Posts Tagged With: Romney

A LETTER FROM GERALD

My friend Gerald is still expressing anger and frustration, if not out-right bitterness, at Mitt Romney’s election loss, and does not hesitate to express his wrath every time I run into him. I told him if he was that angry, why not at least send the Romney camp an e-mail expressing his frustrations. He replied that he did that, but with the likely tens of thousands of e-mails they receive, his probably won’t get read. Next, I mentioned that I get to express my opinions on a blog, and that he could very easily set up his own blog, and vent away to his heart’s content. But Gerald didn’t think that was a good idea. He basically views a home computer as a way to obtain as much free stuff as humanly possible, or to play video games. Which is actually a step up, since in his younger days he believed it existed to surf the web for free porn. Besides, he said, outside of the election, what would he write about. His never-ending losses at the craps tables, or from betting on the ponies? He further stated that he was a lousy writer anyhow, but since I already had a blog, would I write a letter to Romney expressing his views, so others could share in his feelings. With great reluctance, and despite knowing better, I finally agreed. So the following is a letter to Romney written from Gerald’s perspective as best that I could capture it. I may have interjected some of my own thoughts, but Gerald had the final say as to content. Changes or deletions were made at Gerald’s behest.

Dear Mitt:

What the fuck? How could you have you have possibly lost the election to the worst President we’ve had since Jimmy Carter, or more likely, Herbert Hoover. You should have won in a landslide by 15-20 points. The way Nixon trounced McGovern in 1972 when he carried 49 states. Or the way Reagan beat Mondale in 1984, also carrying 49 states.  Instead you blew what should have been a sure thing. You did the near impossible; you managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Plus, you cost me a wad of cash when I so foolishly bet on you, because the local casinos were giving  much better odds on your victory versus Obama winning. Yes, that part’s my fault, since I well know from hard experience that the sports books are not in the business of losing. Nevertheless, you are not absolved from blowing what should have been a sure thing.

Here we are with the worst unemployment rate we’ve had since our troops hit the beaches at Normandy, to say nothing of a lagging economy that’s going nowhere, and a real estate market that’s still in the dumpster. Add to that oceans of read ink with a $16 trillion plus debt, and annual budget  deficits well north of a trillion dollars every year. Add to that the fact that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are bankrupting us to the point that we’re running out of places on this planet to borrow money. Even China has a limit as to how much we can borrow from them. We’re soon going to have to look for life on Mars or Pluto or somewhere, to see if they can lend us a few bucks. In other words it was a presidential candidate’s best possible scenario for winning an election, but still you blew it. So instead of being the most powerful man on Earth, there’s a picture of you on the web pumping your own gas, and then, probably on your way to the store to buy some detergent.

I know why you lost too. You had this habit of saying one thing one day, and then a completely opposite thing the next day. Okay, so maybe it was years instead of days, but you get the picture. The Democrats may be total incompetents, but they’re not entirely stupid. All they had to do was run an ad from when you said (in the 1990s) that like your mother you were strongly pro-choice on abortion, and showing it side-by-side with you saying that now you’re pro-life and opposed to legal abortions. The same thing on a whole bunch of other issues as well. You thought people wouldn’t be paying attention and would never notice. But you were wrong. Say or do anything to get elected? Most people consider that spinelessness. Having no core values tends to worry a lot of folks. Like bringing the hammer down on undocumented immigrants which you did so effectively during the Republican debates. I know you felt you had to go hard right during the primaries so that the looney-tunes, crack-pot element in the Republican Party would vote to give you the nomination. But did you think that Hispanic voters were not paying attention? That there would not be retribution from Latinos on election day. Or how about your comments that 47% of the populace were basically freeloaders. Or your “binders full of women” comments.  Or that you were a “severe conservative.” For a supposedly smart guy, you sure made a lot of stupid mistakes.

Still, when you came on like gangbusters during the first debate, while Obama basically snoozed, I had renewed hopes that my casino bets were not in vain. Things finally seemed to be going your way. Of course, by that point, as I said earlier, you should have been ahead by at least 15 points. Still, I thought, alls well that ends well, and a win by inches is as good as a win by miles. And then another rotten break-hurricane Sandy. When Chris Christie put his arm around Obama and praised him for coming to N.J. after Sandy’s devastation, I knew it was all over. I could see the local sports books already breaking open the champaign bottles bought just with bets that I had unwisely put down.

Please understand that I harbor no grudges. What’s done is done. Mistakes were made but that is the nature of life. Of course it would be nice if you could see fit to reimburse me for my betting losses, being the rich guy that you are, but I’m not holding my breath. You are obviously a good person and a very decent family man, even if you did send for take-out from Boston Market for your Thanksgiving dinner. I figured a guy with your money would have at least had a catered affair. Even I, with a tiny fraction of your money, took my beautiful wife out to some place nicer than Boston Market. In any event, as I’ve said, there’s no bad feelings. I wish you and your family good health and a happy future.

Your devoted servant,   Gerald P.

 

 

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AFTERTHOUGHTS

The fact that Barack Obama edged out a narrow victory in this election was nothing short of a minor miracle. The last time a president won re-election with an unemployment rate near 8% was in 1936. Then there’s the fact that the country is bleeding red ink with annual trillion plus dollars of budget deficits, and a combined overall red-ink tab exceeding $16 trillion. Let us also not forget that the entire economy is one step away from being on life-support as it barely limps along from one month to the next; and the real estate market, is for the most part, still in the dumpster, with housing prices still well below par, amid a continuing rate of foreclosures. On the international front, the recent fiasco in Libya, where the ambassador and 3 of his aides were murdered by terrorists because of a failure to provide adequate protection, would normally be enough sink any presidential candidate’s hopes. Then there’s Iran on the very cusp of developing nuclear bombs as they defy our puny attempts to shut down their nuclear capabilities, and the risks posed by the growing military strength of China and Russia which we also can’t stop. Although in China’s case, they’re really isn’t much of a risk since they own over a trillion dollars of our debt which would suddenly become worthless should they try any funny staff. To say nothing of the fact that we are such a lucrative market for them to dump their shlock goods on. The clothing aisles in Wal-Mart would be barren if not for cheap Chinese imports.

So how did Obama pull off this miracle. Certainly not by getting the white male vote which went to Romney by 20 points. But Obama achieved a 12 point plurality in receiving the white female vote, mainly because of the Republican’s almost fanatical anti-abortion position. Romney could have significantly cut into Obama’s lead among women had been willing to utter just one sentence such as: “If elected, I will NOT appoint a justice to the Supreme Court that would vote to overturn Roe V. Wade.” With that one statement, Romney would have likely siphoned off enough women’s votes to give him the election. But he couldn’t make himself do it, mainly out fear that his base of white evangelicals (read religious fanatics) would be so turned off by such a statement that he would lose their votes. A false assumption, as it were, since these people would never, under any circumstance, vote for Obama. The rest of the coalition that Democrats were able to stitch together, was comprised of young people under 30, and minority groups such as Latinos, African-Americans and Asians. The GOP, after all these years, has made relatively little effort to secure votes from these groups, and it cost them heavily.

About 95% of the black vote went to Obama, understandably, given the pride blacks felt in seeing one of their own in the Oval Office. But where Romney really lost the election was among Hispanic voters that went for Obama by an incredible 71%. They were the key element in several swing states such as Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and my own state, Nevada. All of these states went for Obama, albeit by narrow margins provided by the Latino vote. Back in the fun days of the Republican debates, each of those crazy kids up on stage were out to prove their anti-illegal immigration chops by trying to out-do each in how tough they would be on that subject. One of the main goals of the Tea-Party movement, in addition to slashing Government spending, was to stop illegal-immigration in its tracks, and deport as many illegals as possible. In those heady days, it was thought that Republican success at the polls was highly dependent on currying favor with Tea-Partiers, and Romney was no exception. During one of the debates, Romney, again trying to show how tough his anti-illegal stance was, made the curious statement that anyone here illegally should self-deport him or herself back to Mexico. (Like that would ever happen.) It seems that upon hearing that, Hispanics were not in a very forgiving mood, and as I said, 71% voted against the Republican candidate. Asians, because they were experiencing the lowest rate of unemployment among any voting bloc, also went heavily for Obama. Altogether, blacks, hispanics and asians comprised more than 25% of the votes cast, and further illustrated the GOP’s continuing problems with minorities.

There is one more factor I feel is significant, and that is Romney’s inability to connect, on a personal level, with the average man and woman. Almost all of us go through life with feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, weakness, fear, anger issues, depression at times, and even a sense of personal failure, etc., although we may not admit or show these feelings to the rest of the world (except maybe to a psychologist, if you have the money.) Is there anyone out there that has not had some or all of these feelings from time to time. But not Mitt Romney. He was born rich, handsome and smart. He was an honor student in high school and college, which, by the way, was Harvard. After graduating college, he plowed through the world of finance without a setback. He eventually become boss in a huge venture capital operation and earned hundreds of millions of dollars. He has a picture perfect marriage and 5 sons that any parent would die for. And he wears these incredibly successful life experiences like a suit of armor that cannot be penetrated by the slings and arrows of any possible misfortune. No self-doubt or feelings of inadequacy there. If there is any chink in Mitt Romney’s armor, it’s the fact that there are no chinks in his armor.

Who can identify with such a person? The guy behind the counter at your local 7-11?  The truck  driver that has driven hundreds of miles to his destination, and now has to schlep all the heavy boxes he was carrying off the truck? Has anyone, in the history of mankind, ever led a more perfect life? I kind of doubt it. All this abundance has shown thru in the hugely self-confident way that Romney conducts and projects himself. Not that Obama hasn’t also led a privileged life. But Obama goes to great lengths to identify with the average person. He openly roots for the Chicago White Sox. He makes his picks well-known for the NCAA college basketball finals, known as March Madness. He takes his girls to local ice cream stores or hamburger joints in Washington. But Romney’s life has been so perfect that he is just unable to make a personal connection with his fellow citizens. In the end, I believe this went a long way toward crushing his dreams of sitting in the Oval Office.

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FINALLY OVER

At long last, it’s finally coming to an end. Today is the final day we’ll have to put up with all those vile, obnoxious, mudslinging TV ads; all the mendacious junk mail assaulting  our mailboxes every day advocating for every candidate from state assemblyman to president; and all the equally vile and obnoxious attack phone calls invading the privacy of our homes. The phone calls got so bad that I have had to unplug the phone in our bedroom when we turned in for the night. I was getting calls before 5 A.M or after 11 at night; probably from East Coast campaign workers oblivious to the 3- hour difference between Eastern and Pacific Coast times. But, as I’ve said, what started well over a year ago, finally comes to it’s conclusion tonight.

I do have to admit that I sort of miss the-carnival-is-coming-to-town atmosphere of the Republican debates that began in 2011. There, up-on-stage were the carnival actors or clowns if you prefer. There was the dingbat element represented by Michele Bachman and wacky Ricky Santorum, the old crank that was Ron Paul, rotund Newt the Lovable, the bible thumper Rick Perry, and, of course, His Mittness, who by appearing to act with some clarity and sanity out-lasted all of them and secured the Republican nomination, and is now on the very edge of becoming our next president. There was also one other candidate, Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah. But his problem was that he spoke with such common sense and rationality, that Republican primary voters just couldn’t handle someone that didn’t feed into their world of delusion. Therefore Huntsman wasn’t able to gain any traction, and finally had to drop out of the race. Those were the fun days of the 2012 election, but now it has become a colossal and nauseating drag.

If nothing else, however, this election has richly displayed both the coarsening and polarization of modern-day America. The mean-spirited venom that has spewed forth from from each candidate and their surrogates, from president, to congressional, and to state and local races speaks to both social conditions. First, there is the mind-boggling $3 billion that will have been spent on all these candidates when it finally ends tomorrow. How many hungry people in the world could that $3 billion have fed; how much infrastructure, water or sewer pipes, electrical grids, roads and bridges, etc. could that money have built or repaired. When you think of all the good that money could have been used for versus the garbage ads some of you may be removing from your mailboxes even as I type this, you can only conclude-what a waste. About $2 billion of that amount will have gone into the presidential race where both men are now so hopelessly compromised and beholden to their fat-cat donors, that it’s hard to see how anything meaningful can be accomplished for the rest of the country.

The polarization of America can be seen in the fact that a day before the election, all polls show the race to be a 50-50 toss-up. About half the electorate believes the answer to our huge problems is to severely slash Government spending (except for  military spending),  and cut tax rates that will primarily benefit the rich, while the other half believes that Government is needed to help the poor, the sick, the unemployed and the elderly. Half believes that we should edge toward a Christian theocracy by banning abortion and gay rights and gay marriage, while the other half maintains that we should hold onto a secular society. There appears to be no meeting of the minds or a desire for compromise on either side. So even if Romney wins tomorrow (as I suspect he will) it will be a divided nation with a divided Government. The Democrats will have at least as many Senators as needed to mount a successful filibuster, which could throw a monkey wrench into a President Romney’s agenda. If Obama should manage to squeak out a victory the same would hold true for the Republicans ability to filibuster in the Senate. In the the end we are likely to have a Government that barely muddles through the process of governing and achieves nothing meaningful.

A good example of the coarsening of America could be seen after the 2008 elections. After it was clear that Obama was the victor, there was a huge run on gun stores to purchase as many guns and as much ammo  as people could stuff into their trucks. Now buying a gun is not like buying a loaf of bread. A gun goes for around $500 a pop and can increase in cost into the thousands. Yet millions of people, most of them of modest means, were buying firearms as if they were loaves of bread. In their minds, with the Democrats in power, tanks would soon be rolling down their streets, with armed military going door-to-door, and taking away everyone’s firearms. These people would be defenseless, and then soon shipped off to concentration camps if they opposed the administration. Of course, the gun mentality is just one example of the coarsening of our society. Everything from the degradation of our pop culture to the lack of civility in our everyday dealings with one another, to the lack of compassion in the way we treat the less fortunate among us, to the growing superficiality and shallowness among the populace, bespeaks to the constant dumbing down and coarsening of American society. And now with society so highly polarized, that trend seems to be going in a steady stream downhill.

One last thing. The worst possible outcome in tomorrow’s election would be if the voting was so evenly divided, especially in the swing states, that no winner could be readily ascertained. Counts and recounts could drag on for days or even weeks, with both sides fighting vociferously to get their guy declared the winner. The election results could even wind up for the courts to decide, the way the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, granted George Bush the winner over Al Gore in the 2000 election. If something like that were to happen, imagine the bitterness and hostility that would emanate from the losing side. It would result in polarization on steroids.

 

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RELIGIOUS FANATICISM ….. AGAIN

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on abortion in the case known as Roe V. Wade. In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court, citing a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, struck down laws that existed in virtually every state, that restricted a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in a sterile medical facility. Abortions were still taking place prior to the court’s decision; but more often than not, women had to accept some back-alley butcher as the abortion provider. It didn’t happen frequently, but sometimes women died during the procedure, because the person performing the abortion was often not a medical professional. In the 39 years since Roe V. Wade became law, about 55 million abortions have taken place, over, of course, the strenuous objections of religious fanatics who have fought the de-criminalization of abortion every step of the way. The Republican platform this year would prohibit abortions in every circumstance, without exception. Since the prohibition of anything is meaningless unless there are serious criminal penalties attached, the tens of millions of women that have had abortions over the last 39 years would have to do some serious jail time (say 5-10 years or longer) to say nothing of the doctors that performed the abortions and the nurses that may have assisted them, had the anti-abortionists won the day. I always knew that there was a considerable shortage of prison space in this country.

This came to mind because during this election season, all the snakes seem to be slithering out from under the rocks that sheltered them. For example, about 6-8 months ago there were a series of vile sermons given in churches (all of which seemed to be in North Carolina for some reason) that sought to demonize homosexuality in general and gay marriage in particular using the most venomous language. The sermons were being recorded and later posted on YouTube for all the world to see. What was most disturbing about these exercises in pure, distilled hatred, was not the bible-thumping crackpots giving these sermons. It was the several hundred people who attended these churches and cheered wildly as the bible -thumpers promised hell and damnation to anyone living the gay life-style. So much for civility and love-thy-neighbor in the Christian community.

Then several weeks ago, the Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri decided that he was going to outdo everybody in his fanatical anti-abortion beliefs. He came out with statements to the effect that he was told by medical professionals, that in cases of “legitimate” rape, a woman’s body would naturally cleanse itself of the fetus. He didn’t say what the body would do in cases of illegitimate rape, or for that matter, what his definitions of legitimate versus illegitimate rape were. The absurdity of his remarks were so mind-boggeling that even Mitt Romney, who goes to huge lengths not to offend any possible voter, issued a mild rebuke. However, even Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s former consigliere, who has created his own Super-Pac, with express intent of electing an all-Repulican Congress as a present to a Romney presidency, washed his hands of that one.

Still not to be out-done in religious fanaticism, the guy running for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, the other day, made the incoherent statement that if a woman gets pregnant because of rape (presumably both legitimate and illegitimate) it’s God’s will that she have that baby rather than seek abortion. ( Just the words that  the parents of a 15 year-old daughter that’s been sexually assaulted by some psycho animal, want to hear.) The problem in this case is that His Mittness had previously been caught on tape as endorsing this Republican candidate, as just the type of person that’s needed in Washington to clean things up. Fearing that he may have already alienated one evangelical nut-case too many with his previous rebuke of the guy in Missouri, His Mittness is still standing by his endorsement of the Indiana would-be Senator. Both the Missouri and Indiana religious extremists are Tea-Party favorites who believe that all our fiscal problems will be solved if we just cut-out the couple of million dollars the Government gives to Planned Parenthood. But don’t under-estimate depth of religious zealotry that prevails in much of this country, especially in the mid-west and south. Both men might still eke out a narrow victory in each of their races.

Lets go back, for the moment, to the elections of 2010 when the Tea Party movement was at its zenith. It was obvious that the GOP would capture control of the House of Representatives by a wide margin due to the country’s dislike of Obamacare and other issues. Karl Rove, who I mentioned earlier, also set his sights on Republican control of the Senate; but that would be more difficult because the Democrats had 59 Senate seats. But it was doable. One of the key Senate races that Rove was counting on to switch from Democrat to Republican was in Delaware. Mike Castle, one of dying breed of moderate Republicans, was running for that seat, and was considered a shoo-in victor against his Democratic opponent. He had been a popular Governor and then Congressman, and Rove considered his election to be a forgone conclusion. But first he had to win the GOP primary.

The Tea Party movement at that time, in its infinite wisdom, considered Mike Castle to be too moderate, and so put up their own candidate to oppose him in the primary. Their choice was a woman named Christine O’Donnell who had no previous political experience. Like Sarah Palin, she was pretty and perky, but a complete dingbat. However, only 12% of registered Republicans bothered to show up for the primary vote, and most of them were Tea Party fanatics. Christine O’Donnell, therefore, beat Mike Castle in the primary to became the GOP nominee, but thereby ended all hopes of the Senate reverting to Republican control. Upon hearing the news of Christine’s win, it was said that Karl Rove threw a tantrum, beating his fists into the floor and wailing for 24 hours.

In the general election (which was for Joe Biden’s old seat), it came out that Christine had practiced some form of witchcraft in the 1990s. As you may remember, that led her to cut a famous TV ad in which she starts out by saying: “I’m not a witch.” Words that the average American thought they would never hear in a political campaign since the 17th century. In any event, the Democrat, who was largely unknown, easily won the race and ended GOP hopes for Senate control.

In this coming election, the Tea Party is also strongly backing Mitt Romney and Republican Congressional hopefuls. It doesn’t matter that His Mittness used to be for safe and legal abortions before he was against them, that he was for universal health care before he was against it, that he was for gun control laws before he was against them and on and on. If I listed everything, I have a blog longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls. But if elected, Romney will make one major difference, and that is appointing an anti-abotion judge to the Supreme Court. The 40 year dream of zealots, fanatics, and outright religious crackpots, of overturning Roe V. Wade will finally be realized, if the public allows this by electing Mitt Romney as our next President.

 

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

No, this isn’t a piece on the classic masterpiece written by Charles Dickens in the 19th century, although a discussion of that novel would certainly be a worthy topic. Instead, I’m writing about new-found Republican optimism following last week’s acclaimed performance by Mitt Romney at the first Presidential debate. He came charging out-of-the-gate with just the right amount of strong aggressiveness mixed with smiling friendliness to win plaudits from both Republicans and Democrats alike. President Obama, on the other hand, appeared weak and indecisive, as if he believed the latest polls showing him in the lead in key states, and felt as long as he didn’t commit any major gaffes, he could just coast along until election day. But as any football team can tell you, trying to just sit on a lead and let the clock run out is often a recipe for disaster. So Obama’s poor performance may well cost him the presidency as the most recent polls show Romney surging into the lead. Couple a very probable Romney win with the strong possibility that the GOP will also capture control of the Senate and House, and I thought it might be fun, if you want to call it that, to see what an all Republican-run Government might look like come next January.

Let’s start with the comment made last week by a Republican Congressman from Georgia. He said that everyone who believed in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was either going straight to hell, or deserved to be sent to hell. He further stated that the Earth was only 9000 years old, and anyone who believed otherwise was going, again, to you know where. I guess those dinosaurs that roamed the planet 65 million years ago only thought they were on planet Earth. They must have been in an entirely different galaxy altogether. While I can’t find the words to describe the grandiose stupidity of such remarks, the most troubling aspect is number of citizens and voters who believe such delusional thinking. The tens or hundreds of thousands of voters that elected this guy to Congress in the first place. Or the fact that numerous polls show a majority of the populace does not believe in Evolution, even though one visit to any museum of natural history in any major city, would prove to them otherwise. But I guess people who prefer to live in a state of delusion, especially religious delusion, are not big museum goers.

In any event, His Mittness has focused on the poor job market and our huge deficit spending as his main targets to address when entering the Oval Office, so let’s see what would happen come January. In the debate, Romney stated that he would eliminate Government assistance to the Public Broadcasting System and Planned Parenthood. The total Government subsidy to these 2 organizations is about $2.5 million out of an annual budget of $3.8 trillion and an accumulated deficit of $16 trillion. It would be like scooping a glass of water out of the ocean in order to reduce the sea level. So why does Romney even mention these 2 examples? Because PBS is perceived as being favorable toward liberals (even though they’re not) while Planned Parenthood, of course, performs the unforgivable sin of allowing abortions. If PPS favored the  conservative cause, the GOP would want to shower it with funding. On the other hand, His Mittness has stated that he wants to sharply increase Defense spending, i.e. buy more ships, planes, missiles, etc., and significantly increase troop strength. He’s talking about increasing the Defense budget, which already stands at over $700 billion annually, anywhere from another $100-$200 billion a year, but hasn’t said where he would get the additional funding. Oh I know. He could obtain the extra cash from  Big Bird’s nest egg. Romney has publicly stated that he want’s to cut income taxes by 20%, increase Defense spending by $1-2 trillion over 10 years, and yet magically balance the budget. He would follow the same formula that Ronald Reagan used in the 1980’s. Only Reagan’s actions led to a 300 percent increase in our accumulated deficit. These are all crucial points that Obama could have made but didn’t, as he snoozed his way through the debate.

The supposedly rotten economy is Romney’s other big selling point. Except it’s not quite as rotten as it has been made out to be. The vast majority of Americans are working in their preferred jobs. The stock market has been on a steady surge upward. The unemployment rate is higher than the preferred norm by about 2 percent, but it’s getting better. If some of the 15-20 million jobs that American companies have shipped overseas were brought brought back to the U.S., the unemployment numbers would be so low that there would be dancing in the streets. The real estate market, which was the main culprit behind the entire economic downturn in the first place, is still in poor shape. But real estate prices had become so over-inflated, and banks and mortgage companies had acquired so much worthless paper, that it will take years for the market to make a reasonable recovery. This is true no matter who had been elected President. Also true is that whether it’s Obama or Romney in the White House next year, the economy will continue to steadily improve, regardless of the President’s actions. Further points that the Democrat’s could have, but didn’t make.

One last thing. To show the incredible level of Democratic political ineptness and incompetence, one needs to look no further than the very blue state of Conn. There is a Senate race this year that pits the Democratic candidate against a Republican woman whose primary qualification is that she is or was co-owner of the Worldwide Wrestling Federation. This she be a no-brainer win for the Democrat in this, as I’ve said, very blue state. Yet the latest polls show the GOP WWF owner to be winning. If the Dems lose that race, it’s very likely they will lose control of the Senate. When it comes to political competence or smarts, the GOP is like the N.Y. Yankees playing, not a triple A minor league team, but a double A team, for the World Series. It’s a miracle that the Dems ever win any important race. I can only chalk it up to how rotten the Republican agenda is.

 

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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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SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS

A new HBO series started Sunday night called “The Newsroom.” It’s written by the same guy who wrote “The West Wing” so it has some very sharp and smart political give and take. During the broadcast, when the main character was in heated discussion with some of his staff, he made the comment that the country is more politically polarized now than at any time since the Civil War. And we all know how well that turned out. I have to agree that there is currently extreme polarization among the electorate, with the Obama haters going into full fury mode in an attempt to win the election for Mitt Romney. It’s a battle of the the billionaires, with most billionaires on Romney’s side, willing to contribute as much as it takes to buy the election for the Republicans. Two of those billionaires operate here in Las Vegas: Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. They both own mega-resorts from whence their wealth is obtained. So if you come to Las Vegas and throw your money away on the stingy slot machines in their casinos, you’ll also be contributing toward buying the election for his Mittness. Which, if you’re a Republican, I guess is a good thing.

I’ve written before about the many failings of a democratic form of government. Democracy is based on the notion that a majority of voters who cast their ballots, will inevitably decide what is best for the nation. What nonsense. The truth is that most voters are total idiots when it comes to the important issues of the day. Their votes are usually predicated on which set of obnoxious, untruthful commercials they see on television, or irrational fears and paranoia of what will happen if the other guy succeeds. Then their are those that try to use underhanded methods to game the system. For example, the Governor of Florida, a Republican, is trying to “purge” the voter rolls of supposedly ineligible voters. Trouble is, almost all of these “ineligibles” are minorities that usually vote Democratic. Other Republican governors throughout the country have succeeded in passing voter ID laws, again directed at the poor or minorities who often lack drivers licenses or similar ID. If they can intimidate or otherwise prevent enough lower-class people from voting, the GOP then has a lock on all future elections.

Two illustrations readily come to mind about the folly of the democratic process. In the first, poll after poll during the past couple of years show that people have an extremely poor view of Congress. Congressional approval ratings have recently dropped to an all-time low of about 13 percent. Well who put these Congress men and women there in the first place , if not for us, we the people. Maybe the populace believes that beings from Pluto came down in spaceships and took over the halls of Congress. And they’re doing such a horrible job in retribution for the fact that, a couple of years back, we down-graded Pluto from being an official planet in in our solar system. And who could blame them. I mean, we had no call to down-grade Pluto just because it was smaller than the other planets. No wonder all those Plutonians that now occupy the House and Senate are so pissed off at us, and doing such a rotten job. It couldn’t possibly be because we, the voters, keep screwing up over and over.

On a more serious note, the democratic process in Egypt has just taken an ominous turn. Egypt had been ruled by fairly benign dictatorship for the past 30 years or more. It was a secular dictatorship, but people were given a stagnant economy and very little freedom. That dictatorship was overthrown last year, and after much turmoil and chaos, Egyptians finally got to vote for their president. So, in full democratic mode, the election was held last week and the winner was finally announced a couple of days ago. It was an extremely close election, but the winner turned out to be the candidate from the Moslem Brotherhood, which is a notoriously fundamentalist Islamic organization, with chapters throughout the Arab world. The military in Egypt still seeks to retain the dominant political power, but it is likely, inch-by-inch, that the Moslem Brotherhood will slowly turn Egypt from the secular state that currently exists, into a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy. Think of Iran to understand what that’s like. The people of Egypt have voluntarily, through the democratic process, voted to give up their secular freedoms for a new kind of religious dictatorship. By the time they realize their blunder, it will be too late to reverse course. And it’s not only bad news for Israel, but for the U.S. as well.

I believe that there is a large segment of the population in this country that would like to foist a Christian theocracy  throughout the land. I think of them as the Christian Taliban. They’re comprised of what we call evangelicals, as well as fundamentalist Baptist organizations, and other religious fanatics. The first thing to go under such a religious theocracy would be legalized abortion. They have already succeeded in ridding the state of Mississippi of even one single abortion provider. The next to go would be gay rights. Gays would have to get way back into the closet, if they wanted to function in such a society. Of course, there are Jewish religious fundamentalists too, who would seek the same objectives, but their numbers are too small to have any real impact. The point is, however, that through the democratic process, people often make really bad choices, that they later regret, when its too late to remedy the situation. Choices like voluntarily giving up freedoms that are too often taken for granted.

Years ago, there used to be a cartoon strip called “Pogo.” It was about an amusing group of swamp animals and all the antics they would get into. One great quote that came out of that strip went as follows: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Think about that when you go into the voting booth in November, to vote for the best candidate the billionaires can buy.

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