Posts Tagged With: political race

BRAND NAMES

One of the more curious events of the recent Republican convention that was totally under reported by the media, was the fact that neither of the last 2 Republican Presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were not only not invited, but were never mentioned during the convention process. On the other hand, Bill Clinton, the last Democratic President before Obama, was hailed at the Democratic convention as the second coming, and one could almost see a halo ringing the top of his head when he gave his convention speech. This despite the whole Monica Lewinski scandal thingy. Yet both Bush the Elder and Bush the Younger were both persona-non-grata at the GOP production. Although I disagreed with some of his policies I always considered the elder Bush to be a man of integrity and decency. At least, for a politician. But, I guess, that since he’s a pretty old man now, and he did lose his reelection bid, were factors leading to his aura of invisibility at the Republican festivities. The younger Bush, who also possesses a high level of decency, was made a non-person as far as Republicans were concerned, for several reasons. One, of course, was the economic crash we endured during the last 2 years of his presidency, which got us into the mess that we’re still trying to emerge from today. But the other reason was that W. showed too much moderation for today’s GOP, which has swung totally over to the dark side of political fanaticism. After all, it was under Bush’s reign that the Medicare drug benefit was enacted and federal aid to education, as well as other social programs, was significantly increased.  Can’t have that, as far as today’s Republicans are concerned.

Regarding the economy, however, the economic disaster in 2008 was not Bush’s fault,  nor is it ever the President’s fault. Although Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, have made lifetime careers out of blaming Bush for the bad economy, the reality is that the fault lies in the inherent nature of our capitalist system, and the speculators that try to game the system. In the 1920s, the economy was on a roll and the stock market was booming. It was known as the roaring ’20s. There were big profits to be made in the stock market, and investors were making money hand-over-fist. It really didn’t matter what stock a person bought, the stock market could only go one way, and that was up. Or so the speculators and other capitalistic gamers would have you believe. Until one day in October 1929, someone took a second look at what was supporting highly inflated stock prices, and found there was really nothing there. Word got around, and sooner rather than later, panic began setting in. People started selling their stocks in a mass frenzy, and the entire market collapsed. We all know about the great Depression that ensued, and the misery that America went through for about a dozen years, until WWII pulled us out the hard times.

Similarly, in the 2000s, capitalistic speculators zeroed in on the real estate market where values could only go one way, and again, that was up. Whereas, in previous decades, people bought houses primarily for living quarters, in the early 2000s, speculators were grabbing houses to to make big, quick and easy bucks. Indeed, we bought our house here in Las Vegas in the year 2000, and saw the property nearly triple in value before the roller-coaster ride came to an end sometime between 2006-2007. Almost on a weekly basis, I would tell my wife that our builder had increased the prices of new homes by somewhere between 25,000 to 50,000 dollars, and she would shake her head and utter words of disbelief. We saw speculators buying up scores of houses in our development, in one get-rich-quick scheme after another. Until, as in 1929, someone took a second look, and asked how real estate prices could possibly be so astronomical, given what was being offered for those prices. As previously, panic selling started to set in, and speculators were dumping their properties on the market for whatever price they could get. Today, my house is back down to roughly what we paid for it almost 13 years ago, which is okay since we bought it to live in, not for speculation. Plus, I have the satisfaction of knowing that many speculators and gammers were financially ruined when the housing bubble burst.

Of course, the greatest economic downturn since the great Depression resulted from the bursting of that bubble, and the economy continues to limp along weakly since 2008. Once again the flaws of our capitalistic system raised their ugly heads. But Mitt Romney and the Republicans see the poor economy as their pathway to the presidency and perhaps full control of Congress. Just blame the high unemployment rate and huge deficit spending on Obama and the Democrats, and winning in November should be in the bag. So why isn’t it. When it became a sure thing that Romney would be the Republican nominee back in April or May, and given the lousy state of economic conditions, I expected His Mittness to open up at least a 10%-15% lead in the polling numbers. Yet here we are, a little over a month from balloting time, and the latest polls show the race to be a dead heat with Obama actually having a small lead. What happened?

Could it be that the Republican brand of politics just isn’t selling too well? That the GOP way of fixing the economy by giving tax cuts to the rich while sharply cutting Government spending for the poor, sick and elderly, is not the way many people view reality. You know, that pesky 47% of us always looking for a Government handout. Including veterans from Mid-East wars with brain damage, blindness, missing limbs, or PTSD that insist on asking the Veterans Administration for benefits. Or perhaps those obnoxious seniors always carrying-on about their Medicare or Social Security benefits being tampered with. Or perhaps those receiving food stamps, where the GOP wants to make substantial cuts. After all, if you have no money to feed yourself, is it really the Government’s responsibility to keep you from starving to death.

Or perhaps people are objecting to the Republican brand when it comes to social issues. Like the Republican platform that would not allow any abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, or where the mothers life is at peril. Or the GOP guy from Missouri running for the U.S. Senate, claiming that a woman’s body would take care of her in cases of “legitimate” rape. (I would hate to see what illegitimate rape looks like.) Or the Republican continuing war against gay rights and gay marriage. Thus, in a year when a bad economy should enable the GOP to sweep into power, Republicans, as I said previously, have gone so far over to the dark side of right-wing whackoism, that the race for both President and Congress remains exceedingly close. I still think that Romney will likely win, because he has more billionaires willing to spend whatever it takes to get him elected. But by this point in time it shouldn’t even be close, except for the Republican brand of extremism. And as I’ve said many times, Mitt Romney remains the best candidate the billionaires could buy.

 

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AT THE WATER’S EDGE

There used to be a saying, back in the day, that politics stopped at the water’s edge. What it meant to convey was that although there could be great debates and divisiveness about domestic policy and issues, when it came to foreign affairs, we should always present a united front to the rest of the world. Liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, when it came to foreign policy issues, it was in the best interests of our country that we would all act as one. This thinking stemmed largely from the time shortly before World War II, when our foreign policy was basically isolationism. Although storm clouds indicating mammoth wars were about to begin in Europe and the Pacific, most Republicans and some Democrats too, believed that having vast oceans on our east and west coasts would somehow protect us from becoming involved in those conflicts. The Roosevelt Administration tried desperately to assist England as it fought for its very existence against the maniacal evil of Nazi Germany. But a largely isolationist Congress refused to let Roosevelt engage Hitler militarily.

Of course, the folly of isolationism came abruptly to an end in December 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans would not give us immunity from being involved in the rest of the world’s affairs. Thereafter, a new breed of Republicans, known as internationalists, started getting elected to office, and isolationism was supposedly a discredited and dead issue. As I stated earlier, foreign policy was deemed to be at the water’s edge by this new wave of Republicanism,  where neither party would criticize the other on such matters. That began to unravel around the 1960s when Republicans began using foreign policy as a campaign issue, by stating that the Democrats were “soft on communism” especially when dealing with the old USSR and Red China. Those were the times when the cries from right-wing circles went forth such as: “Better dead than red, or lets kill a Commie for Jesus.” Ronald Reagan especially exploited the soft on communism theme in winning the presidency twice in the 1980s. We probably spend about one or two trillion dollars extra in defending against the “red menace.” In the end, the old USSR collapsed under its own unmanageable weight, and Red China became a market, instead of Marxist economy, and today is one of our largest trading partners, as well as holding about a trillion dollars of our debt. The Viet-Nam war, where we lost about 58,500 men, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that were killed, was another exercise in the futility of fighting the “red menace.” Today we also have extensive trade agreement with the government of Viet-Nam, the same government we had fought against in vain decades before. Funny how unforgivable irony can be when recounting the foibles of man’s history.

All this came to mind a few days ago when Mitt Romney was fast to assault President Obama with the charge that having a weak foreign policy led to the deaths of 4 US ambassadorial members in Libya. He made this charge, of course, before any facts were known or verified. Once the facts were known, Romney was proven wrong, but apparently little things like facts will not dissuade the Republicans from attacking Obama”s foreign policy initiatives. No more stopping at the water’s edge this time around. Of course, to be fair, the Democrats strongly attacked George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraqi war, so I guess both parties have waded into the water and it’s now up to their necks. But getting back to Libya, as well as other Arab or Islamic nations, it would be useful to understand the rage, turmoil and protests going on against any US presence in that part of the world. To do this, lets look at the facts this time.

Arab or Islamic countries in the Mid-East (Iran is Islamic but not Arab) have some of the most wretched economies in the world. Living conditions are often deplorable, and the the unemployment rates, especially for young men, are through the roof. Thus, you have tons of young men with tons energy, but with no outlets such as job opportunities, to release that energy. For tens if not hundreds of thousands of young men in their late teens, or twenties, or even thirties, their days consist of a dismal process of sitting around with no hopes for decent employment or a satisfying future. They have already given up on any prospects that their lives will, in any way, ever amount to anything. Their futures have already been taken from them. Thus, these young men with no hope or prospects, make fertile breeding grounds for the vile and hate-mongering radical islamists and terrorists, ever eager to wreck vengeance on the US, Israel and the West in general.Those that seek power through hate, as has been shown throughout history, will always look for willing followers among those that believe they have no future. And this is exactly what happened in Libya, Egypt and throughout the Mid-East. Using the slightest pretext, such as the making of a piece of garbage anti-Islamic film, tens of thousands of protesters, almost all young men, took to the streets in rage and anger, burning American and Israeli flags, setting fires to Embassy buildings, and in the worst case scenario, murdering 4 innocent diplomats in Libya. That rage and protest gave young men who had no other prospects, a new purpose for living. If it wasn’t for the pretext of a bad, hate-filled movie, the violent protesters would have come up with some other excuse to wreck their vengeance. And to try to score political points off those events could be considered perhaps a new low in mudslinging in American politics.

Just one more point I want to make about the presidential race. A few weeks back Mitt Romney  made the curious statement before a campaign crowd, that if young people couldn’t find decent jobs, they should borrow money from their parents and go into business for themselves. And I thought, of course, why didn’t I think of that when I was young. All those years I worked for someone as an employee, I could have started my own business and been the boss instead. I could have asked my parents to loan me their entire life savings, all $164.82 worth, and gone into the venture capital business like His Mittness did. Again, why didn’t I think of that?

 

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