Friday, December 28, 2012

Conversation with a masochistic voter.

Many of Romney's eschewed 47% voted for him and will continue to vote for republicans who, while they are more tactful than Romney, share his disdain and his lack of empathy or support for them. They continue to vote against their own best interests and no amount of logic, fact or history will change them.  Some are republican because their parents or peers are republicans.  This is probably offset by as many democrats who do the same.

My concern or question is why do seemingly politically engaged poor republicans do so; not just poor but people whose well being is very much dependent on public policy favored by democrats. They are disrespected by the party they vote for and when they hear it from politicians, as they did from Romney,  there is a disconnect.  "They are talking about my democratic friends, not me," they tell themselves.

Some of it can be explained by emotion packed so called "wedge issues."  Gay marriage and other gay rights such as their right to serve in the military has been used successfully both in national political campaigns as well as local ones.  Now the general public support of these gay rights have become more populist and have turned the tables on the republicans.  Gun  rights have decided at least one national election and who knows how many local ones.  The democrats have finally given this one up. Unfortunately, the recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticutt, has given it legs again and if the democrats don't let it pass they may revive the republican party in 2014.  Truth is, while gun control laws are intrinsically healthy, they would be ineffective in controlling killings like in Newtown or Columbine; this would require a change in morality not gun laws.

Abortion or a woman's right to choose has been effective for republicans but public sentiment has also changed here and it is no longer used effectively by republicans.  In fact, extremism in so called "right to life" candidates have lost a couple of national elections.

Racism has always been a factor in people voting for candidates who support issues not in their own best interest. Not just the race of the candidate him or herself as with Obama but the position of the candidate on issues that effect race.  For example, many vote against welfare issues even though they are negatively effected by voting against them but because of the ingrained belief by many whites that welfare is just about Africa Americans. The civil rights movement of the 60's turned voters of an entire part of the United States, from democrat to republican.  It's true that these voters were republican mostly because of the post Civil War era policies of the republican party and many times voted against their own best interest because of their customized reaction to the history of the republican party; another example of self damaging voting behavior. Today this same low information voting pattern works to the republican's advantage and along with racism explains the deadly virulent hatred for Obama and the democrats.

Another reason for poor people to support less government involvement, hence republican, because they consider themselves as tough individualists who would become part of the upper class if government would just get out of their way. The truth is that upward mobility is possible but not common and becoming more difficult. Another problem in their thinking is that they see no quid pro quo relationship when they buy government services with their tax dollar as they do when they lay a buck on the counter for a loaf of bread. Their reasoning capability or energy just does not make the connection. To them the highways are just there.

The above examples can be explained rationally - not reason by the voters themselves, but by reason in understanding their voting  patterns.  Others are not so easily explained. I will never understand why police officers are predominantly conservative and vote republican. I was a cop for 26 years and it has been my experience that democrats, as a rule and on the average, support higher pay and better benefits for public employees. It's true that liberal judges tend to be softer on criminals as seen in the exclusionary rule but cops voted for republicans before the Miranda Decision. Exemplifying this schizophrenia on the part of cops is the California police union, PORAC, who supported Governor Brown as a body but voted against him as individual members. In spite of the fact, that the NRA supports the free sale of armor piercing ammunition and things like finger proof pistol handles, cops support them and many even are members. I am speaking from personal experience which has been predominantly with California cops.  Also, this may be changing with the recent movement toward unionization by cops and republican attacks on public unions. The bottom line is, their has been no rational explanation for political leanings of cops.

it is also difficult to explain the penchant for servicemen to be conservative.  I can understand the professional servicemen who favor the republicans because they have historically, perhaps with the exception of pre-WII,   been for larger military outlays and recently, and ominously, have become part of the military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned. They see more opportunity for professional advancement with republican administrations.  This is rational and understandable. Now, with the all volunteer army, it might also be rational, if not correct, for enlisted men to vote republican.

The epitome of enigmatic voting patterns was demonstrated to me in a recent conversation with a army veteran.  He joined for the minimal enlistment period but was caught in the Iraq war and was held in the service by the stop loss feature of military duty; he was too valuable to be released.  He ended up being discharged after ten years. He is now going to school on the GI Bill and has been the recipient of federal unemployment compensation.

Army veteran, entering the room:  Well, thanks to Obama my unemployment compensation is ending in December.

Me:  Obama is not responsible for the termination of your unemployment benefits. He wants to entend them. The republicans want them to end.

AV:  Well, if he was more cooperative, they could come to an agreement.

Me:  You mean more cooperative by agreeing to end your unemployment benefits?

AV:  No, I mean more cooperative in other ways.

Me:  So, you like government benefits for yourself but not for others.

AV:  Blank stare.

Me:  By the way, who is paying your tuition to go to school?

AV:  It's part of the GI Bill.  I earned it.

Me:  I agree. You did earn it, but the republicans voted against it. Also, I earned my social security but the republicans want to end it.

AV: No they didn't.

Me: No they didn't what? Vote against the GI Bill or want to end my Social Security.

AV:  Vote against the GI Bill.  I'm against entitlements, we can't afford them.

Me:  Yeah, they did vote against it, check it out.  While you're at it check out privatization of Social Security by Paul Ryan.  It's easy to find on Google.

AV:  That's not what Fox News says!

Me:  Fox News is wrong.  Check it out for yourself.

AV:  Blank stare...then, I will but I know they are right.

Me: So you won't check it out for yourself, will you.

AV:  Blank stare.

Me:  BTW, why did you vote for Romney after he said you were irresponsible and part of the 47% that didn't pay taxes and didn't want to take charge of your own life.

AV:  He didn't actually mean that and besides I hate Obama.

Me:  Why do you hate Obama.  He and the democrats have given you free tuition and unemployment benefits and you've never had a job except in the army and your salary was paid by taxes.  In fact, you've never earned a dollar that wasn't paid for by taxes.

AV:  Because he embarrassed the military by apologizing to the Europeans.

Me:  When did he apologize, who did he apologize to and what for.

AV:  Fox News and Romney said he went on an apology tour to the Middle East and Europe.

Me: What did he apologize for?

AV:  For everything!

Me: For example?

AV: Blank stare.

Me:  When President Obama began his term, he made a number of speeches in the middle east and elsewhere -- all designed to forge better ties with Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America, but he never apologized to anyone for anything...Although, many think an apology is in order for invading Iraq on false pretenses and without UN Sanctions. The truth is American relations are better with other nations and we are more respected than we were when Bush was president. 

AV:  That's not what Fox News says.  

Me:  You need to expand your horizon.  Try watching CNN or the networks.

AV, with renewed vigor:  Obama wants to increase taxes - right in the middle of a recession.

Me:  We're not in a recession, we're in a slow recovery and he doesn't want to raise your taxes.  Number one, you're not paying taxes, you're part of Romney's irresponsible 47%, and number two the taxes are going up for everyone because the republicans won't agree on making the Bush tax cuts permanent for incomes below $250,000 unless they include the ones making more.  

AV:  Blank stare. That's not what Fox News says.

Me:  Hopeless blank stare.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Obama facing the most dangerous crisis since JFK in the missile showdown.

With the exception of the Civil War, Cuban missile, Pearl Harbor and the 1929 crash, America is in more danger than it has been in the last 100 years. What makes this one unique is it is entirely self inflicted and could be resolved in 24 hours. It won't be. While I don't agree with the major recommendations of the link above, they have accurately described the situation - at least at the time. Unfortunately, it has worsened and, sadly, just as we are on the brink of avoiding exacerbation of the situation. If we do not agree on a budget before the end of the year, we are going over the cliff and the consequences are frightening.

While Obama's plan is not perfect, in fact it is not totally accepted by his base (I personally do not totally agree with it.), it would go a long way toward reducing an over hyped deficit and would keep the weak recovery moving in the right direction - maybe even accelerate it a little.  It is being prevented by 51 members of the House of Representatives; the Teaparty caucus, fianced by the Koch Brothers and corporate lobbying groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and American for Prosperity. Speaker Boehner has been unable to move them out of their totally intransigent position and has only made himself less effective and less credible with his transparent and feeble attempts to shift responsibility onto Obama. Too many members of this group are amateur legislators or ignorant ideologues who campaign on the idea that government doesn't work and are willing to destroy the economy to prove it. Their short-sightedness and that of their corporate sponsors is reminiscent of the high rollers of 1928.

The crisis Obama faces goes beyond the current situation. The plight of 15 million out-of-work Americans and their families is sad enough without being forced into another world depression. Our proclivity for economic colonialism along with our insistence on being the only world superpower and, therefore, the universal police agency has put us into a dilemma that could be fatal. Wealth is usually needed to underpin military power, and military power is usually needed to acquire and protect wealth. While worrying about their foes, states playing in the world arena must constantly maintain a delicate internal equilibrium. Armies are required for security, but they cost money. Military superiority by itself is often deceiving, since it may be weakening a state's ability to compete economically and fund future conflicts.

We simply have to protect our borders by ending our oil wars and keeping our military at home; and with economic policy that stops jobs from going overseas as we create non-exportable jobs at home. We need to become totally independent, not of foreign oil, but of globalized American oil corporations.  We need to protect our borders from the importation products produced by firms like WalMart using slave labor.  It would be naive to believe that Obama's proposed economic plan would do all that but it would be a positive step in the right direction and would reverse the destructive policies of the last 30 years that have concentrated too much wealth at the top and is fast reducing the middle class to irrelevance as consumers. 

We will not get any cooperation with the 51 egocentric corporate sycophants and Obama will be tested as no president has since FDR.  There are ways to address the automatic spending cuts and to adjust the tax structure without their help. America's future depends on his success.  To be perfectly honest, I wish Hillary Clinton, whom I didn't support, was president but she isn't.

In the words of William Shakespeare, "Some people are born great, some people achieve greatness and some people have greatness thrust upon them."  Let's hope that Obama falls under one of those categories. America may well be in the balance.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On life support, the Teaparty may still prove their theory.

That is,  that government doesn't work. They consider the destruction of the economy as collateral damage.  The Tea party started out sincerely enough.  It was born in February, 2009, and with the help of networking sites like Twitter and Facebook grew to the point that 28% of voters had a positive attitude toward it. They held a seemingly politically impossible melange of complaints and grievances.  The unifying thread that tied them together was hatred of big government, big business and Obama.  Their early protests focused on the 
stimulus package, the bank bailouts, and health-care legislation.  As their demonstrations spread and they invaded the town hall meetings, their militancy grew and the movement was commandeered by Dick Armey's FreedomWorks Organization - the right's answer to  The final end to the movements grass roots quality came with the takeover by the Koch Brothers who re-purposed them for a fight for capitalist fascism and against democracy.  

They were heavily finance in the 2010 elections and won some key elections. The fear of their political power paralyzed the main-stream republican party and, in effect, this radical movement took over. With minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Tea party favorite, at the helm, the republican party's main goal became the failure of President Obama. Obama had a successful two years passing some major legislation but after the 2010 elections, the GOteaParty used the filibuster a record 360 times to stall economic recovery.  Their radicalism cost the GOP dearly in the recent elections and the conventional wisdom saw a realignment of the party with the new reality and cooperation on the reduction of the deficit and stimulation of the anemic recovery.  It hasn't happened and probably won't.

Efforts of Speaker Boehner for unification have gotten nowhere.  He hasn't even been an effective liar - though he has tried.  Obama has already gone further with his concessions than he has promised his liberal base and there has been NO movement toward compromise by the Republican controlled House.  Don't overlook the roll that racism has played in the national politick  The Birther movement is still alive and infects many, if not most, of the Neorepublican party. The thin veneer of decency and tolerance of a relatively small group of our citizenry has been overcome by their reemerging and now un-controlled hatred. These people have taken over the Republican Party and have become irrationally vocal. You saw them at the Town Hall meetings where they completely blocked any dialogue.

They have kept their racism and hatred below the surface for the past thirty years or so because blatant racism became unpopular. Now the election of an African American president has brought it back to the surface. They are so blind with rage, they no longer care what decent people think. They have retreated into their own ideological commune; unfortunately, they have pulled the bulk or a large share of the once honorable republican party along with them. Of course there has always been the animosity between the right and the left that had nothing to do with race. But the re-emergence of racism has intensified that as well. Politics has become ugly and has to a large extent grown to define friendships. I can remember when you were more likely to get into a shouting match over whether your Ford was better than his Chevy than over who was running for president.
Predictions of the consequences of the so-called fiscal cliff vary with economists but are so dire that most cannot conceive of not finding some kind of compromise.  In my view, going over the cliff will result in a new economic failure at least as bad as 1929.  Do the radicals in the House care? Not really, like so many in 1929, they think they are bullet proof. They are not. It looks like they are going to prove that government does not work - at least as long as they hold office.  I see a race toward the 2014 elections.

Monday, December 17, 2012

We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us!

Here we go again!  Still another mass killing and the same old outrage and litany of panaceas; and once again, the emotion will recede, the NRA money will start talking again and nothing will change significantly and in a few months, it will happen still again! Here is a list of the most prominent solutions:

1. A ban on assault weapons and conversion kits.  Who can logically argue against this?  No one; but the NRA, backed by gun nuts,  will argue against  it illogically (more guns not fewer - arm the students!) and effectively. Gun control advocates in supporting their position after a horrific mass killing like Columbine or Newtown will use the specious statistics of killings in and around the home; domestic violence, suicides and accidents.  The problem here is that these killings don't involve assault weapons.  A ban on assault weapons would have had no effect in Columbine because this assault was planned for days and illegal  weapons are available. It would not have had an effect in Newtown because assault weapons were not used.

2.  Background checks by gun dealers.  Once again, who can logically argue against this?  Again, no one; but the NRA and their sycophants will do it effectively with the color of money. As in Columbine, this would not have had any effect. Illegal guns are readily available.  It would not have stopped the Newtown murders because the owner of the guns would have passed a background review.

3.  Identification of and treatment for mentally disturbed.  A poignant and convincing argument for this approach was made by Liza Long, using a real situation with her son that has the potential of becoming another Newtown-like killing.  Who can argue with the logic of this approach? No one; and the program has intrinsic value beyond mass killings.  The problem is that it takes money and would be opposed by the same group who oppose an assault weapons ban...or any gun control laws.  It is doubtful, also, that any program could be effective in reaching enough disturbed people to be effective.

4.  A ban on all guns.  This is the only law that could be effective but WILL NEVER HAPPEN. The state of New York comes the closest to such a ban but with local controls superseding state law, a patchwork of rules and regulations has made the law difficult to enforce and minimally effective.  What the New York law has done is successfully challenged the gun lobby claim that gun control laws are in violation of the 2nd Amendment. It is obvious that the amendment was not intended to permit the unfettered possession of arms by the general public. Such a law, a total ban, would be opposed emotionally and effectively by a majority of US voters whose love of the gun may be as strong, or stronger, than the love of the automobile. There are a number of reasons people want guns in their home:

Self protection. This is a legitimate concern but futile. I have a gun for such a reason but am under no delusion that it is anything more than visceral and would have no problem turning mine in if required by law.

Hunting weapons.  The love of hunting in pervasive.

Gun collections.  Many people have an interest in weapons historically. Personally, I would be interested in visiting a museum to see all the weapons I was trained to use while in the army.  I don't need them in my family room, however. Many gun collectors, however, transcend an historical interest and have become part of the small but growing militia mindset.  They see themselves as the last line of defense against a tyrannical government which is inexorably, and by conspiratorial design, destined to enslave the people. This feeling was apparent during the early so called town hall meetings which gave birth to the Teaparty.  These meetings, sponsored by those like the Koch Brothers, were attended by a group who had grievances that were inconsistent with each other.  The one thing they had in common was the unwillingness to accept an African American as president.  The use of guns, as displayed at their rallies,  was seen as the "final solution" to their dilemma.

For whatever reason, violence and guns have become part of the American montage.  It pervades our government, entertainment and international politics.  I don't pretend to understand how this happened.  We are like Sicily with organization.  Killing is still the paramount part of the "final solution."  We still worship the "wild west." Movies like the spaghetti westerns didn't make us like this, our attitude inspired the spaghetti westerns.  Clint Eastwood and the Duke never even stuck around long enough to bury their victims. It has finally pervaded our national policy.  We no longer defend our country with troops on the ready in our borders.  The 82nd Airborne, America's guard of honor, is deployed in the middle east.  Dick Cheney's one-percent doctrine was the unannounced but de facto policy of the Bush Administration. We invaded Iraq using the excuse, the public one anyway, that they might someday have nuclear weapons and might someday use them against us.  Hundreds of thousand Iraqis were killed, along with thousands of Americans,  because of it.

We have learned that this kind of murder is too expensive so have pared our preemptive murders, with the Drone attacks, down to where a minimal number of people are killed in order to kill someone who might have planned an attack against us or might someday do so.  No one can argue the effectiveness and economy of this approach but an American should ask how many innocent victims is it appropriate to kill in order to prevent another 9/11. We like to call ourselves a Christian nation, in fact there are some who will kill to prove it, but we need to ask the question in considering the above question, "What would Christ do?"

Is it terribly surprising that a mentally or emotional disturbed person, or an out of control malcontent, would resort to guns and murder as their "final solution"? We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us!

Recmmended reading.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Obama just blinked - AGAIN!

He just told the GOteaParty that he has no stomach for infighting.  Any chance for any concessions from the Koch boys was just killed.  They are now sure he will blink. I don't know if Rice was qualified or not but everyone except John McCain seemed to think so...including Obama when he showed his first and only signs of a temper defending her against McCain.

And how about McCain.  What a wee man he has become! Placing his own petty self interests over the good of the country and throwing the career of a young woman under the bus for doing absolutely nothing wrong. He exploited an image of heroism, an image that he helped create, into a powerful position in the Senate and a run at the White House. There is no question that  he made a sacrifice but it wasn't something that he volunteered for. Hundreds of pilots flew dangerous missions over Viet Nam; he just happened to get shot down. And his behavior as a POW was not heroic.  He made propaganda tapes for the enemy and later blocked investigation into the plight of over 100 missing prisoners of war still believed to me in Viet Nam after the war. He was severely criticized by his own party for doing so.

What happened to the man that people of both parties admired - that I admired.  What happened to the man that rose above criticism and spoke out for what he believed.  How has he degenerated into what he has become?  Is it bitterness at Obama for defeating him and keeping him from his dream? Is it senility, or is it fear of becoming irrelevant; a fear of a descent into political oblivion.  His last significant act may well be to force this nation into economic chaos.

I'm reluctant to face this possibility because I supported him and contributed, generously for my means, to his campaign but I am beginning to fear that he is frightened warrior.  Does anyone doubt that Donna Rice, had Hillary won the election and chosen her, would have been confirmed.  As much as I dislike Bush, and everything he stands for, and his disastrous presidencey, he had guts and would have backed his nominee for such an important office. Obama can forget about the republicans blinking...they are now confident that he will.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Right to work means no rights at all!

I watched an old move called "Days of Heaven" a couple of days ago.  It was about three migrant farm workers in 1910 America.  It started with a group of migrant workers waiting for a ranch foreman to pick some out of the group to work harvesting wheat on an East Texas farm.  The story, a sad and poignant one, evolved out of the travails of the migrant workers in general and these three specifically.  It was narrated by one of the three, a young girl about 10 years old.  While showing the group hard at labor, the little girl said,
"They didn't care about us, they could replace any of us anytime they chose."  That simple statement describes the plight of the American worker, even skilled workers, before unions.

I was born in 1929 and lived through the depression.  I experienced poverty as bad as ever experienced in the USA.  It was nearly universal and those hardest hit had absolutely no control of their plight.  We lived in a shack without floors or plumbing.  My dad worked in a coal mine in Utah 12 hours a day for barely enough to eat.  We moved out of the mines and my father got into the construction business. I remember being told about the workers following a material truck to a job site were the contractor opened up reverse bidding for a day or two's work; many times for enough to barely buy gas back home. "They didn't care about the workers, they could replace any of them anytime they wanted."

Years later, in Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" I read about the dust bowl victims doing the same thing for ranchers in California.  Fruit was rotting on the trees and people were starving because they couldn't afford to buy it; and the ranchers couldn't give it away, obviously, so they tried to lower the price by lowering wages but with such low wages, the workers still couldn't afford to buy food.  The ranchers "didn't care about the pickers, they could replace any of them anytime they wanted." Even as the depression was ending, they could still replace any of them anytime they wanted and the workers were totally at the mercy, of which there was none, of the ranchers.

Then a funny thing happened, someone convinced the workers that if they bonded together they could demand, as a group, a decent price for their labor. The American Federation of Labor was formed and the Roosevelt administration passed a law, The Wagner Act, formally the National Labor Relations Act which gave workers the right to organize into unions and to discuss the unionization in the work place.  From that day on businesses still didn't care about the workers but they couldn't replace them anytime they wanted. The American middle class was born that day.  Things improved for the worker steadily and unions grew stronger during and after the big war.  Ironically, businesses and entrepreneurs also thrived.  The pie grew bigger and everyone was satisfied with their share of the pie.

When I graduated from high school, I went to work as a lather.  For the first time in years, I no longer lived on welfare.  I had to wait from June, 1947, until November to get in the union.  No one could work in the building trades, at least in Southern California, unless they were in the union. It was a nuisance  to me at the time;  the contractors still didn't care about us but they couldn't replace us anytime they wanted - at least not all of us.  Things were looking up for me.   As an apprentice and later as a journeyman and then a forman, I made good wages and supported a family of four in a little home I bought with no down payment thanks to my VA loan for which I qualified as a Korean War veteran.

It's a natural act for business owners to want to make more money.  It's as natural as beasts of the forests killing smaller or weaker animals for food.  The object of any business is to make a profit, as big a profit as possible - regardless of what happens to the consumer, product quality or worker, or even to future profits; and businesses, the big ones, the corporations, saw the elimination of bargaining rights of workers as a way to enhance those profits; and aided by Ronald Reagan, the father of the incorporation of America, they began to chip away at the bargaining power of collective bargaining.  One of the crown jewels of the union killing was the so called "Right to Work laws," passed state by state, which made closed shops illegal. These laws were the death knell of collective bargaining in those states.  These laws have lowered average wages where implemented.

I retired as a building contractor in California and moved to Southern Utah in 1991, I was forced by circumstances into resuming my business there.  I didn't want to hire a framing crew so I subcontracted the framing to a friend in the area. I kept close records of my expenses and had started to use a computer. I learned the workers, in all trades,  were payed about 20% less than in Sacramento but the price of the homes, extrapolating for the cheaper land was exactly the same.  None of the savings were passed on to the consumer. Furthermore, not one of the workers who I got to know could afford to buy one of my homes. They were all bought by people moving into the area from out of state- mostly California.  In other words, "they didn't care about the workers, they could have replaced them anytime.

Right to work mean no rights at all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Obama's "Economy Built to Last" is a good start but needs fleshing out.

President Obama has presented a six part plan for a new economy. It's heavy on campaign promises and a little light on substance but the plan is logical. The proof will be in the details.  One thing Obama has to remember, and it's not clear that he understands, that this is no time for austerity - a focus on spending cuts. The net effect of his program has to be an infusion of money into the economy.  Austerity in Europe has been a dismal failure. A cut back in government spending in response to a reduction in private investment is insane and doomed to failure. All but the most reactionary economists have accepted the axiom of Keynesian economics.  Unfortunately, this group includes too many in the neoRepublican party or the Koch funded Teaparty. In reality, they probably recognize it but choose to ignore it in favor of personal short term gain.

It is true that the increase in the marginal tax rate due in January will reduce the deficit without cutting into consumption.  It is also true that the savings on expenditures on the oil wars could be used on infrastructure which would create jobs at the same time as improve the quality of life.  The problem here is, Obama's plan is to use half of those savings for deficit reduction.  I don't pretend to know the numbers but it is doubtful that  half of any such savings would not provide much funding for infrastructure, if any.  It is questionable that there will actually be any savings since, to a large extent, troops have been replaced with corporate employed "contractors" who are paid exorbitant salaries and their bosses make obscene profits.  The deficit, an emotion laden word, must be considered in perspective - size vs the gross domestic product, GDP, or our national income. It is not as high as it has been in the past and has actually receded receded under Obama. Some, monetarists, say some deficit is useful because it permits adjusting economic activity through monetary policy. Through open market operations, short term interest rates and the money supply can be expanded or contrasted depending on inflation and unemployment rates.

The president's plan:

Innovation: Not much here.  More of a "look what I've done" than a plan for bringing jobs back. He says he has a plan to bring jobs back to the U.S. by eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and creating incentives for businesses to bring jobs back to America.  Those are both good ideas but it will take more. He needs to look at Alexander Hamilton-like tariffs. He should make the price tag on exported industries so high that it would be cheaper to make them here. Another thing that would make American manufactured goods more competitive would be to take the burden of retirement costs and health care off their backs by a single payer health care system and a federal retirement plan.

Tax reform:  The president calls for restructuring the tax rates to shift more of the burden of taxes on the upper income groups. He emphasized paying down the debt, and that is important, but that needs to wait until the economy is more solid.  Taxes and expenditures redistribute wealth every fiscal period.  Since the Reagan years, income accumulation has moved from top to bottom.  The middle class is on life support.  A healthy economy depends on a middle class and a strong middle class depends on unions. The Great Depression was caused by lack of purchasing power and excessive speculative investment due to money being concentrated in investors instead of consumers. The same was true in 2008.  The disparity in income became larger than it was in 1929.  Only government intervention saved us from a crash worse than in 1929.

Nation building at home:  The president calls for an end to the oil wars and using the money to pay down the debt and improve a broken down infrastructure. He needs to change the amount he plans of debt reduction to less than half.  Recover and an expanded tax base will reduce the debt quicker than taking money out of circulation.  He also needs to get the private contractors out of the war. We need to know how much this is costing and who the contractors are.

Invest in clean energy made in America.  He has a good plan but it doesn't go far enough and there has to be more discussion regarding the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing.  This may be something that is more dangerous than burning fossil fuel. We also need to place more emphasis on renewable energy.
Oil companies have to be brought under control. American mined oil should remain in America and a heavy tariff should be placed on imported oil. A globalized oil industry is not in America's best interest.  Hybrid and electric vehicles should be subsidized as should development of public transportation - including fares.

Education:  Make it easier to go to college by cheaper loans and aid to state and local schools enabling them to reduce tuition and attract and retain good teachers.  He also needs to put a halt to the privatization of public schools through the charter system.

Health care: The Affordable Health Care Act was a good start and will bring health care to millions more Americans as it's provisions are  implemented. It will help many but it doesn't go far enough. We need a single payer system or at least a government option (which will eventually lead to a single payer through the market system)

recommended reading

Monday, November 26, 2012

Koch owned Teaparty hasn't changed a thing...

They have just adjusted the emphasis on their talking points. There will be no compromise for them.  They still insist on obfuscating facts:

1. They insist that raising taxes will hurt the economy.  They refuse to, or are unable to, differentiate the targets for the tax increase.  They know very well that an increase of 3.5% of the marginal rate on incomes over $250,000 will not change consumption patterns.  It may, however, change investment patterns.  Perhaps there will be less wild speculation like in 2008 (and 1929). on the other hand an increase on taxes on the middle or lower classes will drastically effect consumption and will derail the fragile recovery.  The GOteaParty is still willing to do that even knowing that it will lead to another disaster in November, 2014.

2. Those who ostensibly have indicated a willingness to compromise by raising taxes are using the Ryan/Romney "closing loopholes" ploy - which WOULD have an impact on consumption and would have little or no effect on the deficit.  Cutting out deductions for charitable contributions would be the death knell for charities like salvation army and the Red Cross who depend on private contributions for funding.  Not only would it have an insignificant effect on the deficit, it would place more burden on the backs of those the least able to afford it - Romney's 47%.

3. Some are trying to give the impression of flexibility by agreeing to tax rate increases as long as they are accompanied by cuts in entitlements.  They are still throwing the word around like it was a dirty word.  They are talking about social security and medicare.  The know that is unacceptable to liberals.  It is a futile attempt to make the liberals look like the bad guys.

4. Spending cuts are viable. Specifically, in the defense budget and in contracts with corporations replacing our troops in the oil countries.  Their presence there has nothing to do with national security.  They are there for the benefit of the oil companies even though we are now an oil or energy fuel exporter now.  A world source gives the global oil companies a more flexible way of getting oil to the most lucrative markets with no sympathy or regard for American consumers. Terrorist are criminals not soldiers and we are not at war. We have a crime problem. They will never invade us and our contractors cannot stop acts of terrorism. Hunt them down and bring them to justice.  If we brought the contractors home, along with our troops, and let the Bush tax cuts expired for the upper income group, we have nearly balanced the budget.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hey, Mr. Boehner, your side lost....

We liberals, progressives, and other sane citizens just hope that President Obama remembers that.  We also hope he remembers how Lucy kept pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown when he tried to kick it. Please don't let them make you look that foolish again.

The  fact is in the upcoming deliberations is that our most important problem is the level of economic activity and jobs - not only the number of jobs but the quality of jobs.  We don't want to bring the unemployment rate down by increasing the number of fast food employees working below minimum wage! That means returning bargaining power through collective bargaining.

Now is not the time for fiscal austerity.  The deficit is a problem, of course, but there is no imminent danger from it's size.  The deficit is always considered as a percentage of the GDP or gross domestic product. People like to compare the federal government to the American family: "They have to balance their budget and so must the government." Actually,  most families don't balance their budget. Most finance their homes and major purchases like automobiles.  As long as they can make their payments along with other bills  and, hopefully, put some money into their savings, they are fine.  In other words the important thing is the ratio of their payments to their income.  Government debt as compared to GDP is not dangerously high.  It was 113% of GDP at the end of WWII and we literally spent our way out of it by sending veterans to college and investing on highways and financing new home purchases. As employment and wages rose, revenue increased and GDP expanded as the deficit came down.

During the Obama administration the budget deficit has shrunk; not total debt but the annual deficit. The real danger is not an increasing budget deficit, it is to the fragile recovery that Obama's republican scaled-down stimulus has managed to produce. Now is no time for austerity as we have learned, or should have learned, in Europe. What is needed is Obama's proclaimed program of economic growth through spending on infrastructure, energy research and development and investment in education.

Probably the most publicized issue is the argument over the "Bush tax cuts" which end in Janurary.  The Obama position and the most rational is to let them end for the upper incomes (above $250,000) and extend them for the middle and lower income groups - some 90% or more of the tax payers.  This approach is popular and the GOteaParty is in trouble opposing it - but it looks like they will.  The logic of the Obama position is simple.  Increased taxes at the high end will cut into the deficit without any impact on consumption.  Increasing taxes on the lower incomes will reduce consumption because lower income people spend more of their total income on consumer goods.  Economists call it the marginal propensity to consume or how much of each additional dollar of income will be spent.

Concomitant to tax structure is income disparity.  Historically, income concentration at the top has been  the genesis of recessions or, in the case of 1929, a world wide depression.  Income inequality is the highest today that it's been since 1929. Wealth redistribution is not a socialist ploy as the conservatives like to say, it's a necessary function to keep money where it will be spent on the right things. It's necessary for a balance of investment and consumption. There is nothing wrong with being mega rich. A lot of good things happen to the economy when people are in the process of obtaining wealth but, as Obama said, they didn't do it alone and wealth comes with responsibility.  The wise wealthy, and I believe this is most of them, realize that they need a vibrant middle class.  The right likes to claim to be a Christian nation, and of course, most Americans are Christian but "believing IN Christ" doesn't alway include "Believing Christ."  Christ tells us to share our wealth with the poor and take care of the weak. The Christian right doesn't believe that. Their candidate expressed their contempt for what he called the 47% who refuse to take charge of their own right before the elections and then reinforce his commitment to this view in his excuse to his donors for losing so badly.

As we approach what I believe will be a rerun of the last two years, Boehner and the right need to remember that there will be another reckoning in 2014 and that they will only be hurt further by irrational intransigence.

The following is taken from "msgirlintn" comments on the Huffington Post blog.

As long as Boehner is still campaigning for the 2010 elections, he is not serious about the sequester cuts or avoiding the tax increases that will affect every American on January 1, 2013. Republicans aren't interested in cutting the debt when they insist on tax cuts for the richest among us that don't help the economy and only add to the nation's debt.

Republicans are the ones 

FACT:  Boehner appointed Paul Ryan as his spokesman for the debt negotiations.  Paul Ryan's plan was soundly defeated in an election held just a few days ago.  Americans rejected the notion of raising tax rates for middle income Americans, cutting programs for the poor, the elderly, and the disabled just to give tax cuts to millionaires and people like Romney who pay less than middle income Americans do now.

FACT:  These cuts that are looming at the end of the year are a crisis that was manufactured by the House Republicans.  They thought that it was a good idea to force a sequester with deep cuts rather than allow the nation to pay for the bills that it owes.  They thought that it was a good idea to shut down the government rather than to pay for the bills already committed to, thus the first downgrade of the US credit rating in history.

FACT:  ObamaCARES is the law of the land.  It was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States.  It is Constitutional, despite what Republicans have said for 4 yrs.  It will not be repealed, despite Republican efforts to do so.
If you make less than 250k a year and your taxes go up on Jan 1, 2013, thank a Republican, then vote against them in 2014.

FACT:  ObamaCARES reduces the deficit by 109 Billion.  House Republicans have wasted 50 million in taxpayer monies and taxpayer time in holding over 30 votes to repeal the law.

When Boehner starts with a proposal like this, it just shows how disinterested the House Republicans are in working with the President.  House Republicans control 1/2 of 1/3 of the US Government.  Compromise is not a dirty word.  Undoubtedly they didn't get the message in the election held on November 6.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Benghazi - No Watergate here, folks;

just another CIA failure. But blame the president....for appointing Petraeus director.  He had no experience or qualifications for heading a covert operations organization.  If they had done a background investigation - half as thorough as is done for new CIA employees or for local cops, he would not have been hired.  Shame on the president for appointing an unqualified republican just to give the appearance of bi-partisanism. Every republican appointment he made has failed him. Geithner and Bernanke for example.

The victim here, in addition to the murder victims, is Susan Rice, who nearly word for word quoted the information provided her by the CIA as approved by it's director. There is clearly no cover-up or deliberate misinformation.  The scandal is why the CIA was surprised by the attack.  Why weren't they on top of it.  It was obviously planned for September 11. Of course the public disclosure had to be measured to prevent leakage of classified information but why was it so wrong.  It could have been much more accurate and still safe.  The release was approved by Petraeus who may well have been distracted with worry over the disclosure of his infidelity.

General Petraeus may be the most overrated and over hyped general in history. If he had any more medals to wear, they would have to extend onto his back.  He has never had a shot fired at him in anger. He testified in Congress to encourage more troops in Iraq and later to keep them there.  He was anointed hero through republican politics. Ironically, he is guilty of marital infidelity; and chastity is the foundation of the morality republicans have made a part of their party platform.

In defense of the professionals in the CIA, there was no one left at the scene on whom they could have relied for dependable information, although as it turns out the information they received from Egyptian officials was candid and accurate.  It is also possible that the CIA has much more information on who was involved than they can make public. The failure that we know of is in the awkwardness of the initial report they made available for the White House and congress. That is on Petraeus and hence on Obama for hiring him. The buck stops there.

Today, as we face even bigger problems than the Benghazi raid, liberals and progressives are concerned about Obama's naivete in dealing with the right wing of the republican party who have not really admitted that they are not in tune with what the voters called for in the election.  McConnell made it perfectly clear that his position has not changed at all. Personally, I am worried about Obama's fortitude.  It would be nice if he had the determination in doing the right thing for America that George Bush had in doing the right thing for the oil industry and the Neocons.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's lack of jobs not the deficit that threatens our progeny.

President Obama is in danger of being jerked out of his seat by extending a hand of bi-partisanism. Our immediate problem is unemployment and low wages, not the size of the deficit. Keynesian economics has proved that increased spending by government can offset a decline in business activity in the private sector. These declines can be temporary or long term and devastating as in 1929.  Austerity in Europe has not worked there and short term austerity will not work here. Planned balanced budgets by government in times of business slowdown usually end up in deficits due to the decrease in tax revenue.

Trying to balance the budget by cutting spending is like a dog chasing it's tail. The dog just goes in circles until he collapses in exhaustion.  Spending reductions by government aren't restricted to the public economy. Every dollar spent by government, with the exception of those spent on private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, enters the private economy.  Teachers, cops, firemen, and doctors who are paid by Medicare, all spend their money at the local market, restaurant, auto dealer, clothing store or theater. And who in our community contribute more to that community than teachers, firemen, cops and doctors?

Conversely, when you fire them or cut their pay, you reduce the number of dollars entering the private economy and private income goes down, spending goes down, the deficit increases and government has to try once again to reach a balance by firing more public employees and cancelling government contracts with private firms. The dog runs faster, even more futilely, and eventually collapses. This is happening right now. Make no mistake about it. No one will escape it. The GOteaParty, through Paul Ryan's budget would try to balance the budget in the most unfair way, on the backs of the poor by cutting so called entitlements.  International corporations think they can escape by globalizing their market but as the world situation worsens, they will be caught up in the collapse as well.  Some of the more enlightened ones know that and are privately pushing for a jobs bill.

The only way to reduce the deficit, or more realistically, slow down it's growth, is by raising revenue by making those people pay more who are getting more from the economy. The upper income group and corporations. The money taken out of their pockets, or portfolios, wasn't going to be spent at the local market, auto dealer or restaurants, anyway. It was going to be spent on more speculative investments or on firms who are successful by exporting jobs where they can get below subsistence labor. This could be augmented by drastically reducing our expenditures in the oil countries.

Low income Teaparty members demanding deficit reduction are going to be the first ones hurt! The mantra, "households have to balance their budgets and so should the government," borders on it goes beyond stupid. How many families actually do that.  The golden age of the greatest middle class in history, 1950 -1980 was enabled by borrowing; borrowing to buy homes, automobiles, furniture and even clothing. The key has always been to maintain the ability to make payment on the loans. The same is true of government.  The Federal government has ALWAYS had public debt. It has always been measured by it's percentage of GDP or Gross Domestic Spending, a measure of national income.

At the end of WWII, our national debt was 105% of GDP, the highest in history. Although worried about it, our government worried more about the welfare of those people who had just rescued the world from the worst threat in modern history.  So they spent more money on the GI Bill, sending GIs to school and on guaranteeing low interest loans for purchasing homes and automobiles. The result was a burgeoning housing market  that created millions of union jobs. Everyone benefited. The bank loans were all paid off, the banks made money, full employment meant more tax revenues and guess what, the budget was balanced.

Balancing the budget in 1941 would have meant making Japanese our official language and in 2013 would mean a crash that would make 1929 look like the good old days.

President Obama campaigned on a promise to structure the tax code to place more responsibility on the upper income groups, to bring back jobs from overseas or at least to stop the outward flow through tax policies and to create jobs at home by mass transit projects, infrastructure repair, alternative energy projects and improving the educational process.  Stand and deliver, Mr. President!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reflections on the election and recommendations to President Obama.

Anyone who was surprised by the results must be a Fox News/Rush Limbaugh disciple.  Dick Morris, predicted a Romney win as did Karl Rove.  The main stream media coverage indicated a probable Obama win and the one I follow in the New York Times, Nate Silver's "FiveThirtyEight," was nearly perfect, predicting an easy Obama win.  He even got the total popular vote right.

Personally, without the benefit of Nate Silver's poll, with the weak economy, I would have expected Obama to lose; considering that this was the first presidential election since the Citizen's United decision enabling unlimited and undisclosed spending by international corporations. It was my feeling that the democrats would be overwhelmed.  Fortunately, progressive political organizations like Act Blue, Move On.Org and others, were able to raise massive funds from small individual contributors like myself. Collectively, the two campaigns spent $2 Billion. Obama matched Romney dollar for dollar mostly, but not entirely, through small contributions. I won't even speculate as to how much health care that would provide for Romney's 47%.  My mind hits the tilt button with 7 figures.

Actually, the die was cast for this election when the once honorable GOP was captured by the Koch Brothers' wild bunch; a group having nothing in common other than hatred of government in general and an African American president in particular.  Their unifying goal became the failure of Obama - regardless of the consequences to the nation. This position was well stated by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and a pact agreed upon by a group of Republican congressional insiders:

"A new book by the well-sourced writer Robert Draper reveals that Republican congressional insiders met for a private dinner on the night of Obama’s inauguration and mapped a strategy to “show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies” from Day One. On the way out the door, Newt Gingrich, an invited guest, reportedly told his former brethren, “You will remember this day. You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.” Newt has a flair for the dramatic, but in this case he was right."

With the division of the party, there could be no republican candidate that would be acceptable to all unless he lied to the various factions.  This was done adroitly by Mitt Romney; not that he fooled everyone but he convinced the de facto owners of the party that he could fool the general electorate.  The largest faction of the right wing, the evangelicals of Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, located largely in the south and plains states, didn't like Romney who they don't consider a Christian but they liked Obama, who they considered a Muslim, even less. Their constituency was for the most part low information voters who were pulled by their nose via the wedge issues of abortion and gay marriage - or gays in general. 

Romney conducted a masterful campaign of duplicity and mendacity.   He nearly pulled it off.  He fooled nearly half of the electorate.  Actually, he didn't have to fool all of them; most of them didn't care, but he fooled a lot of them even as  he made the fiddler on the roof look stable.  Even with his constant exposure by the legitimate press, he might have pulled it off were it not for the secret taping of his now famous 47% statements and the Hurricane Sandy disaster that displayed the vital roll that big government has in juxtaposition with Romney's earlier statement that FEMA should be abolished and disaster should be left to local government, or better yet,  private industry! If one were religious and believed in an omnipotent God, as I do, he might think that the storm was an act of God sent to protect America from the more tragic disaster that a Romney presidency would impose. 

In the wake of the wreck of the GOP, party spokesmen, sincere people who want a healthy party, a loyal opposition, as it were, are engaged in frantic rumination of what went wrong and how to fix it.  The consensus is that it was a failure to recognize demographics.  Blacks and Mexicans make up a larger proportion of the electorate and it is growing.  One of the more astute members of this group said it wasn't about minorities vs whites, it was about blue collar vs white collar.  Whatever the reason, when they say we have to "reach out" to them, they're not thinking, "how can we help them," they are asking themselves "how can we convince them to vote against their best interests?"  This may be difficult to do.  As Reverent Al Sharpton, who may be smarter than reverent, put it,  "We are not born democrats, we choose to be democrats because for the most part they are more sensitive to our needs."  

In all likelihood, however, all the introspection, absent some party members with fortitude to  step up,  is  an intellectual exercise.  Post election statements by Boehner and Mitchell indicate four more years of active resistance.  The  driving force of the republican party, even with responsible leadership will always be  the one that the three R's - Romney, Ryan and (Ayn) Rand presented - greed and selfishness.  In the past, this policy was not so severe; much more compassionate and humanitarian.  I remember when there was a manageable difference in the parties.  

America is a better place to live today than it was in 2008 - unless you depend on Obama's failure for your happiness or emotional stability.  The banks were on the brink of global collapse in January of 2009 and we were on the brink of economic melt down, losing jobs at a rate not seen since 1929.  The auto industry was near bankruptcy.  We were embroiled in two wars and Bin Ladin was on the loose and a constant threat. Bush acted quickly to rescue the banks and Obama followed through.  His stimulus bill ended the recession and put it back into a positive mode. Slow but positive. 

His quick action on the auto industry turned it around. 

We are out of Iraq and will be out of Afghanistan in 2014.  And Bin Ladin is dead! 2016 can be even better if the Teaparty will get out of the way.  One thing is sure - the United States will not be transformed as inspired by Obama's father.  

Here are my recommendations to Obama:
1. The ball is in your court and you are the point guard.  MAKE something good happen. Forget about the "reach out" nonsense, all they will do is try to jerk you off balance.  Let the public know that there is room at the table for anyone from the opposition to sit and keep the public appraised by stumping if necessary to display who is doing what to whom and why.  

2. A balanced budget is high priority but not as high as stimulating a fragile recovery.  A huge step toward a balanced budget would be to end the Bush tax cuts on the upper end but not the middle class.  The higher taxes on the rich would not hurt the economy.  The higher taxes on the middle class would.  Make a permanent tax structure that would redistribute wealth downward - yes, redistribute wealth. It happens every fiscal year. Wealth disparity has always led to business decline.  There is nothing wrong with being wealthy, a great deal of public good has resulted in people becoming wealthy but becoming wealthy takes a village - as Obama said.  Possession of wealth, publicly enabled, imposes responsibility.  One more step, one which could balance the budget and start on the road to debt reduction,  would be to stop being the world cop.  It isn't working and if we stop oil imports, it wouldn't matter. 

3. Pass another stimulus bill, this one with some heft, that would create non-exportable jobs.  Rejuvenate a decaying infrastructure,  reopen space exploration,   fund energy research and renewable energy projects,  take the load off the highways and cut down on gasoline use through government sponsored private public transportation activity.  Next time try the bus and leave the driving to them. 

4. Do what you have to do to revive the blue collar workers.  Tax policy is a start.  Free trade as we know it today is anything but free trade.  It doesn't come close to the "guiding hand" of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.  Bring back the unions.

5. Be very careful with your immigration policy.  Don't forget that illegal workers have been the tool that businesses have used to destroy unions. 

6. Ward off the next debt ceiling crisis administratively.  Let the Republicans and the world know that we will pay our bills.

7. Make Obamacare more affordable by making the private companies more competive through a government option - through budget reconciliation if necessary.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thoughts to take to the voting booth....

The candidates:
Mitt Romney is an unknown.  He has taken every position on every issue in the 2012 election.  He probably had to do it to win the nomination in a party that is in total disarray.  It is currently controlled by the so called Teaparty who are loud, amateurish and anti government.  They are well financed by billionaires like the Koch Brothers who have a vested interest in government that does nothing more than provide a legal framework through which international corporations can impose their will on workers and undeveloped foreign economies. The one thing we do know for sure about Romney is his disdain for what he calls the 47% of Americans who are lazy, pay no taxes and milk the government. His secretly taped conversation with rich backers in Florida is well known.  Ryan is a newcomer but has become well known.  His position is clear. His philosophy is clear.  He is an Ayn Rand atavist.  The R & R team represent a program of greed and selfishness with the philosophy that what is good for a gifted few will somehow make society good - an intellectual excuse for the very economic trickle down or supply side economics.

Their campaign has been one of mendacity - dissembled facts at the least and  outright lies at the worst. Romney's position on the auto bailout bailout is one example.  This is just the most obvious and outrageous, there are too many to articulate.  Their dishonesty is deliberate; they don't care.  They keep on telling the same debunked lies in their ads knowing that the uninformed voters on which they thrive will believe them.  

Obama and Biden are well known. They have a track record.  Obama has ended the Iraq war and the troops will come from Afghanistan in 2014.  He has stopped the bleeding from a ruptured economy and the economy is now growing - albeit at a snail pace.  Although progressives like me are not satisfied with his health care plan, Obamacare, because it didn't include a government option, it has brought health coverage to millions of Americans.  He has also revived respect for America abroad.

The issues:
Tax structure.  Obama will let the Bush tax cuts for the upper incomes (above $250,000) expire but will keep them for the lower incomes. Romney will increase the tax rates - he says for everyone but offers no details on how this will not add Trillions of dollars to the deficit or raise taxes on lower incomes. Either way, it will not have a positive effect on consumption and job growth.  A report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service totally rebuked the Romney plan but was suppressed by the Republicans who had requested the study. The fact is that income concentration has historically led to economic recession, highlighted by the 1929 crash and the 2008 recession. If Obama is elected, the Bush tax cuts will expire in January and with or without support from the GOP, he will reactivated them for the lower income groups - administratively via reconciliation.

Economic stimulus. Obama will create jobs, if he can get any GOP support, by improving the infrastructure and with renewable energy projects.  He will also address the, perhaps impossible, effort to bring jobs back to America through the tax code.  Romney has no plan.

Health care.  If Obama is elected, all the elements of the Affordable Health Care Act, Obamacare will go into effect. Romney has vowed to abolish it but will probably be unable to carry out his threat. Obamacare has received a cool reception largely as a result of negative propaganda by the GOP but will gain in popularity as it reaches full implementation.  There is nothing in it that will hurt anyone except the health insurance industry.  To be honest, there is some intrusion into Americans who resist carrying health care but the alternative is to continue to place the burden of their health problems on the back of the insured.  In addition to the immediate effects, in 2014, everyone will be covered through affordable insurance pools with income tax help for low income people.

National defense. Obama will continue with a streamlined military with emphasis on police tactics and microscopic strikes against terrorists as opposed to the former policy of preemptive invasions such as Iraq. Romney's plan is to increase the military budget beyond what they have asked.

The GOP has historically been the party of the privileged - the wealthy. The democratic party has historically represented, if not unprivileged, the less privileged masses.  The GOP realizes this and to win elections they have had to convince a part of the electorate to vote against their best interests.  They have done this by introducing issues that will overcome the self preservation instincts of the voters. Recently they have been called wedge issues.  The constant ingredient has been some kind of fear and/or hatred; usually including a mindless fear of big government.  In the Roosevelt years, there was no resistance, or very little.  Roosevelt was just too much of a hero. The opposition to him was usually personal and varied. Of course, there was an underlying but not articulated fear of communism - probably not irrational but unfounded.

Post Roosevelt the prevailing issue was communism and the cold war. Sincere and credible at the time but in retrospect out of proportion and grossly misunderstood and mishandled. More than a wedge issue it became the GOP mantra who capped on what was perceived as their superior grasp and treatment of the problem. This was displayed by their treatment of treason in government which peaked and was defused in the McCarthy hearings - perhaps the most shameful government activity in modern time.  In the sixties, the wedge issue became the civil rights movement, and fear and hatred took center-stage. After the horrors of integrated schools,neighborhoods and restaurants, etc., was defused, and before the cold war ended, the myth of international synchronized communism became the public concern.  The "domino theory," sincerely believed by most Americans but in retrospect, without foundation, led to Asian wars and thousands of unnecessary deaths. The Korean war was an early, albeit less popular and less institutionalized, version of this reaction to the "domino theory."

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break up of the Soviet Union and it's subsequent rejection of a centrally planned economy, Communism as a common fear was gone. The mantra became national security in a dangerous world and the insidious creep of Socialism in our economy. Reagan made a campaign issue out of the threat to national security that giving up control of the Panama Canal posed.  He gave our "disgraced" military self esteem with a mindless and bungled invasion of Grenada. He started the process of dismantling all the reforms of the New Deal which culminated in the return to disparity of wealth and the advent of international corporatism.  The fear that he and his followers used was fear of Socialism as embodied in his earlier, now proven ridiculous, prediction of the dire and inexorable consequences of medicare.

The 2000 election was dull. The major issues were education, medicare and social security with Bush advocating increased privatization of all three...of course the underlying motivation was  turning back Socialism which had already seized our economy and American way of life. It was a dull campaign between dull and dumb and was actually won by Gore but given to Bush by the Supreme Court.

Bush's actual agenda was oil and international peace through intimidation, Pax Americana, as it was called by  it's advocates, Project for a New American Century or PNAC. The cause celebre was Saddam Hussein who was seen as a threat to American security by the Neocons and an encumbrance to free access to oil in the middle east by oil people. Bush and his Neocon allies were given their excuse for invading the oil fields by the terrorist attack on 9/11/01.  From that day forward the new rallying cry was Islam in general and terrorism in particular.  In spite of his bungling of the war in Iraq and against terrorism, the fear of terrorism won the next election for him.

Now the threat of terrorism is, while still alive, controlled and the GOP had to come up with a new fear.  The unexpected election of an African American, one with a Muslim sounding name, gave them their new mantra. This time, racism and a poorly articulated and totally unsubstantiated fear of Africanization of the USA. All Romney and Ryan have to offer is the termination of an African American and return to Bush economics.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Romney food drive would be funny were it not so foney!

Pastor Romney's reaction to the serendipitous advantage that Hurricane Sandy provided Obama was just plain silly.  It would have better for him if he had just been honest and held a rally with an allusion to the disaster and commentary on what he was going to do about the economy.  His desperate and futile attempt to insert himself into the disaster relief efforts was doomed to exposure.  

The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event, and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo-op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it "did donate supplies to the relief effort," but would not specify how much it spent.)

It typifies Romney's inept campaign. Other than his sleight of hand in pulling the wool over GOteaParty members and moderate republicans, his campaign, along with his "foot in mouth" disease, has been a disaster.  With a few questions his managers could have discovered that aid organizations prefer cash to supplies. Romney would have been wise to just hold his rally honestly and donated the $5000 to the Red Cross - or better yet a couple $Million of his own money.  

The sad thing is that Pastor Romney might be elected and we have NO idea of what to expect.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Racism is more important than the economy in this election.

Mitt Romney is probably a good man.  He could not actually adhere to all the positions he has taken. It would be impossible because he has taken the exact opposite positions on key issues.  Particularly troubling is his position(s) on the emotional issues of a woman's right to choose and gay marriage. He has been a Bishop in his church but he prefers to refer to his calling as a Pastor.  There can only be one reason for this; to be less objectionable to the Christian right who find Mormons as objectionable, calling them non-Christian and a cult.  One might ask why he would do this and risk alienation of Mormon voters.  The answer is, there is no risk. There is nothing "Pastor"Romney could do to lose the Mormon vote. Nothing, that is, except run as a Democrat. He will get 75% of the vote in Utah and Idaho, states with high Mormon populations.

I have read several testimonials from members of his Ward who cite the good things he has done for them. They are no doubt sincere and true.  As a Bishop and Stake President, this is his job - just as was earning a profit at Bain Capital.There are others who are not Mormons who praise him for his kindness and he probably is a kind man.  But his feelings for people in front of him and people in the abstract seem to be different as displayed by his candid remarks regarding 47% of the voters  secretly recorded as he spoke to wealthy fund raisers. But regardless of his personal character, he has not been a good candidate.  He has been caught in the worst kind of dissembling and even lying. Yet, he is even in the popular vote with President Obama.

Regardless of the poor economy that Obama inherited which is slowly rebounding, his success in foreign affairs and his health care act, Obama has been a disappointment to constituents to his left who are disappointed with lack of a government option in the health care act and his lack of attention to the environment. There are many protest votes in states like California where he cannot lose. Romney has told the extreme right what they want to hear and the moderates what they want to hear. He is lying to one group. Most likely neither group believes him. Mormons don't care. He is a Mormon AND a republican. The distasteful truth is that a large majority of the votes Romney will get are really anti-Obama votes. Probably as high as ten percent...or maybe higher. As hated as Mormons are to evangelicals, he is a more acceptable option than a black man. Latent racism has boiled to the surface. I have seen this racism first hand.

I was called to serve my country in 1950 during the Korean War. I was 21 years old. I wasn't really into politics at the time. I grew up during the depression and pretty much saw FDR as a hero. That was the extent of my political interest.  I grew up poor, very poor.  I had no attitude regarding minorities – one way or the other. There were few where I lived.  Although, I always lived on the wrong side of the tracks, communities, even poor communities, were segregated.  My early years were in South Gate. Immediately south was Watts. I was raised LDS so I was expected to have an attitude of kindness toward other people. I didn’t always comply but I tried.

I had my first conversation with a black person (they were called colored then) in Basic training (there were just a few in my company). His name was Bernard Turner and he was funnier than a stand up comic. He did a lot for our morale. I considered him a friend but never hung out with him. I don’t know why.

After Basic training, I was transferred to the 82nd Airborne. The 82nd was the elite of the Army and it was totally segregated. All the black troopers were in an all black unit. We were stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. This was 1951. It was my first real exposure to man’s inhumanity to man. I was appalled at how blacks were treated. If they wanted to go to a movie, they had to sit in the balcony. All the theatres I attended had balconies.  They rode in the back of the bus. It was against the law for them not to. They couldn’t drink out of the same public water dispensers as whites.  But I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. I was white.

Sometime prior to 1951, Truman ordered the integration of all military units.  Most said it wouldn’t work. My platoon was chosen in 1951 as the first white unit in the entire 82nd to be assigned a black trooper. His name was David A. Dansby. He was from Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m sure was hand picked. He was quiet, friendly, intelligent and NON-CONFRONTATIONAL. I couldn’t believe how he was treated by my friends, particularly those from the South. Far from giving him some emotional room, the “nigger” jokes ran amok.  Dansby was obviously irritated and hurt but he kept his mouth shut.  I didn’t participate but neither did I do anything to stop it. I could have. I wasn’t afraid of anybody in my platoon but didn’t feel the need to get into fights over Dansby. He was not very big or physically imposing – probably about 5-10 and 170 pounds.

Like my black friend in basic, he was funny and personable. Gradually the guys grew to like him and the bad taste jokes pretty much stopped. We grew to respect his feelings. I was probably more his friend than anyone else.  I had a car. I was driving to Fayetteville one day and I saw him waiting for the bus. I stopped and offered him a ride but he politely declined. I coaxed him but to no avail. I guess I knew but insisted on an answer as to why. He feared being seen in Fayetteville getting out of a car driven by a white man. I’m not making this up. In my best bravado, I told him that I wasn’t afraid of those locals. His reply was, “I am.” He took the bus. It piqued my interest.

Shortly after my discharge I was hired as a cop by the Anaheim Police Department. From that day forward, most of my friends were cops. I love cops. They are the best people in the world except for their attitudes about blacks; pure irrational hatred for the most part. I still wasn't very political but I became more vocal in defending them when the civil rights movement developed.  We had some heated discussions in the station house and in the local watering holes.

After the civil rights bill was passed the schools and neighborhoods were gradually integrated, people got to know them, made friends with them, played ball with them and married them. Racism, at least as it existed before, phased out and those who were unable to make the adjustment were outnumbered and learned that if they were too vociferous, they would be isolated. But their hatred continued to simmer down deep.

But we have entered into a new phase. We learned to accept our next door neighbor being black, the mixed marriages, seeing a black doctor and, in the south, letting them ride in the front of the bus. We grew to love, even worship in a sense, the black athletes who play on “our” teams. Most of us, at least more than 50% of us are even ready to have a black President; but not all.

The thin veneer of decency and tolerance of a relatively small group of our citizenry has been overcome by their reemerging and now un-controlled hatred. These people have taken over the Republican Party and have become irrationally vocal. You saw them at the Town Hall meetings where they completely blocked any dialogue.

They have kept their racism and hatred below the surface for the past thirty years or so because blatant racism became unpopular. Now the election of an African American president has brought it back to the surface. They are so blind with rage, they no longer care what decent people think. They have retreated into their own ideological commune. Of course there has always been the animosity between the right and the left that had nothing to do with race. But the re-emergence of racism has intensified that as well. Politics has become ugly and has to a large extent grown to define friendships. I can remember when you were more likely to get into a shouting match over whether your Ford was better than his Chevy than over who was running for president.

An example of this hatred can be seen in the opposition to Obama’s programs – particularly health care reform. Of course rational opposition to the health care reform that has just become law can exist. But there has been no rational debate. The opposition, aware that the status quo is not defensible  at least as it relates to the vast majority of Americans who don’t own insurance companies or who earn less than $250,000 per year, have resorted to mendacity, pure lies on the extreme and distortion as a minimum.  The opposition has been fueled by hatred not logic and has resulted in the so called Tea Party. They are a potpourri of opposition and hatred.  The most visible thread of commonality is their hatred of Obama.

Nothing will change these people. Obama’s programs have been weakened by intransigent Republican opposition but will, over time, improve the lot of the middle class, just as Social Security, Medicare and the banking reforms of the thirties did, but this will only be met with more hatred by the Tea Party people who would rather see our society go down the tubes than see a successful African American president.

A white candidate would be 20 points ahead of Parson Romney.