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

Romney Continues to Bring Yawns to GOP aka BORING

If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination for president, he’ll face the urgent task of inspiring the party’s conservative core and rallying them to beat President Barack Obama.

Judging by his performances in the primaries and caucuses so far, and the challenge he faces next week, he’s got his work cut out for him.

Even Republicans who think he’ll be the nominee worry about whether he can generate the intensity required to beat the Democratic incumbent.

These party leaders and activists, from the states voting Feb. 28 and the most contested ones ahead in the fall, say Romney has made strides toward addressing this problem. But, they say, he needs to do more to convince the Republican base that he’s running to fundamentally reverse the nation’s course, not simply manage what they see as the federal government’s mess.

“I think Romney will be the nominee, but there is still tremendous work to be done,” said Sally Bradshaw, a Florida Republican and adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush. “He has got to find a way to unify the party and increase the intensity of support for him among voters who have supported Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul or someone else. And that is going to be the key to how he does in the fall.”

Romney leads in the delegate count for the nomination, and by a wide margin in private polling ahead of the Arizona primary Feb. 28. But the rising challenge from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in the contest also that day in Michigan, where Romney was born and raised, underscores doubts about Romney’s ability to ignite fervor in the GOP base.

He nearly tied Santorum in Iowa, although entrance polls showed that more of Santorum’s backers than Romney’s said they were strongly behind their chosen candidate.

Romney lost the primary in South Carolina last month to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. More of Romney’s supporters in that state said they would support him with reservations in the general election than would support him enthusiastically.

Santorum swept caucuses Feb. 7 in Colorado and Minnesota, and the nonbinding Missouri primary.

Romney’s challengers have risen by sounding more conservative and displaying sharper differences with Obama, while nipping Romney’s appeal as the most electable against Obama.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor with a moderate past, has campaigned more as the likely GOP nominee, portraying himself as acceptable to swing voters in a race where polls show voters prizing most a candidate’s perceived ability to beat Obama.

Romney has pivoted toward the GOP’s conservative base in light of Santorum’s surge.

He dove into the debate over whether birth control ought to be covered by health insurance provided by church-backed employers by faulting the Obama administration’s original push to do so as an “assault on religion.” But Romney was accused of overreaching after recently telling influential conservative activists, “I was a severely conservative Republican governor.”

“In Romney’s case it’s like the difference between someone who grew up speaking Spanish and someone who went to school to speak Spanish,” said Constantin Querard, an Arizona Republican operative. “The moment Romney starts speaking, people know the difference.”

A Pew Research poll taken last week shows the Republican voters nationally who think Romney is a strong conservative has dipped to 42 percent from 53 percent in November.

Romney’s campaign aides say it’s unrealistic to think conservatives staring at the possibility of a second Obama term will not unify behind Romney. “President Obama is the best unifier the Republican Party could ever hope for,” Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, told The Associated Press.

The campaign points to recent conservative opinion leaders who have signed on to his campaign, and his support from popular rising conservative figures such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as evidence of Romney’s newfound buzz.

Michigan Republican Holly Hughes, who supported Arizona Sen. John McCain in the 2008 primary, said Romney is more passionate than during his failed bid that year.

“He’s a different candidate than he was four years ago,” said Hughes, a Republican national committeewoman from Muskegon County. “There wasn’t the excitement there.”

Hughes and others also point to Romney’s winning the straw poll at the recent Conservative Political Action Convention in Washington, which attracted thousands of the nation’s most ardent conservative activists.

Yet Michigan GOP consultant Tom Shields said Santorum, now ahead of Romney in polls Romney’s native state and where his father served as governor, is exciting people where Romney isn’t.

Establishment Republican figures are lining up behind Romney in Michigan, including Gov. Rick Snyder. But in 2000, Gov. John Engler promised to deliver the state as George W. Bush’s firewall; McCain won the primary that year.

“For whatever reason, Romney’s not objectionable. But people just haven’t fully warmed up to him,” said Shields, who conducts public opinion polling in Michigan. “They’ve just refused to take the next step and marry the guy.”

It foretells problems assuring the die-hard GOP activists will be lining up in November, when their phone-banking and door-knocking could make the difference in a close election against an Obama re-election campaign projected to have $1 billion to spend.

“I voted for him. I don’t want to screw around because he’s who we’re going to end up with,” said former Arizona GOP Chairman Mike Hellon, referring to his absentee primary vote for Romney. “But I talk to people who are generally reluctant to pull the trigger for him. More than anything else, that’s’ a problem of intensity which could be a problem in the fall.”

Romney could spice things up with his running-mate choice, although some say an August announcement might be too late to lock in the GOP foot-soldiers.

“There’s a lot of speculation that Marco Rubio could be the vice presidential nominee,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told the AP, referring to the freshman Florida senator and tea party favorite. “I think somebody like him could add some real excitement to the ticket, would be kind of a help to Romney if he does wrap up the nomination.”

Candidates historically do not win close elections based on their running mate, although they have in recent elections received a temporary bump in their national poll standing. The choice can ignite passion among the party base, as did McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008.

Concerns about the enthusiasm Romney generates correspond with a general dip in excitement among Republicans in a nominating campaign that has lurched one way and another in nine contests over the past six weeks.

A CNN/ORC International poll published Wednesday showed 51 percent of Republicans nationally were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president in the election, down from 64 percent in October.

But the dip in GOP enthusiasm, and especially Romney’s three-way loss this month, is a stark warning to Romney that he cannot wait or rely on public unpopularity with Obama to provide momentum for him.

“He cannot bank on the anger against Obama among Republicans to create the turnout we need in the Fall,” Florida’s Bradshaw said.

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 15, 2012

Mormons Posthumously Baptized a Jewish Holocaust Survivor’s Parents

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon church leaders apologized to the family of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal after his parents were posthumously baptized, a controversial ritual that Mormons believe allows deceased people a way to the afterlife but offends members of many other religions.

Wiesenthal died in 2005 after surviving the Nazi death camps and spending his life documenting Holocaust crimes and hunting down perpetrators who remained at large. Jews are particularly offended by an attempt to alter the religion of Holocaust victims, who were murdered because of their religion, and the baptism of Holocaust survivors was supposed to have been barred by a 1995 agreement.

Yet records indicate Wiesenthal’s parents, Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal, were baptized in proxy ceremonies performed by Mormon church members at temples in Arizona and Utah in late January.

In a statement, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centerdenounced the baptismal rites.

“We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon temples,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the center.

The church immediately apologized, saying it was the actions of an individual member of church — whom they did not name — that led to the submission of Wiesenthal’s name.

“We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names,” Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement issued Monday. “We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records.”

Mormons believe posthumous baptism by proxy allows deceased persons to receive the Gospel in the afterlife. The church believes departed souls can then accept or reject the baptismal rites and contends the offerings are not intended to offend anyone.

Other religions, including the Catholic church, have also publicly objected to the baptism of its members, and it’s been widely reported that Mormon and GOP presidential nominee front-runner Mitt Romney’s atheist father-in-law Edward Davies was posthumously baptized.

A check of the records by Salt Lake City researcher Helen Radkey showed the baptism occurred in November 1993. The record suggests a family member may have submitted Davies’ name, which would be in line with the rules for entering names in the database.

Changes made to the church database in 2010 were intended to better prevent names of Holocaust victims from being submitted for rites.

Radkey found documentation of the baptism of the Wiesenthals last week while conducting regular checks of a church database. Jews have relied on the work of Radkey, a former Mormon, since 1999, although Mormon church officials have publicly questioned her motives for reviewing the database.

On Tuesday she told The Associated Press she periodically checks the database for the Wiesenthal name to gauge whether the latest Mormon efforts to screen the process were working.

Radkey’s recent monitoring also turned up a record for Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and several of his relatives.

“None of the three names were submitted for baptism and they would not have been under the church’s guidelines and procedures,” Purdy said. “The names were simply entered into a genealogical database. Submission for proxy baptism is a separate process.”

New Jersey-based Jewish genealogy experts Gary Mokotoff said publicity about the Wiesenthal baptism will help solve the problem, which he believes is likely limited to a small number of overzealous church members who believe they are providing a service to their church.

“If the word gets out that there are consequences, they’ll stop,” said Mokotoff, who has also participated in talks with Mormon leaders. “But no one has a right to involve other person’s families in their religion. That’s basically what’s wrong about the whole concept.”

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