This piece on Salon.com today does an excellent job (with only rare forays into sarcasm) of discussing the parts of Mitt Romney's Mormon religion that ought to be of interest to voters and therefore fair game for journalistic inquiry.
As a former (excommunicated by request) Mormon Elder myself, I can attest to the veracity of everything Sarah Posner says about the LDS Church, its polity and its politics, its leadership and its stance on social issues. I would add that another troubling aspect of Mormonism for me is its teaching of the doctrine of blood atonement which leads to the conclusion that only an execution can atone for certain offenses. Back in the late 1970's when I was an active member of the LDS Church and living in Salt Lake City, I ran afoul of its rules by refusing to picket a local X-Rated theater as ordered by my priesthood leader and by participating in vigils protesting the pending execution of Gary Mark Gilmore. Those incidents led to my request to be removed from the Church rolls, which proved to be a long, drawn-out process during which church leaders continued to try to "minister" to my family.
I do not believe that Romney's Mormonism ought to disqualify him from holding office, of course. But I do think that given the uniqueness of Mormonism and the degree to which it governs — or attempts to govern — the thoughts, positions and behaviors of its members, the subject of his role in the church and his response to anti-feminist, racist and other public policy statements made by the church leadership ought not be off limits.
The town of Unioplis, Ohio, is about to cease to exist after a century of fierce independence. The town's budget was creamed by Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich, who made a campaign promise to balance an $8 billion deficit in the budget in one year without raising taxes. The only way to do that is to slash spending not to the bone but into the very marrow of society.
The disappearance of Uniopolis, and undoubtedly hundreds of other small towns and cities in America, and the blatant anti-democratic dictatorship being forced down the throats of minorities in Michigan under its absolutely unbelievable emergency manager law
, are major clues to what the nation would look like if the Republicans win the 2012 Presidential election. The bottom line is simple: poor people and minorities get the shaft.
One aspect of this selective austerity — tax cuts for the rich, tax increases for the rest of us; unbelievable dictatorial powers; vote suppression — that doesn't get much press is what happens the day after austerity. For that side of the story, check out Colorado Springs
. In that town, the city was unable to convince voters to approve a tax increase three years ago amid warnings that services would be cut. The people scoffed, turned down the increase, and are now choking instead of scoffing. Street lights have been turned off, parks have been let go to seed and had trash barrels and their collection ended. But here's the kicker. If you are one of the folks who has a street light you'd like turned back on, just pay up $125 and the city will turn it back on for you. If you have a nearby park that you'd like to see watered and have trash barrels returned, cut a check for $2,500 and the city will do it for you. (You'll still have to collect and dispose of the trash, though.)
What's the inevitable result? The rich get richer, they get better services, and everyone else can just suck it up.
This is democracy? This is America?
Republican leaders and candidates have been accusing President Obama of trying to make America like Europe. But the GOP wants to make America like parts of Europe, too: Greece, Portugal, Ireland and other places where austerity programs rammed down their throats by the EU are causing massive deprivation and rioting in the streets. That may be precisely where we're headed if this insane focus on deficit reduction during an economic downturn is allowed to continue. You can't, as every economist worth his pedigree will agree, cut your way out of a depression.
In this very well thought-out piece by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, the pundit suggests that it would be a good thing for the Republican Party's mid-term viability and growth if it nominated Rick Santorum for President. His reasoning is pretty cogent.
He points out that several times in recent history one of the major parties has nominated for President someone clearly outside the mainstream of American thinking. In all those cases, that party got clobbered in the general election. This demonstrates a truth that none of us who live on the edges of political partisanship likes to admit: the President must run and govern from the center. Given the pivotal role independent voters play in every national election — and in surprisingly few state and local ballots — an extreme candidate from either wing cannot win.
If, Nocera suggests, the Republicans nominate Romney and, as is quite likely, he loses to President Obama, the GOP leadership will scream, "We didn't go far enough right. We weren't true to our extremist conservative roots." That will drive the party farther right for 2016 by which time a landslide defeat may be inevitable. On the other hand, if the Right gets its way in a year when the Democrats are likely to win the White House anyway, the party leaders can look on the crushing defeat that inevitably awaits the silly former Senator and calmly point out that if the party had hewed more cleanly to its core principles and moderation, the outcome might have been different.
I like that reasoning. And I am sincerely concerned that the Republican Party not shoot itself through the foot by taking careful aim at the back of its head. We need two parties to sustain our democracy.
George McGovern and to a lesser extent Walter Mondale were representative of the Left in the Democratic Party. When they ran for the White House, they both lost, 49 states to one. The same fate awaits a Santorum-led ticket (except he might actually lose all 50 states given his crappy performance in his home state last time he stood for election there). But it would be better for the party go get that out of the way now so a shift toward center can be undertaken than to lose a close election to Romney this time and then host the 50-state disaster in 2016.
I proved once again on Monday why I'm not being paid to be a political prognosticator any more. (Yep, I used to be, many, many years…decades, even…ago!)
Mitt Romney squeaked out a win in Michigan on the popular vote side but it appears more than possible that Rick Santorum will actually wind up with more delegates. Results were incomplete in the final two congressional districts as of midday Wednesday. With 98 percent of the precincts reporting by mid-day today, Santorum had a slight edge in the two remaining districts. If his leads hold, Santorum would win a majority of the state's delegates, with 17 to Romney's 13. (Michigan awards delegates at the rate of two per congressional district and two at-large.) But clearly my prediction was about votes. not delegates.
I predicated my prediction on two propositions:
- lousy weather dampening turnout (weather wasn't as bad as forecast)
- Democrats flocking to the GOP side in the primary to vote for the worse of the two candidates (apparently lots of them feel the way I do, that such a strategy in uncertain times risks ending up with the worst guy in the White House)
Time will tell if I have the temerity to test the torrential waters with yet another trial run with the tepid tea leaves. (OK, OK, I agree. WAY too much alliteration trying to obfuscate the underlying goof-up.)
I've been avoiding blogging about politics for quite some time now. Generally speaking it feels good even though I sometimes have to write a post and then delete it without posting it just to get it out of my system!
I decided today I could post a non-partisan piece based more on my experience as a Michigan journalist than on my own liberal agenda.
I'm predicting a Santorum win in Michigan today based on:
terrible weather lashing the southern part of the state, which will severely dampen Romney voter turnout without daunting Santorum's deeply loyal (I originally wrote "fanatical" but thought better of it!) following
a large number of Democrats voting in the open primary (one of the dumbest ideas in politics, which my new home state of California adopted last year as well) and casting ballots for Santorum whom they see, rightly or wrongly, as much easier to defeat in November
You read it here first. Or second. Or something. 🙂