Saturday, October 29, 2011

Repubs Can't Make Up Their Minds

From a HuffintonPost article by political commentator Cenk Uygar on "Why Republicans Can't Make Up Their Minds:"

It seems like every couple of weeks we have a new leader in the Republican field. Michele Bachmann has been there, so have Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain sits atop the field. Why can't Republican voters make up their minds?

Here's why -- they don't even believe their own positions. They want someone who is massively conservative and at the same time agrees with them on policy.

The problem is the voters aren't nearly as conservative as they think they are.
So they love the tough talking governor from Texas until they find out he wants to get rid of Social Security. They like that Michele Bachmann doesn't believe in global warming until they realize that she doesn't believe in it because she's bat-shit crazy**. . . . They love [Cain's] ignorance when it comes to science and basic economics, but they hate it when it shows how unqualified he is.

Well, you can't have it both ways. Someone who is remotely competent or sentient recognizes that 97% of the world's scientists are right about climate change . . . that cutting deficits during tough economic times does not stimulate the economy and that firing state workers means [more people without jobs]. . . .

The answer is to fall in love with another conservative politician this week and find out he is a blithering idiot the next. Or worse yet, find out you don't really agree with any of those positions when they affect you (get your government hands off my Medicare!). That's the schizophrenia of the Republican electorate -- they keep switching leaders because they don't even believe their own positions.

Maybe this is going to turn out all right after all for Democrats. The GOP has essentially run out of time for new hats to be tossed into the ring. What you see is what they're going to have come Nov '12. Unless they get smart and nominate Jon Huntsman (which is not going to happen with him at 2% in polls), they'll be stuck with a candidate who has veered so far right he'll lose the centrist voters. Except for Romney, of course, who will just flip his positions as needed.

Without a primary opponent, Obama has not needed to tilt to the left in a comparable way. His worry is that the voters who put him over in '08 will stay home. Hopefully, the GOP nominee will be a scary enough prospect to bring them to the polls.


** More evidence today of Bachmann's "bat-shit craziness:" When asked at a rally what she would do to combat bullying in schools, she said "bullying is not a federal problem," so her solution is to eliminate the Department of Education.

Do you follow that logic? I admit, I can't. Does she think the DoE causes bullying?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What is the "Occupy Wall Street" movement?

Republicans and Wall Street financiers belittle the protest movement, emphasizing the extremists and "fringe" people among them, as well as their supposed lack of organization and message.

Those, who really understand what the movement is about, point to the underlying principles and the wide spread economic resentment it embodies. Those who have spoken about it from being part of it emphasize its spontaneity, the sense of community that is built through the encampment experience, and it's intentional operation through bottom-up consensus.

As to message: it's in the fact of the movement itself, rather than in detailed demands. As I understand it, the message is something like this:
We are here !! We represent the 99% of the people in this country, and you have to pay attention to what you have done to make life harder for us. You, the financial system, must change; and YOU must figure out how to do that.

Congress can't do it alone, because You control Congress. If we put forth a list of demands, it will be met with a few perfunctory promises which never materialize. You must understand the problem this country faces and what you have caused.
The "you" in all this is, of course, the current economic system, not just the fat cat financiers, although they are at the heart of it and the driving force.

Just yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released this statement:
"The income gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. grew precipitously from 1979 to 2007 . . . with the top 1 percent of earners seeing their income spike by 275 percent."
From another source: The International Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has released its survey and rankings of 31 developed countries, according to measures of "social justice" and the ability to participate in the market economy regardless of social status. In other words, it is a measure of opportunity and economic mobility within that society.

I suppose for this to mean anything to you, you have to ascribe to the assumption that equal opportunity for mobility and success is a good thing -- the opposite being greed, privileged status, and "more power to the powerful."
In the overall rankings of this survey, the United States ranks 27 out of the 31 -- better than only Greece, Mexico, Chile, and Turkey. Imagine that !! The "land of opportunity" lags behind not only the northern European and Scandinavian countries, but recently devastated economies like Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary.

In the survey, the U.S. ranked 29 out of 31 in poverty prevention, trailed only by Chile and Mexico. Compare us with Denmark, where only 1 in 27 children lives in poverty; in the U.S. it is 1 in 5.

The reports explains: "Under conditions of poverty, social participation and a self-determined life are possible only with great difficulty."
This should be the central focus of the next year's campaigning. Republicans will scream "socialism." But we should stand up and defend this on the grounds of human values and what kind of society we want to live in. Enough of the lies that conceal the truth about this culture of greed and cruelty.
Stop letting their bought politicians hide behind their Christian piety. I would love to have one debate moderator turn that table on them and ask them to explain how their Jesus would justify their political policies and budget priorities.
I'm still waiting for the liberal religious groups to take up the cause and take on the role they did in the civil rights era. Remember that in Martin Luther King's later years, poverty and economic justice became the major focus of his movement, as racial equality had been earlier.

Here's the dream team I wish we could re-assemble: Martin Luther King to speak to the crowds and spark the passion, Bobby Kennedy to translate it into political terms and run for office, Barbara Jordan to thunder at the idiots in Congress about the Constitution, Molly Ivins to ridicule the Republican leaders in her irreplaceable style, and Lyndon Johnson to strong-arm the necessary laws through Congress.

Oh, and while we're at it, let's replace a few of the troglodytes on the Supreme Court -- maybe bring back Earl Warren and Thurgood Marshall in place of Scalia and Thomas.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Too radical even for Pat Robertson !

Let's just say that televangelist and erstwhile presidential candidate Pat Robertson (1988) has earned his credentials as a conservative. One small reminder: he predicted that the forest fires sweeping through central Florida were a punishment from God for the city of Orlando flying banners for Gay Day at Disney World.

But here is Pat on his 700 Club broadcast warning the Republican GOP candidates to stop venturing into such radical territory:
"Those people in the Republican primary have got to lay off of this stuff. If they want to lose, this is the game for losers."
I doubt they will listen to him. Let's hope not. The loonier they are, the better for Democrats in 2012.

And more fun for ShrinkRap.


Looney Toons #3

Obama announces that all U. S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

This was the timetable set in the Status of Forces agreement with Iraq, signed by President George W. Bush:
"All the United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011."
It was reaffirmed as a promise by Obama in the 2008 campaign, and it is the expressed wish of the Iraqi government itself. They want us to leave their country. We made it clear that we would like to leave some troops there as advisers; they didn't want it.

They are a sovereign nation, as George Bush reminded us when he signed the agreement. Even the guy who ordered the invasion knew we had to get out when their legitimately elected government wants us out.

But listen to the anti-Obama Republicans' reactions:

Mitt Romney: They either failed to do it [impose a different withdrawal timetable] by virtue of ineptitude or they decided it wasn't that important, either politically or otherwise.

John McCain: I think it's a serious mistake.

Lindsay Graham: This was a failure by the Obama administration to close the deal.

Michele Bachmann: The president has been a failure when it comes to foreign policy. [As opposed to Dubya's great successes? Is that what you're saying, Michele, honey?]

Jon Stewart skewered the lot of them, claiming they are suffering from "Empty Nest Syndrome." He ridiculed them for "disliking Obama's radical decision to do the thing that George Bush promised to do."

Bachman is in a category all by herself as a Looney Toon. She even argues with herself by making conflicting statements:

(1) On Iraq, she criticizes Obama for withdrawing the troops, "because when we have deposed one of these dictators, we have always left troops behind to maintain the fragile peace;"

(2) On Libya, "I opposed the president putting us to war in Libya. One of the things we should have learned in these last 12 years is that once we are in involved in a foreign entanglement, it's very difficult to get out and it's usually at a very high cost.

Looney toons . . . they makes my head spin.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Can we take Cain seriously?

Today, I saw the first one: a bumper sticker for Herman Cain, along with another one that said "Yes, we Cain." The same car sported a "Socialism Sucks"sticker as well.

So, apparently it's time to start taking a serious look at Herman Cain. Our wiser neighbors across the northern border are already watching this political circus. An article in the Toronto newspaper Globe and Mail raised the question of whether Herman Cain can be taken seriously, pointing out the field day punsters and headline writers are already having:
"Is Cain Able?"
"Nein, nein, nein"
Clever, but what about the seriousness of the serious question?

Cain has a compelling life story as the son of a janitor/chauffeur and a maid. He earned a master's degree in computer science, rose to be Vice President of the Pillsbury Company before taking on the challenge and succeeding at turning a failing pizza company into a major pizza chain. Somewhere along the way, he was also appointed to the Board of Directors of the regional Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, and later voted by the Board to be chair. More recently he has had a successful career as a radio talk show host.

Cain wins audiences with his freshness and candor; he seems unscripted and genuine, and he has a talent for pithy sound bites. As the article points out, his self-confident rhetoric and his simply stated ideas appeal to conservative audiences.

But will that translate to general audiences, and will his simply stated ideas and plans stand up to the scrutiny of analysis? Not likely. Already, analysts have said that his 9-9-9 tax plan would increase the taxes on 84 % of Americans, and only the rich would pay less tax. One analysis says that the lowest 20% would average $1700 more in taxes per year. Cain has responded by quickly amending his plan to exempt from taxes those below the poverty line and to put in some exemptions. But that obviously will change the whole equation and Cain's selling point of being fiscally sound (it isn't).

And then there's his insisting that, much as he personally opposes abortion, he thinks the federal government shouldn't be making those decisions for other people. Which, guess what, Herman? That is a pro-choice position you're espousing to your Tea Party crowd. They're not going to like that. He's now doing damage control on that one.

So -- as appealing as he is as a speaker -- his durability as a viable candidate seems in doubt, even for the nomination, when analysts and other candidates go to work on positions. He has some good qualities, and I think he's sincere in wanting to get our government to working. But he's not ready for the big leagues.

Yes, but where do his supporters go? Probably more to Perry than to Romney, which might tend to even up the score when it comes down to those two.