Mitt Romney turns 70

When I was growing up in the 1960s, there were plenty of Republicans that fair-minded citizens could consider.

There was a Vanity Fair article about Mitt Romney back in February 2012. Michael Kranish and Scott Helman’s piece was “an adaptation from their new book, The Real Romney, to find that the contradictions, question marks, and ambivalence go deeper than his politics.” It couldn’t have helped that Willard Mitt Romney’s real first name is the same as a movie rat.

The real trouble with the 2012 Republican Presidential campaign is that most of the pundits assumed the same thing would happen in 2016. Mitt Romney was losing to, at different points, Michele Bachmann, Herman “9-9-9” Cain, and Newt Gingrich, among others, before the party let one of grownups become the nominee. The supposition was that the same thing would happen again in 2016, that the bellicose businessman might be the flavor of the month, but surely fade, leaving someone such as Jeb Bush or John Kasich with the nomination.

Surely, Mitt Romney wasn’t as bad as some of his GOP counterparts, faint praise, I suppose. He did enact a predecessor to the Affordable Care Act when he was governor of Massachusetts. Yet he was perceived as the out of touch millionaire businessman, largely because of the 47% quote. Yet his successor as the Republican nominee, whom Romney rightly criticized as a phony, had a broader appeal as “genuine.”

It’s peculiar, politics in this century. When I was growing up in the 1960s, there were plenty of Republicans that fair-minded citizens could consider. Both of the US Senators from New York, Jacob Javits and Ken Keating, were Republicans, as was governor Nelson Rockefeller. William Scranton was governor of Pennsylvania, and George Romney, father of Mitt, was governor of Michigan.

There was a time in my voting lifetime when the vast majority of Republicans were people I would at least consider casting a ballot for. And I do know that if Mitt Romney had won in 2012, I would not be having the sleepless nights I’ve had since November 8, 2016.

I WAS disappointed when Romney suggested Betsy DeVos is a “smart choice for education secretary.” Still, I hope he finds ways to challenge this presidency; don’t know how much he’d be heard, but I’d love to see him use whatever clout he may still have.

Politics and commerce

I saw relatively few retail stores with either Obama OR Romney signs this year. Seems like a no-win action, to possibly alienate a good chunk of your potential market over politics.

Jaquandor is back with his Sentential Links, which he had temporarily discontinued during the election season because he feared that he’d “do nothing but link political stuff.” Interestingly, though, the link that caught my attention did have to do with politics, of a sort.

John Scalzi, in his Whatever blog, which is often entertaining, wrote: “There are places that don’t get my business, or will ever get it, because I find their corporate beliefs or practices problematic. But I’m not going to stop going to the local ice cream shop because the owners put a Romney sign in their window.”

That got me thinking about how I felt about that. I can imagine that, if it were 1972, and someone had a sign for noted segregationist George Wallace in the window, I might have decided to take my money elsewhere. But I don’t recall whether I even saw business establishments with Richard Nixon signs.

Locally, I see lots of stores with signs of a local candidate or another. I’ve often wondered, especially in those more transient stores, whether the sign REALLY represents the proprietor’s position, or did he/she just stick the sign in the window because the first person in that race asked?

I saw relatively few retail stores with either Obama OR Romney signs this year. Seems like a no-win action, to possibly alienate a good chunk of your potential market over politics.

The ABC Wednesday post for R was about voting for Romney/Ryan. I suppose I could have put the kibosh on it, but I was disinclined. I did make comments, such as West Virginia has only five electoral college votes, not six, and that it has gone red every year that begins with the number 2.

In the last month, I went to the barbershop. Folks in some barbershops really DO talk like people do in the Barbershop movies. One of the other barbers asked my barber, who is the shop owner, whether he would “perform a gay marriage.” I am unaware that he is even licensed to marry anyone. The answer was “no”, which was disappointing. Yet I fully agree that a Catholic priest should not be forced to marry a Catholic to a Protestant, e.g. I support the premise, and it was a “what if” question; still, the response bugged me. I haven’t been back, but I haven’t gone anywhere else yet either, and I’m overdue for another trim.

I’m perfectly willing to boycott big businesses over their policies – I’ve done it for years – yet, on the local level, I’m a bit more…pragmatic? Forgiving? Or maybe the sin hasn’t been egregious enough.

Nearly a parliamentary system

Massachusetts, generally a Democratic state in recent decades, nevertheless has had a tradition of electing moderate Republicans.

It’s Election Day in the US. At last. Thank whatever deity you believe in! The only people who will be upset about this are the local television stations, who have been raking it in with all the political advertisements. I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t understand why the candidates often say at the end of the ads, “I’m Joe Blow, and I approve this message.” It’s because there are ads out there, sponsored by the political parties, or political action committees, supposedly (snicker) independent of the (chortle) political candidates.

As is my tradition, I will be voting as soon as the polls open, at 6 a.m. It’s not just that I am anxious to vote or want to get it over with. It’s that, if I cast my ballot early enough, they won’t call me to make sure I get out there. Better get my wife to vote before work, too. I’m voting for an annoyingly large number of incumbents, which is NOT my tradition, historically.

It’s occurred to me that the US has, almost, become a de facto parliamentary system. Someone like Arlen Specter, who died last month, was a fairly moderate-to-conservative Republican from Pennsylvania, who annoyed members of both parties with his actions on the Senate Judiciary Committee, blocking the nomination of Robert Bork, but allowing for the ascent of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court, brutalizing Thomas accuser Anita Hill in the process. When he became a Democrat in 2009, he hadn’t moved to the left; his former party had lurched to the right. I might have voted for him.

If I were living in Massachusetts, and Elizabeth Warren (D) weren’t running, I might have considered selecting Scott Brown for US Senate. As Republicans go these days, he’s relatively moderate. But then again, his re-election would have implications on party control of the Senate, so maybe not. In the olden days, even 20 years ago, bipartisanship and “working across the aisle” weren’t seen as traitorous behaviors.

Massachusetts, generally a Democratic state in recent decades, nevertheless has had a tradition of electing moderate Republicans. Edward Brooke was the first black member of the US Senate since the Reconstruction period after the US Civil War, serving from 1967 to 1979. And moderate Mitt Romney was governor from 2003 to 2007. Whatever happened to THAT guy, anyway?

I heard that 80% of the people voting for Obama or Romney this year will vote for the Senate candidate of the same party. And it’s 90% in House races. We’ve returned to straight-party voting in the US, which I understand, but don’t see as a necessarily good thing.

Here are my predictions: Wednesday at 11:59 p.m., we STILL won’t know who the winner is; might be days. Or weeks. Ultimately, Obama wins, with less than 50% of the popular vote, and the Republicans spend the next four years bemoaning that fact.

A political false equivalence

Romney has apparently followed the law. But to those have been given much, much is expected.

There’s this blogger I came across who I like. But I was puzzled by a comparison made between President Obama’s birth certificate and Gov. Romney’s tax returns, as being similarly not newsworthy.

In the case of the birth certificate, it was authenticated to a degree acceptable to anyone who isn’t a conspiracy theorist.

Whereas the tax returns are interesting because they were not released, save for the last two years, though a self-provided “summary” was made available. Truth is, I don’t care whether Romney releases the documents or not. It DOES, though, speak to his transparency, or lack of same, for his father George set the bar when he ran for President back in the 1960s and put out a dozen years of returns.

The Gospel lesson a couple of weeks back was Mark 10:17-27, about the rich young man who followed the law. In verse 21: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Further, “And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Romney has seemingly followed the law, doing the absolute minimum of what is required. But to those who have been given much, much is expected. I believe it is reasonable that he makes a good-faith, and precedented, attempt to show us whether he is a tax dodger, since it might give us some insight into the fiscal policies he would initiate, were he become President.

Not incidentally, the sermon addressed this 9th-century explanation/rationalization of this Scripture, suggesting that it was referring to a place called The Eye of the Needle, where a camel could get through, but not if it were overburdened by lots of stuff. But as my pastor indicated, and this article agrees: “There is no evidence for such a gate, nor record of the reprimand of the architect who may have forgotten to make a gate big enough for the camel and rider to pass through unhindered.”

N is for National Elections: November 6

As a New Yorker, I don’t see many of the ads that run in states such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

If you’re not from the United States, you may not be aware of the fact that the US is having its national election on Tuesday, November 6.

CONGRESS

Approximately 1/3 of the US Senate is up for election. Senators are elected on a statewide basis for six-year terms.

All 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for election. The number of districts in each state is dependent on its population. The breakdown changes every 10 years, after the decennial Census. The results of the 2010 Census will alter the makeup of the House for the 2012 election.

From the Census Bureau:
“Among the eight states gaining seats, Texas will gain four seats and Florida will gain two seats. The other six states (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington) will each gain one seat. Of the ten states losing seats, two states, New York and Ohio will each lose two seats. The other eight states (Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) will each lose one seat.”

Even the states that have the same number of seats will have to change its Congressional boundaries (except for the states with only one House member, of course), to reflect population shifts within the state, based on the doctrine of One person, one vote.

THE PRESIDENCY

The Democratic Party is fielding the incumbent, President Barack Obama of Illinois, with his running mate, Vice-President Joe Biden of Delaware. The Republican Party candidate is putting up former Massachusetts governor Willard Mitt Romney, with his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Since about the year 1800, the President and VP have run as a ticket. There are a number of “third party” candidates who have approximately a zero percent chance of winning the election.

The nomination process is rather peculiar for both major parties. Some states have what are called caucuses, while other states have primaries. But even the rules of primaries vary from state to state, with some having “closed” primaries (only members of that party can vote) while others have more “open” primaries, (voters who are not enrolled in either party may vote, and in a few states, voters from the OPPOSING party may participate!)

The Presidential election is not decided by the popular vote nationally, but rather by the vote in each state, which gets representatives to something called the Electoral College. Each state gets electors equal to its number of members of Congress (House plus Senate); the District of Columbia also gets three electors.

In 49 of 51 geographies, except for Maine and Nebraska, there are winner-take-all contests. Thus, some states are not generally contested by the candidates. New York, it is surmised, will go to Obama; Texas is safe for Romney. Therefore, the race is generally run in the so-called battleground states.

As a New Yorker, I don’t see many of the Presidential campaign ads that run in states such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. A good political map can be seen at Real Clear Politics.
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Re: “the dozens of political tell-alls…that appear each election cycle.” The Center of Gravitas Best and Worst Seller List helps “you navigate which books would be likely to fly off the shelves and which would be reduced to the bargain bin.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 11