31 July 2012

Mittster on the defensive

Romney: I Did Not Speak About Palestinian 'Culture’ [LINK]

(In reference to reports that Romney, in another of his many foreign tour gaffes, attributed the 2:1 difference in GDP/capita in Israel vs. the Occupied Territories to "culture" and "providence." [The actual ratio is more than 20:1; he got his facts entirely wrong, too]).

MEHey, Mitt. To quote you, if you're on defense, you're losing.

Health Care Here and There (examples)

Here are a couple of examples of how differently we in America treat the provision of the essential service of health care, as compared to other, perhaps in this respect more civilized, parts of the World.

One of Mitt Romney's many gaffes of his overseas trip was to marvel publicly about how Israel manages to keep health care costs to 8% of GDP while providing its citizens with excellent care. (Compared to our 18% with 50 million uninsured and indifferent outcomes for many more). How do they do it? Mandatory, non-profit, public service-oriented and highly cost-regulated health insurance, of course. (Not exactly socialized medicine, but a lot closer to it than the Affordable Care Act that Romney demonizes every chance he gets).

Rachel Maddow reported on how NBC cut an 11 min. synchronized musical choreography routine with nurses in habits and rolling hospital beds from the Olympics opening ceremony... a paean to the National Health Service, which the British revere as a fundamental element of their civilization. Too "controversial," I guess. From what little I saw of it in a clip, it was a hoot.

20 July 2012

LIBOR Scandal and a little reality, please

Reading in HuffPo about how Matt Taibbi called out CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow for claiming that the Big Banks' manipulation of the LIBOR interest rate was "victimless," you just gotta wonder... how could someone like Kudlow even get a job at CNBC? Claiming that massive bank fraud that resulted in enormous costs to cities, towns, and states across America when these local governments are in many cases close to bankruptcy is victimless? The guy's either too craven or too stupid to be on television, in my humble opinion.

And now, kids, speaking of unbelievable bank fraud, how many of you have heard of Carl Levin's investigation (which should have been done by the regulators, who were asleep at the switch as usual), of the truly incredible fraud and outright criminal conduct being carried out by Super Global Big Bank HSBC, some of it right here in America? If HSBC were an individual or small company, there would be 30 FBI agents at the door, drawn guns, prosecutions, convictions, huge fines, and long prison terms for what they did. (It's a big story in England: see Daily Mail). But, as usual, this Super Bank is too big to fail, too big to regulate, and too big to tolerate. Of course, the American media barely reports on this.

We need a new era of Trust Busting. We need new laws to break up big banks and replace them with investment banks where the owners are investing their own money and commercial banks that are regulated to prevent this kind of fraud, and limited in size.

Some sobering thoughts on the presidential election

I have to take note of an unpleasant fact. I've been commenting, along with many in the Progressive Universe, about how Romney seems to be amazingly politically inept, how not releasing the tax returns makes him look like he has something to hide.

But, we have to remember, this election is going to be determined by the movable vote; the people who know little and care less about policy or politics, and who are easily swayed by propaganda. People who have definite knowledge on policy and are politically aware and active have already long since made up their minds, and will not be changing their votes. We (these people) are not the targets of campaign messaging. In the queer logic of electioneering, we are essential but we don't really matter: we don't play a significant role in determining the outcome.

The relatively ignorant, unconcerned, uninformed, and persuadable people, who do determine the outcome, for the most part, see commercials but pay no attention to "coverage."

And the fact remains that the polls are a dead heat, and have actually moved the WRONG WAY in the last ten days or so, in several key swing states.

My thought that Romney's campaign was "collapsing," was probably wishful thinking. We have to remember that the Rightists have 1) tons of money; 2) really efficient and effective propagandists working for them.

So we just have to beat them at their own game, with the resources we are able to muster.

19 July 2012

Romney's Tax Returns: What the hell?

I find it just amazing that Slick Willard Romney didn't have a plan in place for the inevitable demand that he pony up his tax returns for at least the last decade. This stonewalling is positively Nixonesque, given the level of disclosure that has become the norm in American politics. But the merits of the right of the American people to know about the financial status of a presidential candidate aside, the political ineptitude here is really remarkable. Given what even members of his own party are saying, you have to wonder at this point if Romney can even go forward as the presumptive nominee. Is it conceivable that his candidacy will simply collapse? It's hard to imagine, but it's also hard to imagine how he thinks he can go forward with a campaign that says, "I don't care what you the people think; I'm not telling you this stuff that every presidential candidate tells you."

18 July 2012

Electoral College Politics, these early days

Looking at electoral maps, such as the one on Huffington Post, it looks like the Obama campaign needs to focus on


all of which are toss ups

and, to shore up losable current leads

which are must-wins

Coloradowhich is a sure-would-be-nice-to-have

Some other states where he's currently winning, like Wisconsin and
Minnesota are probably less critical, but nonetheless worth campaigning in.

The numbers show that if Obama can carry Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania he will almost certainly win the election. Without Michigan he'd have to carry a couple of the other current toss-ups to be assured of victory, or just Florida would do it. Of course the experts in the campaign have gamed every possible scenario and will focus spending like a laser as the campaign unfolds (as will the Rightists, of course, but at this point, their job will be more problematical, which is music to my ears to be able to say. What isn't music to my ears is that they will probably have at least 50% more money than us to spend).

Unfortunately for those of us who live in the far west, (Calif., Oregon, Washington and even Nevada), both campaigns will probably ignore us entirely (even though California alone is about 12.5% of the nation), because we are going blue, almost no matter what. (Which is a good thing).

17 July 2012

My Ban on the Boy Scouts

LA Times: "Boy Scouts, after review, reaffirms ban on gays." Here.  And I reaffirm my ban on contributing to any organization that supports bigots, including the United Way, which funnels money to the Boy Scouts. I get a lot of pressure at work to contribute to the United Way, and I say, nope. Not until they sever all ties with this outfit. I contribute to the charities I support directly.

I also think that schools and public parks should advise the Boy Scouts that their refusal to comply with reasonable accommodation to all people makes them ineligible to use public property for any activities (and the same should apply to churches that insist on a right to discrimination that would be illegal in any public accommodation context).

It's time we stopped tolerating intolerance.

John Sununu's insulting and stupid remark

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I found Romney "surrogate" John Sununu's deprecating remarks, to the effect that the president needs to "learn how to be an American," in response to Pres. Obama's thoughtful and correct defense of public infrastructure as a major factor in the success of the American economy (duh!), to be despicable, insulting, stupid, arrogant, and condescending. In that order. What a jerk. 

I am more than old enough to remember when no rational person would even imagine disagreeing with this obvious truth, still less making insulting remarks about the sitting president of the United States over it. 

16 July 2012

Mitt on the Defensive

No question about it; it's early days, and it's impossible to predict what may come up that could turn the presidential race on its head. But based on what's going on right now, it's hard not to see Obama as doing a much better job than Romney in connecting with ordinary voters.

Ian Masters was interviewing James Kloppenburg yesterday on this subject, and Kloppenburg remarked that we should expect the Romney campaign to come out with a major offensive to try to counter a very, very bad week last week. But today we get "Hey, Kerry's wife didn't release her tax returns and McCain only released two years!"  (Not true: McCain in '04 released 23 years of tax returns; and Teresa Heinz Kerry did release some tax information in '04, but the point is how lame this sounds, and how the more he complains about having to release more information, the more he creates the suspicion that he really does have something to hide).

Something else Kloppenburg said rings true: different context, but this is starting to sound like the shrill denials Nixon gave on Watergate. And even Romney has himself said on more than one occasion, if you're defending, you're losing. 

We can't get overconfident, but all this is good news for Team Democratic and Team Obama, no doubt about it.

13 July 2012

I hope Obama campaign REJECTS advice to soft-pedal criticism of LIAR Romney

I really, really disagree with former PA governor Ed Rendell's comment that the "Bain attacks" of the Obama campaign have gone "too far." I think they haven't gone far enough. Romney is a serial liar and a vulture capitalist of the worst sort, and the American people need to be reminded of that over and over, because the Right intends to spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bamboozle the public into believing this shark is a nice guy who will act in their interests when (heaven forfend!) he gets into office.

Earth to "moderate" Dems like Bill Clinton, Cory Booker, and Ed Rendell: this approach is working, the polls prove it, and we have to do what it takes to win this year.

I'd like to see the Obama campaign hire Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, a plain-spoken Virginian, who was on Rachel Maddow last night calling Eric Cantor exactly what he is . . . "a bought and paid for crook." Video here. This is what we need... people who aren't afraid to tell it like it is and penetrate the Right wing framing and speak directly to the people.

Slick Willard

Seems so typical of a schoolyard bully type, which is what Romney is. Caught red-handed lying on his resumé, in effect (i.e., filing totally contradictory SEC filings and FEC financial disclosure statements about his tenure at Vulture Capital firm Bain 1999-2002), Romney spouts campaign ads saying, essentially, I know you are but What am I? 

What a completely dishonest piece of crap Slick Willard "Mitt" Romney is turning out to be.

I find it very interesting that on the day all this came out (with articles in Boston Globe and Wa Po, and wall to wall coverage on MSNBC and progressive radio), nary a damn word on the CBS Evening News. The idea that the "mainstream media" has a liberal bias in this country is as Alice-in-Wonderland upside down as Serial Falsifier Slick Willard calling Obama a liar!

08 July 2012

Higgs Boson coulda... shoulda... been an American discovery

This piece in the LA Times points out the peevishness of some American scientists at the July 4 announcement of the (now seemingly inevitable) discovery of the Higgs Boson. But the real point, to me, not to see politics in everything...except when it's there, damnit.... is that but for Rightist shortsightedness in canceling the Superconducting Supercollider, this would have been an American discovery.

This is an element of Right Wing obstructionism and nihilism that often isn't remarked on. Their vision of our society is so elitist, so constricted, so anti-Education, anti-Research, so anti-Public everything, that they have succeeded in dulling our edge in science and technology. The fact that America no longer has the capability of launching manned space vehicles, and the cancellation of such missions as the Terrestrial Planet Finder, as well as the disgraceful state of American public science policy, are all testaments to the backwardness of those who control the pursestrings.

This whole sorry picture is another, rarely mentioned, reason why more forward thinking (i.e., progresssive) leaders are sorely needed in this country.

07 July 2012

2012. . . the stakes could hardly be higher

It's become conventional in this country to say of every presidential election that "this is the most important election of our lifetime," etc. But this time, I really think it's true. Look at what's at stake. The Republicans have evolved into a truly extremist political party, which advocates the dismantlement of essential Federal programs that have given us a stable and functional society for decades, in favor of a system of oligarchy that would make the gilded age of the end of the 19th century look benign by comparison. They stand for further tax cuts to the richest, more "deregulation" that would essentially legalize financial fraud permanently (completely ignoring what caused the current Depression), intrusive social legislation that would change the character of our society, erosion of the separation of church and state, calamitous inaction and damage to environmental progress.... the list is virtually endless. No rational and informed person can be completely unaware of these issues.

I'm not rich, but I just went to barackobama.com and contributed another $200 to the presidential campaign (again), and it's my intention to give targeted support to Congressional races where it looks like there are prospects to take back Republican held seats, or where support is needed to ensure retention by reasonably Progressive Democrats (unfortunately not all are). Republicans are pulling out all the stops; people like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson are contributing tens of millions to their campaigns, which under the new legalized bribery regime (thanks to the Rightist majority on the Supreme Court), is now legal.

I urge my farflung correspondents to take this election seriously and do what they can to ensure the Republicans' defeat, both legislatively and in the presidential race.

To my retiree friends, who have time... I urge you to get involved in making calls or doing whatever you can to help out in this election, on whatever level.

The stakes are high... we have to win this one.


03 July 2012

NY Times on the Science and Scientists of Climate Change

This important NY Times piece makes reference to some of the actual details of the science, as well as the frustrations of the scientists who've been working in the field, with respect to the hard evidence that human-caused climate change is occurring and indeed accelerating.

We are long past the point where there is a legitimate "split of opinion" on what the evidence may mean, or that a plausible case for "cyclic climate change" can be made. In fact, we are probably past the point where political solutions are even feasible. The only way for the human race to avoid serious detrimental consequences from climate change in this century now probably revolves around the development of mitigation technologies, coupled with accelerated technological development leading to near cessation of the use of fossil fuels for energy within the first half of the century, driven not by politics but by technology. Will this happen? I wouldn't bet against it, but it will take some major paradigm shifts.

02 July 2012

Why Roberts joined the Centrist Four

This is apparently what CBS news reporter Jan Crawford learned from anonymous court insiders about CJ Roberts's reasoning in leading a unique majority to uphold the ACA.
Some informed observers outside the court flatly reject the idea that Roberts buckled to liberal pressure, or was stared down by the president. They instead believe that Roberts realized the historical consequences of a ruling striking down the landmark health care law. There was no doctrinal background for the Court to fall back on - nothing in prior Supreme Court cases - to say the individual mandate crossed a constitutional line. The case raised entirely new issues of power. Never before had Congress tried to force Americans to buy a private product; as a result, never before had the court ruled Congress lacked that power. It was completely uncharted waters.
To strike down the mandate as exceeding the Commerce Clause, the court would have to craft a new theory, which could have opened it up to criticism that it reached out to declare the president’ health care law unconstitutional.
Roberts was willing to draw that line, but in a way that decided future cases, and not the massive health care case.
To me, this seems much more plausible and likely than any of the Right Wing conspiracy theories as to why they were "betrayed," or the assumption that Roberts was concerned about the "legitimacy" of the court, although that factor, in my opinion, should have been in the forefront of his mind, and perhaps it was; we can't really know.

Of course, allowing the Right to frame health care as a "product," rather than as an essential service in the provision of which government has been intimately involved for many many decades, is part of the problem; and in this regard I believe the government and the government's lawyers have done a poor job of defending the law both before the court and in the court of public opinion. Our party leaders, and especially the president himself, need to do a much better job of explaining how the act benefits most Americans, and in reframing the whole debate in terms of progressive moral stances, rather than Rightist economic ones.