Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 28, 2012

Marie Antoinette has nothing on Mitt Romney and his “let them use the emergency room” response to healthcare for uninsured Americans. Meanwhile hopeful Teapublicans are touting Mr. Romney’s primary debate experience as a plus going into his debate with President Obama next week. They must be kidding. And meanwhile, Paul Lyin’ Ryan, the other 2/3 of the Teapublican presidential ticket seems to be hedging his bets more than a little bit.
Mr. Marie Antoinette

Mitt Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare as soon as he is inaugurated as president. “On Day One”, is Mr. Romney’s pet phrase. When asked what would happen to the over 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured and will be insured by Obamacare in the near future, Mr. Romney channeled his inner Marie
Antoinette.

He actually pointed to the fact that there are plenty of emergency rooms in hospitals all over the country as a viable alternative. The mystery is really that callous or is he just that out of touch with fragile nature of this nation’s healthcare system.

It is difficult to believe that a serious candidate for president would suggest that emergency rooms represent a viable healthcare strategy. And while we can be sure that Mr. and Mrs. Romney have not spent a lot of time in urban emergency rooms, it is still difficult to believe that a serious candidate for president would consign the sick, the elderly and children to emergency rooms for their primary care.

By the way, Marie Antoinette never actually said “let them eat cake”, but it is true that Mitt Romney has said “let them use the emergency rooms”.

Moving up to the Big Leagues

As the first presidential debate approaches, remaining Romney supporters are touting their candidate’s extensive primary debate experience as a reason why he will do well in Denver on October 3rd and beyond. They can’t be serious.

While Mr. Romney did indeed engage in twenty debates during the primary season, does anyone think that participating in a Klown Karnival qualifies as preparation for debating President Obama on the issues of the day? While practice is important, the level of competition is a critical factor.

Perhaps the Romneyites forget that one of Mr. Romney’s opponents couldn’t even remember his own talking points – Rick “Oops” Perry. Or that Michele Bachmann is at best delusional and may actually be in need of medical supervision – her claim that HPV vaccine causes mental retardation comes to mind.

Other Teapublican candidates that Mitt Romney vanquished included Herman Cain who admitted to having things “twirling around in his head” and Newt Gingrich who thinks that colonizing the moon is a good idea.

And we can’t forget Rick Santorum whose self-righteousness might have been attractive during the Inquisition but doesn’t come off so well in the 21st century. And, rounding out this less than impressive list of debate opponents was Ron Paul who played the part of the cranky old man at all of the debates.

If anyone on the Romney team thinks that debating these Klowns qualifies as useful preparation President Obama’s biggest task may be to steadfastly avoid the pitfalls of overconfidence.

Hedging His Bets

In 2008 then Senator Joe Biden ran for re-election as senator while also running as a vice presidential candidate. Not everyone saw this move as a demonstration of full confidence in the Obama-Biden ticket although some Democrats in Delaware thought it important not to give a certain Teapublican witch named Christine O’Donnell even a ghost of a chance of winning.

Now, in 2012, we have Paul Ryan, another vice presidential candidate who is hedging his bets. While campaigning on the sinking Romney-Ryan ticket he is also campaigning for re-election to Congress in Wisconsin. It cannot be the kind of move that inspires confidence with rank and file Teapublicans.

But then again, perhaps Paul Ryan knows something that they will only find out on November 6th.
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Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 13, 2012

And now Saint Santorum is free to commune with all the other angels in his very interesting mind now that he is no longer a candidate for president. We might be inclined to breathe a sigh of relief except that Lady Macbeth Palin seems to think that Congressman Alan West might be a great candidate for vice president – and which way will the Mitt Romney weathervane blow on that one. And meanwhile, the Tennessee State Legislature seems intent on making sure that any child that goes through the public school system in that state will come out of it dumber than a bag of hammers.

Saint Santorum – R.I.P.

It appears that Saint Santorum, who walks with God and talks with God, is no longer running for president with God. His mean, near-hysterical rants against contraception and gay marriage were carried with the voice of someone with something deep and dark in their own soul. Who knows?

What we do know is that he has succeeded, along with other Tea Party evanzealots, in painting Mitt Romney in the far right corner of the national discourse. If he loses the election, Mr. Romney can thank, in no particular order, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain (yes, Herman Cain), Ron Paul and Saint Santorum for moving every major issue so far to the right that he can’t even spell “middle ground” in the general election.

It remains to be seen whether his “etch a sketch” strategy will work. But the record shows that in order to win the G.O.Tea Party nomination he favored – 1) a draconian anti-immigrant policy, 2) the total defunding of Planned Parenthood, 3) an absolute ban on federal funding for contraception, 4) an ironclad pledge not to raise taxes on anyone under any circumstances and 5) unequivocal support for the Ryan budget plan which calls for the evisceration and elimination of most social services and a host of other programs including the National Endowment for the Arts.

That sounds like a lot of baggage to carry all the way to November 6th. It will be interesting to see how Romney’s “etch a sketch” ploy works in the real world.

What’s Crazier than Alan West? Nothing!

Alan West is a Teapublican congressman from Florida who is known for bragging about carrying a concealed gun to public events. He has also called President Obama a threat to national security and may, on any given day, give the impression that he has taken leave of his senses.

Most recently, Representative West has stated publicly that there are 77-81 members of the Communist Party serving in Congress and that they are all Democrats. One wonders how far he is going to take this crude impression of Joe McCarthy, but as of the writing of this column he remains steadfast an unapologetic.

Into this unfortunate maelstrom marches Sarah Palin, who has yet to wash the blood of Tucson off her hands, suggesting that Alan West would be the perfect Vice Presidential running mate for Mitt Romney. And in the ensuing hush, all you can hear are the crickets chirping.

It is hard to believe that Mitt Romney would be so stupid as to select Alan West as his running mate. But then again, it is hard to believe that John McCain was so stupid as to select Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Somewhere the Obama campaign team is lighting candles and chanting incantations that sound a lot like, “Do it, do it!”

The Tennessee Waltz to Dumbness

The Obama Administration’s campaign to improve public education in this country is entitled “The Race to the Top”. Given that the United States is ranked 26th globally in terms of the performance of its K-12 students, it would seem the absolute wrong time for any responsible public officials to engage in a “race to the bottom”.

However, that is exactly what is taking place in Tennessee where the state legislature has passed legislation permitting public school teachers to present “alternative perspectives on controversial scientific topics”. The translation of this legislation is that it will permit public school teachers to present alternatives on “politically controversial” topics such as evolution, creation and global warming.

Scientists around the globe have settled on the issue of creation and evolution for over a century. While there are debates on the severity and causes of global warming, there is no serious question that global warming is taking place.

In Arizona legislation has been signed into law that defines life as beginning on the first day of a woman’s missed menstrual period. Soon there will be questions about whether the earth is round (or flat) and after that the race to dumbness will be a mad sprint to nowhere.

The saddest part of this story is that there are young men and women who, believing that they can trust their teachers will grow up ignorant even as they go to school. And what this country can ill afford is more ignorance.

Have a great weekend?

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The Teapublican Circular Firing Squad

The G.O.Tea Party Presidential Klown Kavalcade has alternated from being comical to darkly dangerous to farcical to appalling. The constant lurching to the right wing of the right wing has turned the party that was founded around the concept of abolishing slavery to a gaggle of mean-spirited Teapublicans for whom no excess is excessive as long as it is cloaked in the threadbare cloth of conservatism.

The Teapublican Party embarked on an unprecedented strategy of intransigent partisan opposition from the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated as president. There is no policy, no program, no legislation, and no appointment that they have supported if it was seen as part of the Obama Administration. Clearly condemning President Obama to failure as a one term president has been more important than the health and welfare of the American people.

In their gleeful haste to unseat Barack Obama at all costs, the Teapublican candidates have relentlessly attacked each other as being undeserving of wearing the mantle of the G.O.Tea Party Avenger. It is not enough, in this Tea Party parallel universe, to simply defeat Barack Obama. It is of even greater importance that every policy of his be reversed and that the country is subject to reverse social engineering – eradicating every concept of a shared national purpose, compassion and social connectivity.

Saint Santorum has been almost hysterical in his claim that President Obama represents the greatest danger to this country in modern history. His hysteria at the prospect of a second Obama term in office is matched only by his horror at the idea of contraception and the right of women to choose how to live their lives. In Saint Santorum’s world, women have the right to bear children, home school those children and presumably fix meals for their lord and master and his progeny that she has been blessed to bear. And all along he continues to attack Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich has been a walking dead candidate for months, but thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision regular transfusions of billionaire dollars from the outer fringes of the right wing have kept him standing. And so Mr. Gingrich, who presents himself as the smartest person in the room, continues to prove that he is definitely not.

He has shown a remarkable ability to distort and misrepresent the facts, however. His views on the Obama Administration foreign policy have only served to bring clouds of confusion into international dialogue with bellicose rants about Russia, China and Iran. And all along he continues to attack Mitt Romney and Saint Santorum.

Not to be outdone, Mitt Romney has declared Russia as America’s number one geopolitical enemy (leaving some to wonder who is number two, and so on). Aside from revealing a thought process that would be more fitting during an episode of “Mad Men” in the 1960’s, Mr. Romney has shown himself to be willing to say just about anything to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for bile that exists on the right wing of the right wing. And all the while he continues to criticize Saint Santorum and Newt Gingrich for having the nerve to continue to run against him.

Ron Paul continues to be the ultimate outlier, attacking anybody and everybody. In Ron Paul’s world it is clearly each man for himself and women and children had better watch out.

This circular firing squad that the G.O.Tea Party has organized shows no signs of winding down anytime soon. While the nomination of Mitt Romney seems inevitable, it is not inevitable that the Teapublican zealots will embrace a man who has been compared to a well-lubricated weathervane when it comes to his political position(s).

Indeed, it will be interesting to watch when the Klown Kavalcade comes to Tampa for the Republican convention this August. It is hard to believe that the end of what promises to be raucous and riotous proceedings that the Teapublicans will come together and be the wind under Mitt Romney’s wings.

It is quite possible that the true believers, following Saint Santorum as their good shepherd will simply walk away from Mitt Romney and either stay home or run a quixotic third party campaign.

While this scenario makes no logical sense, to quote former president George W. Bush, never “misunderestimate” the zealots.

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It’s Only a Test

In a time when common sense seems to have gone into some kind of witness protection program, insanity parades across the public stage masquerading as common sense. Somehow we are supposed to believe that it is possible to dismantle the federal government and still maintain a quality of life for American citizens that is, at the moment, unsurpassed in world history. Somehow we are supposed to believe that multiple wars are worthy of contemplation and serious consideration. Somehow we are supposed to believe that lowering taxes for the wealthy while diminishing services for most Americans will make this country a better place.

In these times we seek inspiration and solace wherever we can find it. I was attending St. Charles Borromeo Catholic church in Harlem – http://www.churchofstcharlesborromeoharlem.com -with my son this past Sunday and the choir was singing “Its Only a Test”. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s only a test that you’re going through,
It’s gonna be over real soon.
Keep the faith; don’t give up for it’s only a test.

I have tried to keep those lyrics in mind as it seems that the entire country is going through a “testing time”. Perhaps it will help to remember, the next time that Newt Gingrich, a major presidential candidate says that the Obama Administration is the greatest threat to the United States since Nazi Germany, that….” it’s only a test”.

We have seen Ron Paul, yet another major presidential candidate proclaim that, if elected, he would dismantle the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank. We have to remember “….its gonna be over real soon”.

Rick Santorum would have us believe that it is a sign of snobbery for President Obama to want to insure that every American has the opportunity for post high school education – college or technical school. He would also have us believe that the root cause of this country’s problems are somehow connected to the national sex life and, as Saint in Chief, he would ban abortions, contraception and seek to dismantle the American public school system for good measure. We have to remember……….”keep the faith”.

Mitt Romney asks us not believe our lying eyes and to believe that the Obama Administration bailout of the automobile industry didn’t save millions of jobs, even though it did. He also asks us to believe that the Obama Administration stimulus didn’t work although millions of jobs were saved and almost all economic indicators including unemployment and the stock market indices are more positive than they have been at any time in the last four years……..”Don’t give up for it’s only a test”.

It is one of the great historical ironies that the Republican Party, which was formed for the express purposes of opposing and outlawing slavery, has now transformed into the G.O.Tea Party which typically speaks of limiting the rights of blacks, women, gays and lesbians. It also seeks to lessen the protections of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the children that we parent. The Teapublicans seek to dismantle “big government” even though it was big government that created the physical, educational, technological and economic infrastructure that is the modern United States.

The founders of the Republican Party would certainly recoil from the Teapublican vanguard that is so mean spirited that it will refer to women who advocate choice and control over their own bodies as “sluts and prostitutes”. The G.O.Tea Party of today has substituted meanness for compassion and sharp elbowed selfishness for a sense of national community.

In Tampa this summer the Teapublicans will chant for more guns, more wars, lower taxes, fewer social services and schools if you can afford them. That is the mantra of a major political party in the United States in the 21st century……………”it’s only a test”.

We keep waiting for the American public to wake up and realize that the Teapublican would-be emperors have no clothes. They have been stripped naked without even a fig leaf of intelligence, sanity, common sense or compassion. And all the spin masters and Koch-funded attack ads in the world will not change this fact…….”it’s gonna be over real soon”.

As this election year progresses we can hope that the bright light of day and the glare of honest inquiry will reveal the G.O.Tea Party for the destructive and offensive vehicle for change that it is. Certainly the Teapublicans are advocates for change. But it is change that we can never believe in.

It’s only a test.

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Rick Santorum Makes Me Want to Throw Up!

The saga of Saint Santorum continues down a long and winding road that is clearly the route for the race to the bottom – the bottom of indecency, the bottom of untruth, the bottom of misguided zealotry. And just when you think that Rick Santorum has hit bottom (with Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul racing close behind), he finds another bizarre bog in which to wallow.

During this past week a video tape of a 2011 speech by Saint Santorum surfaced in which he stated that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the separation of church and state “made me want to throw up”. When asked about his stone-headed, infantile response last week, Saint Santorum doubled down, clinging to the threadbare logic of his earlier statement and then lying by saying that John Kennedy stated that there was no place for “people of faith” in public service.

The creepy, cringe worthiness of his craven grasping for headlines is appalling. What is more appalling is that there seem to be millions of Americans who find the philosophical slop that is served in the Santorum trough to be delectable and delicious.

It doesn’t seem to matter to Saint Santorum and his brothers and sisters in ignorance that in his 1960 speech John Kennedy actually established a platform whereby men and women “of faith” could participate in the public arena without their faith being an issue. Indeed it is doubtful that Rick Santorum, who clearly believes that flaunting his Catholicism, is a sign that he is a “man of faith”, could even be a serious candidate for president if it were not for the pioneering steps taken by John Kennedy.

And just as clearly, Saint Santorum either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. A good demagogue never lets facts get in the way.

Not satisfied with trashing the legacy of John Kennedy, Saint Santorum continued with his weekly spiel of lies and misrepresentations regarding President Obama. He called President Obama a “snob” because he advocates post-high school education for the young people of this country.

Of course, in his daily dance with the devil, Rick Santorum characterized Barack Obama’s policy as wanting all Americans to go to college, which is simply not true. And then Saint Santorum suffered a severe attack of stupidity by saying that the Obama Administration’s post-high school education policy had as its goal “remaking” Americans in the image of Barack Obama. Psychiatrists everywhere can have a field day trying to figure out the bizarre workings of the mind of Saint Santorum on this one.

And through it all Saint Santorum is clearly on a mission to control and manage the lives of the women of this country in a way not seen since the days of the Puritans. His adamant stance with respect to abortion totally disrespects the concept that every woman should have a choice when it comes to such an intensely personal matter. That he would absolutely oppose such a procedure even in the case of rape or in an effort to save the life of the mother sounds like he is walking around with troglodyte mud on his shoes.

And, of course, his opposition to contraception makes him sound like he is reading from a script written by the same people who gave us “Reefer Madness” sixty years ago. Except now, nobody is laughing.

Santorum’s opposition to women serving in the military is clearly born of some misguided notion of chivalry. And all the while he campaigns for home schooling while terming compulsory public education “a relic of the industrial revolution”.

A combination of the policies of Saint Santorum will result in a country where women will not have the right to control their bodies. Without that control, without unfettered access to public education and with a continued circumscribing of the rights of women in the name of chivalry – this country will be a very sad a backward place as it will betray every hope and dream that made this country “exceptional” even as it has fallen short of attainment of those hopes and dreams.

Every morning it seems as if this will be the day that people finally recognize Saint Santorum for the ridiculous and fraudulent moralistic fascist that he is. And every evening it seems that more Teapublicans prefer Rick Santorum, or anyone else, to Mitt Romney.

What this means for the G.O.Tea Party is hard to tell. But it is clear that everyone else should be very afraid.

Remember November 6th!

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Seriously Mad – Madly Serious

You have to hand it to the Teapublican Party. There is simply no bottom to their barrel of tricks for the American people. The inane bible-thumping loon named Michele Bachmann was replaced by a cowboy with a permafrost brain named Rodeo Rick Perry. A moderately successful pizza salesman by the name of Herman Cain was wildly popular until it turned out he couldn’t tell the difference between a friendship and an affair.

And all along there has been the morally challenged and failed Speaker of the House trying to make us believe that he is an “outsider” even though he has amassed a considerable fortune by working in Washington most of his adult life. Ron Paul continues to bounce off the walls of logic attracting too many people who are too lazy to think through the simplicity of his policy proposals. Mitt Romney points in more directions than a weather vane and has tried to use the power of his Super PAC’s to pound his opposition into submission. And then there is Rick Santorum.

There is a useful rule of thumb in life – beware of the zealots. From Savonarola during the Italian renaissance to the mythical Elmer Gantry to the very real Jimmy Swaggart, zealots always know what is best for you even as they struggle with their own weaknesses and challenges. This is not a psychological column so there will be no analysis of reason why Rick Santorum is the way he is. His very public statements give a very real insight as to what the United States would be like during the administration of President Rick Santorum.

Mr. Santorum has said that public schools are a “relic” of the industrial revolution and should be discarded. On the Planet Santorum education would no longer be the province of the federal government or the state government – or even local government. Education would be the responsibility of parents.
Presumably the children of parents who are themselves educationally challenged would just be out of luck. The same would hold true for the luckless children of parents who have to work and therefore simply cannot afford to stay home and engage in home schooling.

There is so much that is wrong with Rick Santorum and his view on public education. Every reasonable historian will tell you that the establishment of universal, compulsory, free public education during the 19th century is what provided the foundation for this country’s progress in the 20th century. Despite its challenges and faults, the American public education system has made a profound difference in the quality of life for most of this country’s citizens.

There is not a Teapublican who is not a beneficiary of the American system of public education. Even if an individual only went to private schools right through graduate school, we can be sure that the employees of their companies, the drivers of their limousines, the chefs in their kitchens and the pilots of their private jets certainly benefited from public education.

The Santorum campaign states with a straight face that it supports women’s rights even though Saint Santorum is rigidly against a woman’s choice when it comes to abortion, even in the instance of rape (Saint Santorum says that a woman who is pregnant as the result of rape should consider it a “gift from God”) and is also against all form of contraception.

The Santorum campaign sanctimoniously states that it does support the right of a woman to stay whom. Presumably women staying home while barefoot and pregnant, home schooling their children would be the cheery future for all the women who currently aspire to become senators, corporate executives, lawyers, engineers and doctors.

Saint Santorum has also criticized President Obama for not running the country based upon the theology of the Bible, but pursuant to some “other” theology. Presumably this is Rick Santorum’s dog whistle message to evangelicals that he really thinks Barack Obama is a secret Muslim or at the very least some kind of Kenyan, anti-colonialist, “other” mixed race Negro who can never be trusted even if he proclaims himself to be a Christian. And just as clearly, it is Saint Santorum who can tell a genuine Christian when he sees one.

Rick Santorum suffered the greatest defeat ever experienced by an incumbent United States Senator when he lost by 18 points in 2006. Obviously the people of Pennsylvania knew and saw something that millions of American who are now flocking to the Santorum bandwagon do not see.

Saint Santorum is against so many things it is hard to remember what he is for. His zealot’s vision of the United States dangerous because too many people are looking for too many simple solutions.

Beware of the zealots!

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Weekend Edition – January 20, 2012

There is now some legroom in the Teapublican Clown Car, better known as the Republican presidential nomination contest. With the departure of John Huntsman and Rodeo Rick Perry the last clowns standing are named Newt, Rick, Mitt and Ron (it is impossible to make this stuff up). What is clear from watching the most recent South Carolina debate is that reality, logic, common sense and decency have been deported from the G.O.Tea Party leaving us to wonder “what now?” every time one of the remaining candidates opens his mouth.

No More Mr. Nice Guy?

During the past year Congressman Ron Paul poll numbers have been at a steady 20% of Republican voters. That means that 20% of the Teapublican Party thinks that it would be a good idea to dismantle the Federal Reserve System collapsing the world economy in the process. It also means that 20% of Teapublicans think that the federal government is the “enemy” and should be dismantled. That would be the same federal government that inspects our food, safeguards the air and waterways, provides border defense and regulates air, rail and highway traffic while supporting education and healthcare.

It also means that 20% of Teapublicans are not appalled, shocked or offended by the fact that Mr. Paul’s weekly newsletter has for over two decades spewed racist rants as a matter of course. Mr. Paul disavowed the newsletters that bear his name which is like a bank robber pleading innocent even though his fingerprints are all over the safe.

That fully a fifth of the G.O.Tea Party stalwarts have no problem with this racially flawed candidate speaks volumes about the Teapublican concept of race relations and equity in the 21st century.

We need to listen.

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

In the aftermath of the Costa Concordia cruise line disaster in Italy there has been endless analysis and commentary about how such a horrible accident could happen. It appears that there was an avalanche of human error that has brought about death and destruction.

It might be useful to keep in mind that at any point of the day there are hundreds of cruise ships sailing on oceans around the world. That the tens of thousands of passengers arrive safely after enjoyable voyages is not due to luck or good fortune. Rather it is the presence of international and national regulations that serve to protect the passengers and ships.

So the next time a G.O.Tea Party zealot starts to proclaim the sanctity of “market forces” and that there is no need for government regulation of business practices think about how you would feel if your child was riding on an unregulated railroad or your mother was flying in an unregulated airplane. You may also think about how you would feel sitting down to a family meal consisting of uninspected food.

It may give you second thoughts about arguments against government regulation of business practices.

The Business of Government is Business

President Calvin Coolidge is quoted as having said “the business of government is business”. While there is no reason to think that he meant it literally there are many members of the business community, especially G.O.Tea Party zealots who believe that the only thing that government should do is help the wealthy get wealthier.

While wealth is a condition that most would embrace, not everyone is prepared to trample the rights, concerns and conditions of their fellow citizens in its pursuit. Nevertheless, when Mitt Romney contends that he will “not apologize for being successful”; few will question how he came by his enormous wealth. For members of the Teapublican Party success needs no explanation or defense.

It is, therefore, puzzling to say the least, to hear Mr. Romney and his Three Amigos castigate and criticize President Obama for his “bailout” of General Motors which just yesterday regained its position as the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. This is an amazing story since G.M. was pounding on death’s door less than three years ago.

President Obama’s policies saved a great American corporation, saved hundreds of companies that supply G.M. and saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. If indeed the “business of government is business” and President Obama saved a huge business and many more, how could he be wrong?

The answer is that on the Planet Teapublican Barack Obama has never done anything right.

Now that this is clear we can’t wait to ask Mitt, Ron, Rick and Newt – would they really have let G.M. disappear into bankruptcy as president?

Have a great weekend and remember November 6th

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