Thursday, September 30, 2010

Forget the Hope and Change--Vote the Criminal Class

The post below was a celebration of IDS'15th anniversary and a thank you to all the human rights activists who have donated their time and ideas generously over the years. It also carried my thoughts on my 60th birthday. Since it was written on another computer, I guess it got scrambled by the National Security Agency. The long and short of it is that I now should be called by the Swahili honorific Mzee. So from now on , Mzee McColm if you please. No more Senor Bruce.

A follow-up note about Karl Rove's appearance at Oberlin. Rove has very strict clauses in his speaking contracts that any who might disrupt his speeches must be removed or he personally will leave and you have to pay. So one person sought to make a citizens' arrest and was himself arrested. Protestors were disrupted beforehand based not on the First Amendment but Karl's contract. He basically forces his host to break the law. Anyone remember what used to happen if someone in a George W. Bush audience asked him a hostile question, even politely. They were bodily removed and arrested. That's Karl's signature.

I was planning to attend the One Nation Rally at the Lincoln Memorial this Saturday at noon. But, should I? Glenn Beck has gone all chalkboard on this one showing that the organizers are all devotees of V.I. Lenin and want to takeover America for Marxism. Since Organizing for America is urging people to attend, Beck wants Obama to denounce socialism and Marxism once and for all. Apparently, Beck didn't hear President Obama in his Wisconsin speak address this criticism of his policies. I haven't been accused of being a Marxist or Socialist for decades so to bring things full circle I'm going and hope everyone who is able can.

But there is an alternative for this year's mid-terms. The nation has a chance to vote for a unique type of candidate this year--the thoroughly criminal. Forget that corporations are pouring anonymous millions into front organizations, forget that the Koch Brothers are trying to buy whole states, including California, forget that the GOP now has a 6-1 funding advantage in terms of advertising. This is your chance to vote for a criminal. And they are everywhere. The criminal profile allows a certain authenticity, a roughness that shows the person isn't a slick politician. With teabagger types, the public can sympathize with their financial difficulties because they are just like you and I, except we would be in jail. We have the run-of-the-mill grifter type like Christine O'Donnell and Joe Miller. We have the Northeast quasi-mobster like Carl Paladino and we have the amazing corporate criminal type like Florida's Rich Scott. The array this year is truly amazing.

Carl Paladino has made Youtube fame with his beef with New York Post veteran, Albany editor Fred Dicker, where he threatens to take Fred out. Fred may have been out of bounds because he went to interview Paladino's "love child", whom Paladino openly accepts and even campaigns with. Paladino has a superstar staff. One senior official is a woman who was forced to quick her government job because she was siphoning off public funds to private businesses. Another was Michael Boomberg's manager for a $1,000,000 GOTV effort the first election and just walked off and bought a house with the money. Another just got out of prison for a DUI accident. But Carl is going to "clean up Albany". Carl received notoriety with his racist e-mails photoshopping President Obama as a pimp and First Lady Michelle Obama as his prostitute. But his more egregious e-mails were discovered by reporters in Buffalo--hard core porn streams to business colleagues and political cronies.

Rick Scott in Florida is also one for the record books. When he beat Bill McCollum in the Republican primary, Bill would not endorse him, saying "I don't know why he isn't in jail." Scott, the CEO of a hospital chain, had to be removed--of course with about a $20 million golden parachute--after federal authorities caught his company in the largest Medicare fraud case in history. The company was forced to pay over $1.1 billion in fines for the crime. But, the kicker is that the criminal part of the case continued all the way until about one month before the elections. Scott in secret testimony is alleged to have invoked the 5th Amendment over 100 times. Then the man has the chutzpah to declare his candidacy for Governor a few weeks later.

Ron Johnson, who is against all government subsidies for business except for his own, testified in Wisconsin against a bipartisan child abuse bill, which would have extended the statute of limitations on pedophilia. He testified as a business man and community leader concerned that law suits would put constraints on many good organizations. Missing was that he was sitting on the Catholic Diocese Board, which was concerned with a rash of cases emerging against priests involved in child abuse. Apparently, this did not involve just one priest, who eventually went to jail, but a bunch through the Green Bay Diocese. He's running against Russ Feingold as the non-politician.

Joe Miller from Alaska first started his grifter act in Kansas where he received farm subsidies. Then he moved to Alaska and applied and received hunting and fishing licenses for the indigent. These are meant for people who must fish and hunt for their daily food and might be excluded because of the limited number of regular licenses. Joe at the time was a lawyer making $70,000 a year. Joe is mandated by law to file with the Federal Elections Commission a statement of his personal income or face upwards of $70,000 in fines. He was supposed to have done this last year but so far he hasn't. Joe also wants to eliminate Social Security. His father survives on Social Security. But you can say Joe knows how to game the system. I personally think he doesn't believe a word he says.

Christine O'Connell makes my own higher education look pretty bad. She's amazing--she has a master's from Princeton, went to Oxford and studied constitutional law at Claremont. And this was all before she even received her B.A. a few weeks ago. I wonder if she's for Sharia Law. Unfortunately, all said institutions issued strong denials of her educational prowess. Apparently she went to none of the above except Farleigh Dickinson. But this makes her more authentic--we all want such an education but we can't afford it. So just make it up. Apparently, she also made up a multi-year law suit on sex discrimination against a conservative organization. This eventually got John Fund to condemn her for lying to him. But John had no problem with her using campaign funds to pay her rent, her mother, her bowling games and her personal gas. "I have no problem with that," John said, invoking the new high standards of conservatives. Now, Christine's own pseudo-Christian non-profit is in jeipardy of losing its legal status because it failed to submit the usual legal papers to the state--and that's a very lax state. But remember Glenn Beck says Chris Coons, the Democrat, is a Marxist.

Meg Whitman has joined the criminal class--probably years before. At her losin debate effort against Jerry Brown, she opined that the law should crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. The next morning her former housekeeper filed suit for damages saying that Queen Meg knew she was illegal for over nine years. Whitman fired her just before she announced she was running for Governor. This all has made the Whitman campaign go Glub,Glub, Glub.

Sharron Angle, who already has made record books for her John Birch views, wants to eliminate government healthcare programs. One slight problem, she is covered by her husband's healthcare plan he got as a government employee. In fact Sharron's main source of income is her husband's goverment pension. Also her father gets both Medicare and VA benefits.

Rand Paul with his bogus medical credentials had a little problem at Dairy Queen the other day. He was supposed to answer questions from local voters but was startled when he saw they were local union guys. He bolted to the car and refused to answer questions. What they wanted to know was how he could suggest a $2,000 deduction for Medicare, when everyone in that neck of the words depended on social security and Medicare.

The avoid questions m.o. makes sense. If you only have to report to the major corporations, why should you have to answer questions from a bunch of voters or , worse, journalists. This is the beauty of the Roberts Court decision on Citizens United. You don't have to disclose the source of your donations and you really don't have to campaign. Just buy alot of air time and make up all your credentials. Want to go to Oxford or Cambridge. Why not? The corporations don't really care what you say. There is a beauty to this.

David Plouffe was on NPR today explaining the real stakes in this election. He did a superb job. But I think the Obama people are making a mistake about Republicans wanting to turn back the clock to the last administration. They want to turn the clock back to the 1890s.

Read another analysis of the House races by a NYU poli sci professor who ran all his computer scenarios and came up with the Democrats keeping the House.

The polling data shows that all the races except in the headline contests in California are tightening up. That good news for Democrats in some places and bad news elsewhere. The Senate will be touch and go throughout the evening.

I am mortified that I got one question wrong on the Pew Survey on Religion. Top scorers were atheists, agnostics, Jews, Mormons, mainstream protestants, then the less knowledgeable evangelicals and Catholics. Catholics were the least savvy in terms of the quiz, even getting their own doctrines wrong. This survey drew all sorts of dismay from pundits. But as someone this morning wrote--the Surveys shows that Americans are more knowledgeable about religion than history or science. Scary.

My wife's note on my birthday card was that she was amazed that she has known me since the age of 21. I find it incredible also but then we are really people of Traditional Family Values instead of the phonies who don't know their own religion.

For the record, I may embrace my inner Teabagger and declare that I am Dr. R. Bruce McColm, expert in Neuroscience. I always liked neuroscience and believe it will yield amazing discoveries in the near future. So why not get ahead of the curve. If Glenn Beck can be a Doctor of Humanities and he lacks all semblence to the humane, why not.

Happy 15th to IDS and Happy 60th to me

The Institute for Democratic Strategies celebrates its 15th anniversary today and I reached 60 years of age. It's rather remarkable keeping a small outfit like IDS alive for fifteen years. I would like to thank Joe and Peg, the original pioneers on this voyage and the countless human rights activists who gave so much of their time and advice to me truly pro bono. I have probably learned more about what I was supposed to know the previous twenty years during the time IDS has been in existence.

IDS has given me the opportunity to focus on causes and issues that personally interest and concern me. That is enormously satisfying from a personal point of view. And, in some ways, IDS has provided a return to the bizarre travels of my younger professional years. There are still aspects of other cultures I would prefer not to know, although these oddities have been thrust on me, giving way to pressures to put them in a book. Unfortunately, Ripley's Believe It or Not has become passe.

IDS has benefited from the valuable insights and contributions of people who donated their valuable time and talent to participate in our programs. This is an aspect of the non-profit world that appears to be threatened.

They say 60 is the new 40 but with a twist--you are no longer employable. But I can insist now on being called by the Swahili honorific "Mzee" Mzee McColm. My wife's birthday card noted that she found it amazing that she has known me since I was 21. I found that amazing and remarkable also. I guess we are just the real defenders of traditional family values.

This past summer I had the pleasure of meeting up with old friends, who I hadn't seen for years. One I'm drafting as my psychiatrist and the other my architect. You never know where you can get good help these days and maybe the answer is right in front of your face or your neighbor next door. I even have access to an armed capability--perhaps for my future raid on Roger Ailes fortified complex.

After 35 years of being fixated on political transformations abroad, (maybe even hastening some of them), I am now drawn back to my native land and the challenges it faces. All my life, America has been at the pinnacle of its power, dominating the language of democracy, human rights and development. For all its flaws (and they are numerous) I still believe this country can remain a force for good. But it has to be good at home too, recognizing there really is such a thing as the common good and the general welfare. How we behave to each other also determines how outsiders will view us.

What's next? Probably forming a tent city with all fired teachers to keep civilization alive in pockets throughout our country. This would truly be the appropriate counter-culture.

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Country For Old Men--A Reprise

Alan Simpson, the Republican co-chair of the Catfood Commission, complained about attacks from conservatives that he raised taxes while in the Senate under Ronald Reagan. While he denied it, Bruce Bartlett came to the critics' rescue by pointing out that the Big Ron did raise dozens of taxes.

John McCain looked like an old stumblebum prize-fighter in his debate with Democratic challenger Rodney Glassman and the Green and Libertarian candidates in Arizona. Actually the Libertarian got in the best shots declaring the immigration problem would not be so violent if we declared an end to the war on drugs, which he called a monumental failure, and that building the "danged" fence was futile because people were now coming in by plane and by sea. McCain kept saying he had a 10 point plan but never elaborated. McCain said it was urgent to pass the Bush tax cuts urgently as well as corporate tax breaks. He said he knew how to make America great again, something he failed to reveal when he ran for President. A couple of whoppers. McCain, who has benefited from a lifetime of government-provided health services, declared he would cut $500 billion from Medicare Advantage. (I have no idea over what time frame.) When asked what he thought his legacy would be to Arizona, McCain was speechless and started mumbling, saying fighting earmarks and his influence on security issues. It was a big bomb. Rodney Glassman scored about the need for a rational immigration policy like the one McCain used to support, a larger stimulus package for the economy and better care for veterans, Glassman failed to score off McCain with any questions about the price of tax cuts for the wealthy. But McCain looked old and beaten up--which, of course, he is.

A Quinnipiac poll was released today that shows that 2/3rds of those making $250,000 or above favor paying more taxes if it helps the government.

David Stockman, Reagan's former OMB person, is getting his revenge late in life. On NPR, he said that the Republican pledge was nonsense. He pointed out that the Bush tax cuts were paid for, two wars were not paid for, the stimulus package was not paid for and that extending these tax cuts was insane. He also pointed out that the Pledge made no sense if Medicare, Social Security and Defense are off limits, then Republicans can only cut from $500 billion and they can not possibly fulfill their pledge of a balanced budget.

Garret Gruener's LA Times op-ed caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal. Gruener is an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist who founded Alta partners. So in the words of the Wall Street Journal,"he's got street cred." He made two basic points. 1. Tax rates don't make or break the success of an entrepreneur--or the jobs he creates. He says he's paying the lowest rates of his working life. "..if you want the simple, honest truth, from my perspective as an entrepreneur, the fluctuation didn't affect what I did with my money. None of my investments has ever been motivated by the rate at which I would have to pay personal income tax."

The second point Gruener raises --which is appropriate to my last few posts--an economy built only on the rich--who account for the lion's share of income and spending--is unsustainable. "What American businesspeople know, and have known since Henry Ford insisted his employees be able to afford to buy the cars they made, is that a thriving economy doesn't just need investors; it needs people who can buy the goods and services businesses create."

Gruener says that tax hikes for the rich should be invested by the government in infrastructure and research. "What will change my investment decisions is if I see an economy doing better, one in which there is demand for the goods and services my investments produce. I am far more likely to invest if I see a country laying the foundation for future growth."

Follow that up with Paul Krugman's columm today entitled "Structure of Excuses". Krugman is on fire, if someone so phlegmatic can ever be on fire. Krugman attacks directly the growing convention wisdom that we are entering a period of "structural unemployment". He quotes various Presidents of FED Banks claiming that there is work out there but workers are either in the wrong place or lack the necessary skills. Even Bill Clinton said this. Krugman sets up the circumstances where that would actually exist but none do. There are only three states, with the combined population of Brooklyn that have unemployment rates below 5%. The National Federation of Independent Business surveys small businesses about their problems and citing problems with labor quality is now at an all-time low.

Krugman asks why are such claims so popular. Part of the reason is that during period of high unemployment pundits talking about these problems as deeply rooted makes them sound profound. Also he detects that powerful forces ideologically opposed to the whole idea of government action on a sufficient scale to jump-start the economy offer these reasons so as to ensure we do nothing about the mass unemployment crippling the economy. As Krugman notes that is important that everyone know that there is no evidence whatsoever that backs these claims. "We aren't suffering from a shortage of needed skills; we're suffering from a lack of policy reasolve."

A nice bit in his column is his review of what Very Serious People said during the Great Depression. He notes that one 1935 analysis said that unemployment cannot be brought down rapidly because the work force" is unadaptable and untrained. It cannot respond to the opportunities which industries may offer." A few years later , a large defense buildup finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy's needs and industry was eager to employ those "unadaptable and untrained "workers.

Nice column.

And, of course, part of the reason job-creating programs are not being created is the Senate filibuster. Electoral had a nice piece on the prospects of filibuster reform. The 111th Senate had over 100 filibusters. From the years 1917-1960, there were 27, about 1 per year. During the entire 19th century, which saw the abolitionist struggle, a civil war and the rise of industrial capitalism, there were only 20 filibusters. The Republicans in this Senate have managed to hold enough filibusters in one year to equal in nearly double the number all American history combined. Stunning. The Democrats should really make this a talking point and dramatize it.

Electoral has a small entry which may have enormous implications for the mid-terms. Non-partisan polls are in on 45 contested House races. The Republicans would pick up 10 of these. In the wildest scenarios, there are 100 seats ,which people say are competitive tis year. That would mean the Republicans would pick up 22 seats. Remember they need 44 to take the House, given losses in 5. Maybe the GOP has over-reached again.

For Sarah Palin, this could be bad news. Scientific studies show that Mama Grizzlies, the name she calls her tea party women, form same-sex partnerships at a fairly significant rate. The Mama Grizzlies actually search out each other and serve as joint parents for the cubs. This won't go down with the anti-same sex mariage crowd.

Ann Coulter spoke at the Homocon meeting with wealthy gay Republicans, where she did her stand-up schtick and criticized gay marriage by reminding the audience they weren't black. Judy Garland she's not but it's clear she performed her duties, providing moments of Camp for the crowd. The audience apparently were offended by her racist remarks more than anything.

California polls are showing that there really is a Latino backlash against Republicans. Democrats are polling higher than usual with the Latino community, which now composes 21% of the electorate. This is showing up in states with growing Latino populations--Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

Normally Republicans would be thrilled Texas will gain 4 new congressional seats with the 2010 Census. But with the rise of the Latino vote there and the GOP's efforts to alienate anyone who speaks Spanish, look to Texas to become the mother of all swing states by 2012.

Republicans are looking to turn several of Ohio's congressional seats this year. As of two weeks ago, it looked like they might pick up 5 here. But recent polls are showing that the race between Governor Strickland and John Kasich is narrowing. Kasich was running some 10 points ahead but the University of Cincinnati Ohio poll has it a four point race. And this is a very well-respected state poll.

A New Survey USA poll mirrors the recent Public Policy Poll by showing that Rand Paul is only running two points up against Jack Conway (49-47%).

I'm surprised how little support Democrats are giving Scott McAdams in Alaska. McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, is running against a true looney-toon. McAdams is worried about Murkowski's write-in campaign because "it divides the rational vote." Good choice of words. Put together, that vote tops Miller.

Mike Castle is doing a little polling for a write-in campaign in Delaware and it's showing he would have a real chance--being favored among independents over Coons. And among Republicans , he would draw roughly the same as he did in the primary.

While the GOP is funding Green candidates in Texas, Illinois, maybe Arizona and elsewhere, the Democrats are apparently doing the same with so-called Tea Party candidates. Turn about is fair play.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pulpit Freedom Sunday

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian Right advocacy group, is sponsoringPulpit Freedom Sunday, where at least 100 evangelical pastors will defy the law and endorse candiates from their pulpits. In 1954, at the request of then Senator Lyndon Johnson, the IRS rules prohibits any speech from a church pulpit favoring or opposing a political candidate. Churches whose preachers do endorse a candidate risk losing their tax-exempt status. During the last presidential campaign, ministers supporting John McCain did the same thing but the only one government investigation was dropped. The ADF is trying to provoke a court case so they can overturn the rule saying that "The IRS should not be used as a political tool to advance the agenda of racial groups bent on silencing the voice of the church.." Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention opposes this whole stunt.

The latest Smithsonian magazine has an excellent article on the history of religious intolerance in America and how and why the Founding Fathers really did create a secular Republic, contrary to the opinions of Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich and David Barton. The piece documents anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon riots in 19th century America. Interesting new fact was that one of the reasons Benedict Arnold became a turncoat was his disgust with America being backed by Catholic France.

CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network, is whipped up about the plot by Muslims to introduce sharia law and destroy American civilization, whatever is left of it. What was a very fringe idea has now moved into the mainstream with New Gingrich and Frank Gaffney and Daniel Pipes flogging this goofy notion.

This week will be Bob Woodward week with his book on the Obama Administration's internal debates on Afghanistan. From the early excerpts, the reader must really ask serious questions about General Petraeus and his strange view that our children will be fighting in Afghanistan and that the war is not one that can be won but must be fought continually. This represents how far the notion of the Long War has permeated the defense establishment. In an age where a computer-virus is knocking out Iran's nuclear program, the United States with its COIN strategy is re-living our Vietnam counter-insurgency plan. The massive disconnect between our embrace of certain 21st century technology and strategies, which were based on military losses in Vietnam, Algeria, and Malaysia is a bit bizarre and disconcerting.

Read an early memo against the war in Iraq yesterday that quoted a Pentagon paper on establishing an American empire, a document purportedly written in 2001. I would love to know where that is and will be trying to locate it. Other recently-released dcuments released tis past week show that Dick Cheney requested a contingency plan for an invasion of Iraq on January 9,2001, right before George W took the oath of office, and that other documents showed internal arguments for the invasion during the first few months of the Administration. What remains a mystery is that we know Al Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq, despite video footage of George W. actually arguing at length this was so, and we know, except some of the extreme right, that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, so what was the invasion meant to do and what purpose was it to serve. Cheap psychologizing that son wanted to better Dad just doesn't fly.

Hopefully, some of the major participants after their self-defenses will reveal some of this in their memoirs. From Dick Cheney,we hope to hear his view of the energy empire, although I doubt whether this will be mentioned. Rather we will be treated to a sophisticated defense of rendition, torture and the wonders of defending America after 9/11 but not before. George W.'s memoirs due next month will probably drip some truths but inadvertantly. My money is on Donald Rumsfeld, whose memoir will be out next year. The reason I suggest this is that Douglas Feith's memoir was an honest attempt, in my opinion, to detail the origins of the war and the fights among the neo-cons. His boss is known to be much more blunt as we saw during the invasion. From the documents released this month, Rumsfeld argued that an invasion of Iraq would cement ties with Israel and strengthen America's position in the region as a whole. It's the last point I want to see elaborated on. Also, Rumsfeld was a major proponent of the 40-year war against Islamic fundamentalism, an idea whose time should never have come.

We will be dealing with the aftermath of this past Administration for decades. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has been defending the worst national security laws and winning in our courts. There are areas of our civil liberties now, which appear to be gone for good. Paul Craig Roberts, a former assistant secretary of Treasury during President Reagan, just wrote a piece "It's Official--the United States is a Police State!". A conservative libertarian type of guy, this article is not an Obama-bashing piece but a critique of the continuation of the Bush suppression of civil liberties under this Administration. It's a good summary of the insanity of the Patriot Act and all the noxious laws that were generated from it. Only this week, the FBI raided war protestors homes and offices in Minneapolis and Chicago with the view of determining whether the groups gave "material assistance to terrorist groups." Apparently , the group was more focused on Colombia than Afghanistan. But Roberts shows that the all-expansive definitions of the anti-terrroism laws are a direct and present danger to dissent.

Meanwhile the mid-terms, Congressman DeFazio from Oregon did a great it--accompanied by video cameras he decided to find the group Concerned Taxpayers, who are running smear ads against him. He found a Washington townhouse with office equipment and only one person home--a person who identified himself as with the conservative Jamestown Foundation, which was first funded to assist Soviet defectors and later branched out into defense strategy policy. But DeFazio had the address right and the phone had a answering machine for Concerned Taxpayers. Why Defazio was p.o-ed was that the ads against him ties him to Nancy Pelosi, whom he is frequently on record as wanting to replace a Speaker of the House. He succeded in getting the group to pull their ads but still no one knows whose behind them.

Think Progress continues to detail the Koch-funded groups trying to engage in election fraud in Wisconsin. Maybe if enough of these incidents can be documented, advocacy groups might want to press for the RICO act being used against the Koch industries--seizing them on the suspicion of corruption. No shareholders would be hurt.

Will Mitt Romney be hurt if his dear friend from Bain, Queen Meg Whitman loses. Apparently, Whitman spokespeople are trying to get people to accept the Field Poll showing a tied race instead of the couple this week that shows Governor Brown with a five-six point lead. On the Senate side, a large majority of Californians want their Senator to support Obama agenda. Obama still rides high in California, which puts a damper on the Republican challenges.

Democrats are engaged in a two-prong strategy for mid-terms--one a national thrust of emphasizing the positive and the second one, a local strategy of hammering specific Republican candidates as unworthy of any elected office. Blue Dog Democrats got Nancy Pelosi's permission to distance themselves from her because their competition was composed on people fleeing bill collectors, tax evaders, a couple who are under investigation for business fraud. The issue in these races is to create the big Ick factor--"this guy is too sleazy to represent you." Given the roster of Republican candidates, who can blame them. If you are Nita Lowey running in Westchester, New York, even though you are liberal, don't you think you should hammer on the fact that the Republican in suburban New York is an anti-semite, a white separatist and writes positively about eugenics? Forget Obamacare and the Pledge, it's obvious your opponent shouldn't be allowed near any public office.

Dana Milbank got in a good line against Tom Kaine. Tom Kaine appeared on CNN and said that the Republicans merging with the Tea Party had become the Danner Party." Milbank said this remark insulted cannibals everywhere.

In Kentucky, recent polls have Jack Conway with the momentum against Rand Paul. Conway has pulled within 3 points. The last Senate race here proved to be a cliff-hanger, only decided in the early morning. Mike Huckabee is in Kentucky campaigning for Paul today. But Paul shot himself in the foot again by saving that seniors should pay more for Medicare. And his Hitler remark this past week may signal to voters "Not Ready for Prime Time."

Florida papers, after several investigative reports into Marco Rubio's AMEX use and his role in various boondoogle projects, are demanding he come clean on his financial dealings. This may have come too late as Rubio seems to have a commanding lead against Crist and Meeks.

The New York Times covers Karl Rove's parallel secret GOP. Democrats go nuts every time Rove's name is mentioned because of his swiftboating techniques and other dirty tricks over the years. But remember he lost the 2000 election, barely won in 2004 because of voter suppression efforts in Ohio and lost massively in 2006. This is not a great mastermind. I just wonder whether his billionaire's Club provides for him to return the money if he fails.

Believe it or not a Fox News contributor has written a piece in the Daily Beast, which documents why this year is not 1994. She says that last time Clinton and Tom Foley, the speaker of the House, did not see the Republican wave coming and that Republicans had not been in charge of the House in 40 years so Americans did not know what to expect. She also said that all the seats lost by Democrats existed in districts won by the Republican presidential candidate. This year only half the seats projected for a Democratic lose are in districts won by McCain.

Remember the first teabagger fight in NY-25, the huge congressional district that stretches across the state? Well, teabagger millionaire Hoffman has lost the Republican line this year and will be running as a Conservative. This was the seat the Republicans have held since the Civil War and lost last year. Well, it looks like they will lose it again. It's seats like these where Republicans need to pick up steam to take over the House.

I thought about Nate Silver's projection that Republicans would win with a 12-seat majority. From just the rumor mill, there are at least 12 Republicans with serious ethics issues. Before they even get to conduct all their investigations, first we will have a foodfight over leadership and then you could have the revelations about these cases. Any resignations or timely retirements would then throw the House open again.

First Sweden, Now Canada--Slowly I Turn Step by Step

From Sympatico. ca comes an article entitled "Could global warming turn Canada into a superpower? Remember--not one Republican candidate for Senate believes in a human role in causing climate change. This will be the result.

The article by Andy Johnson summarizes the findings of Laurence C. Smith's new book "The World in 2050", which analyzes four "global forces" that he beieves will be the main drivers shaping the future world:
1. Climate Change
2. The worldwide effects of a growing and aging population
3. Increasing demand for dwindling natural resources
4. Globalization and worldwide economic integration.

Smith projects that China will pass the U.S. as the world's strongest economy by 2050. The US will move down to second and be tied with India. Mega-cities will proliferate in the new world and wet regions will get wetterwhile dry parts of the planet will get even drier. The world will get a lot warmer. By the end of the 21st century, if we're lucky the planet's temperatues will have risen by 15 degrees Celsius. The Earth's animal population will also suffer huge losses as a result and some species will be forced further and further north to survive.

Canada, Russia, the Scandinavian countries and northern U.S. will see significant benefits from this change, the rest of the world will suffer catastrophic loses. He did point out that the northern countries are experiencing some dire consequences such as 30 percent loss of Russia's wheat crop this year and the devastation of British Columbia's timber reserves by the pine beetle.

Laurence Smith,a professor of geography and earth sciences, set oout four years ago to write a book on the negative effects of climate change in the north. An Arctic specialist, he sought to document the change in the Arctic and with ice levels then at record levels he fell into numerous stories about shrinking hunting grounds for natives but also the other story about the prospects for northern development.

Smith claims that global warming will free up northern natural resources such as oil, gas and water, which will attract new immigrants to the northern rim countries or NORCs. He argues that Canada's welcoming attitude to immigrants, contrasted with Russia's xenophonia, positions it well for development. He claims that those countries who welcome new immigrants will grow and others that reject them will not. Canada's population, which is aging like America's, is set to increase by 30 percent in the next 40 years.

With all the political advantages offered by Canada, Smith thinks it will become a major world player. At that point, I will move to lecture them on not becoming a superpower. Look what it's done to us.

Is this forecast one of the reasons Fox News has upped its cut of the Canadian market? God help them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Afternoon*

*Grace Slick

CORRECTION: This is a big one that only confirms the view that Americans have no idea about the discrepancy of wealth in the country. Yesterday I wrote that 84% of the country's wealth was in the hands of 20% of the people. The real number is 84% in the hands of the top 10%! No wonder Americans prefer Sweden.

On Tax Cuts--It seems that the Blue Dog Democrats are pleading with Nancy Pelosi to go home rather than vote on the tax bill. What's interesting is that these Blue Dogs are the most vulnerable this year. Whatever the House looks like post-election, it will be more polarized, not less.

While I made it clear my view on what the Democrats should do on tax cuts, I have to say that the issue itself avoids the larger question on tax reform in general. For the past 20 years, we have lost the policy shaping dimension of our tax code. That is the way it shapes economic decisions that foster the development of the country. Some of this is re-appearing in Obama's tax credits for Research and Development as well as the ability of small businesses to write off capital equipment in a year. Also closing tax loopholes to companies who export jobs overseas. But the more philosophical issues should be developed more fully. The Republican view is simply to whack at all taxes and disavow government's ability to foster more sustainable development.

Does anyone really believe that with the historically record profits Exxon makes that it could not fund the development of an entire alternative energy sector by itself? The oil industry knows the long-term prospects for oil exploration and plan decades in advance. Collectively, they could form a consortium to basically assist weening America away from oil dependence. You dismiss this. But the percentage of alternative energy use will not dramatically decrease oil consumption in the short-term and in fact would buffer the oil companies' own future profitability. As a country, we have absolutely no choice but to try and accelerate the shift to other forms of energy. You would think a real capitalist with money to burn would by trying to corner the market in this area also. I'm not saying that's a great idea having Exxon Solar control the next energy economy but certainly tax reform and other incentive could force Big Oil to diversify. As of now the native solar, thermal energy and wind energy sectors are starved of capital. Luckily,the stimulus package provided billions in start-up funds for such projects but the overall effect on our energy consumption in the near-term is only about 6%.

The media and the Washington nomenklatura are hung up on the number $250,000, which for Washington and other metropolitan areas seems low, even though it is five times the average income of the American family. This hesitation I believe leads to the resistance of many Democrats in the House and the Senate to give full-throated support to Obama's tax plan. Perssonally, you could save alot of grief by lifting this number to $500,000. The real targets for increased income are the very wealthy.

About Gingrich and Romney's attack on Obama's value system, didn't we hear the wonders from the last three Presidents about the global economy? Isn't it in our competitive advantage to have a President that looks like the rest of the world and talks in a language that is understandable to the rest of planet earth?

I get a strong sense that progressives and the Left, which I do not completely link together,are deeply demoralized. But why? President Obama won the election by organizing a vast grassroots campaign that beat the Democratic establishment and the Republican establishment. However, progressives only endorsed him "conditionally" if you recall the manifesto published by the Nation and signed by leading members of the Left. We know there was opposition to his plans on Afghanistan and even at that early stage his views on Healthcare Reform and elements of gay rights. What did progressives think would happen if you beat two establishments, have to face the defense establishment and go up against the financial establishment? They fight back because they are always used to winning and won't accept any challenge to their dominance of the American society.

What we have in the 2010 mid-terms is an experiment in whether the interest of billionaires and corporations get better bang for their buck by just buying out candidates or sticking to spending billions on lobbying. The Roberts court decision on Citizens United opened the floodgates for a corporate--even foreign--takeover of our political system once and for all. This has been very ably detailed over the past week with investigative reports by Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow. The most fun was the expose of what Republicans mean by small business--Bechtel, probably Cargill, the Chicago Tribune and others, who are S corporations. Under the Pledge, these companies would receive a 20% tax break. And Rachel Maddow has been on the case about astro-turfing for the past year showing that major corporate and private financial interests tried to create an Obama movement of their own--called the Tea Parties.

This all has led to some dire belief that change isn't possible. Which is exactly the effect these people want to cultivate. They want you amateurs out of the "business" of politics. This year will be the first time they pull all the stunts we have seen over the past year. This is an experiment for them in which methods work and which fail. The Republican Party itself has been privatized basically dismissing its traditional organizational structures for a more private, corporate based operation like Karl Rove's billionaire club. This goes even further with the campaign tactics that avoid all debate, interviews with anyone but the tamest of Fox news personalities, and the secrecy around donors. Even though they are without ideas, the Republican Party has transformed its structure and will give it a trial run this year.

Progressives are probably the greatest believers in capitalism and the power of money I've seen. We have seen hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in the Iraq War that did not produce results. We have seen hundreds of billions go up in smoke because of the captains of industry. And we will see Meg Whitman out and out try to buy California with over $120 million of her own money but she is failing as of now, losing to a man who has spend $5.69 and used to sleep on the floor. What I see in this campaign is enormous wastes of money and manpower through all these corporate frontgroups and parallel and duplicative structures the GOP and its veterans have created to buy this election. For every effective dollar spent, there will be another $10-20 wasted. The reason is simple--if you privatize politics, you create alternative profit centers, removed from your donor base. Karl Rove is getting a cut of the money he raises as are all the other operatives in the field. In other words, all these groups, while trying to influence politics, are created to make money for their leading operatives. Ultimately, the results for them do not matter.

Progressives and the Left have to come to grips with the challenge of driving this money out of politics. These secretive donors like the Koch brothers hate exposure. Have you ever seen a photo of the owner of Cargill company? These billionaires have a phalanx of lawyers and their our PR specialists trying to keep people away from them. Progressives should just try and get in their face and make them publicly defend their actions. The only reason they are funneling $100s of millions into elections is because they feel comfortable right now doing it. But having known several of another generation's wealthy political practitioners, they are highly skeptical about the political results. And they must be taught that not only will their activism expose them and their business interests to scrutiny and protest but also will be counter-productive. That is why progressives need to coordinate more their actions ,combining investigative reporting with their own legal resources, to ferret these people out and publicize their actions.
The sooner this happens the better the long-term results. Besides, examining how these groups spend their funds and waste them, would wise up their donors that they too are being fleeced, not just the voter.

In the 1970s, it was interesting to view this community's reactions to the Radical Left. The Left made strategic blunder after blunder, alienating traditional liberals and people who would share some of their own critiques of American society. But one overwhelming impression I had as I talked to the very wealthy and long-time establishment figures was how scared these people were of the Radical Left's actions. It reminds me of how the Right wants to make Americans scared of everything from the New Black Panthers, illegal immigrants, gays and Muslims. Polling suggests that progressives are more infuenced by positive messages and refrain from fear talks. But progressives don't understand that the donors of their adversaries are people very readily scared and rendered impotent by exposure, publicity, and ridicule. These people will not openly defend themselves. And they are as a class scared to death of anything that smacks of class warfare.

This makes understandable their own fixations about the 1960s and 1970s. They believe through their Tea Parties, they are creating their own "movement" like the Left in this country. That is what the Koch Brothers believe. That's why this foolish fixation on Saul Alinsky. It's time the Left and progressives wake up and play jujitsu with them. Otherwise, short of getting campaign finance reform passed, these people will have an open field.

Another thing is that the American people are not with them. Today's AP piece shows that Americans are against Obama's healthcare reform---because it did not go far enough! If you break down the bill in its component parts, large majorities support each part. On ending tax cuts for the wealthy, roughly 60% in swing states favor ending them.

In efforts abroad, people like myself and progressives cooperated in building the civil society movements, which we all thought would bring greater freedom to their people. Luckily, in many cases such as the Czech Republic and other places, the results were remarkable. It's time that progressives regain their confidence in this idea and regain their belief in our own civil society and its ability to withstand the current and vigorous assault on our institutions and democracy.

There was a reason Vaclav Havel chose the word anti-politics to describe his Velvet revolution. Governments are limited in what they can and can not do. If you believe in democracy, then you know the power is with the people, who need to be informed, organized and mobilized.In the past year and a half, I'm convinced that progressives would have been better off putting pressure on the banks and the private sector to behave more responsibly. The flaw of many of the Obama initiatives was that it presumed banks that had been bailed out by the taxpayer would begin to act in the public interest--which is still profitable--and that Wall Street would take a more humbler view of its role in our society. Instead, the recklessness continued and these monied interests doubled-down on their behavior. In part, this is because very few people in this class paid any severe price for their awesome, mind-boogling mistakes. Now they are acting to finish the country off--to complete the looting of the previous eight years.

On Social Security--I posted many blogs on why there is no problem with social security. I would suggest the Democrats run ads on Social Security--Just informing Americans that the trust says that Social Security will pay out 100% of the benefits through 2036 and even after that it will pay out benefits. And all we need to do is tweak it. Anyone telling you anything different is lying. End of story. Just run such an ad against Pat Toomey, the knuckle-head in Alaska and the John Bircher in Nevada.

If the Democrats retain the Senate, which seems likely, I would implore the next Majority Leader to make Republicans really filibuster laws with continuous C-Span coverage so that the American people will get the full effect of obstructionism. After one such telethon, I suspect you would see this threat diminish. Democrats are arguing that Republicans are obstructionists. All true but the general effect nearing election time is that Democrats had the majority and could govern, couldn't get it done. As I've said, the accusation against the House is very unfair since the last Congress passed more legislation than any in my lifetime.

A Gallup poll released this past week shows American approval of Congress at record lows, approximately at the level of George W. Bush when he left office. About one-third of democrats approve of Congress,only 16% of independents, and only 8% of Republicans. Given the 24/7 news cycle and the nature of news these days,it's not surprising, despite solid achievements. This is depressing voter enthusiasm but it's still unclear how that cuts. The President has an approval rating 25 points above Congress, double any public Republican, and the democrats in Congress still have about a 10 point lead over the Republicans. So far, I have not seen any poll that indicates whether the American public would see a Republican Congress as any improvement.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Romney Throws in the Towel and other Afternoon Delights

Mitt Romney speaking at a businessmen's gathering in L.A. suggested that President Obama will be difficult to beat in 2012 because "he will pull out all the stops, although he's pulled out so many stops at this point that there may not be a whole lot more to pull out in terms of federal reserve, interest rates and stimulus and so forth." Romney went on to say that Obama was doing everything he could to get the economy back again and that , in his opinion the economy will come back. But Romney goes goofy from his realistic side, which got him in trouble last time around. This is the stuff Republicans, especially the super-rich ones, say about Obama that gets me going: "...the American people have established a perspective on the President which is going to be long lasting--that he has not understood the nature of America, in some respects, that the values I've described of love of liberty, of freedom, of opportunity, of small government--that those values he doesn't share."

This is a very rich hedge fund manager and Wall Street investment banker who can talk about a man who actually worked as a community organizer, instead of working in a Wall Street Law Firm, and who worked on healthcare reform because of his experience with his dying mother, and who acts like he really loves being out in small towns and with real working Americans and he says this man doesn't understand America. Maybe, Mitt, you and your rich friends should hang out in the towns with the 99ers and the people forced to squat in their homes. Maybe, Mitt, you should have been a missionary here at home instead of in Paris. It's true that the Obamas have never owned 15 homes like you, although they have done nicely. This stuff just drives me batshit. This is just a slicker way of repeating Newt's "Kenyan anti-colonial" mentality. But Romney is right, Obama will be hard to beat.

Meanwhile our Judge in the DADT case just ordered that Major Witt, the lesbian expelled from the Air Force, must be returned to service because her dismissal is not in the country's interest. This language is reminsicent of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, which stated that the state had no overwhelming interest in the banning same-sex marriage. It must be infectious.

The Right's most important civil rights case is now being heard at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is almost exclusively peopled by Republicans. They are hearing the 2008 Voter Intimidation Case involving two New Black Panthers. A Bush DOJ holdover, who has coordinated his testimony with House Republicans, is testifying how Eric Holder has ended race neutral voting rights violations--reversed the Bush DOJ--and failed to properly investigate Black intimidation of white voters. Since this guy's first public pronouncements, the Right has been rabid to use this case to bring Obama down--I meant that literally. The Right really believes that there was massive voter fraud in the 2008 election that brought Obama victory. They claim this was orchestrated by ACORN and the New Black Panthers and this line has been constantly been fed by Glenn Beck and others. Will Branch in The Backlash details all the teabagger arguments why Barack Obama's election was not legimate and this case figures large in it. Of course, even the Bush DOJ felt this case was hooey.

Harry Reid has pulled out ahead by five in Nevada in a new poll and his son only trails by the same. I bet Harry wins but Rory loses. The Republican gubernatorial nominee isn't nuts.

I Am Outraged--Americans Prefer Sweden

Yesterday, Huffington Post published a report that showed Americans at every income level totally underestimate the distribution of wealth in this country. They thought the top 20% of the country controls 54% of our wealth. The real answer is 84%.

Now comes along a study by Dan Arliely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School, which surveyed a randomly selected 5,522 person sample that reflected the country's ideological, economic and gender demographics. The report was based on Jon Rawls' questions about what is just and covered perceptions of fair income distribution. People making over $100,000 and those making under $50,000 had similar responses. In fact, the responses showed that America has much more of an egalitarian ethos than our political system shows. The sample was presented with unlabeled pie charts showing various income distribution in three different countries, including our own. 92% of such a large sample answered they would rather live in a country where the top 20% only controlled 36% of the wealth. And naturally, that country happens to be Sweden, the great bugaboo for conservatives.

We might have gotten a hint of this when the Right started attacking Obama as a socialist. Polls during the first month or two of these accusations showed a sharp increase among the Millenials for socialism, reaching 35% at one point.

So from the sublime to the ridiculous. Paul Krugman in today's article examines the Republicans pledge to cut the national debt. He points out that the extension of the Bush tax cuts permanently would add $3.7 trillion to the deficit--about $700 billion more than the Obama administration's tax proposals. Then they had one specific cut--canceling the rest of the TARP program, which they claim incorrectly would save $16 billion. That's less than half of 1% of the tax cuts they have rewarded themselves. Then Krugman says that everything must be cut "except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans and our troops". In short, Social Security, Medicare and the Defense Budget are off-limit.

He asks what's left? Here he relies on Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center. Gleckman says that the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously A.) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b.) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won't cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government. "No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. O, and no more Congress." Krugman asks what happens when such a movement achieves the power it seeks? The answer, presumably, is that it turns to its real, not-so-secret agenda, which mainly involves privatizing and dismantling Medicare and Social Security.

Krugman doesn't think they will achieve their long-term agenda anytime soon. "So the clear and present danger isn't that the G.O.P. will be able to achieve its long-run goals. It is rather, that Republicans will gain just enough power to make the country ungovernable, unable to address its fiscal problems or anything lese in a serious way. As I said, banana republic, here we come."

Richard Haas has return from a trip to Europe and he reports that foreigners are appalled at the level of debate in this country and doubt whether to take America seriously ever again. This observation simply does not compute with conservatives I talk with. They simply can not conceive of a world where people no longer hang on our every word or are no longer dependent on us for their defense and well-being. We've lost a decade and whole regions have roared with development and been neglected by us and are thriving. The thrill of the United States overcoming its racism to elect its first black President has given way to laughing horror at our healthreform debate and real shock at our Wall Street reform debate.

Brits like John le Carre and Neil Kinnock sort of see us either coming out of a McCarthyite period as in the Bush-Cheney years or lapsing back into it. As Kinnock said, "The election of tea party folks would be a disaster for America and the rest of the world." Remember this all comes as Europeans are trying to re-examine and evaluate their role and complicity in the war against terror and in Britain their intimate involvment in the invasion of Iraq. We have not allowed ourselves the same process. In fact, Lindsey Graham actually spoke at AEI about introducing legislation to bring back "enhanced interrogation."

Drudge Sirens--Whistles, Fog Horns and Bugle Calls

I am shocked--just shocked that the lamestream media pushing their radical agenda would attack a family values man like the Tan Man--John Boehner--suggesting he is having an affair. This is just aimed at getting the attention away from the Democrats "job-killing agenda". Actually House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggests that members of the Republican leadership are gunning for Boehner and are engaged in political cannbalism.

Discontent with Boehner has been bubbling over the past year. Morning Joe Scarborough mentioned in air that Boehner was lazy and a drunk. Unnamed aides claimed he shouldn't be allowed on the floor after 3pm. And the Democrats have made great fun out of Boehner's amazing 199 golf dates over the past year. Other rumors concern Boehner basically "dealing" with a myriad of ethics problems with fellow Republicans privately. He is said to have warned several "family values Christian" married congressmen, who have yet to be named, away from dalliances with women lobbyists.

But now his hopes and dreams may be de-railed as the New York Times is preparing a piece to expose his affair with a lobbyist named Lisbeth Lyons. Mark Stark ,an activist and blogger, intercepted Boehner yesterday after the Pledge was unveiled and asked him about it. Asked later, Lyons denied the allegations to Stark. Lisbeth Lyons is the Vice President of Government Affairs for the Printing Industries of America. Maybe she gave Boehner a good deal on printing the Pledge to America.

The heavy drinking, chain-smoking Boehner was always the source of rumors about his partying ,especially at the Republican Party Conventions. At the Convention in New York, he was seen partying in clubs in the Village, venues that surprised the younger congressional staffers.

The innoculation article today was arranged with Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, which quoted Lisbeth's outrage at how highly insulting this was to a "female political professional". Boehner's spokesman blamed the Democratic allies in the liberal media for fabricating the charges.

Just from experience, the charges are very likely leaked by other Republicans in this internecine warfare. I imagine Boehner will consult John McCain how to use lawyers to get the Times' to water the charges. You'll recall the Times strongly hinted in an article that read as if it had been parsed by lawyers that John McCain was having an affair with a Cindy McCain look-alike living here in Old Town Alexandria. The woman disappeared from the scene and has not been heard in public since. But to tame the New York Times, McCain used a platoon of lawyers to squelch it.

Is any of this true? Who knows but it would not surprise me because alot of these guys act as if they are beyond the law, ethics or morality. All he has to do is to publicly say that "he's born again" and Bingo, everything's fine.

One little problem--It was Boehner that told Mark Souder, "Mr. Abstinence", that he would have to resign. Strangely, Souder's affair was glossed over by the Concerned Women of American and the Focus on the Family crowd because Mark had been fighting the good fight. If this turns out to be true, the Christianists will be after Boehner's scalp.

While this could be good news for the Democrats, if it doesn't prevent a Republican take-over in the House it actually could be bad. The reason for this is that Republican House leadership would fall more to the Pence types and middle-aged firebrands, who would accelerate investigations into the Obama Administration and move toward impeachment hearings fueled by the wingnuts.

Nice way James Clyburn described the Republican pledge as "the Plague."

Paul Krugman wrote his take on the Republican plan called "Downhill With the G.O.P" It's worth a read.

Friday Catchbasin

Pet Peeve--I can't stand people who drive while talking and texting on cellphones. Here in Virginia, where no one uses their turn signals, these characters cause more accidents than anyone. How bad is it? Worse than 9-11. Between 2001 to 2007, 16,000 Americans died in accidents solely attributed to a driver texting while driving. In 2008, over 5,870 died because of cellphone and texting use. This about the total American fatalities in all of the Iraq War.

The Catholic Church in Minnesota is mailing out 500,000 DVD against same-sex marriage. What's next a church DVD in defense of pedophilia? Maybe they paid for it with the money laundered by the Vatican. Does anyone remember the anti-islam DVD circulated around the 2008 election time and stuffed in Sunday newspapers? Did anyone watch it?

Nancy Pelosi said she's reserving the right to push a middle class tax cut before the election. She will demand the procedure that calls for a two-thirds vote to prevent Republican amendments. Then this will force the Republicans to go on the record. Read a blogger saying that skipping the whole thing is probably better for the Democrats because the sight of Bluedogs and Leiberman types siding with the rich will provide a mixed message. Take your pick.

A gay male chastises the left for slamming Obama on gay rights when he says numerous changes have occurred. In particularly, he notes that now gays don't need the kindness of strangers or hospital administrators to visit their sick partners. One of the changes of healthreform was that gays would have the right to visit their partners. This is a big deal if you have ever known gays people who have been deprived this right by hospitals. In the freest country in the world, this was/is a common practice, especially encouraged by angry family members.

Another gay wrote that the gay/lesbian community is being foolish for criticizing the Obama DOJ in its response to the judge's ruling on DADT. He wrote that an appeal might end up in the Supreme Court, which might rule DADT was constitutional. This way the President as Commander-in-Chief can decide the issue.

Alan Grayson, who I find annoying on occasion, wrote a funny op-ed on the Dailykos called Caligula's Horse. Grayson argues that all the corporate funding of election campaigns really doesn't require sentient candidates. He quite rightfully says that corporate America would back Caligula's Horse against himself and Democrats if need be. This tracks with the wild and zany candidates of the Tea Party. Corporate America really doesn't need these people to have any understanding of the economy as long as they are pliant to corporate lobbyists once they come to town. This is the same belief of the Washington GOP leaders, who believe these people will be pliable to a corporate agenda.

How can you get any more bizarre than Glenn Beck? Beck is back bashing "progressives" with his little 'history" lessons. Yesterday,he decided to attack Edward House, an adviser to Woodrow Wilson, who is said to be responsible for creating the Federal Reserve. Beck urged his listeners to read Secrets of the Federal Reserve to understand how nefarious the Fed is. The book argues that the Fed was the creation of a conspiracy of a family of Jewish bankers. Of course, the Rothschilds have to factor into this. Normally, this would be the place where I go into a rant how Mormons were the only protestants allowed to proselytize in Hitler's Germany, which might explain Beck's fascination with all things Hitler. But, it's really the story of the author.

The Left has tagged Eustace Mullins a 9-11 truther and a follower of Lyndon LaRoche. Both true. But the story is more complicated. Secrets is dedicated to Ezra Pound. In fact, the book was funded by Ezra Pound when he was a patient at St. Elizabeth's Mental Hospital in Washington. During that period, doctors and Ezra's literary friends were trying to avoid a treason trial because of his broadcasts in favor of Mussolini, primarily, and Hitler and against the American forces in WWII. During that time, he cultivated a circle of young admirers, who respected him not for his aesthetics but for his economic theories. Personally, his economic theories and his anti-semiticism ruined some of his most beautiful Cantos. But this coterie started small publications to disseminate his economic theories, which were heavy of blaming the Jews for changes in 20th century America. One such person was Eustace Mullins, who wrote the book Beck recommended to his audience. Later, the LaRocheites adopted this book,

Maybe Glenn Beck will end up like Ezra Pound. Pound was released from the mental hospital and allowed to return to his home in Italy. He gave a fascist salute as he boarded the ship and then entered into decades of self-enforced silence--literally not speaking to anyone other than his wife and mistress. Allen Ginsberg tracked Pound down in Venice at the end of Ezra's life and managed to get him to listen to Allen's poetry and music. He finally asked Ezra about his anti-semiticism. Breaking his silence, Pound replied, "It was a suburban prejudice." Pound died believing all his poetry was "botched".

Pound's treason and his cultivating this young group of followers is one of the most unpleasant episodes in our own intellectual history. Not only were the followers anti-semites but were linked with militantly racist groups, which alarmed Pound's former friends like William Carlos Williams, who tried to intervene with first Ezra , then his wife to stop him meeting and funding them. Maybe it's appropriate all this garbage be raised again with Glenn Beck, the perfect acolyte of the demented. Notice how the fascist thread keeps appearing in Glenn Beck's rants and among the teabaggers. Just the other day, Rand Paul said that an economic collapse would lead to another Hitler. His own separate history records a fixation of Hitler.

The cultic nature of our recent politics is beginning to resemble Christian fundamentalism. Both the Left and the Right have criticized Markos Moulitsas for likening the Republicans and the Right to the Taliban. But the similarities are too broad to be dismissed. I've already written about the Christian Right's Biblical literalism, which is non-Biblical, being absent in Jewish and early Christian tradition. The Christian Right makes a totem of the Book of Revelation, a false idol if you will. On the political side, the other totem is the American Constitution. But this must only be seen through the ideology of "originalism", which didn't exist in American history until conservatives invented it in the late 1960s and early 1970s to counter more liberal interpretation of the Constitution. You can see how ideological it is by the anti-historical reasoning in the Citizens United case and some of the recent pronouncements by Fat Tony Scalia. And the last totem is the Free Market, which again doesn't exist in reality. The Right used to remember Adam Smith's invisible hand guiding the markets but never mention the visible hand, which he wrote about also.

Morning After The Pledge

The definitive statement on the Republicans' new Pledge to America was the segment on John Stewart's Show. He interspersed clips of Republicans saying the same things since 1994 and had a wonderful mix of John Boehner saying the same things for the last ten years. Eugene Robinson basically was stunned by the the bewildering confusion of the document calling the GOP "The Party of Nonsense". It was panned in a lead editorial from the Washington Post, which was charitable in saying its would increase the deficit by $4 trillion. My math yesterday holds up. Rachel Maddow did an excellent job showing that the Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and replace it with---Obamacare. Basically, six major points of the current healthcare legislation are part of the new GOP campaign strategy--all of them had been implemented yesterday. Conservatives were even more devastating in their critique of it. The American Spectator lampooned it. And John Boehner gave the Democrats the opening that needed by trying to reassure the press conference, "We're the same as we always been." Unlike Newt's 10 point program, no one can or will be able to roll the main points here off the top of their heads.

Rachel Maddow lamented that the GOP will be running on healthcare when Democrats are shying away from it. The point of yesterday's press conference in a hardware store was really this-- Obama still controls the language of the debate. Even the hardware store--a favorite venue for President Obama when he wants to show off energy saving window insulations--was used by a set of very uncomfortable looking people, who shouldn't dress casual. Even the healthcare language is almost literally taken from the Heathcare Bill.

I still believe it is a mistake that the Democrats don't force the vote on tax cuts. I think it's vitally important to put the GOP on the record against middle class tax cuts. The Democrats blew this chance once before with the tax cuts for the middle class in the stimulus bill. They never started saying Republicans were against tax cuts for the average American, when they had the chance. David Axelrod's comments yesterday that the Democrats have made the point clearly to the American people just doesn't wash. The one thing Americans equate with Republicans is tax cuts. This time Democrats could take that language away from them.

Republicans, who are already measuring the drapes, now say they will be using the reconciliation process to reap health reform and "other entitlements". Remember when the Republicans screamed and yelled about using reconciliation to pass healthcare. Democrats were jamming the bill down America's throats. And if we are picky, remember the Bush tax cuts had to be passed the same way.

NBC has their voter confidence index out and say that Democrats will lose more than in 1994. Interesting methodology, they compared this index during all mid-terms of Presidents and found that Obama was below Reagan's at this point. But I would like to know the comparative VCI for the opposition. Almost all the election narrative this year has been written about the majority party and any slip in favorability and approval will naturally redound to the opposition. This year has been very peculiar because while approval ratings for Democrats are flagging, there are still nothing compared with the basement numbers of Republicans. And in the past mid-terms that were wave elections, the winner usually had superior ratings to the loser.

Chris Bower at Daily Kos keeps the Senate tallies based on average polling. It's still Democrats 52 and Republicans 48. Digging deeper in the numbers, I see that 4 more seats are very winnable for Democrats if their GOTV operation is in full force. The only one with Democrats teetering on the brink is, which has Democrats at 51. And here you have to get into the possibility of a Lieberman switch, which he is capable of.

In the governor's race, which I have flagged from the beginning of the year or before, Texas Governor Rick Perry is in trouble. Yesterday, he announced he would not meet with any of the newspapers in the state--a new campaign twist being used by Republicans this year. The Dallas newspaper has already endorsed White. Also, the Texas Farm Bureau, which routinely endorses the Republican, has announced it will not endorse anyone this year. Perry's troubles worsened when Texas woke up one morning to find they had a deficit of around $18 billion.

Now, Democrats should be concerned about the arson that destroyed all of Houston's voting machines. How this will affect the election in the long run remains to be seen. While Bill White is as dull as dishwater, he has a rather remarkable record of achievement in managing Houston. He came to the attention of America with his able handling of the Katrina refugees.
The Dallas Businessmen have endorsed him, which should indicate what low esteem Perry is held among the state's private sector, which is dominated by Republicans. One fly in the oinment here is that Republicans are funding the unemployed to run as Green candidates to siphon off Democratic votes. And all of you Nader voters should remember what happened when the GOP funded Ralph in 2000.

Queen Meg Whitman has adopted the anti-newspaper practice of the GOP. She became the first-ever candidate in California history to refuse to meet with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Progressive bloggers are claiming that Obama has lost the gay vote for a generation. The complaint here is the DOJ response to the judge's ruling that DADT is unconstitutional has asked for limited applicability of an injunction. This is called waiting. The Obama Administration made a commitment--wrong in my opinion--to hear from the armed services about the effects on the repeal of DADT on military readiness. They wanted to know whether Bryan Fisher was right that men would be fellated in their sleep. Just kidding. And who would object? So the DOJ request is to buy time because the court calender about a real request to appeal coincides almost to the day of the so-called Pentagon report. The Administration in their request to the court did emphasize the Administration's commitment to repealing DADT. Chug-Chug. It's heading there whether anyone wants it or not. It just takes about two more months. Instead, progressive gays should rally behind John Cornyn, who has a O rating on gays rights issues but is being given the Barry Goldwater award by the Log Cabin Republicans.

There is a poll out in California--where Democrats have an overwhelming generic edge for Congress, that shows that only 38% want Nancy Pelosi to remains as Speaker of the House. It's not they want Tan Man but another Democrat. Having disliked Nancy Pelosi, his style and manner for years, I have to admit she is responsible for more positive legislation to benefit more Americans than any other speaker in my adult lifetime. If you have a complaint with Congress, it should be centered on the Senate. The House's record in passing the most progressive legislation in a generation is remarkable. You should ask the Senate where the 400 bills the House passed stand in their queue. If the House goes the other way, not only will all these accomplishments be jeopardized but the Tan Man will run the House like the Marx Brothers.

I think people are being too hard on the Republican candidate Russell Martin in Westchester, New York for his racism, anti-integration positions, anti-semiticism. Can you imagine we're talking Westchester, New York and a candidate for Congress? Martin wrote that "too many free-thinking Jews are dangerous for society." People misunderstand this--he really is Harpo , not a Groucho fan. Or how many is too much? Could you really stand Groucho, Woody Allen, John Daily all together? See, there is room for debate here. The chairman of the New York Republican Party says they are trying everything to remove him from the ballot.

If you want a more realistic approach to how our politics really is these days, go to the redesigned or the Onion, which ran a piece that 20% of Americans believe Obama is a cactus. We still don't have this period's Hunter Thompson.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pledge--a Big Flop

It didn't take long for all opinion magazines and bloggers on both the right and left to laugh off the Pledge to America. Having read over two dozen comments, the comments range from pablum and worn-out ideas to "the worst thing to come out of Washington since General McClellan"--that's from a conservative. Conservatives claim that Republicans made no specific recommendations or ways to cut the deficit and do not believe Republicans have the discipline to enact their own program. Democrats rightfully claim this is a full-blown return to the George W. Bush policies and will only vastly increase the deficit. AP and other wires claim there are no new ideas and no specifics but rather it was aimed to make the base feel good. The Religious Right condemned it because being anti-abortion doesn't go far enough anymore with them. Foreign policy mavens note that both Iraq and Afghanistan are barely mentioned and that the only foreign policy issue is tightening sanctions against Iran, which one conservative dismisses as inadequate to the threat. He was hoping for a more hawkish invade Iran.But one person noted with relief that Republicans were not advocating going back to "enhanced interrogation" of everyone suspected of being a terrorist. So this was counted as progress. China, Pakistan, Europe, Africa and everyplace on planet Earth was neglected, despite the Pledge mentioning that the USA was the hope of all mankind.

Marc Ambinder lamented the fact the Republicans didn't write it so the Democrats couldn't demagogue it. Sorry Marc. Then one post on Dailykos actually went through all the photographs in the release and noted that every photo showed white people with the possible exception of a black person in the back of a restaurant shot. And even that was in doubt. After all, the Republican base is all white now. I'm surprised they didn't just limit the photographs to white men over 55.

The Tan Man did say today that he has never been in a tanning salon. Maybe he should get the tax on tanning beds repealed.

One error from yesterday, I miswrote that it it was Queen Meg Whitman , who was going to be feted by the Koch Brothers, but it is Carly Fiorina. I guess Carly really does need more money for her campaign, while Queen Meg has enough of her own. Speaking of the Koch Brothers, the Manhattan based one now has surpassed Michael Bloomberg as the richest person in New York City.

The Senate missed by one vote today to hold a vote on the Disclose Act, which would require companies to openly identify with political ads. The bill passed the House with only 1 Republican vote. I guess the one who isn't getting corporate funding. Rumors suggested Senator Durbin was to put forward the Dream Act today.

If anyone can tell me what the Democrats' strategy on tax cuts is, I'd appreciate it. Earlier in the day the House reported that there would be no vote before the election since they were waiting on the Senate and believed it would be filibustered. At that time, Democrats argued that they had already made a strong case against the Republicans. My problem with this is that most people actually believe Obama raised their taxes, even though they received a tax cut through the stimulus package. Politically, I think it's important to box the Republicans in on this to establish the high ground for the election. By late afternoon, David Axelrod said that they wanted a vote even if it failed for just that reason. Obama took the tax issue away from the Republicans in 2008 and until now has kept it for himself. But letting the Republicans out of the box now would diffuse the strength of the Democrats' position. Keep tuning in.

But as I said, if you let all tax cuts expire, you have a balanced budget. Besides read today a long article that showed that the tax cuts for any bracket did absolutely zero for the economy and of course did not raise revenues for the Government as promised by the Republicans.

The GOP is trying to push aside our anti-semite candidate I mentioned yesterday. They are also annoyed that Mike Castle is threatening to have a write in campaign for Senator in Delaware. he has the easier issue that everyone can spell his name because it's the name of a County in the state, while the name Murkowski just confuses people in Alaska.

Polls suggest that Hapless Harry Reid still has an upward battle in Nevada against John Bircher Sharron Angle. But he could be saved because there is also a spot for "None of the Above", whch actually won one recent race in Nevada.

I still Russ Feingold is toast and not from the polling data. There is a serious effort to cage votes in all the student areas of Wisconsin, where he would draw considerable support. This effort is being led by the Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity.

Rahm Emmanuel looks like he will be leaving the White House in October to run for Mayor of Chicago. David Axelrod is leaving in 2011 to begin the organization for Obama's re-election run.

Finally, a poll was released yesterday that pissed-off Democrats are more likely to vote and not those satisfied with the way things are.

Thursday Blues

Congratulations everybody, the next tranche of health insurance reforms have hit today. There was one point that I had missed the other day, which is of personal importance. Insurance companies will have to pay for all your emergency procedures even though you don't come through your primary physician. Strange wording. But this occured to me when I returned from Africa and went to Johns Hopkins for eye problems. After examing me, they concluded I had a torn and detached retina and whisked me away for a six hour operation. Later the surgeon told me that if they hadn't done it then, I would be totally blind in one eye. Let's say that's not elective surgery. But my insurance company protested about paying any of the bill because my primary physician had not been notified--like I carry his phone number on me. The insurance issue is still not resolved. But with the new health reform, this would not be a problem. Emergency surgery--no problem.

While I'm for Medicare for everyone to take out the chronic anxiety over the financial issues over health care--it's bad enough you have to concentrate on getting well, the reforms that take effect today basically mean I don't have to go bankrupt for anything serious. Even a routine heart attack would bankrupt me at this rate. Apparently, all the speakers at the Values Summits--allegedly Christians-- disagree with me. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, doesn't believe people with pre-existing conditions should be insured. Sharron Angle doesn't believe there should be assistance to people with autism. I'm sure they would also all agree that Chris Hitchens should not get treatment for his cancer because of his atheism and chronic smoking and drinking. It's wonderful to see such loving people believe in a punitive life and a coercive state. But they all agree on the dangers posed by witches. And that's what you will get if the GOP comes back. But at least it will be paternalistic authoritarianism as witnessed the tone of the Pledge to America.

Another poll came out from Zogby--caveat emptor--that shows Democrats with a 1% generic lead in the congressional races, which tracks with the continued upward trend. Obama also has an approval rating of 49%. Other polls show weird discrepancies between the results with Likely Voters and those with Registered Voters. Bennett beats Buck in Colorado with registered voters, loses with likely voters; Sestak ties Toomey with registered and loses with likely voters; Feingold wins with registered voters , but loses big with likely voters; Reid wins with registered and loses by a point with likely voters. This demonstrates the alleged enthusiasm gap , which means the Democrats have to accelerate the GOTV efforts. Luckily in Delaware, Chris Coons, called by Glenn Beck a "Marxist" , is whipping Cathleen O'Donnell in both likely and registered. But the registered margin is a whopping 25%.

The great roll-out for the Pledge to America didn't really hit it. John Boehner wanted to assure everyone that Republicans are the same and that privatizing Social Security is not off the table. Please recall when W campaigned around the country on privatizing of social security. It was a mega flop. Pat Toomey in Pennslyvania has highlighted this as his major policy initiative. And he even admitted it would add significantly to the deficit. After recent events, who in their right mind would actually support this? I'm glad we are all going to be compis mentis when we are older and can finagle the ins and outs of the stock market like most people were able to do in prime health during 2008. And since they're going to raise retirement age to 70, it's going to be great for stock traders dealing with millions of people who have dementia. But it's all in the name of family.

Over 70% of Americans believe this country is in decline. It is if we don't make some fundamental changes. But I heard an unusual diagnosis of our fate from Niall Fergusson, the British neocon who spoke at Aspen warning that America might lose its empire. He repeated his talk in Australia. He said that the United States was in threat of losing its empire and global status because of our national debt. He said that the debt issue will force America to spend less on national security--remember we spend more than planet earth combined so I think we have alot of wiggle room--and lack the courage to rein in Social Security and Medicare costs. In other words, if we take care of Americans first, then we won't be the surrogate British empire Niall and the Bush neocons wanted. It should be noted that it was only during the George W. reign that any American policy-maker ever referred to the United States as an empire. The Left has used this terminology for years but American officials only did with W. In fact, Bush officials bragged to the British that the invasion of Iraq was "our imperial moment." Niall also said that all empires collapse when they withdraw from Mesopotamia. Good, here's hoping.

Newt Gingrich has taken up the anti-colonial issue by citing Dinesh D'Souza's recent thesis that Barack Obama is acting out his father's "Kenyan anti-colonial" mentality. D'Sousa's new book will be coming to my bookshelf soon and I already can anticipate the argument. But, before pre-judging Dinesh, I should like to mention that Glenn Beck's beloved Founding Fathers were notoriously anti-colonial and even modern Presidents such as Ike and JFK were anti-colonial. Does anyone remember the US sided with Egypt over the Suez Canal? All the stink that caused in Britain. But both Newt and Dinesh are imperialists--Christian imperialists. In other words, anti-American.

An American vet has been arrested in Chicago for plotting to kill Barack Obama and provoking a war between Christians and Muslims to hasten the apocalypse. This is the second plot in a week that has been disrupted. No wonder people believe America is in decline with this nonsense. Another man was arrested in Texas for attacking police officers because he was a member of the Texas Republican Movement, which advocates secession.

Not to worry, this stuff is getting mainstreamed. The Teabagger, Republican nominee for Senator in Alaska is pro-militia and considered a friend of that white nationalist movement. I guess that's one step ahead of his friend Todd Palin, who is a member of the Alaska Independence Movement. Both men should be happy about the GOP's embrace of the obscure 10th amendment.

Certain strange things have been appearing on my radar, which raises some interesting questions about some of the GOP candidates. The Washington Post found out that Pat Toomey's stint as a business partner in China was related to his relationship with Enron board holder Mr. Chen. On another front, you have the strange occurrence of Mark Kirk, GOP senate candidate in Illinois, bragging about telling the Chinese not to believe the Obama Administration of our country's assets. You have Dubai-based Newscorp, the owner of Fox News, being a business partner with North Korea and China, developing computer games. And you have private e-mails I get from conservatives praising China as a model and Vietnam.

In the old days of the Cold War, conservatives believed the turning moment was Whittacker Chambers outing Alger Hiss. But times have changed and , with the exception of the State Department couple who spied for Cuba, the most recent espionage problems have come from an asssortment of conservatives, members of Opus Dei, pro-Israeli Americans and the strange pro-lifer who was behind the anthrax mailings. Don't be surprised over the next few years if you see the conservative movement have a major espionage problem of its own on a scale of the Cold War exposes in the 1950s. Not a sermon, just a thought.

If Iran is an existential threat to Israel, why is Goldman Sachs-Israel opening an office in Tehran? I hate to disappoint everyone but I believe that the Iranian nuclear program has been disabled by "outside actions" and may be permanently out of action. I am probably the only one on planet Earth that believes this. But there were technological advances made by the United States over the last few years, which indicate things of this nature can be done. I submit they were.

Barack Obama spoke to the United Nations yesterday on a new development policy, which makes too much sense to repeat in a post that documents madness.

And, oh yes, documents were released today that demonstrate the Bush Administration intended to invade Iraq prior to 9-11 and Bush officials within 24 hours of 9-11 advocated an attack on Iraq--even though we learned yesterday that an Iraqi ambassador informed the administration that while Saddam was delighted, he had nothing to do with it.

Liz Cheney and Torture Advocate Marc Thiessen slams the quote of President Obama in Bob Woodward's new book that "America withstood a terrorist attack and was stronger for it." Liz went all Cheney on this quote and Marc Thiessen asks, "Do you feel more secure now?" Yes, Marc, I do.

Let The Looting Begin!

The GOP House Republicans have released their Pledge to America, mimicking the Contract with America in 1994. From a rhetorical point of view, it is good political propaganda. From a policy point of view, it is ruinous to both our national well-being and future. The preamble to the Pledge is an amalgem of Tea Party sloganeering about the oppression of the government and the words of the Declaration of Independence and a commitment to the "original intent" of the Constitution. There are some fantastic flourishes like the elevation of the 10th Amendment as a fundamental principle and a nod to states' rights. There is absolutely no self-reflection or historical recognition of how we got to the present place in time. The Pledge is long on lamenting the national debt, the deficit and the chronic joblessness in the country, but very short on any concrete solutions to anything other than a rigorous pledge to allocated all resources necessary to our men and women in uniform, even though Senate Republicans blocked the first Defense Appropriations Bill in 48 years.

The House Republicans pledge to greater transparency in their operations, a smaller, more accoountable government,fiscal responsibility, and of course Lower Taxes and protecting life except those who are actually living. Eric Ericksson over at Red State, a conservative website, even pronounced the ideas in the Pledge as "drek."

Republicans will permanently stop all "job-killing taxes" in the name of families keeping their hard-earned money and small businesses will have the stability to invest in creating new jobs. Note to reader: Senate Republicans are still blocking the small business bill in the Senate which would lower small business taxes and allow for greater credit to small businesses. Republicans are running on the issue that if the Bush tax-cuts expire as mandated by law, then there will be Obama tax hikes for everyone. They maintain their support for tax cuts for the very wealthy. And they pledge to repeal the entire Healthcare Bill and substitute their own--which was proposed during the healthcare debate and would only extend insurance to 3 million additional Americans and create a deeper deficit.

The Republicans say they will end all bailouts permanently, canceling TARP and reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They will cut Congress' budget, impose a hiring freeze on non-security federal employees, and review every current government program to eliminate wasteful and duplicative programs. They also plan to read the Constitution before every bill to see whether it's constitutional.

Of course,Republicans will provide additional resources and authority and support to the military, including full funding to missile defense. Not only that but they will not "import terrorists to America" and keep Gitmo open because terrorists should not be tried in our courts and put in our prisons. It should be noted that the conviction rates for terrorists in our criminal courts far outweigh convictions in so-called military commissions. Oh and yes, they will put more resources to protect our borders from illegal immigrants.

To give assurances to business (here only small businessesare mentioned in the text), there will prevent all tax increases and new regulations so as to protect investors. And they will stop all stimulus spending and return what remains to the treasury. This is all in the name of being pro-family. The government budget would be brought to pre-stimulus levels and a hard cap would be put in discretionary spending. They would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Their language on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is murky at best--ensuring them for today's senior and future generations. However, they insist on reviewing them regularly and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities. This is a sugar-coated way of incporating some of The Blueprint for the Future language ,which would have privatized Social Security for future generations.

A large part of the Pledge is on repealing the entire Healthcare Reform. Most of what they write about it is false but it sounds so friendly by strengthening your relationship with your doctor. In other words, all the rhetoric used against Healthcare Reform in the Tea Party town meetings last year is here , dressed up in politicalese. But no death panels. I guess they thought that was going too far. They also repeat the myth that 16,500 new IRS auditors will be needed to collect new taxes from the healthcare reform. It also goes on to maintain that Medicare savings but cracking down on fraud is actually a cut in benefits. We have been down this road before. Perhaps, this was written in support of the GOP candidate for Florida Governor, who was forced to pay the largest fine in American history because of Medicare fraud.

The clause for fully funding Missile Defense is because of the threat posed to the United States by Iranian ballistic missiles.

Now one has to give credit to the authors, who have lobbies for AIG, Enron, Pfizer and other coporations, for avoiding direct mention of the tremendous economic benefits corporations will receive from this Pledge. Also, President Obama is right when the GOP is banking on the American people having amnesia how this mess got started. And the GOP bet may be right. Remember all Republicans beginning with Reagan have promised smaller government and all Republican Presidents have vastly expanded Federal Government. George W. Bush went a couple of steps further--expand the executive branch larger than FDR and privatize it also. So you always must keep expanding defense spending for instance because half a trillion dollars goes to private companies. So it's the one solid profit center in the federal government.

As to concerns about the national debt. Ezra Klein at the Washington Post has already laid out the problems with the Pledge. The tax-cuts for the rich already represent another $3.9 trillion in additional debt and repeal of the Healthcare Reform will add several trillion more to the debt. And let's add their Defense increases with the fully funded Missile Defense and tag on another $2 trillion. Any serious attempt at a reduction in the national debt would have to come from virtually gutting the social safety net and all government services. That is why Republicans candidates this year are openly campaigning on privatizing social security, calling it a Ponzi scheme.

As I have explained over several posts, Social Security with its .09% administrative overhead is probably the most successful social benefit program in the world and is in fine shape. But the real game is to get Social Security funds into Wall Street, where the trading fees will add billions more to the trading firms and permanently preclude any return to the government run system.

As I wrote on the Blueprint for America, the GOP ideal of America is for it to be an Aircraft Carrier with no governmental benefits for any of its citizens. Remember when we called the Soviet Union "a Third World Country with nuclear weapons". That's the ideal but with an oligarchic class owning the rest of the country. You, dear citizen and patriot (we always have to throw that it in), will be able to worship your God freely and educate your child that ancient kids played with dinosaurs.

The Pledge quotes the current Governor of Virginia, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Thomas Jefferson (Boy has he been used this year) and JFK. The favorite JFK quote is about the horrible effects of a high tax rate on the country's development. He was commenting on the 91% rate under Ike. The GOP argument, which has been refuted time and time again, is that cutting taxes increases government revenues. There is an objective point where this isn't true, and we past that almost ten years ago.

So with all this pledge to fiscal responsibility, if you tally up the numbers,the Pledge to America guarantees that if fully implemented that the GOP promises you to equal the exact debt of $11 trillion left by George W. Bush. In effect, despite all the trickle-down, small government baloney, the GOP promises you they will double the current national debt with their plan. But they have said it openly and I fear people will buy this stuff. It's so nice to have this new thinking applied in a Depression. And given their pledges, no American except the defense industry, the health insurance business, Wall Street traders will receive a single benefit. But it's only if you teased out what is really said that this becomes evident.

As Ronald Reagan said,"I didn't leave the party, the Party left me". This goes for me with Republicans. I do agree with the Pledge that America is an idea. That's why I voted for Barack Obama to preserve that idea. We came just a hair's breadth from seeing it disappear with the last crowd. Apparently, Republicans didn't learn anything. Andrew Bacevitch wrote that he came to the conclusion midway in the Cold War that America would win. He said it was because the Soviet Union was ideological, America was pragmatic. What we saw in the Bush-Cheney years was pure ideology and it continues with the Tan Man, and Newt's little friend Cantor.

Save the Pledge because I believe it will be the National Platform of the Republicans in 2012.

Parallel to this Pledge, is Rep. Issa's long laundry list of investigations he wants to conduct in the Obama Administration, which are divided into all areas of government policy. Despite pledges to cut Congress' budget, Issa has already planned on hiring several dozen lawyers to conduct these investigations.

As Bernie Sanders said, the Republicans plan to roll back everything positive that the Obama Administration has done.