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What Is The Calculation Behind Romney's Campaign Of Lies?

What Is The Calculation Behind Romney's Campaign Of Lies?
by Dave Johnson | August 8, 2012 - 9:08am

The Romney campaign has turned to a strategy of swamping the public with flat-out, blatant lies, one after another, again and again, endlessly and lavishly repeated. They do this because they are making a calculation that it will work! So what is going on? And can democracy survive this assault?

The Growing List Of Lies

This week's lie is the "Obama gutted welfare reform" nonsense. See Bill Scher's must-read response, Romney's Welfare Lie: A Betrayal Of Conservatism. The reporting conveys the Romney message, like this: Romney accuses Obama of dismantling welfare reform. The lie is driven home by a massive $$-driven carpet bombing of ads.

The next-most recent lies was the "Obama is trying to keep military families from voting" lie. This lie, repeated over and over, coordinated with outside groups, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-military" narrative.

Before that was the "You didn't build that" lie, where the Romney campaign doctored audio to make it sound as though President Obama said something he didn't say. (And got away with it.) This lie, repeated over and over, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-business" narrative.

This one on welfare reinforces the "Democrats take your money and give it to black people" narrative. "We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work," said Romney, promising to make them work good and hard.

Rachel Maddow's blog has been keeping track of the Romney lies, and it is a loooooong list.

How It Is Done

Here is how it works. Each lie is developed in the right's machine, using something currently in the news to reinforce an ongoing narrative about "liberals." The lie percolates up through a well-worn process where the germ of the story is planted in smaller outlets, and variations of it are tried out until one seems to resonate. Next, larger right-wing media operations pick up the developed "story" and drive it further. It gets amplified on the radio, FOX News and the right's newspapers. Finally the corporate media takes it out to more and more people, covering themselves with the claim they are just "reporting" on a "story" that is "already out there."

One way or another the lie is repeated and repeated and repeated (and repeated) in various forms through various channels that reach various target groups, until it becomes a "truth." Once it has become a "truth" the Romney campaign uses this "truth" to claim Democrats and President Obama are harming the country.

The Solyndra story is a good example. The right developed a lie about "cronyism," claiming that a Democratic donor is "tied to" solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra because a foundation with his name on it was an investor in the company. Because a foundation was the investor there was no possibility for the donor to benefit. But that doesn't matter, they used this "tie" to spread a lie the Obama administration was steering money into someone's pocket, and they repeated it and repeated it and repeated it.

After months of repetition of this lie, the Romney campaign understood that the lie has become a "truth," and is using that "truth" themselves in campaign ads and Romney's stump speech! Romney talks about "cronyism" in the Obama administration, understanding that much of the public now believes this is established fact.

The Calculation

The Romney campaign is limiting media access to the candidate and offering little in the way of substantive policy proposals. They are instead using press releases, advertisements, message-trained surrogates, cooperative media like FOX, Drudge, talk radio, allied newspapers and the right's blogosphere, while coordinating with massively-funded outside groups like Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation and others.

This is a key thing to get, the Romney campaign believes that they can win this election using lies and propaganda as "truths" to drive their campaign story. They are making the calculation that the right's media machine has become sufficiently powerful for their version of reality to reach enough of the public, and that it is sticking in their minds as "truths!"

They are also making the calculation -- so far validated by the media response -- that there will be little if any pushback from "mainstream" media. They trust that the media will look the other way, report lies as "one side says X, the other says Y," tell the public "both sides do it," and say this is just par for the course.

But if there is media resistance, they are calculating that the right's own media power can override any pushback that might come. They might also believe they can turn media resistance to their advantage. Decades have been spent convincing their followers to see potentially objective information sources as "the liberal media," enemy of conservatism, and any pushback for lying could just increase support for their campaign.

So the Romney campaign, like the recent Bush administration, are conscious that they do not need to work with facts. Instead they believe they can "create truth" through the manipulation of perception. This is hardly new in Repubican circles. The phrase "reality-based community" came out of the previous Republican administration's calculations of what the public will and won't learn about. This famous quote from Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush by Ron Suskind, explains,

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

What Does The Public "Know?"

If you are reading this you are likely very well-informed. You pay attention to the mainstream news, as well as read various progressive sources. But much of the public is not very well-informed, and faces the problem of not knowing what sources to trust. Subjected to a constant battering of corporate/conservative propaganda and disinformation, they are busy, and not ready or able to do the extensive research needed to make informed decisions.

Progressives and "liberals" try to solve this problem by trying to help people get informed. Conservatives understand this and try to use it to their advantage, spreading self-serving misinformation.

The well-funded propagandists study and understand the shorthand methods people use to determine what to believe. This is the reason for the ongoing attacks on the credibility of what would normally be seen as trustworthy sources, like PBS, NPR and what the rest of what has been disparaged for decades as "the liberal media." This is also the reason for the establishment of so many corporate-funded conservative "institutes" and other academic and authoritative-sounding organizations that issue "studies" and "reports" that always echo the corporate-conservative positions.

The "mainstream" corporate media has also undergone a change over recent decades. Many outlets now see themselves as businesses with a product that has to appeal to "the market" to make money. They no longer see their mission to be informing the public so citizens have the information that is needed to function in a democracy, but instead as "maximizing shareholder return," by "driving traffic" and whatever else it takes to sell advertising. And many people working as "journalists" understand that advancing their own careers means not making waves by being perceived as "leftist" or "anti-business."

The Test

Steve Benen calls this a "test for the political world," writing,

How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney's lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney's lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about taxes.

The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.

The test, then, comes down to a simple question: is he right?

This is a test for the political world, as well as a challenge to the viability of our democratic system. We can expect this to continue and accelerate until election day, driven by hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires and their huge corporations. The question is, will enough of our misinformed public be tricked by the lies? If this succeeds, what kind of country will we become? What will be left?

Entry #276

Republicans Spin a New Web of Lies About the Bush Tax Cuts

Republicans Spin a New Web of Lies About the Bush Tax Cuts

By: RmuseJuly 9th, 2012

  There are myriad cases of people adhering to beliefs with the strong convictions despite superior evidence to the contrary, and they are usually delusional because their beliefs are based on false and incomplete information, dogma, or some perceived reality only they observe. Republicans preaching about the virtue and economic benefits of giving the wealthy more tax breaks gives the impression that they are delusional, but it is more likely they are deceiving voters with gross distortions of the truth and in the case of tax cuts for the wealthy, they are just lying.  However, despite superior evidence proving the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich increased the deficit and failed to create jobs,  Republicans are gearing up to fight President Obama, Democrats, and the American people to extend the wealthy’s tax cuts before the November general election.

There was talk on Capitol Hill about putting off any legislation regarding tax and spending issues until Spring of 2013 and delaying the automatic spending cuts from last year’s super-committee failure to reach President Obama’s goal of $4 trillion in cuts and revenue increases in a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, but House Republicans intend acting before the election. In fact, Republicans promise to act soon to extend the Bush tax cuts and they criticized Democrats for refusing to “join Republicans to stop the tax hike.” Chairman of the House Ways and Means, Dave Camp (R-MI) said, “That is why House Republicans will act this month to extend low-tax policies originally enacted in 2001 and 2003 and extended with bipartisan support in 2010, while laying the groundwork for comprehensive job-creating tax reform.” Translation, give more entitlements to the wealthy as if doing so will have any different outcomes than Bush-Republican tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. It is also fallacious for Camp to claim the 2010 Bush cuts were a bipartisan effort because Republicans held unemployment benefits and payroll tax reduction hostages unless they got a two-year extension on tax cuts for the rich.

Republicans are still adhering to the deceitful notion that giving more tax breaks to the wealthy will jumpstart the economy and create jobs in spite of overwhelming evidence it did not work in 2001, 2003, or 2010, and it is getting to the point that they are either pathologically deluded or think the American people are stupid. Speaking of the American people, they support tax increases on the wealthy and closing corporate tax loopholes as the best means to reduce the nation’s deficit, and according to a CNN/ORC poll in April, 72% of Americans favor the so-called “Buffett Rule” raising taxes on income over $1 million. In April, Senate Republicans blocked debate on the Buffett Rule and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The president is more interested in misleading people than he is in leading.” McConnell and his Republican cohorts are not delusional, they are liars for misleading the people on the benefits of maintaining tax cuts for the rich. In fact, Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, proposed give businesses a 20 percent tax cut this year that he claims will spur job growth despite overwhelming evidence that what businesses need are consumers with money to spend, not lower tax rates that are guaranteed to increase the deficit. After all, the wealthy and their corporations have enjoyed lower tax rates for eleven years and the only jobs created were from President Obama’s stimulus spending.

According to executive director of the National Employment Law Project, Christine Owens, what Republicans in Congress need to focus on to spur job creation is “more spending on infrastructure, fiscal relief to states and renewal of federal unemployment benefits,” and not more time bickering over extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. President Obama delivered job creation bills to Congress that have languished for nearly a year, and House Republicans dithered away precious time over a transportation bill that would create 3 million jobs repairing the nation’s infrastructure. Now, with only seven weeks left in the 112th Congress, Republican are planning wasting time on a symbolic vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that are proven to increase the deficit and not create jobs. Owens said “There’s too much at stake for Congress to spend the next four months campaigning, instead of getting serious about putting America back to work,” but she must surely know that putting Americans back to work is not the Republicans’ goal and it has not been for the past three-and-a-half years.

With all the evidence that giving the wealthy more tax cuts does not, has not, and will not spur jobs and the economy, it looks like Republicans are delusional in a pathological sense. President Obama said through a spokesman yesterday that he is committed to ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and the people are in agreement that it is time for the rich to start paying their fair share they have avoided for the past eleven years. The President has stated his case that the best method for preserving tax cuts for the middle class is letting the millionaire’s and billionaire’s, who have prospered beyond their wildest dreams, tax cuts expire and nearly three-quarters of the American people agree. Still, with a short amount of time left before the general election, Republicans are making extending the wealthy’s tax cuts and repealing the ACA their signature issue as a campaign strategy instead of passing the President’s jobs bills, or expediting the transportation bill to put 3 million Americans to work right away.

It may be true that Republicans suffer from pathological delusions regarding giving the wealthy more tax cuts, but their disorder is not delusion, it is deceit that affects the economic health of the nation and millions of unemployed Americans. It is not clear who they think they are kidding, but after 11 years, Americans are aware that more entitlements for the rich will not create jobs or stimulate economic growth and yet every Republican repeats the mantra that letting the tax cuts for the rich expire kills jobs. It is important to remember that the greatest economic growth in recent memory took place under the Clinton Administration when the wealthy paid 3% more in taxes and environmental regulations were strengthened. The American people, and Democrats, know what works to improve the nation’s economy and put Americans back to work, and they know what has not worked. Conversely, Republicans still appear to think that extending low-tax policies originally enacted in 2001 and 2003 is key to creating jobs despite superior evidence to the contrary, and it proves they are either delusional, or deceitful.

Perhaps Republicans are not delusional, or deceitful, and instead of postulating what their particular dysfunction is, it is best to consult one of the world’s most acclaimed minds. Albert Einstein was not a psychologist, but he summed up the Republicans’ mental disorder with remarkable candor and clarity. He said, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results,” and after 31 years of giving the wealthy tax breaks, Republicans still expect a different result than fewer jobs, greater deficits, and widening income inequality. It is true they are insane, delusional, and deceitful, but more than anything, they have demonstrated that they are hell-bent on destroying the economy, killing jobs, and anything to give the rich all the wealth this country has to offer and if it means a nation of peasants and an economy in distress, they will spend the remainder of the 112th Congress making it happen.

Entry #275

Republican blatant attempt to mislead

Protecting early voting in Ohio

In a blatant attempt to mislead Americans, Mitt Romney is falsely accusing the Obama campaign of trying to restrict military voting in Ohio. In fact, the opposite is true: The Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to make sure every Ohioan has early voting rights, including military members and their families.

What happened to early voting in Ohio?

  • In the 2008 presidential election, more than 93,000 Ohioans utilized early voting in the three days before the election.

  • Earlier this year, Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature passed an election reform law that cut off early voting three days before the election.

  • More than 300,000 Ohioans signed a petition to secure a referendum on the November 6th ballot in order to repeal this law. Rather than face the referendum, the legislature, at the urging of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, decided to repeal the law.

  • However, “in an unusual turn of events,” Ohio Republicans managed to keep a technical provision of the bill that shortens the early voting process and eliminates the last three days of early voting for all citizens except military personnel and their families.

What does that mean for voters?

In addition to reducing Ohioans’ access to the polls, the legislature created inequality between military voters who can cast early ballots in person through the day before the election and all other voters who only have until 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election to vote in-person absentee.

Why is there a lawsuit?

These restrictions are a violation of the equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit seeks to make sure that all Ohioans, including military members and their families, can exercise their right to vote early. “This lawsuit seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” said Obama for America attorney Bob Bauer. “We want to restore the right of all to vote before Election Day.”

The facts show that Romney’s claim about restricting military voting is a blatant distortion. The purpose of the lawsuit is to ensure that every Ohioan—including military voters—has the right to make their voices heard at the polls.

Entry #274

Officials: Sikh temple shooter white supremacist

Officials: Sikh temple shooter white supremacist

Published - Aug 06 2012 09:33AM EST

DINESH RAMDE, Associated Press

A man wipes away tears outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis. where a shooting took place on Sunday, Aug 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

(The Associated Press)

A man wipes away tears outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis. where a shooting took place on Sunday, Aug 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

OAK CREEK, Wis. (AP) — A 40-year-old Army veteran, identified by a civil rights group as the one-time leader of a white supremacist band, was the gunman who killed six people inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, officials said Monday.

First Assistant U.S. Greg Haanstad in Milwaukee identified the shooter as Wade Michael Page. Page joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged in 1998, according to a defense official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information yet about the suspect.

Officials and witnesses said the gunman walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee and opened fire as several dozen people prepared for Sunday services. When the shooting finally ended, seven people lay dead, including Page, who was shot to death by police. Three others were critically wounded in what police called an act of domestic terrorism.

Page was a "frustrated neo-Nazi" who led a racist white supremacist band, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Monday. Page told a white supremacist website in an interview in 2010 that he had been part of the white-power music scene since 2000 when he left his native Colorado and started the band, End Apathy, in 2005, the nonprofit civil rights organization said.

He told the website his "inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole," according to the SPLC. He did not mention violence in the website interview.

Page joined the military in Milwaukee in 1992 and was a repairman for the Hawk missile system before switching jobs to become one of the Army's psychological operations specialists, according to the defense official.

So-called "Psy-Ops" specialists are responsible for the analysis, development and distribution of intelligence used for information and psychological effect; they research and analyze methods of influencing foreign populations.

Fort Bragg, N.C., was among the bases where Page served.

Joseph Rackley of Nashville, N.C. told the AP on Monday that Page lived with his son for about six months last year in a house on Rackley's three acres of property. Wade was bald and had tattoos all over his arms, Rackley said, but he doesn't remember what they depicted. He said he wasn't aware of any ties Page may have had to white supremacists.

"I'm not a nosy kind of guy," Rackley said. "When he stayed with my son, I don't even know if Wade played music. But my son plays alternative music and periodically I'd have to call them because I could hear more than I wanted to hear."


Associated Press writers Gretchen Ehlke and Scott Bauer in Milwaukee; Patrick Condon in Minneapolis; Sophia Tareen and Michelle Janaye Nealy in Chicago; Larry Neumeister in New York and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.

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Entry #272

Brought you Donuts.

This is an old one but it will suffice.  Just a drop in the bucket

to what he has done to help this country but is overshadowed by

Tea Party hatred.

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Entry #270

Mitt Romney, hid behind church, DRAFT DODGER

Romney 2012 - Mitt Romney, draft dodger, has wide support of military veterans

It’s rather well-known by now amongst those who care for matters political that Mitt Romney conveniently received a Vietnam War deferment for Mormon missionary work in Paris, France. This detail wouldn’t be so interesting if it were not for Romney’s pro-Vietnam war position activities in 1968, in which he staged a counter-protest to demonstrations against Stanford University’s draft-status tests.

Indeed, if he was so gung-ho about the anti-communist effort in Vietnam, why didn’t he simply bypass the draft and enlist? For Romney, religion was a convenient shelter. He was not ultimately interested in the blood and gore of battle but in the wars launched by men in boardrooms against other companies and, indeed, common people.

So it is with some wonder that a recent poll indicates Romney enjoys wide support from military veterans.

According to a Gallup poll, veterans account for 13% of the U.S. population, though it is mostly comprised of older men. “U.S. veterans… support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president by 58% to 34%, while nonveterans give Obama a four-percentage-point edge,” reports Gallup, which added, “Those younger than 50 are roughly as likely to support Romney as are those 60 and older.”

Perhaps the current veteran support for Romney is simply a function of many military folk traditionally voting Republican. The GOP is quite open about a robust defense budget, which signals (at least symbolically) no shortage of work for warriors. However, one is left wondering if the GOP’s penchant for war-making ever enters the veteran thought process. And when one considers the fact that President Obama has hardly cut the defense budget — indeed, he has maintained it — the bafflement only grows.

What veterans must see in Mitt Romney, a draft dodger who received three academic deferments after the gift of his religion, would be a source of curiosity if it were not so <snip>ed discouraging. Nothing in his personal and business biography indicates any sort of comparable life experience with the average veteran. But this is the version of America hatched from that acting hack Ronald Reagan. The genius of his method — and it was an acting method — is to adopt a role and project an image of success (financial and economic prosperity) that so stupefies an audience (voting population) that reason is rendered a mental after-thought.

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Entry #267

Romneytroubles with tax returns already released


Dem Lawmakers Want Answers About Romney’s Enormous IRA

Brian BeutlerAugust 3, 2012, 8:26 AM 49337

Leading House Democrats want to turn Mitt Romney’s enormous IRA into more than just a political problem.

Romney’s most recent financial disclosure form revealed that his tax-deferred individual retirement account holds upwards of $100 million — an amount that awkwardly showcases his enormous wealth but also raises legal and ethical questions.

IRAs are intended to allow workers to put away modest sums of money each year in order to help finance a middle class retirement. The savings are tax deferred, but there’s a legal limit — now $6,000 — on how much each IRA holder can contribute annually.

Now top Democrats on the Budget, Ways and Means, and Education and Workforce Committees want to know how people of Romney’s wealth can end up with 100,000 times that much money in a single IRA, and how much the tax and investment strategies they employ cost the Treasury in revenue every year.

In a letter Thursday to senior officials at the Treasury and Labor departments, Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) want to know: Is this legal? How easy is this strategy to get away with? How much does it cost the government every year? And what can be done to end the practice?

“[W]e are alarmed to learn that wealthy taxpayers may be taking advantage of a tax subsidy that is designed to provide for retirement to instead accumulate massive amounts of tax-sheltered assets,” the lawmakers write. “Given your commitment to the rule of law and equitable treatment of taxpayers, we hope that you will evaluate this issue carefully to ensure that a select few are not being provided with a loophole that allows for wrongful tax evasion.”

The lawmakers’ inquiry has a substantive, policy basis — but the politically charged question is also a shot across Romney’s bow.

“[R]ecent news reports indicate that Bain Capital allowed service partners and employees to co-invest in investment deals via tax-preferred retirement accounts … in some cases providing one-fourth of the total capital in the investment deals,” the lawmakers write.

They go on to speculate about how it worked.

“Some experts have expressed the view that the investments made through these accounts and plans may have been assigned a nominal value that was significantly lower than the fair market value of the investments, perhaps using a liquidation value methodology. In particular, this strategy has been cited as one explanation for how presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s IRA is valued at between $20 and $101 million despite the annual contribution limits that apply to tax-preferred retirement accounts and plans.”

To translate, Romney could have skirted the annual contribution limit if his IRA invested heavily in Bain projects by dramatically lowballing the value of the stakes.

If the administration is forthcoming — and why wouldn’t it be? — its answers to these questions will be general, not about Romney specifically. But those answers will broadly apply to Romney and his IRA, and could bring some clarity to one technique people of Romney’s wealth can use to amass even more.

You can read the entire letter below.




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Entry #266