Tag: 2012 Presidential Election

Another huge lie and abuse of trust that will be called a faux scandal

The sad thing is that I am not surprised at all to find out that the DOJ and the FBI all told a coordinated lie, right before the 2012 election, to make the most incompetent and dirty administration of my lifetime look like less of the fucking evil idiots they are, and that is what I suspect will be the reaction of many others. At this point I would be willing to give someone that tells me Obama likes to fuck dogs and does so while listening to Beiber tunes while ordering drone strikes against people on his enemy list, the benefit of the doubt. I think absolutely nothing is beneath these fucks. Of course the usual people will pretend this behavior is nothing bad and anyone that finds fault with this is just making a mountain out of a molehill. The problem is that if the guy in the WH had an (R) by his name they would have lynched him by now. A bought and paid for press does nothing but help erode our freedoms.

The Endorsements We Don’t Need

Thankfully, our long national nightmare is about to end. (And, two days later, another will likely begin). I won’t make predictions. I’ll just repeat what I said in the comments: if the polls are right, Obama will win. If they’re wrong, Romney will. Polls are interesting, but they are not reality. We know the shape of the wave function. But it won’t collaps until tomorrow.

I’ve made my choice clear and I think it’s pretty clear who everyone on the blog is going to vote for. But the thing that always amuses me when we get to the endgame are the endorsements.

First, you get the newspapers. Why should anyone care who they endorse? Some have endorsed Romney; most have endorsed Obama. But these endorsements are often less-informed than your typical voter. Check out the NYT’s endorsement: no mention of crony capitalism; no mention of how financial criminals got off scott free; no mention of drones or kill lists; no mention of the ramping up of the war on drugs (in fact many in the media have falsely claimed Obama has backed off of the war on drugs). It reads, as almost everything from the NYT Op-Ed page does, like it was cribbed from a Democratic Party press release. Anyone who votes based on NYT’s endorsement should have their head examined.

Then you get the celebrity endorsements. The only time this gets interesting is when you have something like the Stacey Dash situation, where a black actress had invective — including racial invective — thrown at her for having the temerity to endorse Romney. But I would submit that if you are basing your vote on whom Sam Jackson endorses or whom Lindsey Lohan endorse, you really should have your franchise taken away and given to some 11-year-old-girl who can be bothered to pay attention.

The third category are not really endorsements, per se, but the preferences of foreign countries. I am not going to say these are completely useless. Staying on friendly terms with countries is, after all, the President’s job. And I don’t subscribe to the theory that foreign countries want an American leader who is weak; they need our aircraft carriers in their seas more than we do. You’ll notice when some country gets whacked, they don’t call France for help. However, these preferences are going to have precisely zero influence on the electorate. If anyone ever told me they were going to vote Romney but decided on Obama because 81% of India supported him, I’d call the guys with straight jackets.

In the end, we can talk about soccer moms and swing voters and who has endorsed what. But it’s going to come down to one question:

Which of these guys is going the fuck the economy the least?

We just have to hope that our fellow citizens’ choice turns out to be the correct one. And whatever the verdict tomorrow, our job as citizens has just begun.

Your Daily Threat-Down

OK:

Just a week after Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegel wrote a partially plagiarized letter threatening to fire employees if they voted for Obama, now comes news that Koch Industries is taking a similar approach by using its position as a major employer to influence elections. According to an In These Times report, the Koch-owned Georgia Pacific sent a packet to its 45,000 employees earlier his month. The packet included a cover letter from Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson which reads, in part:

While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit.

If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.

In other words, if you vote for Obama or other Democrats, you might lose your job. Of course, Robertson denies that’s what he meant. And all that threatening stuff he just wrote about what will happen if you vote for the wrong candidate? He didn’t really mean that either.

Oh, my God! The eeevil Koch Brothers will fire employees for voting for Obama! Of course, ballots are secret so they have no way of knowing who voted for Obama. So they can’t really retaliate (and I would dare say that the majority of Georgia Pacific employees are voting for Romney, anyway).

But he is telling them who to vote for! Man the trenches! Who does he think he is? A … a … a … union?

First, how is this different from a union telling its members how to vote? Or, for that matter, the UC system sending me emails about how the world will end if Prop 30 doesn’t pass? The notion that a business can’t tell its employees that elections have consequences strikes this observer as absurd, not to mention a gross infringement on First Amendment rights. Should the First Amendment really be interpreted as giving pornographers more rights than employers?

Of course not. The First Amendment, to the Left, applies to everyone but conservatives.

You see, this stuff goes on constantly. Unions tell their members who to support and organize official events for them. Churches have been known to implore their congregations to vote one way or the other. UC isn’t the only system that has been known to quietly urge students and staff to vote one way or the other. And public schools routinely deploy children as political props and send scare letters to parents. Do you think Planned Parenthood isn’t warning its employees of the potential consequences of a Republican win? It’s only when an eeevil corporation does it, that it becomes sinister.

The scare tactics in this letter are not, in any way, novel. They are used constantly in politics and especially from the Left. Seniors are told they will lose Medicare; women are told they will lose abortion freedom; minorities are told they will lose … everything. The environmentalists tell us we will live in a scarred hellscape. It’s only when conservatives use scare tactics that it becomes manipulation.

We’ve seen this before when the Left whined about the CEO’s of Whole Foods and Papa John’s warning that higher taxes and regulations would lead to higher prices. When is it ever illegitimate to spell out what you believe to be the consequences of elections or policies? Why shouldn’t a corporation warn its employees of what it perceives as a political danger to their jobs? Is it better to be silent, watch a bad policy enacted and then fire your employees?

I don’t think the difference between these two candidates is as dramatic as described in the letter, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is that all organizations routinely tell their members who to vote for. All political interests routinely warn people about what they see as the likely consequence of a bad election or bad legislation. Complaining about it is high-test bullshit born, as Bainbridge points out, of raging anti-corporatism.

The 47%

You’ve certainly heard about this by now:

During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

Romney went on: “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

(MJ released part two of the video where Mitt says a two-state solution is unworkable in Israel because of the Palestinian commitment to violence. I don’t know if this is embarrassing as much as it is true.)

Naturally, the Left is proclaiming that this is the end of the election. Meh. I thought about this a lot last night while sitting on my roof, clinging to my gun and my Torah. And really, gaffes don’t make elections. This may rally the Democrats a little bit. But I seriously doubt there is anyone in America right now who is saying, “You know, I was going to vote for Mitt Romney, but then he said something I didn’t like on a secret video while meeting the fund-raisers. So to heck with that guy.”

Please.

More germaine, I think, is just how wrong Mitt Romney’s comment was. He’s been tripped up by a Republican talking point. 47% of Americans pay no income taxes. But that’s not the entire picture. Ezra Klein:

For what it’s worth, this division of “makers” and “takers” isn’t true. Among the Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes — which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid. Another 22 percent were elderly.

When you break it down, only about 7% of the American public is poor, young and pays no income or payroll tax (although they still pay sales tax). Granted, the payroll tax is supposed to pay for people’s own retirement and healthcare. But we all know both are pay-as-you-go. And contra the received wisdom, the poor vote at lower rates than the middle class and wealthy.

Moreover, if you want someone to blame for 47% of Americans not paying income tax, you can blame … wait for it … President Bush. His tax cuts basically eliminated income taxes for millions of Americans — he boasted about it! Klein again:

Part of the reason so many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans. That’s why, when you look at graphs of the percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. So whenever you hear that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, remember: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush helped build that.

Here’s where I think Klein and the Democrats are missing a critical point. This creation of an income-tax-free class is why any tax reform has to broad-based. Raising taxes on the rich may satisfy the class warriors out there, but it won’t close the deficit enough. If you want revenue, you’re going to have to expand to tax burden to a larger swath of the American public.

Leaving out the blame and the details, however, is Romney’s general point true? Are we dividing between “moochers” and workers in this country? After all, more than half of Americans get money from the government, right?

Well, yeah, but. If you’re going to defined that as the “moocher” class, you’re throwing in tens of millions of seniors who paid into Medicare/Social Security and are now, quite reasonably, taking benefits out. You’re throwing in the military who are earning their keep (and then some). If we’re talking purely about any anti-poverty public assistance, we’re looking at about 4.4 million on welfare, 40 million on food stamps, 50 million on Medicaid. Those are not separate groups, however, as many draw from more than one program and many of those receiving food stamps/Medicaid are, in fact working. I suspect the number of truly dependent people — excluding military, retirees and working poor — is closer to Ezra Klein’s 7% than to Mitt Romney’s 47%.

Now, it is true that welfare rolls and food stamps have soared in recent years. That tends to happen in a recession and a jobless recovery. But while Obama deserves a lot blame, you can also thank Republicans for that, too. The big expansion in foodstamp eligibility happened in 2002, under Bush and the GOP Congress. The biggest expansion of Medicaid, so far, came under George W. Bush (Obamacare will expand it more, but not until 2014).

But there’s something deeper than that. As Matt Welch points out, the idea of a dependency class is contra everything the Republicans have been saying for the last five decades:

This is economic determinism at its worst, going against the very message the Republican Party was trying to sell to the world during its quadrennial national convention last month. Over and over again, we heard speakers there talk about how their immigrant grandparents came to this country, worked hard, built “that,” never asked for a handout, and as a result their descendants have enjoyed the American Dream of ever-upward mobility. What the 53/47 dividing line says, to the direct contrary, is that income status is a permanent political condition, defrocking all Americans of agency and independent thought.

Most people at some point will be part of the 47 percent (indeed, nearly most already are). When my friends and I were comparatively poor, as people often are in their 20s and early 30s, we (for the most part) didn’t “believe” that we were “victims,” didn’t “believe the government has a responsibility” to care for us, and didn’t vote for Democratic political candidates “no matter what.” We mostly took personal responsibility and care for our lives, and acted according to our idiosyncratic individual values and whims.

I should theoretically be the target audience for this stuff. I never took out a federally guaranteed student loan, never enjoyed the mortgage-interest deduction; I worry all the time about government spending and entitlements, and I am not unfamiliar with the looter/moocher formulation. But this kind of reductionism does not reflect individualism (as David Brooks charges), it rejects individualism, by insisting that income tax is destiny. It judges U.S. residents not as humans but as productive (or unproductive) units. (Though as long as people are thinking that way, is there any category of resident less taker-y than illegal immigrants with fake Social Security cards who file income taxes?) And it prematurely valorizes one class of government-gobbling Americans while prematurely writing off another.

Most of us on this blog have, at some point, been part of that 47%. Most of us went to college and had little income, or did internships or worked or way up through the ranks or were in the military. That 47%, as I have said over and over and over again when Democrats babble about income inequality, is not a static population. People move in and out all the time. The United States has very strong class mobility. I was in that 47% when I was in grad school, even though I was working 60 hours a week and taking home an income. Now I’m in the 53%. I’ve probably put away too much for retirement to go back into the 47% when I get older (assuming I retire), but I could move back there at some point. Probably everyone who reads this blog has gone through similar transitions.

And that’s really the bizarre thing about this tape business: by jumping up and down with squeals of joy about this gaffe, the Left is missing the forest for the trees. They are so eager to label the GOP as uncaring Monty Burns types, they’ve forgotten — AGAIN! — the massive expansion in welfare eligibility, massive increases in spending and massive tax cuts for people who don’t pay taxes that happened under the Republicans. They are — again — criticizing Republicans for the exact opposite of what Republicans actually did. The are — again — missing the point about class mobility.

Final word to Nick Gillespie:

Let’s not mince words: President Barack Obama is one lucky bastard.

Exactly. I know people will bleat about the media, but Romney’s press conference after the remarks came out was hardly any better. There were reports, from Republican sources, of infighting in the campaign last week. The Romney campaign seemingly can’t go for 24 hours without stepping on a rake and smacking themselves in the face.

But, no, MSM, it’s not going to decide the election. You can make all the secret videos you want — this is still going to come down to who people think will get the economy moving (and yes, Part V of my voting post is coming up).

Finally, A Dem I Can Get Behind

Today is definitely a day of firsts for me. Not only was I rooting for the Denver Broncos to win a game (them and the Cowboys could lose their next 50 games in a row for all I care) the Tebow critics get to eat shit for another week, but I found a Democrat that actually makes sense to me:

I don’t know what all the hub bub is about, an admitted fascist who admits to prevaricating for votes. Like all dems, he knows what is best for the rest of us, their compassion and sense of duty truly is striking, Noblesse Oblige in it’s purest form. No wasted verbiage on nonsense like fiscal responsibility and balancing a budget, pshaw, his free pony pledge is just as enticing and illusory as any promise of free healthcare.

Who doesn’t admire the cut of his jib? Although I prefer an Ugg on my head as apposed to a fishing boot, I’m comforted knowing that he most likely will NOT be indulging in mutli million dollar vacations.

It’s about time someone from the other side challenges Obama, he appears much too comfortable.

Uncle Paul

Jon Stewart has a point:

Ron Paul finished second in the Iowa straw pole, but you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage. This is hardly an isolated incident. As Tim Carney notes:

If Paul had garnered 153 more votes on Saturday, winning the straw poll, you can be sure that every wrap-up story would have focused on the event’s irrelevance.

Why do the mainstream media and the Republican establishment persist in ignoring and dismissing Paul?

Part of it, I think, is that Paul is 2008’s news. While he was refreshing then, he’s just crankier now. Paul has always been appealing to certain political junkies, but his mainstream appeal is limited. Now that many of the GOP candidates have picked up some of his more populist points, he’s not as appealing to some (although clearly still appealing to many Iowans).

However, I think there’s more to it than that. I think the reason Paul is being ignored is because he is consistently embarrassing both the political and the media establishment and it’s driving them bonkers. Paul advocates views that many in the country support but none of the establishment wants to touch — legalization of marijuana, ending the wars and federalism, in particular (all the other candidates makes noise on states rights but end those noises when the states want to do something they don’t like, such as gay marriage). These views are all perfectly within the mainstream. Two-thirds of the country supports allowing gays to marry or form civil unions, the majority of even Republicans want the wars ended and we’re nearing a majority on marijuana. But the power base of both parties supports the war on drugs, the war on terror and wants gay marriage to go away. And since they want it, the media sees these as the “sensible” view. Paul’s popularity is constant frustrating reminder of just how out of touch they are and how the “sensible, mainstream” is neither sensible nor mainstream.

Paul is also afflicted by what I call the Curse of the Libertarian: you are always ignored but you are always right. And when you’re proven right, you get blamed anyway. Carney again:

In 2002, as President George W. Bush was pushing more subsidies for mortgages and home-buying under the motto of an “ownership society,” Ron Paul took to the House floor to issue a warning. Through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Reserve, “the government increases the likelihood of a painful crash in the housing market.”

Neither the mainstream media nor the GOP leadership wanted to hear this at the time. Housing was the engine of our growth, and Ron Paul was just being a crank again. So we pumped and pumped, until the inevitable crash.

Paul similarly foresaw our current debt crisis, warning that cutting taxes and increasing spending was the recipe for disaster. “Endless borrowing to finance endless demands cannot be sustained,” Paul said eight years before the S&P downgraded U.S. debt.

Back then Paul was also warning of the perils of two open-ended wars and lengthy occupations halfway around the world. Paul was nearly alone among Republicans in opposing George W. Bush’s Wilsonian vision of spreading American-style democracy at gunpoint. Today, our continued Afghanistan occupation is generally seen as pointless, and even many conservatives consider Iraq a mistake.

I liked Paul in 2008 although my support waned due to his association with Lew Rockwell’s racial bullshit. But I haven’t blogged about him this year because there’s not much to say. He’s still who he was four years ago: passionate, annoyingly correct, somewhat flaky and probably unelectable. But I still like him and am glad he is out there even if I’m hoping Gary Johnson will take on his role in the future.

But here’s the thing. He’s no longer the loopiest person in the GOP field. You can’t possibly say that when the field now includes one hack with a Google problem, one serial liar who support reprogramming gays and another candidate who, in his first week of campaigning, accused the Bush-appointed Chairman of the Fed of treason and joked about lynching him.

Whatever we think of Paul, he’s a contender. It’s time to start treating him like one.

Update: Glenn Greenwald nails it (you should read the whole thing):

There are many reasons why the media is eager to disappear Ron Paul despite his being a viable candidate by every objective metric. Unlike the charismatic Perry and telegenic Bachmann, Paul bores the media with his earnest focus on substantive discussions. There’s also the notion that he’s too heterodox for the purist GOP primary base, though that was what was repeatedly said about McCain when his candidacy was declared dead.

But what makes the media most eager to disappear Paul is that he destroys the easy, conventional narrative — for slothful media figures and for Democratic loyalists alike. Aside from the truly disappeared former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (more on him in a moment), Ron Paul is far and away the most anti-war, anti-Surveillance-State, anti-crony-capitalism, and anti-drug-war presidential candidate in either party. How can the conventional narrative of extremist/nationalistic/corporatist/racist/warmongering GOP v. the progressive/peaceful/anti-corporate/poor-and-minority-defending Democratic Party be reconciled with the fact that a candidate with those positions just virtually tied for first place among GOP base voters in Iowa? Not easily, and Paul is thus disappeared from existence. That the similarly anti-war, pro-civil-liberties, anti-drug-war Gary Johnson is not even allowed in media debates — despite being a twice-elected popular governor — highlights the same dynamic.

Exactly. Ron Paul challenges our media and politicians’ most sacred lie — that our problems can only be solved by absolutely loyalty to the platform of one of our two idiot parties.

One Up, One Down

Tim Pawlenty is dropping out after yesterday’s disappointing result in the Iowa straw poll, which was won by Bachmann. I’m surprised. Pawlenty wasn’t too far back in the non-crazy division of the GOP field. But it’s become clear that he’s not going to overtake Romney. I suspect there are structural problems within the campaign as well.

However, as the GOP field lost one governor, it gained another in Ricky Perry. Perry’s appeal is mostly due to the decent Texas economy and his embrace of the Religious Right. He was my governor for four years and my opinion was … mixed. Just as the blame for the bad national economy should be put on decades of accumulated bad decisions, the health of Texas’ economy should be credited to decades of good ones, most notably Texas’ sensible regulation of the housing market following the real estate bubble of the 1980’s. Texas housing prices didn’t go on the roller coaster ride other areas experienced, so the housing sector didn’t take the rest of the economy with it. Low taxes have helped, but it’s easier to keep taxes low when you’ve had a series of legislatures and governors committed to keep them that way. Perry didn’t save Texas’ economy; he continued policies that have kept it healthy. This is not a model for what needs to be done on a national level.

Perry has a bad history of crony capitalism, creating slush funds to finance business ventures by the politically powerful. He also has been very cavalier in asserting the most awesome power the government has: the power to execute people. On the other hand, Texas is one of the leaders in taking a more sensible approach to crime, having reduced its prison population even to the point of closing a prison, without seeing a spike in crime.

Mixed, as I said. We’ll have to see what comes out of the debates. But right now, assuming Pawlenty really is out, this is really going to come down to Perry and Romney. In my mind, the others break down as such:

Leader, Crazy Division: Bachmann
Been Nice Knowing You: Cain, Gingrich
Wish He’d Get More Attention, but Alas: Huntsman, Johnson, Paul
Who the Hell are You Again?: Karger, Martin, McCotter, McMillan, Roemer
And the Horse You Rode In On: Santorum

Palin isn’t in yet and I’m not sure that she ever will be. If she does jump in, it will be mostly to drum up some attention and donations. But she really doesn’t strike me as a serious contender. If she were, she’d be in by now. But Perry and Bachmann have stolen her spot.

So, who will be next off the island? I mean, of the big guys. I expect Santorum to drop out soon — his campaign isn’t drawing enough to even cover expenses. Then Gingrich and Cain once the real primaries roll up. Bachman, Paul and Johnson may linger around for a while, given the passion certain segments of the GOP have for them.

Right now, I’ll continue to support Johnson and Paul. But it’s really down to Romney and Perry. And between them … hmmm.