Matching Grant Challenge
alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. These were Cockburn’s rules for how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, CounterPunch will get a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC (This photo of Alexander Cockburn and Jasper, on the couch that launched 1000 columns, was taken in Petrolia by Tao Ruspoli)
 Day 19

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The Forest and the Trees

The Core Romney

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

Our ideas are only intellectual instruments  which we use to break into phenomena; we must change them when they have served their purpose.

Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine

It is a mark of the truly great man or woman who admits that he or she was wrong, irrespective of how often called upon to make such an admission and when a person is in the public eye for many years it is easy to say things that upon reflection are no longer reflective of one’s core beliefs.  And that helps explain Mitt Romney who is endlessly accused of what is unkindly referred to as flip-flopping.  His flips and flops are not the product of lack of character or conviction nor of expediency but are the result of sober reflection over the years and a thoughtful realization that earlier positions were wrong.

There are, as would be true of all of us, many examples of Mr. Romney changing  his mind upon sober reflection.  The most recent example followed the Supreme Court health care decision. The Obama health care initiative was modeled  after the Massachusetts law that Mr. Romney successfully saw enacted while serving as governor of Massachusetts.  That plan, like the Obama plan, imposes a penalty on those who decline to purchase health  insurance, subject to some exceptions.  When he was governor Mr. Romney explained that that penalty was not a tax but a penalty.  When the U.S. Supreme Court said the identical provision in the health care law was a tax, Mr. Romney immediately recognized the error of his earlier ways and said it was a tax.  (In taking that position he was forced to contradict a close advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, who mistakenly said, soon after the opinion was handed down, that he continued to think it should be called a penalty, fee or fine rather than a tax.)

Some years ago Mr. Romney supported a path for illegal immigrants to become citizens, but a year later he said there should be “no special pathway to citizenship.”  When he ran for the Senate in 1994 and for governor in 2002 Mr. Romney was pro choice.  During a 2002 gubernatorial debate he said:  “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.”  During the2012 primary election season he said he supported the reversal of Roe v. Wade that protects a woman’s right to an abortion. (It is too soon to know if the July 12, 2012 Boston Globe story that says he left Bain Capital three years later than he’s been telling everyone will cause him to change his public position with respect to them.)

All of the foregoing changes of position are easily understandable and I am indebted to the various people who have taken the time to catalogue these and other examples of how Mr. Romney has gone through life with an open mind and changed it when it seemed appropriate.  There is, however, one position he has taken that has not been addressed by any of the commentators and on which he should be asked to say what he would do if elected.  With respect to the health care law and abortion, among other things, he has clearly stated what he will do if elected. He has not said, nor has he been asked, what he will do about trees.

His interest in trees first came to our attention when in January of the 2008 primary season he told an audience that it was a thrill to be in Michigan in the winter “where the skies are cloudy all day, trees are just at the right height. . . .”  And in November 2011 he again repeated his pleasure at being in Michigan where “The trees are at the right height. The grass is the right color for this time of year, kind of a brownish-greenish sort of thing.  It just feels right.”  His fascination with the height of Michigan trees continued when on  February 21, 2012 he told an audience  during a stump speech that he loved Michigan and explaining his affection said that “The trees are the right height.”  Confident of his assertion he later reaffirmed his admiration for Michigan trees to another group using identical wording. The thing that should concern us all is if Mr. Romney changes his mind and decides that the Michigan trees are NOT the right height, will he order the forest service and the park service to take steps to bring all trees in Michigan to the “right height,” an effort that could have huge fiscal implications.  A related question is whether the “right size” for Michigan trees is unique to that state or would he attempt to impose his views on trees in other states.  For a number of years he felt the Massachusetts model of health care should be adopted by the federal government and if he took that approach with trees it would impose a huge burden on the entire nation.

Mr. Romney has not addressed the trees in any meetings with the press  thus far.  Perhaps it will come up at one of the debates.  As a casual observer and not an official advisor to his campaign, I would hope that as he considers the question he not lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Christopher Brauchli is an attorney living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu