Clinton vs. Trump: T Minus 8 Days

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I haven’t written much about the 2016 presidential election.  Like a lot of people, I’m surprised that the USA can’t do better than Trump and Clinton.  Or Johnson and Stein.  Or Jeb Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Santorum, Huckabee, Fiorina, and so on.  The only two candidates who seemed to be presidential material to me were Sanders and Kasich and they were both laughed aside for being unelectable.  It’s all remarkable.  And there may be fixes for that involving removing the public element of a primary, changing the way people vote, and campaign finance reform.  But none of that matters for the 2016 election so I’ll save that for a future post.

Regardless of what has happened leading up to now, we are now down to two.  Yes, two.  Johnson and Stein aren’t going to get elected.  If with 8 days remaining, you think that either could get elected, you have too light a grasp on reality and should close this window and open a new one seeking professional help.  So let’s talk about the two we are left with.

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More Tough Talk from Obama

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I’m really liking this “new” President Obama.  He is clear, concise, accurate, and confrontational.  He’s meeting the nonsense head on.  I feel like he has been too blah for too long on too many subjects.  I like this forthrightness.

Obama explained, again, that the budget is held up because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) and that House Republicans are holding the government hostage.  He went on to describe that the health insurance exchanges that the ACA made possible go into effect today.  And that so far the only issue they have seen is that the web site was so slow because it had over a million visitors before 7:00am!  Even when you account for all the journalists who were experimenting and haters that were trying to find problems, that’s still a remarkable amount of site visits.  (I wonder if there was any kind of DoS attack or other automated site visits attempting to bring it down for political reasons?)

I’m a big fan of the ACA – how can you not like adding insurance for previously uninsured while not changing the private insurance that is already in effect?  (And even if you don’t care about other people not having insurance, if you say that you don’t want your taxes to pay for somebody else’s health care, well then you are too naive to realize you are already are; it is cheaper to pay through insurance than through government subsidies for emergency care.)

For a moment, let’s pretend that the contentious issue is not the ACA but is instead something we’ll call Grapes and the parties are named Bob and Frank.  Bob and Frank are driving down the road and Bob wants Grapes but Frank doesn’t – the Grapes are already in the car but they are just arguing over whether they should eat them or throw them out the window.  In fact, Bob has already started eating the Grapes while Frank is still arguing that they should go out the window.  They know they are running out of gas and they both know they need the gas but Frank decides that since he still doesn’t want the Grapes in the car, the best solution is to let the car run out of gas.  He’d rather be broken down on the side of the road than in a car with Grapes.  That’s how stupid the House Republicans are for conflating two unrelated issues and driving the car into the ditch for not getting everything they want.

It reminds me of the Jimmy Kimmel joke from when he hosted the White House Correspondents dinner:

You know President Obama wanted to move the dinner to the Kennedy Center this year but the Republicans wanted to keep it here at the Hilton so they compromised and here we are at the Hilton.

So I believe the Republicans are used to getting their way, even when in the minority.  And now they are in the unfamiliar place of not getting their way they and their childlike obstinacy to yielding at all is the result.

The question remains: what next?  And my prediction is some fake compromise that will mean no change to the ACA and yet will allow Republicans to save face.  I know when children get into a state where they have dug in their heels so deep that they can’t get out without a full personality collapse you need to give them something to help them along.  I don’t know what it will be, but I predict Saturday (4 days from now), the Democrats will offer something trivial and the Republicans will accept and then they will both be able to declare victory.  Except in this case, it will be the Democrats who actually emerge on the positive side of a compromise. Looking forward to that result and to more of this newly energized President.

As if working for Fox “News” wasn’t reason enough to want Scott Brown to permanently shut up, now he’s talking about the problem with the national political scene.  According to Brown, on a WBZ Radio interview last night where he announced that he will not be running for governor, we’ll have 8 years of Obama being divisive.  That includes, according to Brown, not only pitting Democrats against Republicans but even pitting blacks vs. whites.  Yes, that’s right.  President Obama, who is part black and part white and who brought a person of color to the White House for the first time is somehow causing racial division in this country.  The only reason I can come up with for Brown to say something like that is either Fox “News” has completed his sanity-ectomy or Brown is looking forward to continuing to reach national audiences by saying outrageous things.  While this blog is hardly read by anyone other than me (hi Ken!), doing what I’m doing is what Brown wants.  He wants national attention to bolster his own brand and he has learned well at Fox that saying outrageous things gets airplay. (Damn me for falling for his trap!)

Brown is still an airhead.  But the part of his head that is full of air is the part that makes policy decisions, not the part that makes personal promotion decisions – that part is going strong.  The last airhead that got elected as President was Bush 43 and of course, he had a Republican machine put him on the horse he rode into office.  Brown will have no such machine helping him into the White Hosue.

Oh, and as far as pitting Democrats vs. Republicans, Bush 43 started it.  Well, it started before him, but while he was in office, the Republicans perfected the ability to be the ones ostensibly leading the way and coloring any Democrat dissension as anti-progress.  And now, even with a Democrat as president and Congress now divided in majority control, Republicans including Brown manage to make it seem like they are leading the way and Democrats are in the way.  I don’t know how they manage to color the public perception, but that is the chief failure of the current elected Democrats, including Obama – not that they can’t pass things or that things that are passed are wrong but that the perception of what is happening is wrong.  And they now have has less than 3 years to fix that.

Islam’s Growing Pains

| by Ken | in News, Politics No Comments »

I don’t get why people are hating on the US for this “Innocence Of Muslims” film. So some guy went off and made a film that defamed a religion and their prophet. Seems absolutely justifiable that there would be a fatwa on him. But why our country? Setting aside the fact that we have freedom of speech and other countries do not, even if we didn’t have freedom of speech, why would the country be responsible for some nutjob’s actions?

That being said, for an interesting perspective on the situation, Daily Show correspondent John Oliver compares Islam’s current over-reaction to when Catholicism was in their days of over-reacting:

Actual Democalypse 2012 – Islam’s Growing Pains

Jon Stewart on Romney’s largess

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Here’s Jon Stewart’s take on the issue with Romney’s largess. Other than the juvenile comment about the nature of a blind trust, the clip is really solid. Two great quotes in the clip:

“So mitt romney is running on his business and finance accumen but is not responsible for the management of either his business or finances.”

“Here’s what Romney doesn’t understand: nobody cares that Mitt Romney is rich. It’s Romney’s inability to understand the institutional advantage that he gains from the government’s tax code largess. That’s a little offensive to people, epscially considering Romnney’s view on anyone else who looks to the govenment for things like, I don’t know, food and medicine.”

Democalypse 2012 – Bain Damage – Romney’s Blind Trust

The Gingrich Who Stole South Carolina

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I saw this last week after Newt won the SC primary and I’ve been trying to figure out how to distill the brilliance into a quote of the day but I couldn’t come up with it. You have to see the whole clip (at least after about 30 seconds in). (The still image may look stretched because I tweaked the embed layout from Comedy Central to try and get the obnoxious top banner moved off of Jon’s face.)

Indecision 2012 – The Gingrich Who Stole South Carolina

Romney/Gingrich?

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Wow, that was a decisive victory last night in South Carolina.  Hunh.  I guess Newt’s populism can really gain traction with some people.  I was guessing he’d be a close second but he’s a clear winner instead.  I’ve been hoping Newt would keep nipping at Romney’s heels through the next couple of months and then just go away.  Since I think the country is on the right track and the Bush 43 mess just takes time to clean up and Obama is doing the best he can with a Boehner led congress, I am hoping for an Obama victory.  And the best way to ensure that is to have a weak opponent.  And since I’ve been assuming that opponent will be Mitt Romney, the more Romney is attacked now, the less appealing he’ll be in November.

But I had a scary thought this morning.  I woke up thinking about the surprise win yesterday and impressed with the impact populism has.  I was also a little surprised by how collegial all the candidates sounded.  As though they recognized that they needed to be confrontational to win South Carolina but need to switch gears in case they need to work together.  And then it hit me:  What if the winner is Romney and he picks his former rival Gingrich as his running mate?  Romney would pull in the moderates and the rich who want the country run for them while Newt would pull in those drawn by his populism.  And that ticket might be tough for Obama to beat.  A scary future for our country.

Oh, and before you say that they couldn’t get together because they are rivals, c’mon.  First of all we’re talking about Republican politicians which means they are masters at saying something to make their case regardless of the truthiness of it.  They’ll have no problem switching from attacking to a love fest (like Perry and Huntsman did when they dropped out and scrubbed their web sites of anti-other-candidate messages) and they’ll make it all about unifying to beat Obama.  And that will help sell the populist message even more.  Second, we’re talking about Republican politicians which means that their goal is election and not principles (despite what their supposed message has been) so they’ll have no problem shifting again to move towards each other to make peace for the unified goal of power.

The only snag for these two potential lovebirds would be their individual baggage.  Romney is so pro-captialism that he’s anti-real-people (companies are not people) and has money everywhere (including in the Cayman Islands) and houses everywhere and yet pays less in taxes percentage-wise than the average low to moderate income guy.  Newt may not have literally asked for an “open marriage” but he was probably caught cheating on wife #2 with eventual wife #3 and that’s after leaving wife #1 while she was sick.  And Newt is of course the guy who consulted with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while they were in the midst of causing the housing crisis he is against now.  So that’s a lot of shared baggage and you could argue the ticket would be better off with a relative unknown without the baggage.  Still, the whole relative unknown thing didn’t work out well for McCain/Palin so the GOP may push for something like a Romney/Gingrich thing.

Chianca’s Candidate Guide

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Here’s an amusing, and generally accurate, view of the 2012 Republican candidates: Column: The only GOP candidates guide you’ll ever need

9-9-9?

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Here’s a visual representation of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan from Ezra Klein and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. If any of you reading this are in that Top 1% or even Top .1%, I’m sure you’ll be very happy to see that graph. The rest of us… not so much.

(Being elected President seems like kind of a long way to go for the pizza mogul to find a way to cut his own taxes by that large sum!)

U.S. Debt Analysis

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Below is a great graphic published by the Boston Globe back on 31-Jul-2011.  (I’d link to it but the Globe site is the poster-child for sucky web sites and the graphic would certainly go away some time soon; since this graphic is so good, it deserves to continue to see the light of day longer than the Globe site would otherwise allow it to be linked to.)

The reason I think this graphic is so good is because it clearly shows how the debt was “acquired” – or how we got stuck with it.  You can’t look at something like this and not keep in mind that it charts absolute dollars and therefore, the fact that in all of our nations history prior to Ronald Reagan, we accumulated “only” 1 trillion of debt shouldn’t be so surprising.  On the other hand, the rapid progression of debt is not solely explained by simply considering inflation.  Clearly, we’ve been increasing our spending faster than we’ve increased our income.

But the most telling thing about our debt that is easy to see in this graphic is that the primary source of the debt was incurred during Republican Presidents.  Ordinarily, being the moderate nonpartisan type that I am, I’d shrug and move on.  But considering the current partisan nonsense from the Republicans about how they are the party of fiscal responsibility and how it is the Democrats who just want to spend, spend, spend, a graphic like this is just what we need to slap a little reality back into the debate.

Ronald Reagan, the godhead of current conservatism started the ball rolling by running up nearly twice the debt of all who had preceded him.  As I wrote above, inflation accounts for part of that, but it’s important to remember that Reagan wasn’t about balancing budgets or making numbers work – he was about spurring the economy and he did that by incurring lots of debt.

Reagan managed 1.9 trillion debt in 8 years and his successor, Bush 41, managed 1.5 trillion in just 4 years!  Directly following Bush 41, Clinton managed to incur less debt in his 8 years than Bush 41 one did in his 4.  In fact, Clinton managed to operate with a budget surplus for his last 3 years making him the first President to run a surplus in 29 years and the first President to do it 3 years in a row in 49 years (which is even a little unfair considering that was during WWII meaning the surplus had more to do with a wartime economy than clever Presidential economic policy).

Bush 43 is far and away the record holder at 6.1 trillion of debt.  A large chunk of that is from the two wars, it is true.  I know it is still debatable but history seems to be settling on the side that the Iraq war was unnecessary and therefore a good chunk of that debt was optional.  Furthermore, Bush 43 did a lot to reduce government income making the debt during his tenure even worse.  Bush 43 was certainly not solely responsible for the economic “Great Recession” that started Obama’s Presidency but then he also can’t claim to have stopped it.  And therefore, Bush 43’s economic policy was definitely not strong enough to fend off a recession.

And now Obama’s tenure already has him at 2.4 trillion.  As the graphic notes, 1.1 of that is with a stimulus and as much as the current haters complain that “it didn’t work”, it does seem obvious that without the stimulus, we’d be worse off.  In other words, if you subtract 1.1 trillion for stimulus, do you get 1.3 trillion of new debt under Obama?  I think it’d be higher because of greater economic woes.  But regardless, the train was already rolling with Bush 43 in charge and Obama is trying to wrestle that train to a halt.  But it’s hard with people like Boener trying to throw him off the train and keep the debt train motoring on by not allowing Bush’s tax policies to expire.  Remember, these were only meant to be temporary and even then, they were significant contributors to our current debt.

And one final analsysis.  Of our current 14.3 trillion of debt, 6.1 was incurred by Bush 43 and 1.5 by Bush 41.  That’s a total of 7.8 or more than half of all of our nation’s debt.  Half of the debt load we have today is due to one father and son pair.  Or even more if you consider the lasting debt obligations that Bush 43 put in place contrasting that with the quick dismantling of the surplus Clinton had left him.

So let’s not let the current Reubplican machine whitewash history and have you believe that the Democrats are fiscally irresponsible because they want a balanced approach to curtail deficit spending.  Let’s be honest about where the debt comes from, that a lot of the Republicans responsible for the debt are the same ones active in congress today, and let’s let Obama apply the brakes on the debt train.

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