There’s just a few more hours…

There’s just a few more hours…

Here in Maryland early voting has ended. My birthday is just a few hours away.

Election day begins on Tuesday, November 6, with the opening of polls as early as 7am, but hundreds of thousands of people have already made their choices in states allowing early voting, or by mail through absentee ballot. This election is still too close to call, despite all the evidence that shows how big money is manipulating our election system.

Based on some reports, we’ve never seen the number of ads, the privately (and hidden) funding, that we’ve seen in this year’s election, the bulk of funding by  the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and other “dark” sources who prefer to put their money where their mouths are.

Meanwhile, of our top two presidential candidates, only one has employed questionable tax shelters to hide his money, kept his financing intentionally vague, because there are things he doesn’t want us to know about how he got his money and where it goes. This man, with the power of the Office of President behind him, has the potential for avoiding any sort of criminal investigation simply by virtue of being President.

“Why should we worry about the Romneys’ money?” I hear this all the time from ultraconservative friends who think Governor Romney’s activities are just fine.  Trouble is, if he isn’t straight with us about his views, how can we be sure of the things he will do once he is in office. Bloomberg just reported on the most likely reason the Romneys won’t release their tax forms: It’s called a Charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT).

For reasons that I suspect have to do more with a GOP-majority House, we haven’t seen a call for investigations on the CRUT, Bain Capital’s Delphi and Sensata transactions, or other questionable activities that would be all over the news if the same could be said for President Obama or for any other Democratic candidate.

What is a CRUT? Wikipedia has a technical answer. The shelter has been around since 1969, but congress changed the loophole in 1997, just after the Romneys took advantage of the shelter. You’d think the Mormon Church would be concerned that the Romneys might not be tithing to their fullest extent, but that’s where misguided faith in leadership can lead.

See, Governor Romney has said he’s not running as a Mormon candidate. I believe he knows too well the damage he will do to his campaign by being associated with his faith. Don’t believe me, listen to his words as he tries to defend his political views on a woman’s right to choose in Massachusetts.

The original video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFkaCji-UDA&feature=related. You can watch as Romney goes from smooth candidate to angry defender of the faith. He walks out of the interview because he knows he can’t say these things on air. The campaign is so tired of walking back his misstatements, he’s now using a teleprompter.

And in all this, there’s the question of who’s voting for him. While President Obama’s supporters are all over the map, there’s a more narrow majority who favor Governor Romney. On Friday, November 2, Slate Magazine ran a sensational and inflammatory piece by Tom Scocca: Why Do White People Think Mitt Romney Should Be President? Parsing the narrow, tribal appeal of the Republican nominee. His likening this campaign to George Wallace’s disastrous run has led to response articles by NewsBusters, but has generated almost no other buzz since posting. Scocca isn’t the only one to notice the disparity, though, despite the Romney campaign’s  strong desire to cast this as applying to 100% of Americans. CBS News ran a piece on October 26, defining Romney supporters as mainly white working class men. That this might insult his other supporters seems irrelevant.

Other aspects, including Hurricane Sandy’s “October Surprise, the real impact of Obamacare and a slow but steady improvement to our economy aren’t putting a dent in the GOP juggernaut. But it all comes down to this, because Romney has run out of options: Elect me or else.

“You know that if the President is re-elected, he will still be unable to work with the people in Congress,” Romney said. “He has ignored them, attacked them, blamed them. The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy.”

I am guessing that most of my readers don’t make more than $200k per year. Many of them are sharing my underemployment boat, scraping by, not partying on private yachts or taking extensive European vacations. We’re not wealthy but we are generally intelligent and we know (most of the time) when we’ve been fed a lie.

Here’s hoping that the end of this political nightmare will bring not just four more years of potential recovery but a real end to obstruction.

Casting the Seeds of Doubt…

Casting the Seeds of Doubt…

Creedless: The lack of any system, doctrine, or formula of religious belief…  (See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/creedless)

As a result of my mother’s incapacitating long-term illness (Multiple Sclerosis), my father raised my sister and me as a single parent, at a time when such things were very far from the norm. Dad, not interested in organized religion, nevertheless instilled in me a wish to understand ethics and live by the Golden Rule as a basis for conduct.

For the first 40+ years of my life, my experience with organized religion came mostly in sound bites, in the form of weddings, funerals, holidays and other special occasions. Most of my friends were Catholic (mainly Italian) or Lutheran. As a child I attended a few services, mostly weddings or confirmations. Occasionally we would attend Passover Seders.

During the summer for more than ten years, we traveled throughout the US and Canada, until my father tired of driving and settled on a summer-house near Garden City, on the shore of Bear Lake, a beautiful spot at the very top of  Utah near the borders of Idaho and Wyoming.

In our travels, Dad took us to Anasazi sites like Canyon de Chelly, Taos, and Santa Fe, all the way west to the Spokane World’s Fair, Eureka, CA and Seattle, north as far as Jasper, AB and south just close enough to Mexico to walk across the border one afternoon. There’s much to tell about those trips, but that’s not the point of this article and I’ll come back to them eventually.

With an architect’s help, Dad designed and built the Utah house on the hill overlooking Sweetwater, the local timeshare where I got my first job (working as a sitter). We visited Salt Lake City about once a year, along with trips to Logan, up to the Grand Tetons and once to Yellowstone and to the Salt Lake Tabernacle’s Temple Square. I traveled out to the house every summer with my sister and Dad until my Junior year of college, when I decided to stay for the Summer Repertory theatre program.

As an adult, my religious exposure ranged from liberal to orthodox in Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, Pagan (several forms), United Methodist and Born-Again Christian traditions, among others.

I visited several UU congregations as part of an ongoing attempt at understanding faith and the Bible, but until 2005, the year I lost eight people in my circle of friends and family (some by association and some directly connected to me), I was not committed to any one religion.

After that terrible year, I sought to make some sense out of the platitudes and sermons or a way to interpret the losses and how people perceived them. I was already experimenting with the idea of committing to a congregation when we attended our first service at what I now consider my spiritual home, in January, 2006.

In the spring of that year, I signed the Membership book and became an official member of our Unitarian Universalist congregation. Since then I have worked hard to better understand other faiths in their context. I suppose that’s part of what makes the story below so horrifying to me.

From MetroActive come two stories of the internal life of Mitt Romney, not known until recently because there is pressure to keep such things private, within the confines of the faith.

Based on these stories, it seems that Romney talks a good Moderate game when coached to do so, but even through coaching his true opinions often leak out through the cracks, causing his campaign staff to “walk back” the things he has said.

Witness the flak caused by his “Binder full of women” comment. The men in my circle of friends have generally not understood what the fuss was about, but the women, especially those in the workforce, understand all too well.

These two related articles are well worth the read:

Mitt Romney’s Pregnancy Problem: Mormon women’s recollections of Bishop Romney’s advice raise questions about how moderate he really is

and

A Mormon Woman’s Manifesto: It Is a Moral Imperative to Treat Women as if They Truly Mattered

Reading these two articles brought me to this profile of Judy Dushku on The Mormon Women Project (http://www.mormonwomen.com/). Her profile raises questions for me of what the Mormon Church thinks of these women. I would call them pioneers for a new age. I suspect Gov. Romney would call them something else: Boat-rockers who belong in the kitchen, not in public.

Despite his protestations of moderation, Romney’s condescending remarks at the second Presidential debate about filling key positions in his gubernatorial staff with qualified women helps to expose an underlying story that paints a different picture of his views on women and their value in society.

President Obama’s sudden adoption of the term Romnesia comes closest to describing Romney’s convenient inability to remember the facts as they come to light. That these facts are damning is no less true, whether he admits to them or not.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.