Days of Change

Day 1091 – A Scandal This Big

October 31, 2011
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If we take Herman Cain at his word, (and at this point, he has the most complete story) he gestured that a woman came up to his chin in height and that both pissed her off and forced her to go to her boss’ boss at the National Restaurant Association. If Romney / Obama / Politico wants to take Cain down, they’d better try a lot harder.

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Day 1090 – She Who Shall Not Be Tamed

October 30, 2011
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The media and the entrenched wing of the Republican Party have decided that Mitt Romney will be the nominee for 2012. No others need apply. This may be part of the “it’s his turn” sentiment of the party, but that could apply to Sarah Palin as well. That rule gets confusing, too. Mitt lost the nomination in 2008 and it went to McCain who lost the nomination in 2000. Bush 41 won as an appendage of Ronald Reagan and lost on his own record in 1992. Ronald Reagan himself got pretty screwed by the party. He ran in 1968 as a Goldwater Republican, then lost to one of the most shameful presidents in history, who lost the general election in 1960. But I guess it was Nixon’s turn. Reagan then lost the nomination to one of the most embarrassing presidents in history, who won because he was Nixon’s appointed Vice President, then pardoned him. Only George W. Bush bucked the trend of paying dues and he got two terms. Losing the presidential race does not qualify you to be president.

Still, a win is a win. The Republicans have won a lot of elections with retreads. The Romney strategy was likely formulated in the summer of 2008. McCain would choose someone like Joe Lieberman for vice president, get outspent beyond belief and lose a couple of big swing states. In the next two years, Democrats would spend like crazy and the Republicans would win enough Senate seats for a proper filibuster. The Democrats would keep the House and taxes would get raised. Then Romney rolls in as the only alternative to a Democratic president and Congress on a conservative platform of economic sanity.

But a funny thing happened on the way to 2012. People got tired of waiting for the political parties to save them. They found allies in the decimated Republican Party and turned the House red. In turn, the Republicans didn’t seem to know how to use them for their purposes. Now, those same people looking to green-light Romney are scared of the Tea Party wing they relied on in 2010because they seem to shift from candidate to candidate and never settle for on Mitt Romney.

The GOP contenders have either disparaged the Tea Party, (Huntsman) tried to bend them to their agenda (Bachmann) or pandered to them when possible (the others). Only one prominent Republican has gotten what the Tea Party is about from Day 1. That’s Sarah Palin.

Bachmann, Cain and to some extent Perry have been stalking horses for Palin. They rise and fall depending on how badly they fit the mold. I still don’t know why Palin isn’t running, but I suspect it may have to do with the Republican nomination more than the general election. She could easily get 40% to Romney’s 25% and take a number of delegates. Then there would be a convention fight which she would likely lose. If she won, the party insiders have shown in 2010 that they will sit home rather than let a Tea Partier be elected.

Sarah Palin is reloading. If the Tea Party is strong enough to keep victory away from Romney, she will keep her endorsement from him. If he is nominated, she will work to elect enough down ticket Republicans to effectively neuter President Obama. Sometimes it takes a few election cycles before people are ready to nominate the right woman.

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Day 1089 – Who is Joseph Stiglitz?

October 29, 2011

I really wanted to stop doing Occupy posts, but this is just too bothersome to me.

Last week, I was reading an old blog post of mine from April and poster turned Occupy drone ralphb had the following comment on my debt ceiling post.

It goes to the Joe Stiglitz Maxim: a government of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1%.

He’s generally right. In one article some time back, he wrote that economics was a failed profession which should be re-invented from the ground up. No matter what, I like Stiglitz.

Well, if this guy was talking 1% from a while back, I figured he must have something to do with OWS. Actually, Stiglitz is bigger than that. Besides being an economist who seems to hate every other economist (kind of like a less famous Paul Krugman) and he loves protesters.

From Wikipedia:

On July 25, 2011, Stiglitz participated to the “I Foro Social del 15M” organized in Madrid (Spain) expressing his support to the 2011 Spanish protests.

He also spoke at an Occupy rally back on October 2.

It turns out that Stiglitz shows up on the boards of a number of George Soros funded organizations. His economic theories call for more government ownership of the business and banking sectors, while he claims to oppose socialism.

The next time I read a post about Stiglitz, it linked to this article from the IMF (now with less rapists!) about the recovery in Iceland brought about by devaluing their currency (back door inflation) and by letting banks collapse. This has followed with something of a recovery, but while the poor are on a generous government dole, the middle class is saddled with foreign bank debt and devalued wages. Still, some people love this solution because it supposedly stuck it to the banks.

So, let’s take inadequate free-market capitalism, a putative denial of socialism, thumbs up to government control of the economy, the middle finger to bank bailouts and the lionization of street mobs. What do you get? Anarchy.

Here’s the trick. No one really wants anarchy. Some people want it for a while and they are the agitators. After a while, even those people get sick of people with no rules messing with them. Anarchy is, however, an excellent means to an end. The “smart” people are sick of the dumb people making the rules. Imposing order is hard in a democracy, because people get to choose all kinds of wrong things for themselves. You would need to break down society for the general public to accept that kind of order.

The Occupiers are already at the anarchy stage. Most cities have made minor concessions and are frequently thwarted anyway. Arrest them and your city spends a fortune on incarceration. Disperse them and they sue for millions. If this crap keeps going, you’ll see large-scale government crackdowns and the people will enjoy the spectacle. Then we have real old-time fascism.

Anyone who thinks that the average 53%er who pays taxes and thinks the protesters are a bunch of whiny kids is really some big money capitalist whip kisser, watch what happens when the real whips show up. This 0.01% calling themselves the 99% are the dupes for a much more sinister model of fascists waiting for the world to break down.

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Day 1088 – Same Kool-Aid, Different Flavor

October 28, 2011
1 Comment

Oh Noooo!

I’ve noticed a subtle switch in the media now that Herman Cain is at least one of the front-runners. Cain was previously not a serious candidate because of the cold math of opinion polling. Now that the same polling puts him in a strong position, Republicans have taken to picking on his ads and overemphasizing statements to disqualify him as a candidate.

When Democrats were fighting for the soul of the party in early 2008, Republicans were engaged in a similar, but less publicized battle. There were three candidates with any staying power. Mike Huckabee was the cultural conservative who embodied the most of the Reagan mantle. John McCain was the experienced war hero who was willing to buck his own party and had the best chance against Hillary Clinton. Then there was Mitt Romney. He was considered the favorite of conservatives, some of whom became Obama supporters when Romney lost. Mitt was a flip-flopper on social issues, a veteran of big finance and what the bosses of the GOP thought a candidate should be. He probably had the best chance of beating Obama, Romney would have ditched the federal matching fund system and played every race and cultural card necessary to win.

As tough as Romney may be in an election fight, the 2012 race is not 2008. He and Obama are practically the same guy, and Obama has the (badly executed) experience. He also has the entire Democratic machine behind him. Romney has about half of his party’s machinery. I would prefer Romney, but mostly because he would be more accountable to the probama media. He’s not the problem so much as the way he’s being anointed,

Mitt Romney was touted as the conservative choice by Republican media pundits in 2008. McCain was mostly written off. Then a funny thing happened. The rank and file of the party just didn’t want to vote for him. Huckabee and McCain stayed in the race and Romney just couldn’t move in for the kill. In today’s post Tea Party world, Romney can’t even claim the conservative mantle. Instead, he’s going for electability. The GOP tried to use electability as a weapon when they realized Tea Party sympathizers would not vote for the party choice in a primary. They used the loss of Christine O’Donnell as justification for liberal Mike Castle. They claimed 4 Senate seats could have been won if the least Tea Party candidate were chosen, when 7 seats were due to the Tea party. If they had the choice, Jon Huntsman would be the nominee. He currently runs about 0% in polls.

Ultimately, this is not about Herman Cain. Before him, it was Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann. It may be Newt Gingrich after him. This is about electing a president who wasn’t forged in the fires of party money and cronyism. It’s too late for Democrats. Their blue Kool-Aid man is chosen. Will the Republicans force primary voters to pick the Red Kool-Aid man?

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Day 1087 – Exempt

October 27, 2011

The Congressional Super Committee seems to be at an impasse. Instead of no cuts, a failure by this group will instead lead to a set of predetermined spending cuts. Now, the White House is using this process as part of their “we can’t wait” campaign. They’ll throw in a few more spending cuts in exchange for increased revenue, otherwise known as taxes.

Democrats have tried six ways from Sunday to raise taxes. Instead of undoing the Bush-era tax cuts, which would raise the tax rate on the lowest bracket by 50% and others by smaller amounts, they want to pick an income ($1 million is popular) and levy a new tax on that group. There seems to be a lot of public sentiment for the idea. Some “patriotic” millionaires are even suggesting it. Democrats don’t even seem to mind that taxing their potential contributors would negatively impact them,

Or do they? Since literally Day One of the Obama administration, the waiver has been used for anything from getting lobbyists into the White House to exempting certain employers from provisions in Obamacare. The tax code is hundreds of pages of ways to not pay taxes. Think about the way most people pay taxes. The federal tax levy for personal income could fit on one page. The rest is itemization, incentives, credits and exemptions designed to reduce taxable income.

No wealthy person wants to pay more taxes. At the same time, if they know which way the wind is blowing, they want to make sure they are the ones with the waiver. TARP and Obamacare are examples of legislation which passed due to the huge financial incentives given to those who ultimately voted yes. The wealthy who are most shut out will be the ones to find there is no “fair share” to be had. The low-end of the highest tax bracket will likely pay the highest percentage of income in taxes and they usually hire the most people per dollar of income.

Instead of pouring more money into a sieve, we should try shoring it up a little. I think we would get better results by cutting the tax code in half than doubling the tax rate.

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Day 1086 – The Smoking Man

October 26, 2011
1 Comment

Mark Block may be more famous than some of the Republican candidates. He’s Herman Cain’s Chief of Staff and he likes to light one up outside a building.

In the 1990s, a Canadian actor named William B. Davis was identified by a habit his character displayed on “The X Files.” At that time, it indicated a certain untouchable quality that a man could smoke in generally smoke-free government buildings. Now, smoking itself is an anachronism. You can’t do it in most parks in New York City, except if you’re a mayor-approved squatter.

Now, any polished, professional presidential campaign would never show a smoker on-screen, smoking. Mitt Romney would certainly never have smoking in his ads. He would even stop smoking just because he wants to be president that bad. President Obama just lies about quitting, then sneaks a puff when no one is allowed to look. We all know what America looks like in a political ad. There’s an old white guy, a young woman, a middle-aged black guy. There may be a young Hispanic. You might even get an Asian or an Indian if you’re lucky.

Mitt Romney’s videos on YouTube are pretty boiler plate. His people make sure most of the comments are either anti-Obama or pro-Romeny. Rick Perry has hired Tim Pawlenty’s cinematic ad team. Those videos don’t seem to allow comments at all. Cain’s videos, in keeping with the outlaw nature of his campaign, seem to let many comments stand, which also tends to make his critics look like fools. Then again, his shoe string budget ad was the one to make it on news and entertainment shows yesterday.

If Cain has the ability to get support, the money and organization will come. In 2004, John Kerry took out a $6 million mortgage on one of his homes in the last days of the Iowa caucus. When he won with less than a majority, most of the Democratic Party fell behind him immediately. If Herman Cain wins Iowa or New Hampshire, Republicans will be falling over themselves trying to give him money or get hired. By then, he’ll still have the better part of a year to win the nomination.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

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Day 1085 – Middle Eastern Caliphation

October 25, 2011

One of the strange things I’ve seen lately is the willingness of Democrats to cheer Jackass’ hits on various leaders (or the occasional American citizen). Not only that, but they insist that their newly acquired taste for blood extend to Republicans who supported the War on Terror. Gaddafi had nothing to do with the War on Terror. He was an early ally (of sorts) with the US after the war began. UBL was taken out without the Pakistani government, something that may affect our political relationship. The old caution was that killing foreign leaders might end with the assassination of our leader, but Obama is apparently 10 feet tall and bulletproof.

If we look at the Middle East, however, we find that there is much more happening than regime change. Dictators like Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein were Muslims for show. They were attempting to bring their countries out of religious rule because it was bad for their business. Now they’re gone and Sharia law is back. Afghanistan was ruled by a religious group. Those Muslims thought nothing of blowing up Buddhist statues 2000 years old or training terrorists. Karzai became a symbol of more secular democracy. Now, he’s so scared of losing his power, he’s gone anti-American.

What we have is a region that will be more ruled by Muslim law in the next decade. It’s a caliphate, if you will. Everything Obama has done so far has had the effect of eliminating personalities and replacing them with religious groups unbound by any form of stable government. Mind you, I don’t think this was some evil Muslim Obama plan. This is more like the result of an incompetent fool in the White House not able to think further ahead than the next news cycle. Which head of state will get it next? Only God knows.

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Day 1084 – Where’s the other 70%?

October 24, 2011
1 Comment

When you have a field of over a half-dozen candidates, (I forgot about Buddy Roemer and others already) you only need 20% or so to be a front-runner. Mitt Romney goes over 30% when he’s paired against Obama as a binary choice or when the options are limited in some other way. At the same time, he benefits from the fact that so many others are keeping anyone else from being the clear frontrunner.

Herman Cain is ahead in the polls, but he needs to maintain that lead longer than a month. Bachmann had a month, Perry had slightly less. Romney has been consistent, but consistently low. Even in 2008, he tended to stay around 30% when paired against more than one challenger. Does he have the ability to get to 50%?

Mitt Romney has been more interested in tearing down his opponents than building himself up. Even Obama made sure his personal narrative was inspirational while surrogates slimed his rivals. Bill Clinton had TV producer friends make his campaign videos. Now Perry has Tim Pawlenty’s ridiculously dramatic ad team. What’s worse for Romney is that he’s creating a lot of bad blood among his rivals who will be the ones to endorse him if he wins the nomination.

I hope the Republican Party is aware that it will take all hands on deck to defeat Obama. He has money, patronage and the media behind him. The economy may suck, but they’ll just ignore it and run on something else. Romney needs to not let Obama change the game, and he’d better not do Obama’s job for him if one of his opponents gets the nomination.

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Day 1083 – I Guess This is What a Republican Looks Like

October 23, 2011
Mitt Romney - Just a Regular Guy

Mitt Romney - Just a Regular Guy

Everything old may be new again. Last week’s debate ended up not drawing attention for attacking Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, but the endless war between Mitt Romney and nearly fourth place contender Rick Perry. Perry managed to finally break through the veneer of Romney’s inevitability.

Someone said that the winner in the debate last week was Herman Cain. I agree. Nothing about the confrontation served either candidate well. Perry went after Romney’s illegal immigration incident in the ridiculous way The Nation accused Lou Dobbs of the same thing. Romney hired a company who had illegal immigrants working for them. It’s not something you automatically think to inquire about. Romney decided to throw up all over himself by saying that he fired the company as soon as he found out, because he was running for president. By extension, it says he only cared how it made him look.

Perry knows that his competition is Romney and he needs to be taken down. Perry’s own immigration policy and crony capitalism has damaged his reputation with conservatives. He now has to squeeze into the space to the left of Herman Cain and the right of Mitt Romney. In other words, it’s over.

Cain has surprisingly strong support among Republicans, but he’s less polished than he needs to be and he has no money to speak of. He’s the front-runner no one treats like a front-runner. That means Romney will get the vetting and Cain is poised to fall apart quickly.

In the Obama administration’s continuing cribbing of the Bush playbook, they plan to run the 2004 campaign on Mitt Romney. He’s a flip-flopper, elitist yet culturally dissimilar and running against a sitting president who kicks foreign people’s asses. Their advantage is that Romney represents every stereotype about Republicans going back 50 years. Then again, Obama is a lot less popular than Bush was in 2004, especially since the economy was recovering for him.

People seem to like Herman Cain because of his lack of polish or even because of his race. The fact is that he’s also smart (computer and math degrees) and successful. He was able to take down Bill Clinton on a discussion of business costs. He may not have marched in civil rights protests, but he is the embodiment of the goals of that movement. Maybe Mitt could be his Vice President. We’ll worry about him in 2020.

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Day 1082 – Shlock News

October 22, 2011

Another unbiased MSNBC daytime reporter.

Bruce Bartlett has been using his “I was a supply-sider in the 80s” Republican credentials to go after Republicans for the last 5 years. Recently, he called Rick Perry an idiot. Now, he takes on Fox News in a similarly scholarly manner.

Ailes and radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh were quick to recognize that there was an unfilled market for opinionated political talk and that the AM radio dial was the perfect place for it. In 1988, Limbaugh went national with his radio show, quickly growing to hundreds of stations nationwide. It was much cheaper for radio stations to run syndicated programming like Limbaugh’s than pay their own disk jockeys or local talk show hosts. As a consequence, AM radio suddenly became very profitable.

In 1991, Ailes created a syndicated television program for Limbaugh. Although it was ultimately unsuccessful, it led Murdoch to hire Ailes to create the Fox News Channel in 1996. It was the fulfillment of a dream Ailes had had since the 1960s, when he tried to convince Richard Nixon to help create a conservative news network to compete with ABC, CBS and NBC.

Now that conservatives have the television news network of their dreams, one question is whether liberals ought to have one of their own. MSNBC has attempted to stake out this position, but so far has not come close to having Fox’s impact. One reason is that Fox’s conservatism permeates its entire schedule, while MSNBC’s liberal programming runs only in the evening. And the fact is that Fox does what it does much better than MSNBC does.

This looks like another case of Paul Krugman syndrome, an economist talking about things other than economics. There are such gaping holes that I’m not sure if Bartlett was lying by omission or is simply a bad researcher. As far as AM radio is concerned, he’s not under any obligation to note that instead of firing DJs, canned AM radio was just changed to a different can of syndicated content. AM radio is now mostly news, sports and talk. Very little of the content is local. the other stuff he writes, is just wrong.

The history of Roger Ailes, for example, is more interesting than what’s in the story. Ailes did not just create a failed Limbaugh TV show in 1991, disappear and suddenly start Fox News in 1996. In the 90s, he was creating call-in shows for CNBC during their low-rated hours after the market closed. He was so successful that he was tasked with creating America’s Talking. It featured almost a full day of news and talk programs. It got into so many cable homes, NBC used it to launch their own news network in 1996. Ailes suggested he could head that news channel, but the network decided their people were better at news than Ailes. In his time, Ailes used NBC to showcase such right-wing heroes as Phil Donahue and Chris Matthews.

Bartlett also seems to be painting MSNBC as failing because they have less “permeated” content. That might be true if MSNBC tried to be the liberal alternative for more than the last five or six years. They tried being the Microsoft (the MS in MSNBC) news channel when they started. They toyed with liberalism a few years later, but 9/11 caused them to become Fox Jr, with such prime time hosts as Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson. Michael Savage had a show on MSNBC in 2003. No, really. After they gave up on opinion broadcasts, Keith Olbermann’s fluff show was spiced up by his rants about George Bush. The liberal MSNBC was born, again.

Leaving permeation aside, MSNBC and Fox News are actually somewhat matched in ideological broadcasting. MSNBC does not only run liberal programming in the evening. Dylan Ratigan’s anti-corporation show is on at 4pm EST. Chris Hayes has a show on at 8am on the weekend. Liberal opinion shows (Ratigan, Hardball, Last Word, Maddow and Ed) take up 13 hours of the weekday schedule. Fox’s opinion hosts (O’Reilly, Hannity) take up 5. It’s 10 if you count Greta, Red Eye and The Five.

This isn’t about the bias of Fox News. It’s about the bias of the coverage of Fox News. Jon Stewart has more credibility picking out oddball things Fox and Friends hosts Gretchen and (former America’s Talking host) Steve Doocey say. It may be cherry picking, but at least it happened.

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