,” Barbour said. “Doesn’t mean they always win. But that is just a fact and I think Romney is showing himself to be moderately conservative. We still have a long way to go with three candidates who are to the right of Romney.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that he thinks Romney cannot win.

“In our party it is an advantage to be more conservative, but at the end of the day I think most Republicans want somebody who can beat Barack Obama,” Barbour said. “And nobody in my opinion has made that case to the Republican voters yet – Romney, Santorum, Paul or Gingrich. I don’t think any of them has made the case that ‘I am the guy who has the best chance to beat Obama.'”

February 9, 2012

Conservative Political Action Conference Outlook

Who needs more GOP primaries? Although the campaign to select a Republican nominee has just started a quiet period, there will be more than enough political excitement this weekend inWashington, D.C., at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. If you’re giddy about the presidential race, Mitt Romney,Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will speak; if you’re interested in conservative ideas, Paul Ryan will be giving the keynote address; if you’re eager to meet C-list celebrities, Stephen Baldwin and Chuck Woolery will both be speaking; and if you’re just looking for love, there will be a conservative dating event as well. And, if you’re a political reporter looking for another delegate-free presidential vote to cover after Tuesday night, there will be a presidential straw poll as well.

CPAC is a nearly 40-year-old event held by the American Conservative Union annually, and has been likened to a “Mardi Gras for the Right.” According to Alyssa Farah, the communications director of the College Republican National Committee who has attended the conference every year since she was a freshman at Patrick Henry College, “its giant strategy session meets party.” By day, it’s a frantic political networking event, with attendees “going in and out of different speakers and trying to brush elbows.” By night, it becomes “a much more informal atmosphere” with “cocktail receptions,” culminating in the Reaganpalooza party on the last night of the conference, held at the Teatro Goldoni, a pricy Italian restaurant on K Street.

The event in recent years also been has been punctuated with controversy over the participation of a GLBT Republican group, GOProud. Its participation in the past sparked controversy, as other social-conservative organizations like the Family Research Council and the Concerned Women of America boycotted in protest. This year, however, GOProud was dropped as a co-sponsor. (Although to balance things out, CPAC excluded the John Birch Society as well). According to GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia, “this was the best thing that ever happened” to the organization, which advocates for “gay conservatives and their allies.” He said “all the folks that ranted and raved did nothing but good stuff [and] raise[d] our credibility, membership and budget.”

But while the fireworks over the participation of GOProud are now relegated to the past, the rise of Occupy Wall Street has raised the potential for new conflict. Occupy DC has announced that it will “Occupy CPAC” to protest what it terms “a gathering of bigots, media mouthpieces, corrupt politicians, and their 1 percent elite puppet masters.” The presence of Occupiers should not create any internal conflict among conference attendees, but it does create a significant potential for protests and unrest around the conference, which is being held at a Washington, D.C. hotel. But whatever media frenzy the occupiers may create will pale compared with the infinitely more polarizing and headline-grabbing force of Sarah Palin, who will be present.

Palin, who has never before appeared at CPAC, will be speaking before thousands of active movement conservatives, and the national political media, in the midst of a contentious GOP presidential primary. Although she has yet to endorse a candidate, the 2008 vice presidential nominee has frequently spoken highly of Newt Gingrich. Her husband, Todd, has even endorsed the former House speaker. Given Rick Santorum’s big night last Tuesday, an endorsement of Gingrich would be a huge boost for a campaign that has struggled since losing the winner-take-all primary in Florida at the end of January. Whether Palin explicitly endorses Gingrich or not, her speech is sure to be pored over by the national media, practicing a kind of Kremlinology, Wasilla-style, to get hints of her views on the race.

The most important moment for those looking for portents of what’s to come in the GOP primary contest is the annual presidential straw poll held on the last day of the conference. Although Ron Paul has won this popularity contest the past two years by “stacking the deck” according to chief Santorum strategist John Brabender, the straw pool looms as having some significance, since as it is being held at the beginning of the February hiatus in the GOP primary race. Further, Paul is at a comparative disadvantage this year because he won’t be at CPAC, unlike his three main competitors—instead, he will be campaigning in Maine, in what Brabender terms “a real race.” The CPAC straw poll isn’t as critical as, say, a nonbinding primary in Missouri, but it still will be viewed as an indicator of the candidates’ relative popularity in the conservative movement. Plus, it’s the only election that’s also the pregame party for Reaganpalooza.

Way What?? Romney HAD Mojo… WOW

Romney Losing His Mojo After Caucus, Primary Losses to Santorum

 Rick Santorum’s sweep exposed glaring weaknesses in Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Howard Kurtz on whether the ex-senator can capitalize on conservative qualms about Romney.

It’s easy to wave away Santorum’s triple triumph in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado as an exercise in symbolism that netted him no delegates. But as a snapshot of the state of the GOP race, it’s a rather dark picture for Romney.

“These results are a serious blow to Romney that crystallized the conservative questions about his bona fides and punctured it,” says Ari Fleischer, the former Bush White House spokesman. “If your campaign is built on inevitability, a puncture can take you down.”

Ed Rollins, the veteran GOP strategist who briefly ran Michele Bachmann’s campaign, says Romney “has been running for six years and never quite connected. He’s spent no time talking about his years as governor, which is not exactly an all-star four years. He now wants to pretend he’s a right-winger, and it’s just not believable.”

Adds John Feehery, a former House Republican official: “Santorum doesn’t have any organization or money—he’s able to win based on the idea that the base doesn’t like Romney.” Romney “struck a bad chord” with his gaffe about not being concerned about the very poor, says Feehery: “Many conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, actually care about the poor.”

Romney is still the likely nominee, of course, but these and other GOP analysts are saying for the first time that Santorum has a shot. They see him as having eclipsed Newt Gingrich, whose fortunes have sagged since his brief, shining moment in South Carolina.

Given that Romney was coming off solid wins in Florida and Nevada, his vote totals on Tuesday were stunningly weak, even if social conservatives form the backbone of the electorate in the three states.

As Ron Brownstein points out in National Journal, Romney got 25,900 votes in winning the Minnesota caucuses four years ago; this time, in finishing third, he won only 8,090. The same pattern held in the Colorado caucuses, which Romney won last time with 42,218 votes; on Tuesday he finished second with 22,875. And he drew just over a third as many votes in Missouri’s beauty contest as in 2008.

Maybe the results amounted to a giant protest vote. Maybe Romney does poorly when he doesn’t have much time to campaign or when he doesn’t pour money into attack ads. But there may well be something deeper that goes to both style and substance.

Romney comes across as overly scripted, and sometimes aloof, whether he’s hitting his talking points or reciting “America the Beautiful.” He’s a bit ill at ease among average voters. What was striking about his concession speech Tuesday night was that when he talked about his father struggling to make it as a carpenter, he seemed to be speaking from the heart. (Of course, Dad went on to become head of American Motors and Michigan’s governor, so that’s the closest Romney can come to a rags-to-riches narrative.)

And what, at its heart, is Romney’s message, other than that Obama is flailing and the former head of Bain Capital is the man to fix the economy? Romney lacks an animating idea that would bring voters to their feet and faces such complications as the similarities between Obama’s health-care reform and his own in Massachusetts.

“The conservative electorate of 2012 really is hungry for the authentic, Washington-changing candidate,” Fleischer says.

Perhaps that’s why the Romney camp is now going after Santorum as a Beltway insider. Top adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told MSNBC that Santorum and Gingrich are “two peas in a pod—longtime Washington legislators.” And a Romney email blast portrayed Gingrich and Santorum as wild-eyed earmarkers, with such headlines as “Santorum Brought Over $1 Billion in Pork-Barrel Spending Back to Pennsylvania” and “Santorum Voted for the Bridge to Nowhere.”

It’s no accident that Santorum, a favorite of religious conservatives, used his Tuesday-night speech to trumpet his opposition to the White House rule requiring Catholic organizations to offer contraception in health-insurance plans—an issue that has been heating up in recent days.

“If he becomes the champion of the conservative Catholic/Christian coalition, he could be very credible,” says Rollins. “He’s a tough debater. There are no liabilities to him. He’s every bit as knowledgeable as Gingrich, though not as articulate. He’s more disciplined in his message. He is the true-blue Catholic; Gingrich is a convert who’s had multiple marriages.”

Santorum “knows the issues better than Romney does,” Feehery says. “He’s got a better message and is more consistent.” One political weakness, says Feehery, is that Santorum is not a Tea Party favorite: “He’s a big-government conservative, a traditional Republican—a George W. Bush compassionate conservative.”

“Santorum doesn’t have any organization or money—he’s able to win based on the idea that the base doesn’t like Romney.”

Santorum’s ability to remain in the first tier depends in part on whether his big night triggers a flood of donations, so he doesn’t get buried in Michigan or Arizona by millions in negative ads. One question is the extent to which Wyoming financier Foster Friess, who has been bankrolling Santorum’s super PAC (as well as The Daily Caller), is willing to open his checkbook.

It may turn out that Santorum is only the latest in a series of Not-Romneys—Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich—who flash across the political landscape before burning out. But if Santorum can eclipse Gingrich and get Romney one-on-one, as in Missouri, or if they alternate tackling the frontrunner in states where each man is the strongest, this race isn’t over by a long shot.

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