Thursday, October 06, 2011
It had become obvious that Palin was not going to be a candidate. The reality is that Palin didn't stand a chance, so badly has she squandered her political capital within the Republican party over the past year with cheap stunts, such as an on-again, off-again grandiose national bus tour. Her career in national politics as a candidate is over.
The most straight-forward implication of Palin's decision – along with the announcement by New Jersey governor Chris Christie that he would not be running – is that the Republican field is set. There is now no prince across the water. That means Republican voters will either have to come to terms with Mitt Romney or the alternative, most likely Rick Perry.
So it comes down to the goober and the Gooper. Neither is a really attractive choice for the Republican party. Neither is truly going to catch fire in the general election.
Now Republicans know the trouble Democrats had in 2004. One might almost think that there's a conspiracy to trade mediocrities in order to keep the population quieted.
But I digress...
Effectively, Palin's decision hands the nomination to Obama more forcefully. Even if she had run and miraculously managed to pull in enough votes to win, her charisma might have been enough to pull off an upset. I doubt it, seriously, but then stranger things have happened. Now that she's out of the race, a more boring candidate is sure to win the nomination, and basically all Obama has to do is talk about solutions to the issues and he'll win walking away.
One advantage an incumbent President has: he doesn't have to campaign from anyplace but the Oval Office in order to win re-election. In fact, the best re-elections have seen the President looking very Presidential and the worst mistakes ex-Presidents have made have been while campaigning (think Bush the Elder at a supermarket scanner, or glancing at his watch during a debate against the Big Dog.)
One can say many things about President Obama but he has certainly looked Presidential, especially since Osama bin Laden was killed: confident, mature, articulate. He may have been lost in the early days of his administration. I chalk that up to letting others row the boat for him while he stood on the prow. Once he took charge of his Presidency and his agenda-- perhaps the best challenge he's faced has been the loss of the House-- he's seemed more statesmenlike.
I think this is why the rhetoric against him has amped up and also why the Republicans are scrambling to be dilatory and obstacles. They're running scared, and have much to be answerable for, from the Birther movement to the failures of the Teabaggers to foment the kind of political uprising they had hoped for.
So they should run scared. Obama may not have hit a might tee shot, but his approach to the fairway has put him within feet of the flag.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Senate Democrats are scrambling to rewrite portions of President Barack Obama's jobs bill, even as Obama tries to blame Republicans for Congress' failure to act.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell moved to call the president's bluff Tuesday by pushing for a quick Senate vote on the bill, but Democratic leader Harry Reid derailed the effort as all sides maneuvered for position in a potentially defining battle in the 2012 presidential campaign.[...]
To pay for his package of tax breaks, unemployment benefits and new spending on public works projects, Obama has proposed higher taxes on family incomes over $250,000 and on the oil and gas industry.
The first request troubles Democratic senators from states like New York, New Jersey and California, where large numbers of families could be hit by the increase. The second has drawn opposition most prominently from Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, whose state is home to numerous oil and gas operations.
The president also proposed higher taxes on hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners, but those increases, too, would disappear under the changes Reid is expected to unveil as early as Wednesday.
Look, I get there's a political calculus at play here (damned SCOTUS): millionaires are the fastest source of campaign funds for any candidate for the House or Senate, so the last thing you want to do is piss them off.
But these are "last thing" times.
And I get the whole $250,000 income problem suffered in the northeast, California, and other high tax, high income states. $250,000 really doesn't sound like much when you can easily pay $70,000 a year in rent and need two incomes to survive.
We'll adjust, Senator Reid, those of us in the bluer states who understand this is a crisis of immense proportions.
(or you could just, you know, bump that threshhold up to $300,000 or $500,000 and still capture an enormous bounty.)
And oil companies? Really, Sen. Landrieu? Do we have to look any further back than the Gulf oil spill to see how little they give a damn about the rest of us? Hell, we still have that stupid $50/barrel price floor, under which the oil companies remain subsidized!
So for the sake of a few megagiant corporations who aren't about to move their facilities in the very near future from the single busiest port in America with access to the entire North American market, you'd force 14 million Americans and their families to get deeper in the dungpile?
ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE, THE LOT OF YOU???????
The protests down on Wall Street and across the nation, tens of thousands of young and disaffected people willing and able to work but unable to find a job that will pay them a decent wage and allow them to make a living, should be the first-- the FIRST AND ONLY-- consideration. You are facing an entire generation of people who will need government assistance to get off the floor and create an economy.
Think about that while you roll in your pathetic hedge fund money, Senators.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
A week ago, the owner of a furniture store in Conway, Ark., asked me, "Why don't you media people, especially the cable news, ever ask politicians what they agree on? Why is it always about disagreements?" The folks in Ellston thought that was a very good idea. It's one I'll take home. But it's also a lesson that politicians, even extremists like Bachmann, should heed: the Americans who feel most ignored these days are not the screamers. They are the solid citizens who are sick to death of pols who play to the rant.
The odd thing about the political landscape is how much the people on the left and the people on the right and the people in the middle agree on things: this nation has gotten out of control of the people, money now rules politics which means corporations now rule politics, and the rhetoric you hear from the right echoes the rhetoric you hear from the left.
The disagreements are deep, to be sure. To make the ludicrous claim that the richest one percent pay 20% of the taxes-- while they *earn* over 1000% more in income-- is pandering of the worst kind. The left has it more right than the right, to be sure. That's why I haven't abandoned my liberal principles.
But I digress...
You'd think, as weak as Obama's approval ratings make him appear, the Republicans would be six deep trying to run against him, and yet people you might expect to run, like Condoleeza Rice or Marco Rubio, remain oddly out of the spotlight.
One has to wonder why. My guess would be the volatile nature of the GOP voting base: there's a power struggle going on. One thing Republicans hae always been very very good at is keeping internal discipline even when the walls are crumbling. It happened during the last years of the Bush administration. You never heard about how Bush was a liberal until after he'd left office.
You won't hear about this split until it cleaves the party in two. You're starting to see signs of this: Jim Jeffords was a pioneer, of course, but David Frum has all but abandoned the GOP, Lamar Alexander has resigned what leadership posts he holds in the Senate, and now the long-time head of the Florida Republican party is leaving to take a consulting job. The rats, such as they are, are abandoning ship.
2012 could see a GOP decimated by internal strife and proven deadly wrong on so many of their cherished beliefs (as expressed in the primary run) that they'll be lucky to hold onto the House.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Protesters speaking out against corporate greed and other issues in New York City are dressing as corporate zombies and greeting Wall Street workers as they head into the office.Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the group, says Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are being urged to dress in business wear with white faces and blood, and will march while eating monopoly money. He says financial workers should see them "reflecting the metaphor of their actions."
It is, of course, a most excellent point to make with respect to the people who are responsible for the mess we are in, and have been for thirty-odd years.
See, it's not just the CEOs of Citibank or Goldman Sachs who bear sole responsibility for this mess, although they bear a massive amount of it. And it's not the heads of the trading desks, or the quants who developed the new casino games of derivatives, or the floor brokers who cynically sent grandma to the poor house.
Altho they too bear a large amount of the responsibility.
It's really all of us: from the people who believed a home was a speculative investment to the secretaries who took dictation from the aforementioned asshats and pleaded for a bigger bonus, to the guy who charged $2 for a soda that cost him 50 cents.
Indeed, anyone who's found a way to game the capitalist system for a few pennies, or a few million. Blame doled out on a proportionate scale.
It's the people who nodded quietly during Wall Street when Gordon Gecko intoned "Greed is good." It's people who cheer (or boo) an athlete who makes a quarter billion dollars a year playing a kid's game. It's people who believe a miniscule, incremental tax hike on genetically lucky Americans is a bad thing because, there but for God's hatred, go I; I could be earning that $10 million compensation package. Stupid parents.
The responsibility lies with people who believe the only measure of a nation's net worth is its monetary wealth, not the well-being of its citizens and those who aspire to citizenship. It lies with people who believe that big government is an obstacle but that big business only has our best interests at heart.
The responsibility lies with churches and sinners, with black and white, with men and women. We sit by and cheer those who would lead us into the abyss, all the while believing the abyss is a bad thing.
It lies with all of us who remain willfully ignorant of the world around us, from the high schooler who can't find England on a globe to the bloggers who deny climate change to the people who somehow believe we can emerge from this financial crisis a better nation.
Maybe eventually, but it will require a massive alteration in the perspective of the American people who remain inundated on a daily basis with urges to "Buy! Buy!! BUY!!!!"
We are all insane. We think working for fifty years enriching someone else then spending the last decades or even years of our lives in futile pursuit of something called "relaxation," while sweating out whether we can stretch our life savings out far enough, and "oh what if I get really sick?" is a full life.
That may have been true, when we made things, and created things, and could find a truth in our work, once upon a time.
But once upon a time only works in fairy tales.
Now we are drones, and even if we do still create some value in this world, its been snapped up, marketed, massaged, and cheapened all in the name of "maximizing profit." And yet, we get up every morning, put on the same damned uniform, be it an actual uniform, overalls, a suit and a tie, or "business casual" (an oxymoron, that). We travel the same road most traveled to find our places in the interchangable corporate cogs, and sit in our cubicle farms, poking our heads up like prairie dogs when something unusual happens (usually, someone runs out of creamer for the coffee.)
We are all zombies on this bus.