Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Romney and Big Brother

I probably won't hear a more Orwellian speech in my lifetime, so I can't resist commenting on Romney's speech. I'm not getting into the hypocrisy of it the way Stockman did so well here: "During his 16-years at Bain Capital, fully one-fourth or $600 million of the firms cumulative $2.5 billion of profits were scalped from companies which went bankrupt soon after Mitt and his partners got out of town with the loot. No wonder the American voters did not believe him when he claimed to be the “job creator”!" A sample of other critiques is here.

I'm focusing on Romney's rhetoric. And, for that matter, his wife's, who thanked Trump in 2012 here.

Mitt Romney, March 3, 2016, Salt Lake City:

I am not here to announce my candidacy for office. I am not going to endorse a candidate today. Instead, I would like to offer my perspective on the nominating process of my party. In 1964, days before the presidential election which, incidentally, we lost, [like in 2012] Ronald Reagan went on national television and challenged America saying that it was a “Time for Choosing.” He saw two paths for America, one that embraced conservative principles dedicated to lifting people out of poverty and helping create opportunity for all, and the other, an oppressive government that would lead America down a darker, less free path. I’m no Ronald Reagan and this is a different moment but I believe with all my heart and soul that we face another time for choosing, one that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country. [Politicians say this at every election. It's always an election that is going to change the course of history, will have profound consequences, etc.]
I say this in part because of my conviction that America is poised to lead the world for another century. Our technology engines, our innovation dynamic, and the ambition and skill of our people will propel our economy and raise our standard of living. [Except the oligarchs such as Romney outsource industry and import lower-wage workers.] America will remain as it is today, the envy of the world. [This is a nativist perspective; other parts of the world look at America and are disgusted by the amoral and hedonistic culture and the high levels of violent crime, extreme wealth disparity, and other excesses.]
Warren Buffett was 100% right when he said last week that “the babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.” [That's true of everyone living in in the world today, thanks to the Internet and technological development in medicine and other fields, but has nothing to do with who is elected in the U.S.]
That doesn’t mean we don’t have real problems and serious challenges. At home, poverty persists and wages are stagnant. [Thanks to Bain and similar companies who, by manipulating the government, enrich themselves at the expense of the middle class.] The horrific massacres of Paris and San Bernardino, [both pale in comparison to the drone strikes, not to mention the disastrous invasion of Iraq] the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian mullahs, the aggressions of Putin, the growing assertiveness of China and the nuclear tests of North Korea confirm that we live in troubled and dangerous times.
But if we make the right choices, America’s future will be even better than our past and better than our present. [Another election-year cliche repeated ad nauseum.]
On the other hand, if we make improvident choices, the bright horizon I foresee will never materialize. Let me put it plainly, if we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished. [I.e., if the oligarchs are forced to give up power, their safe and prosperous future will be greatly diminished--but the lower and middle classes will be much better off.]
Let me explain why.
First, the economy: If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into a prolonged recession.
A few examples: His proposed 35% tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war that would raise prices for consumers, kill export jobs, and lead entrepreneurs and businesses to flee America. [Trump has explained (which Romney ignores) that his "tariff-like penalties" will be threats to be implemented only if other countries don't eliminate their existing tariff-like penalties! Mitt and the oligarchs know that China, Mexico, Japan, etc. already impose these penalties on imports from the U.S. Trump wants free trade, but also fair trade. To the oligarchs, fair trade is anathema.] His tax plan, in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and to honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. [This is pure establishment rhetoric and could have been spoken by Hillary, Cruz, Rubio, or any other Wall St. tool. Trump's plan is more effective than anything those tools have proposed.] So even as Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families. [Exactly what the oligarchs want people to believe. Their tools have been saying this for decades.]
But wait, you say, isn’t he a huge business success that knows what he’s talking about? No he isn’t. His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them. [Seriously? Mitt Romney of all people saying this? Trump companies have had 4 bankruptcies, mostly in New Jersey, along with many others. Everyone in business knows the risk of bankruptcy and takes precautions accordingly.] He inherited his business, he didn’t create it. [That's patently false, and ironic because that's exactly what people said about Mitt's inheritance from George.] And what ever happened to Trump Airlines? [Trump sold it.] How about Trump University? [Long story, but Trump has explained this at length, and he's restarting it as soon as the litigation is ended, which he could settle at any time but refuses to do.] And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, [All these are still in business, unlike the companies Bain destroyed when Mitt was running the place, although there have been changes in them, as shown here. But overall, Trump's successes far outweigh the failures.] and Trump Mortgage? [I don't know much about this, but a slew of mortgage companies failed in 2008.] A business genius he is not. [This is laughable, considering what Mitt said 4 years earlier, but it also defies the reality of Trump's business empire, which he disclosed in his FEC filings. Everyone knows Trump owns some of the best real estate on the planet, debt free. I'm not aware of anyone other than oil barons and Internet billionaires who own more valuable real estate.]
Now not every policy Donald Trump has floated is bad. He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He wants to bring jobs home from China and Japan. But his prescriptions to do these things are flimsy at best. [Real leaders set the agenda and establish objectives. They don't sit around writing think-tank, oligarchy approved white papers that will be ignored once elected (or, as in Mitt's case, once defeated).] At the last debate, all he could remember about his healthcare plan was to remove insurance boundaries between states. [That's what Marco Rubio wanted people to think, but there was more to it than that.] Successfully bringing jobs home requires serious policy and reforms that make America the place businesses want to plant and grow. [Uh, you mean like lowering taxes and making trade fair instead of just "free" for the oligarchs?] You can’t punish business into doing the things you want. Frankly, the only serious policy proposals that deal with the broad range of national challenges we confront, come today from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. One of these men should be our nominee. [Yes, because the oligarchy approved white papers always look so great--until the candidate is elected and abandons them. All of their policy proposals are more of the same, except for Cruz's promise to abolish the IRS and replace it with another enforcement agency with a different name.]
I know that some people want the race to be over. They look at history and say a trend like Mr. Trump’s isn’t going to be stopped.
Perhaps. [Hopefully.] But the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign. [Yes! For once, the people are seeing through the oligarchy's NEWSPEAK!] If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. [Not conservatism, but the oligarchy, who will win whether they get Hillary or Cruz/Rubio/Kasich elected.] Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state. [IOW, Mitt wants a brokered convention where the oligarchy can choose the candidate instead of the people.]
Let me turn to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones. Trump’s bombast is already alarming our allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. [ha-ha, how about one specific?] Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS. [Trump has never insulted all Muslims; quite the opposite. And Romney seriously thinks these unidentified "Muslims" are not going to fight ISIS because they were "insulted" by Trump? That is a comical argument.] And for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country. [This is a childish argument on Mitt's part.]
What he said on “60 Minutes” about Syria and ISIS has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the campaign season: Let ISIS take out Assad, he said, and then we can pick up the remnants. [Another simplistic soundbite argument.] Think about that: Let the most dangerous terror organization the world has ever known take over a country? This is recklessness in the extreme.
Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart. [This is funny. Usually Trump is criticized for advocating that the Russians should be allowed to take out ISIS. From what I've heard, Trump's point is that the policies of Bush/Obama (read: neoconservatives and oligarchy) created these problems and that we need to destroy ISIS but let the Arabs sort out their own problems.]
I am far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament of be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, [All of this is the media spin on what Trump said/did, contrary to Trump's own explanations.] who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity. [If we're electing a church leader, I'd agree. I don't think much of Trump's manners. OTOH, he's a strong advocate of no smoking, no drugs, no alcohol, which, if others followed his example, would eliminate a major chunk of health care costs, low productivity, and other economic waste. I'd be happy to trade that for a few vulgarities and whatever he said about marital affairs.]
Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, while has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good. [Romney's characterization is a twisted example. Trump is far more nuanced than this.]
There is dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured. [I don't agree that Trump mocked McCain, but I do agree that McCain was more honorable than Trump during the 1960s. Since then, though, McCain has become a warmonger while Trump is more prudent.]
Dishonesty is Trump’s hallmark: He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq. Wrong, he spoke in favor of invading Iraq. [The evidence on this is equivocal, but Trump said very little publicly about the war back then.] He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. Wrong, he saw no such thing. He imagined it. [Distinguishing between someone's memory and imagination is always a challenge, but in this very speech Romney has lied about Trump's businesses, or was he merely imagining those businesses failed? There were Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11; it's a question of how many, and whether Trump conflated that with the thousands of Palestinians who celebrated.] His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader. His imagination must not be married to real power. [This is true of everyone, as Mitt demonstrated in this very speech. But Trump has a long history of dealing with reality in business. Otherwise, he wouldn't be successful. He has buildings to show; Mitt has only a big bank account built from destroying businesses.]
The President of the United States has long been the leader of the free world. The president and yes the nominees of the country’s great parties help define America to billions of people. All of them bear the responsibility of being an example for our children and grandchildren.
Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. We have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He is the only person in America to whom we have added an article before his name. It wasn’t because he had attributes we admired. [Well, Mitt greatly admired him 4 years earlier. His reputation is that he succeeds and wins. That's what the U.S. needs most.]
Now imagine your children and your grandchildren acting the way he does. Will you welcome that? [In some respects no, in others yes--just like with every other human being.] Haven’t we seen before what happens when people in prominent positions fail the basic responsibility of honorable conduct? We have, and it always injures our families and our country. [Who knows what Mitt is referring to here.]
Watch how he responds to my speech today. Will he talk about our policy differences or will he attack me with every imaginable low road insult? This may tell you what you need to know about his temperament, his stability, and his suitability to be president. [Well played by Trump, who held a press conference featuring the very companies Mitt claims had failed. He even complimented Mitt as a good guy, explaining this speech as the product of not getting over his own failed election.]
Trump relishes any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton. [Polls go both ways on this, but so far, Trump has done better than any of the pundits expected.]
On Hillary Clinton’s watch at the State Department, America’s interests were diminished in every corner of the world. She compromised our national secrets, dissembled to the families of the slain, and jettisoned her most profound beliefs to gain presidential power.
For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics, trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term “crony capitalism.” It disgusts the American people and causes them to lose faith in our political process.[And that's why the American people didn't elect Mitt!]
A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president. But a Trump nomination enables her victory. The audio and video of the infamous Tapper-Trump exchange on the Ku Klux Klan will play a hundred thousand times on cable and who knows how many million times on social media. [This is one of the most preposterous claims yet, because Trump disavowed the Klan and David Duke before and after that exchange and has never been considered a racist.]
There are a number of people who claim that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. There is indeed evidence of that. Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign, and on the Ku Klux Klan, daily for three days in a row. [All of this has been well explained for those who listen to explanations. Mitt is cherry-picking and disregarding the evidence.]
We will only really know if he is the real deal or a phony if he releases his tax returns and the tape of his interview with the New York Times. I predict that there are more bombshells in his tax returns. I predict that he doesn’t give much if anything to the disabled and to our veterans. I predict that he told the New York Times that his immigration talk is just that: talk. And I predict that despite his promise to do so, first made over a year ago, he will never ever release his tax returns. Never. Not the returns under audit, not even the returns that are no longer being audited. He has too much to hide. Nor will he authorize the Times to release the tapes. If I’m right, you will have all the proof you need to know that Donald Trump is a phony. [Mitt lost this debate with Harry Reid and it may have cost him the election, so he's trying it out on his former ally. This is just pathetic. It gives you a good idea of how sincere Mitt Romney really is when he highly praises Trump just four years earlier. Plus, Mitt ignores the extensive financial disclosures Trump already made to the FEC.]
Attacking me as he surely will won’t prove him any less of a phony. It’s entirely in his hands to prove me wrong. All he has to do is to release his back taxes like he promised he would, and let us hear what he said behind closed doors to the New York Times. [Good for Trump for not falling for this patently childish argument.]
Ronald Reagan used to quote a Scottish philosopher who predicted that democracies and civilizations couldn’t last more than about 200 years. John Adams wrote this: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” I believe that America has proven these dire predictions wrong for two reasons.
First, we have been blessed with great presidents, with giants among us. Men of character, integrity and selflessness have led our nation from its very beginning. None were perfect: each surely made mistakes. But in every case, they acted out of the desire to do what was right for America and for freedom. [Which is exactly what Trump is trying to do, over the fierce opposition of the oligarchs who are destroying freedom.]
The second reason is because we are blessed with a great people, people who at every critical moment of choosing have put the interests of the country above their own.
These two things are related: our presidents time and again have called on us to rise to the occasion. John F. Kennedy asked us to consider what we could do for our country. Lincoln drew upon the better angels of our nature to save the union. [Exactly what Trump is doing with his Make America Great Again slogan and his constant expression that the people of the country are fantastic and are being held back only by the oligarchy.]
I understand the anger Americans feel today. In the past, our presidents have channeled that anger, and forged it into resolve, into endurance and high purpose, and into the will to defeat the enemies of freedom. Our anger was transformed into energy directed for good. [? So now Obama is doing a great job?]
Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants, he calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit first amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss. [I completely disagree with this caricature.]
Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat. [This is the essential paragraph of Romney's speech: Romney is jealous. Trump is spending less money than Romney did (and a much smaller percentage of his net worth), but he's doing what Romney was unable to do, and in one try instead of Romney's two tries. It's hardly a free ride; Trump is fighting against tens of millions of dollars of negative ads from so-called Republicans who really care only about keeping the oligarchy in power. They are the ones who gave Mitt $1 billion 4 years ago and who demanded that Mitt come out and give this stupid speech.]
His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.
America has greatness ahead. This is a time for choosing. God bless us to choose a nominee who will make that vision a reality. [That will happen only if Trump is nominated. The others are more of the same.]

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