The Whoosh Sound

The Obama campaign strategy has just come into sharp focus. Following on the heels of a bill the President just signed that drastically cuts the number of weeks federal unemployment benefits can be collected comes the announcement that Obama plans to cut the top corporate effective tax rate to 25%. Although he claims this is part of a greater tax code overhaul which will close many business tax loopholes, cutting the tax rate flies in the face of advice given by prominent economists such as Paul Krugman and Robert Reich to raise them. These tax changes will further motivate corporations to bring overseas jobs back here, according to the President’s claim.  But what he doesn’t explain is how those jobs can be brought back here with a pay scale that won’t exceed what the Chinese were being paid.  To pay Americans more would boost the cost of the manufactured goods beyond what the unemployed who just ran out of unemployment benefits can afford.

The Obama team claims the tax overhaul will bring in an additional $250 billion in tax revenues, if we’re willing to wait 10 years to collect it all. These tax changes will further motivate corporations to bring overseas jobs back here.  By that time Obama will have been retired from the White House and making a lucrative living from speaking tours and book sales. Whichever presidents follow him into office can do whatever the want to the tax code which could render the anticipated $250 billion just another phantom of an unfilled campaign promise. But the tax benefits to corporations are immediate and that’s how quickly his SuperPac will start collecting their campaign contributions. (Have you ever noticed how all presidents are fond of predicting outcomes that will happen during someone else’s presidency? But I digress.)

Obama has clearly kicked the 99% to the curb. He knows he’s got his base locked in on the social issues because they’ve got nowhere else to go. So now he’s looking to cut his opposition off at the knees. Moderate Republicans are turned off to the crop of clowns they’ve been offered. The clowns’ stances on the social issues are no laughing matter, despite their large floppy clown shoes. So Obama needs to woo these moderates on their bread and butter economic issues: make unemployment harder to get and for a shorter amount of time, and back off on those high corporate taxes which are strangling the job creators. After the President wins both the social and economic debates, the clowns, despite their large floppy clown shoes, will fall flat on their collective face.

It’s a brilliant if cynical campaign strategy. The difference between Obama and Romney is that Obama can tell a crowd what it wants to hear with believable sincerity. I think that both Obama and Santorum are sincere in their religious beliefs, but Obama’s are grounded in reality and if he ever spoke of inserting an ultrasound vaginal probe up into a woman’s private parts, Michelle would whomp him upside the head with the Lincoln cast iron skillet.

But Obama’s message to the 99% is once again, “I gotta go meet with the money people now. See ya later.” And the 99% have no choice but to respond back, “OK. See ya…”  That whoosh sound you just heard is Obama turning his back on them.


Baby Steps

I wonder if the proper way to look at Barack Obama is as a bridge to hopefully a more liberal political future. A lot of us decry how often he’s caved in and compromised during his first time. In fact, David Axelrod, his campaign manager, is offering to compromise with the Catholic Church on the mandatory health plan abortion/contraception coverage issue. But Obama was never the Great Liberal Hope so we shouldn’t be too disappointed. But with the Republicans in disarray and Republican voters finally getting a clear look at what’s being offered them and staying away from the primaries and caucuses in droves, they might see that Liberal Lite isn’t such a bad thing. And Obama might be the President to move them slowly forward from the Lite to the Light. Baby steps; baby steps.

Abolishing The Electoral College

I want to share with you an email exchange I engaged in with one of my Republican state representatives, who I will keep anonymous. I had forwarded a petition from National Popular Vote ( asking for this person’s support in urging Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College. The proposed amendment would mandate that the president and vice-president by elected by direct national popular vote—the concept of one person, one vote finally realized. I’ll start off with my rep’s reply, and my response. Notice how I start off with a bit of schmoozing before going in for the kill.

Rep’s response: ” Rick..please really investigate this further, as it is far more difficult and dangerous to our republic then you would might think.”

My response:

“First, I greatly appreciate how quickly you respond to petitions and emails from your constituents.

I’m very well read on the issues, and I strongly disagree with you on this.  The Electoral College was created in a bygone era where the average voter was condescendingly looked upon with suspicion by what I think were an elitist and wealthy subgroup of the founding fathers, led by Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton, being from the mercantile set, didn’t trust country bumpkins, including landowners and farmers, to make intelligent, informed votes for president, so he championed designating representatives to cast votes to elect a president for them.  In fact, here’s a quote supporting the E.C. by Alexander Hamilton in 1788: “It was … desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the … A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

Thomas Jefferson didn’t agree with him back then, and I and the majority of Americans don’t agree with him now. This is an archaic system which must be abolished. Along with it would go the whole concept of “swing states” in which a small group of states is more politically powerful than others, with other states having no real political power at all.

Yes, getting rid of the E.C. will be difficult, but I don’t understand your contention that getting rid it would be “dangerous”.  Not to be offensive, but that philosophy is typically voiced by the more politically conservative who also have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Remember that a delegate to the Electoral College is not legally committed to vote for the candidate who won their state. Obama could win Pennsylvania but the electoral college delegates could still vote for Romney if they wished to, and vice versa. So why would I support a system where my vote may not count for anything and is subject to the whims of anonymous persons meeting in Washington, D.C. over a month after the presidential election has been decided? Didn’t the 2000 election demonstrate the folly of the whole electoral college system? I know you’re a Republican, but Al Gore won the popular national vote in that election–that’s fact, that’s history.  It was through the machinations of the Supreme Court and the Electoral College that Bush was appointed President. You can argue that point too, but again, that’s fact, that’s history.

As Operation Wall Street as demonstrated, the majority of Americans say that the time for ‘business as usual’ is past; most Americans also support abolishing the Electoral College.  You can oppose progress but you do so at the risk of being swept aside by it.”

The time may not have come for the end of the Electoral College, but by the responses from our elected representatives to this issue, we can see who’s time has gone and vote in the next election accordingly.

Mitt Romney’s Past Is The Bain Of His Existence

Willard Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is a testament to his monumental tone deafness to how the average American (read the 99%) feel about corporate raiders wrecking the American economy and throwing 15 million out of work and tens of millions out of their homes in order to enrich themselves.

There’s a now-famous picture of Romney with his Bain Capital partners with cash in their hands, clothing, and mouths. It was apparently a staged shot for an HBO series that didn’t happen but the imagery of the picture—staged or otherwise—has come back to haunt Romney big time. Perhaps at that moment in history he had no political aspirations, or maybe they were kept hidden while churning deep inside. Like George W. Bush, who carried the burden of a father of a father disgraced by Iraq in Desert Storm, Romney carried the burden of his presidential candidate father George disgraced by the press for claiming he had been brainwashed by the military over the Vietnam War. Bush Sr. was defeated by Bill Clinton in the next election and George Romney had to drop out of the presidential race. So, like Bush Jr., Romney’s presidential bid is just a loyal son’s attempt to re-capture his father’s lost honor.  That’s my analysis and I’m sticking to it.

But if the past is prologue, Romney’s Bain past may be his campaign’s epilogue. Staged as that HBO picture may have been, the image resonates with American voters of both political party affiliations as one of a man who put (Bain) capital before people.  Romney’s way to sidestep that negative image was to claim “Corporations are people too, my friend” as a way to show us that his heart was in the right place when it came to people—super rich, very powerful multinational people.

But when it comes to caring about middle class working people—well, not so much. That’s why he refuses to accept credit for the Massachusetts healthcare plan he signed which helped the poor and middle class and which Obama used as a model for his healthcare plan. With Republicans, Willard had to make a choice between being a champion for the average Joe and the super rich Joseph if big money SuperPacs were going to line up behind him.

So, it’s his Bain Capital background that his given him the largest campaign treasure chest around but has prevented him from netting more than 27% or so of Republican support since last year. The only reason his presidential bid still exists is because all of his Republican opponents—perhaps with the exception of Jon Huntsman—are people who wouldn’t trust with the key to your front door, let alone the economy and the military might of the United States.

Willard Mitt’s past is the Bain of his existence, which means he still acts like he’s making the big money deals. But instead of gauging at what price he can sell a corporate component on the open market and adjusting as needed, he’s gauging what policy statements will match the “strike price” of the American voter for his presidential bid. His early pro-abortion stand was too high a price for the evangelical voter to pay so he instituted an anti-abortion price reduction in the hope that will hit the purchasing sweet spot for that sect. Same thing with him turning against Romneycare.

As this post goes to price, President Obama held a press conference today and in effect stated he plans to out-Romney Willard Mitt Romney. But that’s another blog post.



Fiddler On The White House Roof

Did President Obama just play the Republicans like a honky tonk fiddle?  According to Lawrence O’Donnell on his MSNBC show “The Last Word”, Obama is the best budget negotiating president in history.  He allowed John Boehner and Eric Cantor to come up with the monumentally stupid concept of the Super Committee, made up of 3 House Republicans, 3 House Democrats, 3 Senate Republicans, 3 Senate Democrats, and co-chaired by a Republican and a Democrat.  Everyone but the Republicans could see the train wreck deadlock coming: 12 committee members divided equally be political party. 2 equal and opposing teams mandated to cut the budget deficit by $1.5 trillion.  Where was the tie-breaking vote? Because it was obvious there would be a 6-6 deadlock, well maybe not if pseudo Senate Democrat Max Baucus defected to the other side like he was wont to do (which in this case he didn’t). The President wasn’t allowed to sit on the committee nor Vice-President Joe Biden, as he would serve as the tie breaker in his capacity as President of the US Senate. And it could have been Cantor (Boehner was definitely not the brains of the House outfit) or Reid who came up with the poison pill section triggering a $900 billion down payment January 2013 (safely after the 2012 elections) should the committee stalemate on its November 23, 2011 deadline with an additional $1.2 trillion in budget cuts to follow that.

So, while all of us liberals were wringing our hands and cursing Obama’s name for agreeing to this budget compromise in return for the Republicans voting to lift the debt ceiling last August, we missed the secret smile on his face as he signed the bill into law saying, “Bring it” and then sat back and played the waiting game.  And the committee did not disappoint him. It crashed and burned.  Half of the $1.2 trillion in the budget deficit reduction would come from defense spending cuts. Republicans despise defense spending cuts as much as they despise tax increases. So, the Republicans immediately started making noises of rescinding some of the automatic cuts.  Obama’s response was firm and swift: “My message to them is simple: No. There will be no easy offramps on this one.”  I was surprised he was able to stifle the giggle and maintain his stoneface.  Obama said he will veto all bills that would reverse the cuts. And then, he plays his hole card: he’s going to give Congress another chance to pass his American Jobs Act. This after Boehner has gone public with barely discernible grunts about possibly maybe seeing the necessity to increase tax revenues somehow. The AJA just happens to include modest tax increases on the wealthy.

So despite the attempted spin by Fox and Congressional Republicans to blame it all on Obama and the Democrats, America can plainly see that once again it was the Republicans who dragged their feet and brought the merry-go-round to a stop by refusing to raise taxes on their 2% masters. American liberals will remember through clenched teeth that Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid program cuts were on the table—but perhaps unclench them upon learning that the automatic trigger and the AJA spare those programs.

So, chalk up another victory for Obama, to stand beside the killings of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and the liberation of Libya from Muammar Gaddafi. But no time to take a victory lap because next month both the payroll tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits expire and opposing their extensions if the Bush tax cuts aren’t also extended will be the next line in the sand the Republicans draw. So, Obama will be returning to the poker table, and we’ll see if he still knows how to hold ‘em or if he’ll fold ‘em.

Herman Cain–The Bald Truth

Herman Cain will never be president for one reason and one reason only: he’s bald. No bald man has ever been elected President since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Gerald Ford was elected Vice-President and was moved to the top spot when Nixon resigned. Dick Cheney desperately wanted to be President but he was bald. So, he ran George W. Bush instead and took over the presidency that way. Cain is no Eisenhower. Cain ran a chain of pizza stores. Ike ran the ETO in World War II as the commanding general of the US Army. Cain pitted ad agencies against each other. Ike pitted armies against each other. The only thing they have in common is that Ike was President in the 1950’s and Cain wants to take us back to the 1950’s.

Lord Boehner

In olden days, Boehner’s story would have been told as a Shakespearean-like play. Coddled rich boy grows up in his Lord father’s castle, dreaming of being a Lord himself someday. He serves as an officer in his father’s army and eventually inherits Dad’s lorddom. He joins forces with another lord’s army and together they go off to wage war against the King. Boehner quickly finds out he’s not Lord material, suffers a devasting loss after his soldiers turn against him and depose him from command. He limps back home, only to find out his people don’t want him back as Lord either. He opens a small tavern in town because when he’s drunk around drunken people, life isn’t so bad. The end.

Boehner’s a classic example of someone who’s ambition overreached his abilities. Had he been content to stay a regular garden-variety Congressman, his job would still be secure, possibly but not probably after the 2012 elections. But, he HAD to be Speaker Of The House. One of Clint Eastwood’s famous movie lines was “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Boehner obviously didn’t, but President Obama and Eric Cantor both obviously did. They each gave Boehner enough rope to hang himself, although Obama kept offering to use the rope on himself. Boehner lived up to both their expectations and now his political career hangs there, turning slowly in the wind. This really wouldn’t have made a very good play because everyone in the audience could already guess the ending before they took their seats. But, fortunately for America, the sequel to Lord Boehner, Lord Boehner II, The Fall of Lord Cantor, is the same exact story with the same exact ending. Republicans never did have any new ideas.