Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Big Man Dies,Yelena Bonner Passes, Weiner Quits

Newt's finance team quits, Huntsman declares, McCain blames immigrants for Arizona's wildfires,the Debt ceiling talks accelerate, the Washington Post actually printed a story (E.J. Dionne) on Republican efforts at voter suppression for 2012,Governors Scott and Walker cut Medicaid and Medicare without public discussion, Van Jones threatens to sue Fox News and Glenn Beck and NPR actually had a roundtable on cutting the defense budget and pulling back from our commitments abroad.

And that was just a long weekend while I was away. While at a conference in Paris, I met dozens of European parliamentarians from the constructive Left and sane Right, who are just moving on in foreign affairs with little consideration of where the United States is anymore. One MP told me he found Americans now insufferable and blowhards (my word). Others basically see the domestic American scene as far behind global trends and lacking any creative ideas worth emulating. They basically view us now as neo-isolationists in ideas and still unilateralist in action. The Europeans have fully embraced the Arab Spring and at this meeting they were more than gung-ho about supporting it from Libya to Bahrain and beyond. There was none of the usual Gallic cynicism.

Now am off again to see what havoc we have brought on the world. Be back in touch soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Know, I Couldn't Resist The 200th Post of the Year

Good news for those concerned about the cost of social security and Medicare, the United States has dropped to 37th in the world for life expectancy and whole areas of the country are now below some Third World countries. All this and we're spending more than any sane society on health care. But we should save a small fortune at the end of life.

John Weaver is advising Jon Huntsman on his presidential bid. Today he said the Republican field was the weakest since 1940. "...our party is nowhere near being a national governing party. No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks." Amen. He slammed Romney for being "Romney 5.0 or is it Romney 6.0."

Huntsman has some of the same business problems as Romney. His brother keeps going around bragging how many more jobs the company has in China, than in the United States. And the family business had to pay a huge settlement for price fixing.

Washington Monthly recaps all the conservative groups now gunning for Romney. And earlier in the day even more Republicans are alarmed by Romney's wishy-washy stance on Afghanistan and the War On Terror. Lindsey Graham said that Romney in the debate sounded like Jimmy Carter. This would ruin the GOP meme that Obama is Jimmy Carter. While Romney remains the front-runner, we can expect him to take some in-coming fire over the next months.

But at least Al Gore praised Romney on his statement about global warming. We need John Kerry to come out and say something nice about Romney and he will be toast. Gore, Kerry and Obama --those are the hugs of death.

A PPP poll is out today showing that Obama only leads Romney by 2--47-45. That's much closer than last month's and is the same as before the November election. The rest of the GOP lose by 10 or more points. Of course, we all remember Presidents Mondale and Dole at this point in the election cycle. But it should be of concern. (P.S.--1 year from today the polls will have real meaning.)

George Washington's Jonathan Turley and his graduate students are filing a lawsuit on behalf of a bipartisan group of House members to stop the war in Libya on the grounds of the War Powers Act. Interesting.

House Republicans want an end to signing statements by the President. They argue that these circumvent Congress' intent. Well, none of them ever objected to George W. Bush's prolific use of signing statements. I'm not sure I have heard of any by President Obama but hopes he uses it.

A bipartisan team of 27 Senators led by Dick Durbin have urged Obama to speed up withdrawal from Afghanistan and with a sizeable amount of troops. I expect you will actually see a very sizeable withdrawal announced this summerby President Obama.

Oh by the way Tim Pawlenty believes Iraq is a "shining example". Remember he used to commute there with John McCain, who taught him everything he knows.

The problem with having as Shooter in the Oval Office is he gets into it. The administration now plans to build a drone base in Yemen to go after Al Qaeda. Four wars is a bit much. So much for a President weak on national security.

But wait, just as we write that, Cliff Kincaid of AIM charges that Leon Panetta is the new Alger Hiss. Kincaid claims that Panetta is a Communist agent who has a lifelong correspondance with a "known"(?) member of the Communist Party and someone who used to work at the Institute for Policy Studies. Kincaid asks that the Senate investigate this before they vote to confirm him as Secretary of Defense. Like that will happen.

McCarthyism seems to be making a real comeback in conservative circles. Newt wants to have loyalty oaths for Muslims just like with Nazis or Communists. That really worked out well. Herman Cain also has slammed Muslims saying they are out to kill us. Is there some kind of Beserk-O Meter for these guys to test their comments and get audience feedback on the Clap-O-Meter.

The war against the Uteri reached another stage. North Carolina over-rode the Governor's veto and approved a budget that zeroed out Planned Parenthood's entire state budget. This is the third state which has done this. In North Carolina, this will effectively end healthcare for thousands upon thousands of men and women. And with the attack on Medicaid, we will be drifting below 37th in life expectancy pretty soon.

Adios for now. Vaya con Dios.

Radio Silence--Last Blog until July 4

Since I'll be overseas, I'll not be blogging while away. It's just as well because I was reviewing some of the statements coming from the most extreme elements in our society and could not tell the difference between them and the Republican candidates for President. There were more diasterous positions said in the GOP debate than I care to write about and they just keep showing up as people comb through the debris. So it's best to be silent now.

We are entering the months which always seem to thwart President Obama. Everything negative always seems to happen to him during the summer months--the BP oil spill, the cancelling of his first trip to Asia, and the teabagger rallies. And below the surface were the plot to blow up Grand Central Station on the anniversary of 9/11, a plot that was rolled up in the summer. The guy has even had to postpone his vacations. So I'm not expecting much from this summer.

But it may be a hot summer. Wisconsin's Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Walker's anti-union bill by a 4-3 vote, the deciding vote by the newly elected judge Presser, who won with the slightest of margins after a very dodgy recount. Wisconsin is calling for an emergency session to ram through all the agenda items on Walker's wish list before the August Recall elections. Massive demonstrations are scheduled and platoons of police have been called to monitor the situation. Union organizers have warned demonstrators that the governor expects violence and indeed might even provoke it.

Florida's police have had it with Medicare Fraud Governor Rick Scott and are holding Leave the Party Parties as they renounce the Republican Party because of the governor and legislature's draconian budget cuts in every area. Floridians are also worried about Scott abandoning the pro-environmental policies of past Governors, who thought it was vital to attract tourists and preserve some of the last wilderness spots in the Southeast.

When Jan "Show Me the Documents" Brewer calls the Arizona legislature back in session to tweek a state law that would enable some 45,000 people to keep getting unemployment benefits and her Republican colleagues block the bill, you know something nasty is going on in the country. The same thing is happening in Pennsylvania, which would affect another 100,000 people.

While House Republicans are busy cutting Medicare benefits for working women and children, Republican governors are challenging the White House to change the way Medicare and Medicaid are handled by the states. In some instances, Republican governors want the federal payments to be used to cover budget gaps.

Voter IDs

Many bloggers have written about the GOP's pre-emptive voter suppression efforts. Justin Levitt, a law professor, writes today in Politico that voter ID laws do not prevent voter fraud and that real voter fraud is very rare in the United States anyway. As he writes, impersonating another person in the United States is not a great way to rig an election. The action percentage of voter fraud in the United States is a miniscule fraction of 1%.

But tightening up requirements for voter ID's will actually jeopardize the right to vote. Which I humbly suggest is the purpose of the exercise. Levitt argues that the voter ID laws make sense to whites because they generally have government-issued IDs. So it seems to be a no-brainer. Levitt argues that at least 11% of eligible voters do not have government-issued IDs and it takes paper and money to get them.

To date, five states have already passed new ID laws and others like Maine have curtailed same day voting and other recent efforts to increase voting. Roughly 11% of eligible voters lack government issued IDs. This may affect anywhere from 1-12% of the vote, depending on the state. And it will be especially relevant in swing states in 2012. The conservative element is that this will affect 1.6 million votes nationwide.

Interestingly, 18% of Seniors lack government issued IDs. Only 5% of the total white population lacks IDs, while 10% of African Americans and some 11% of Hispanics lack IDs. So far in all the states contemplating passing these laws, there are no provisions to provide free government IDs to those lacking them.

The Republican field will have a few new faces by the time I return. We know Jon Huntsman will launch his campaign next week. David Plouffe always said that Huntsman as a competitor to Barack Obama makes him "queasy". But that depended on Huntsman running as himself, which is unlikely in a field of the extreme right. My guess is that Huntsman is positioning himself for 2016 on the Republican theory you have to run and lose first before you are allowed to be nominated.

Rick Perry of Texas has branched out and is appearing at various venues across the country. He spoke at a Lincoln Day event in New York City and blasted President Obama for being against "profit" and wanting to "redistribute wealth", which might not be a bad idea as we are reaching Third World dimensions in the disparity of wealth in this country. In attendance at this dinner were the defecting Newt aides who had run Perry's campaign before. And it seems Rudy Guiliani is meeting with Perry privately. In 2008, Perry backed Rudy.

And I'll miss Michelle Bachmann's anouncement in Waterloo, Iowa, her childhood home. Will Bachmann's candidacy goad Sister Sarah into the race? After all Sarah wants desparately to see Willard Mitt Romney defeated. Remember when I wrote that Boehner appointed Bachmann to the Intelligence Committee to shut her up. Well, that failed and now she's using it as her national security credential during the campaign.

Speaking of Willard, I guess the GOP now has someone to coach candidates to make absolutely outrageous statements to out the marker down so far right of field they can blackmail everyone. I was stunned to hear Willard say that providing federal disaster assistance to devastated areas of the country was "immoral." Here we have had several months of everything from killer tornedoes, massive flooding and America's largest forest fire in Arizona and you say that. I would cut an ad on this and run it in every state devastated by disaster and say,"Romney hates you."

But I first heard such statements from Ron Paul appearing on the Diane Riehm Show. Paul argued that the federal government should not bail out communities hit by weather disasters because homeowners could afford their own insurance to cover these things. He cited the hurrcanes that have destroyed Galveston in his own district as examples of Americans living where they shouldn't. Now we know Paul is in his dotage and reverting to the meanness in his past. But we also saw this with Eric Cantor and House members not willing to fill up FEMA's coffers to meet future needs. Now this sentiment is expressed by half a billionaire Mitt Romney?

This is cruel stuff. Think of the American responses in the recent past to cataclysmic disasters abroad--the Tsunami for instance. Our aid to Iranian earthquake victims. All these actions have built goodwill. Now we can't even do it for our own people? That's small.

Meanwhile Mitt is bragging to people in New Hampshire that the next tme they'll see him he will be surrounded by Secret Service. He was alluding to his most certain triumph in the 2012 election. Romney's hubris will be on display throughout the year and the average voter will get to know why conservatives and Republican operatives despise the man. That is why they are running around to find an alternative. You might think his problem is that he is Multiple Choice Romney but it's the Richie Rich syndrome. People close to him know how he made his money off the failures of companies and although that is tolerated as a business practice they distrust him and his instincts.

Rachel Maddow had Freddie Krueger, the first openly gay presidential candidate on her show last night. Freddie is committed to bringing Romney down and he is in the company of almost all the right, far right and conservatives. Freddie filed voter fraud papers in Massachusetts against Romney because he voted in the last two elections when Ann, Romney's wife, admitted they lived in California. Romney claims that he lived in the basement apartment of his son's home in Belmont, Massachusetts, even though the Romney's owned palatial estates in La Jolla, Utah and New Hampshire. While nothing will be done about this, it raises the old controversy about how Romney got to un for Governor of Massachusetts even though he did not fulfill the state requirements of living for 7 consecutive years in the state. There was bad blood in the state at the time. But these little incidents demonstrate a noblesse oblige that will become more apparent as the campaign progresses.

Our vaunted media gave scant attention to President Obama's official visit to Puerto Rico because they said it was an attempt to shore up the Hispanic vote in 2012. Almost anything the President does from now on will be seen that way. But there was actually substance to the trip in that Obama's task force on Puerto Rico's status has recommended a two-tier referendum on whether the Commonwealth will remain as one or become a state or an independent country. This referendum has been long overdue and should be treated like Obama resolving the black farmers' claims against the federal government or the decades old Indian Trust case. It's part of cleaning up the country's neglected business. I'll bet that the House will not appropriate the funds to conduct the referenda.

A federal judge ruled against the Prop 8 lawyers saying that Judge Vernon Walker did not have a conflict of interest because he was gay and living with a long-term companion. The judge lit into the assumption saying that would lead to mayhem in the courts like women judges not being able to make rulings if women wanted justice. Anyway the opinion was far better written than I can poniticate on. The 9th Circuit still had to rule on it. Remember they can reconsider everything about the case but they do have to stick to Walker's Findings of Fact, which I wrote about at the time of the case.

The Catholic Church is putting on a full court press to stop the equal marriage law in New York State. It seems three and maybe four state senators have shifted their vote to being in favor.

More stark contrasts in America came when a California Bankruptcy Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional, something a Massachusetts court already did. Meanwhile CREW has filed an ethics complaint against John Boehner for his expenditure of funds to a private law firm to defend the DOMA Act.

Senator Mitch McConnell is all bothered that two Iraqis, who were linked to Al Qaeda, were arrested his state and are being tried in criminal courts. He has demanded that they be sent to Gitmo so his state will be protected. Like there has been escape from a Super Max prison.

Republican's newfound squeamishness about foreign affairs has started to alarm neocons. There was an intense reaction to Romney saying he wanted to get out of Afghanistan and the United States can help anyone else win "their war for independence"--whatever that means. AEI accused him of channelling Ron Paul. Expect more neo-isolationism as the campiagn continues. But expect an increase of defense spending even though the Pentagon doesn't want it.

California Congressman Brad Sherman (Democrat), from the Sherman of Sherman Oaks (for you trivia fans) managed to get a throughly bipartisan bill limited President Obama's use of funds in the Libya operation until he asks Congress to pass authorization for the operation under the War Powers Act. John Boehner, who poo-poohed the idea that Obama was in violation of the War Powers Act, has changed his mind and is challenging the President on this.

Karl Rove has been pounding the theme that President Obama has been acting unconstitutionally in Libya (like George W never did) and on an obscure law concerning Medicare that Bush had to pass to get the Republicans to approve Medicare D. Karl's emergence as a constitutional scholar should make one have doubts.

House Republicans are preventing Democrats from sending constituent mail hom saying they want to end Medicare. You know how bad things are when Senate Democrats have taken a pledge to protect Medicare.

Tom Donoghue of the Chamber of Commerce says that Boehner has his "man pants"on and will be dealing with the debt ceiling issue in an adult way. He says that anyone who opposes raising the debt ceiling will be gone next election. Isn't it nice to know Washington is a company town?

Surprise! Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court has just fired away, accusing her fellow justices of giving the union case short shift and she accused recently elected Prosser of having a partisan bias. She went further saying that the Court owed the public a reasoned opinion based on legal analysis. So we have not heard the last of this one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Willard, You're Just An Errand Boy, Willard*

Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

The Winners of the New Hampshire Debate:
1. Barack Obama
2. Rick Perry
3. Sarah Palin

The Losers of the New Hampshire Debate:
1. Robert Gibbs
2.Tim Pawlenty
3. Ron Paul

The debate was beyond vapid. The same old tax cuts and reduce the deficits but don't say anything about what programs you would cut. That's why I thought Robert Gibbs was a loser. He used the Democratic line that was not a winner in 2010 about these are the policies that got us in the hole in the first place. All true but the Democratic messaging is simply awful. Two key elements were not mentioned throughout the debate--the Middle Class and Small Businesses. This was true in the 2008 GOP convention where no speaker even mentioned the two cornerstones of Reagan's rhetoric. Gibbs' failure to pick this up only legitimized the whole discussion.

Ron Paul no longer is the elderly crank who amuses by telling the occasional truth. His role has been provisionally taken by Newt Gingrich who now talks about colonies on the Moon and outer space. I hope Newt hangs on for a few more, playing the nutty professor.

If you are going up against Vanilla, it's useful to show some spark or coin an interesting phrase. Tim Pawlenty actually showed less dynamism than Romney, which is saying alot. Pawlenty punked out when he had his chance to skewer Romneycare. Backing down will be remembered.

Herman Cain showed a flicker of humanity when he said that children of illegal immigrants should be treated at an emergency room. Paul, now channelling his old time racism, as a doctor said he wouldn't treat them.

All of the debaters couldn't quite figure out what to do with gays and DADT. None of them could figure out anything about foreign policy either, which came up late in the debate.

All of the debaters are against abortion and are for Voucher Care, which should give the Democrats an opening they can drive through.

Mitt Romney from the sports analogy won the debate because no one took him on and they treated him like an Alpha Male. Mitt was playing on his vacation home turf and it is widely throught he must win New Hampshire by a large margin. Earlier in the day he released on his website a video implying that President Obama referred to the unemployed as bumps in the road. This is rich coming from a man worth $500 million. Mitt had his discipline down and kept hammering away at Obama and the economy. But Mitt has gone to the Dark side with his own economic plans, which would not survive a debate with President Obama.

Michelle Bachmann rather cagily used the occasion to announce her candidacy. No doubt this was the work of Ed Rollins, her campaign manager. It was a shrewd move. She showed the most life and got in all the coded messages to the Christianists and the teabaggers. She's take the country back.

But it was palpable that there was no real life to the party. Bachmann started strong but dulled by mid-way. And you were left thinking where is Sarah, who got praised during the debate. I can't believe that Sarah Palin doesn't believe she can win against these guys.

The other candidate not in the room--besides Greg Johnson and Freddie Krueger--was Rick Parry, who actually could claim some job creation and has the total Christianist credentials. I consider Parry one of the most dangerous possible candidates in years. And he had to be looking at Mitt as Richie Rich and want to take a swing at him.

While Romneycare may be a negative in the GOP primaries, Romney's weakness in a general election comes from his position of the auto loans, which will hurt in the Midwest,his terrible record of job creation as Governor during a boom economy, and his tenure at Bain Capital. His credentials as a businessman are being trumpeted by him and his campaign. This is his real Achilles heel.

Prior to the debate another bigwig in the hedge fund world said that Romney was known as a ruthless businessman. Any opposition research should look at the countless bankruptcies encouraged by Romney when he was at Bain and count up the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. In other words, he was an active cause of the current situation. I would then divide up the jobs according to locale around the country and run commercials with all the employees thrown out of their jobs. This was his bread and butter. Leveraging the assets of a company to assume more debt and then forcing it into bankruptcy. In other words, the precise skill he is campaigning on should be turned against him as a weakness. The Obama campiagn should take his smooth, All-American manner and turn it on him portraying him as a nasty, cutthroat man.

There are two other areas where opposition research should go. We had one of Romney's partners at Bain Capital run for the Governor of California. She kept some of her personal wealth in overseas bank accounts and used this as an excuse to push for eliminating the capital gains tax. We kn ow Mike Bloomberg's foundation keeps its money abroad. Why wouldn't someone of Romney's immense wealth do the same? If true, I think that would be explosive given the current economy.

The second issue is Romney's opposition to bailing out the auto industry and his position they should go declare bankruptcy. He has doubled down on this position even when he was in Michigan recently. Since his business M.O. was encouraging companies to restructure through bankruptcy, what was he planning at Bain Capital when the auto industry was going through its troubles? This was his father's industry. You can't tell me he wasn't looking for opportunities to get in on the business. If it turns out he had plans, this would also be dynamite.

The last business is that Romney will go racial on Obama but not directly or personally. He has tried some of this with his dog whistles about how he's an American--fill in the blank. He will use surrogates and he will authorize a Swift Boat type of campaign. This is his last chance at the Gold Ring.

The two obstacles Obama faces for relection are the election and the new restrictions on voting in about a dozen states. The first he can do some things about and the other it will be up to Eric Holder at DOJ to intervene where the restrictions are prohibitive. Obama's job council has just given him a list of things he can do to create jobs which will not require congressional approval. They estimate these measures could create 1 million jobs. The irony is that by the time of the election Obama may have created more jobs than George W and his father combined--12 years of Republican administrations. Yet that might not be good enough.

After the debate, it was clear that the Republicans will be hard pressed in a debate with Obama to defend their positions on healthcare, Medicare and Social Security. The other issue is the deficit and debt where all of their plans, including Mitt Romney's would only increase the debt and unemployment. Obama has many more things in his holster than the GOP really has considered.

After last night, Mitt will be triumphalist because he knows he can take the current crop of candidates. Last time he couldn;t because there were more heavyweights. It's just the psychology that Democrats should encourage because he is a walking Achilles Heel.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Big Man Has Left The Band

**Clarence Clemons, the fab sax player for the E-Street band, had a stroke at his Florida home and his family says it's serious. Big Man get well.

**Harry Camping, the man who predicted the end of the earth and Rapture, also had a stroke at the age of 89. I guess he couldn't wait until October.

**Yes, Gabby Giffords looks great but the Arizona Republic did a piece on how hard her recovery from getting shot point-blank in the head has been. It's looking doubtful that she will be able to take her seat in the House again.

**Poor Bob Dole, no one has told him yet about the nature of his Republican Party. He suggests General Petraeus should run in 2012. He says it's time for another Eisenhower. Petraeus can't run because he believes in contraception and evolution. Besides, the last remaining Eisenhower Republican is Col. Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff.

**It's not looking so good for General Petraeus anyway. It seems of the 4,000 Taliban militants he claims to have captured during the surge in Afghanistan,80% of them were apolitical civilians.

**The auditors report is in. Over $6.6 billion in aid to Iraq is unaccounted for and is believed to have been robbed. This would make it the largest robbery in history--outside of our banks and Wall Street.

**Herman Cain claims that Obama was raised in Kenya. As the President wrote in his memoirs, it took him years to finally get to Kenya.

**Rick Perry, the new potential presidential candidate, blasted President Obama over the issue of abortion,claiming the President was making it an export product of the United States. Perry will be hosting one of the few Christian--only prayer meetings in Texas with the American Family Association.

**A new CNN poll has Romney at 24% and Palin at 20% for GOP favorites.

**For four decades, the great state of Maine has been the leader in the country on same-day voting. The teabag controlled legislature just repealed that law because "democrats have a habit of stealing elections." Missouri has just passed a law that new voters have to register one year before an election to qualify. There are about a dozen other states that are trying to curtail voting rights. In my opinion, this is the most serious threat to Obama's re-election. Republican controlled legislatures around the country are concentrating on suppressing the votes of minorities,students and single mothers. This is a slow-motion process of disenfranchisement and is the most serious development in violating voting rights since the 1965 law.

**Tonight is another Republican debate in New Hampshire. This one will include Romney, Gingrich and Bachmann. I'm taking a by. I've read too much of the Republican so-called plans for the economy I want to scream. If you want to follow analyses of how bad they are, read Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman,Steve Benen and Think Progress. I don't have the stomach for it anymore. The bottom line is that all the Republican programs to date are simply rehashes of their economic plans prior to Hebert Hoover. I may have to start defending Herbert Hoover, who had a small stimulus package.

**The trouble I see is that no one in our media will ask any of the Republicans to explain the empirical results of the last ten years, which show that massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations only impoverished the middle class and didn't create jobs. Instead, we hear Obama inherited a bad economy and made it worse--as if House Republicans with their preoccupation with the war against the uteri porposed anything concrete.

**How far can Romney go with his new "I'm not a bump" ads and his ads with him driving around Detroit and implying its ruins are the result of Barack Obama? Or Tbag Pawlenty with his ads on his nutty plan with GE's Jack Welch saying, "Pawlenty makes alot of sense?" And when are real Christians going to attack Michelle Bachmann, the Christianist candidate, for her program to drop corporate taxes to 9% and increase taxes on the poor and middle class? I guess her Jesus has absolutely nothing to do with social justice, even at a rudimentary level.

**The Republicans are banking on their media machine to create a state of amnesia. And I don't underestimate them. They are already recycling Obama is weak on national security only weeks after he got bin Laden. So by the time of the general election, they will persuade Americans that 2008's global meltdown didn't happen, corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars because they are uncertain about regulation and taxation, and even CEOs deserve their pay because they are the "producers". I hail progressive bloggers who are creating a firewall of reality-based analysis to counter all this but they are like King Canute shouting at the sea.

**Another question I want MSM to ask the Republican contenders,"What are some of the public sector activities they support?" All of them worship the private. Or they should ask how they feel about Abraham Lincoln favoring Labor over Capitol.

**Robert Kennedy, Jr. just ended his march with the unions to protest mountain top removal mining in West Virginia. He has finished a new documentary on how Appalachia has been devastated by this practice and how the area has become polluted. Is he going to protest mining near the Grand Canyon next? I think he's found a boom market.

** David Koch just quit the National Institute for Health because he finally lost his multi-year campaign to keep formaldehyde off the list of carcingens. His company Georgia-Pacific uses it in treating their wood products.

**Speaking of which, Charles and David Koch are hosting another one of their get-togethers of conservative billionaires to discuss how the United States is being facing the greatest threat to its freedom by our government trying to regulate the economy. Maybe they should look in the mirror for real threats. The purpose of this gathering is to raise millions upon millions to seize control of the government and oust President Obama. Charles will start off the two day seminar with a lecture all his own. The meeting raises the profound,philosophical question, "Why do terrorists always get their targets wrong?"

**The new and improved John Birch Society printed a lengthy article in the New American praising Daddy Fred Koch for his pioneering role in alerting America to the dangers of Communists infiltrating our society and government and hailing his stalwart sons.

**As we enter debt ceiling season, let us remember that FDR bought into the pressure by the GOP to cut government expenditures in 1938. That turned out really great.

** While Steve Benen has dissected Romney's failure to create jobs in his life over at the Washington Monthly, Stephen Colbert did this with comic genius in a segment of "the Word" on the Colbert Report.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Paint It Black*

*Rolling Stones

**Bill Maher read verbatim the exchanges between Anthony Weiner and a Las Vegas casino worker. That actually was the scandal. Check it out on YouTube or Democraticunderground. You'll see what I mean. Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats called on Weiner to resign after it was discovered he innocently tweeted an under-aged girl. Even though it was innocent, in light of the past week the texting sounded hinky. But how can you have a Boehner in the House, if you don't have a Weiner.

**Jack Germond appeared again in the Daily Beast and wrote a column suggesting that even though all news is terrible, President Obama may not have a worry in the world given his GOP competitors. Germond mentions that Mitt Romney suffers from the same disease his father did, the inability to explain policy changes in a convincing manner. He likens Dad's Vietnam gaffe with Mitt's evasion on the individual mandates in his Massachusetts health care law. So far Jack says that Mitt is front-runner solely because he was second to McCain last time and that's how it works in Republican circles. Germond says it's still true that you have to have something or somebody in order to beat President Obama.

**The fallout from the Newt implosion continues. Apparently, the staff didn't want to sell books and films and told Newt to get rid of the souvenir stand of Newt,Inc.

**The next Very Serious Person--Republicans seem to generate alot of them these days--is Texas Governor Rick Perry. He is charming and has swagger. He has one of the best employment records in the nation. He is a natural fund-raiser. I suggest he run with Todd Palin, the first secessionist ticket since the Civil War. Mark MacKinnon is saying that there is no reason for Perry not to run. His wife and children want him to and Newt's two top campaign aides are in his inner circle. Beltway operatives said quietly that he's crazy as a loon. Others whisper that there are some things that haven't come out yet. And we do know he has a long history of courting the most extreme right entities in the country. He is hosting a Prayer meeting with AFA, the extreme Right Christian organization that showcases the rantings of Bryan Fisher. Making a guest appearance at the meeting is Rev. Hagee,who is more of a Zionist than Bibi and is rabidly anit-Catholic. Stay tuned. If Perry runs, he could be highly dangerous to the nation.

**The Other Very Serious Person is Tim Pawlenty, who seems to have become delusional with his economic plan. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post gutted it by suggesting that the United States has never seen a 5 percent growth rate for 10 years as TPaw imagines. Marcus also goes on to reproduce the independent economic think tank analysis of TPaw bankrupting the country. Perhaps conservatives are beginning to wake up. The Manhattan Institute's Josh Barro in the City Journal slams Pawlenty's plan noting that America hasn't had 5% growth rates for a ten year period since 1941 to 1959, which saw WWII, the recovery from the Great Depression and massive exports to Europe for reconstruction. He de-constructs Pawlenty's fiscal proposals even if we had high growth rates and concludes with great precision how they would not succeed. Bruce Barlett has already crossed the Rubican saying that the United States only had a ten year growth period from President Bush through Clinton. The concern is that Pawlenty will spark more tax-cutting madness from Mitt Romney, who in his 4th incarnation claims we are on the brink of losing our free market system.

** New Jersey's Governor Chris Chrissie is already in trouble with the courts for stealing $1 billion from the public school system. Now he wants to privatize it and has offered public schools in under-performing districts to private corporations. This comes at the same time he has announced a $400 million cut in Medicaid. The disease seems to be spreading throughout the country with the newly elected Republican governors.

**We will all look back on the 2009-2010 Congress as the high water mark of legislative activity. The Senate now literally spends one-third of its time doing nothing. After two and a half years, the Obama Administration still lacks key personnel because of the constant GOP threats at filibustering. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell had reached a gentlemen's agreement at the end of last term that the GOP would use the filibuster sparingly on nominations to the executive branch. Apparently, this hasn't worked. Also, President Obama has seen the fewest of his judicial nominees approved since the days of Jimmy Carter.

**Alabama has surpassed Arizona with the most restrictive immigration act. Hispanic activists have told immigrants--legal and illegal--to get out of the state because it is so repressive. The state also just passed a "fetal pain" bill, which seriously restricts abortion,letting them join in the roll call of states that are waging a war against the uteri.

**If I'm not mistaken, Louisiana and Tennessee have basically over-ruled Roe v. Wade. Does anyone remember Griswold versus Connecticut? This was a case brought by a middle-class married couple to challenge that state's prohibition against contraceptives. I was very young when the case was decided and contraceptives were legalized by the Supreme Court. Now not only are abortion procedures under attack but with "personhood" bills the whole concept of contraception is being challenged at the state level. Why now?

**Remember the ads that said the most dangerous place for African-Americans is in the womb? Now pro-lifers are running these in Spanish saying the most dangerous place for Hispanics was in the womb. I thought it was Arizona and Alabama. This will be the meme used by the Republicans to try and suppress the Hispanic turnout for Democrats.

**We have the motherlode of e-mails from Sarah Palin's short tenure as Governor thanks to David Corn of Mother Jones. Corn liked the Alaska FOIA laws and decided to file suit during the 2008 campaign for all of Sarah Palin's e-mails. What looked like a relatively cheap and short enterprise only just ended because e-mails had to be acquired from state employees when Palin used her private e-mail accounts. The problem has been that Alaska published the e-mails on paper and provided the news media with all of them, which now have to be scanned for easy access. The highlights of Troopergate, the Bridge to Nowhere and the whole courting of Palin by the McCain campiagn are there. But it's what has been redacted seems to raise questions. The e-mail about Cheney's views on Alaskan oil all blacked out, the potential conflicts of interest by Todd Palin kept quiet, and assorted teasers on potential scandals. One I liked was that the Koch Brothers weren't making enough profit so they threatened Palin that they would cut jobs if she didn't reduce the state's share of their oil revenues. So far, there are no bombshells but they make for an entertaining read.

**The White House has requested that the debt ceiling be raised by July 4th. Now legislators are going to meet three days a week to resolve the issue of what cuts will occur. John Boehner is insisting on double the cuts to the amount raised. The Senate has one team working to propose a combination of cuts and revenue and the Vice President has another group working. Meanwhile China is claiming that we are already defaulting.

** A momentary default will cost the United States $1.2 trillion. But this stuff doesn't seem to faze the GOP in the slightest.

**Leftwing bloggers are writing fast and furious about the GOP's effort to sabotage the economy. I can't say I disagree. I really have not come to any conclusion yet whether the GOP really believes what it says these days or whether it is all a ploy. I am beginning to be concerned with the nutty proposals being made by the presidential candidates and the radical actions by GOP governors that they really might believe their Randian economics. It seems to me that a reporter should try and get these people to lay out the full implicatons of their policies. What kind of America will be left for anyone.

**Some wag got off a great line--"America can not afford the rich and corporations anymore."

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Less Shiny Object--The Newt Implosion

Yes, it is true that both Ronald Reagan and John McCain had shake-ups of their top advisers and staff during their presidential campaign. But neither man had their entire campaign staff resign en masse. To be snarky, Newt wanted to counter the Ron Paul "Love Revolution" with his own Newt "Implosion."

Rachel Maddow has been on Newt and his Newt,Inc. from the beginning and last night reviewed Newt's many entrepeneurial efforts. The presidential campaign seemed to be another version of his lucrative enterprises.

But this time it was a little different. To signal his seriousness, he hired a high-price and high-caliber team for both the national campaign and state efforts in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He told the conservative media that his campaign was unprecedented in the annals of presidential politics.

His idea was to perform in set speeches about his ideas,work through Facebook,Tweeter and the Social Networks and then shine in the series of Republican debates. His aides disagreed saying he needed to press real flesh and be seen by the voters in the early primary states. In Iowa , for example, instead of doing the road travel he hired a private jet to wing him from spot to spot. The last time he was seen in New Hampshire his campaign thought he was there to actually campaign. Instead, he and Callista were promoting their DVD documentary on Pope John Paul II.

With other campaigns underway, his campaign staff started seeing the possibility that they would miss out on the whole election cycle and might face the prospect of not getting paid. His top aides met with him in Washington to try and persuade him to change his direction and focus but failed.

Newt had one of the roughest rollouts of any Presidential campaign, delaying the official announcement after many false starts and then when he did, he booked his own appearance on Face The Nation. There he basically told the truth about the Paul Ryan budget as an example of "radical right-wing social engineering". He was forced to pull back from that in interviews with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. But the damage was done. Not a dime came into the coffers after that statement and no major Republican donor signed up for Newt's campaign.

Then we had the flap over Callista's Tiffany account, which at least did not have the right optics. And the straw that broke the staff's back was the sudden decision to take a break and cruise the Greek Islands after only three weeks on the campaign trail. At first, the campaign said that it had been planned in advance but today admitted it was a spur of the moment whim by Newt, who has many such spur of the moment whims.

Remember how Newt had been blessed by both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal as a formidable candidate with loads of ideas and a virtual money-machine. Who can forget his entrance at CPAC to the song "Eye of the Tiger"?

His campaign staff concluded that Newt wanted to run a Potemkin campaign for purposes totally unknown and as a consequence they quit. The Iowa staff was forthcoming in saying they examined the calender for fund-raising opportunities but found their candidate would be nowhere to be found.

Beltway Republicans have seen it all before. Newt is absolutely undisciplined when it comes to politics but not to making money for himself. It was the lack of discipline that provoked the GOP mutiny against him while he was speaker, not the ethics charges. And old hands are saying ,"Now you know what we meant."

But Newt, who claims he is the real "Comeback Kid", says the campaign starts anew in Los Angeles where he will be addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition. He is still scheduled to appear in the debate in New Hampshire and says on his Facebook he will soldier on.

Howard Dean has said that he thought Newt had alot of interesting policy ideas. Newt has been at war with the Wall Street Journal because they trashed his economic plan, which may deserve a new look with Pawlenty's recipe for national destruction. If Newt can stay around for a few debates, he may liven things up a bit. But as for making a serious run for the nomination, he's toast. When your co-chair Gov. Perdue doesn't even blink and endorse Pawlenty, you know you are in deep political trouble.

You know this is a strange election year when you have more sympathy for those not running and who are dropping out than those who remain.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh Great, More Shining Objects

If you want to see Weiner's weiner,you can see the Breibart leaked penis shot at Gawker.com.

Howard Stern says he wants to have sex with Rachel Maddow.

Rachel Maddow thinks David Vitter, the Republican Senator from Lousiana should resign because he was a frequent customer of madams in D.C. and New Orleans. What Ms Maddow doesn't realize is that Vitter has the winning charm of wearing beautiful lingerie, according to the madam in New Orleans. This counters his habit of weaing diapers in D.C. And should give him a by.

And those are the high points of the week.

I'm curious to know whether any statements by Republicans vying in the Presidential primaries will be used against them in the general election. Maybe it's just the summer silly season but there have been some real corkers. Is the winning strategy of people like Romney and Huntsman just to be pummelled by the crazies so they look moderate and sane for the general election?

Romney was in Michigan for fund-raising. He was rightly attacked by local Republicans and former Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm for telling "Detroit To Drop Dead" in his statements against the bailout of the auto industry.

But he was also blasted for his statements saying that humans contributed to climate change. Rush Limbaugh said Romney's position on climate change means,"By,By Nomination."

Jon Huntsman has been blasted in video ads on RINOS for his role as a Western governor in forming an alliance with other governors, including The Arnold, to promote alternative energy sources to combat climate change. The religious Right is also attacking him on his support for civil unions for gay partners.

But we have some wingdings.

Herman Cain says he won't sign a bill over 3 pages long. That's great. What would that do to the defense appropriations bill. Cain wants loyalty tests for Muslims and will hire gays because they won't support Sharia Law. His solution to illegal immigration is to build the equvalent of the great Wall of China and have a moat filled with alligators on the border with Mexico. Cain also will join Joey Lieberman at Glenn Beck's "Restore Courage" rally in Jerusalem. Cain is also noted for not knowing what the right to return is but he did say,"You mess with Israel, you mess with America." He currently is tracking at about 10% in the polls.

Frothy Mix Santorum will outlaw gay marriage by insisting on a constitutional amendment outlawing same sex marriage. He also denounced the exceptions for a woman's health on abortion bills as ludicrous. And he denounced climate change as "junk science".

Rudy Guiliani, according to Bill Kristol, will throw his Yankee camp in the ring and run for the nomination. Rudy has been tough on Romney the last two weeks and has been in New Hampshire regularly.

South Carolina lawmakers are now making the pilgrimage to New Jersey to court Chris Chrissie for a run for the nomination. The Governor seems to making the appropriate moves. He's introduced anti-labor legislation so he can don the Scott Walker crown and he has succumbed to the Koch Brothers' pressure and moved away from the state's alternative energy program, which had been successful.

The Magical Mystery Tour is soon to begin. Six Republican contenders (?) will be travelling the country together on a bus. Included in this strange adventure will be Newt, Michelle Bachmann and Greg Johnson. I think Ringo Starr should join them. Unfortunately, the way things are going, Ringo would soon be the odds-on favorite for the nomination.

The Tea Party Patriots, claiming to represent 3,000 affiliated groups, is against the Tea Party Express' endorsement of Mitt Romney. The Patriots' co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said there is no grass-roots support for Mitt and that they do not believe they should automatically endorse the Republican nomination.

Newt's campaign has collapsed. Senior strategists and key aides--the high command--have quit en masse because the direction of the campaign wasn't compatible with Newt's vision.

Wisconsin is not only running fake Democrats against the Republicans in the recall elections, they are redistricting Paul Ryan's district so that it will be even redder because they worry he will be seriously challenged this year.

Polls show that Americans are split on raising the debt ceiling limit. The problem is that they do not know what it is and actually believe it is a license to increase deficit spending, which will happen anyway. Americans are also unaware of how much the Bush tax cuts contributed to the debt problem but are accurately aware of the cost of the wars and the Medicare Plan D. Talk Progress celebrated yesterday's 10th anniversary of the Bush tax cuts by listing all the programs that could have been funded if we still had the $2.5 trillion they cost the government.

By now, most Americans realize that Paul Ryan is not an economist and knows nothing about Medicare. But is there no political price one pays for flat out lying about the debt ceiling. Ryan really did say that defaulting on our debt would be a good thing. There is no known economist or economic policy type on the Right, Middle or Left who believes this in the least. Ryan's statements were not just bluster or gaming the negotiations with the President on cuts, they were flat out ignorance. The very scary news is that House Republicans really, really believe this nonsense. This goes beyond Thomas Frank's analysis of the Wrecking Crew. This is the Demolition Team.

Is the current Republican insanity just based on their animus against President Obama or are they simply doubling down on a failed ideology without regard to its consequences?

If you are Center-right in inclination, you have to be in a panic when you read Tim Pawlenty's economic program or Newt's more modest calls for the eradication of parts of the government. Pawlenty's program as I wrote yesterday will be Bush on steroids, plunging America to a point where it really could never recover. These are not debatable statements. This is reality-based conclusions. Pawlenty is more radical than Ryan--both plans plunging America into a century of enormous debt and destroying what fig leaves are left of our social welfare net.

If you hold these views, I think you owe an explanation to the public about what happens after you have dismantled local, state and federal government and public education, how does your plan actually create wealth and jobs? No one on any side believes that tax cuts have created any jobs and enhanced the economy of the country. So, besides despising this country, what possible benefits--and to whom--are these crazy programs?

Contrary to leftwing critics of these zany programs, I seriously believe none of these programs benefit the real, productive private sector. Companies do not want to locate in areas with poor educational systems and a deteriorating infrastructure. Nor do they want to recruit a labor force from a population scrambling around to pay their bills day after day. Even companies in the Third World require massive government breaks and tax holidays to accept this degree of risk in their investment. This includes the extraction industries as well. Then you throw on top of this the government's possible default on its debt, just because that is your ideology, then you have a recipe for real capital flight.

The heat must be getting to me but it's alarming to see MSNBC say we have to treat the Michelle Bachmann candidacy seriously. What's serious about it? The candidate is not a serious person with serious views. Is the seriousness in it because she might win?

Let's look at today's litmus tests for the 2012 Republican nomination. You must be absolutely anti-abortion--and now we are inching toward anti-birth control. You must be anti-climate change--even if you don't propose to do anything about it. You must be anti-alternative energy sources and devoted only to fossil fuels. You must be anti-public education. You must be anti-immigrant. You must be anti-woman. You must be anti-minorities. You must be anti-union. You must be anti-Medicare. And, inching its way back, you might have to become anti-social security. You must be anti-evolution and pro-creationist. And you have to be absolutely against taxes.

With only 35% of Americans believing the country is heading in the right direction, Reuters has Obama at 50% approval rating and he leads all Republican rivals by double digits, even Romney by 13%. The leading Republicans are Palin at 22%, Romney at 20% and Ron Paul and Herman Cain are tied at 7%.

James Carville, who has never been a fan of President Obama, says that if the economy creates jobs on the average of the last three months, minus the disasterous number of last month, Obama wins. But Carville said something else, which didn't get much coverage. He believes there is rage building up n this country, which will lead to social unrest and upheaval. I think of the decades leading up to the election of FDR, where America is torn by violent labor strife and repression. It was 100 years ago but it feels similar to today.

The new Gallup poll reports that 45% of Americans now identify themselves as Democrats, while only 39% are Republicans. This is the largest gap since October 2009, when Democrats led Republicans by 7 percentage points. Does this reflect the cost of the GOP entertaining truly suicidal ideas? Or is this just temporary?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pawlenty Outdoes Ryan

Tim Pawlenty is making his bid to be bold and refreshing. Essentially, he has to win Iowa or he's out. But within the Republican punditry, he is siphoning off the anti-Romney sentiment. Romney has to win New Hampshire. Then the two can meet in the rubber match in South Carolina, which is a meld of religious right and fiscal conservatives.

Pawlenty wants to simplify the tax code and significantly reduce taxes. His individual tax rates would be two--10% and 20%. His corporate tax rate he would bring down to 15%. he would cap federal spending at 18% of GDP, a notion that Ronald Reagan's economic adviser Bruce Bartlett says in absolutely absurd. Pawlenty boasts that he will grow the economy at 5% per year--interesting concept. It's never been done in modern American times--Reagan and Clinton came close--but they did not have a global economy to contend with.

Pawlenty feels that you should eliminate any government service which you can find on the internet available from the private sector. For instance, he would eliminate the U.S. Postal Service because you can get UPS and FEDEX. Another interesting concept. Does he have to change the Constitution to do this? He would privatize Amtrak.

This approach to be bold is to offset his excruciatingly dull personality. And he continues the recent Republican tradition of blowing huge holes through the budget. Think Progress has a piece today that analyzes his budget proposal and finds that he will add another $7.8 trillion dollars to the national debt over 10 years and that's not including the random war or two. His budget numbers rival Ryan's. He comes up $8.4 trillion short and that doesn't factor in his support of Vouchercare and what that would do to the deficit.

But at least Pawlenty is not a Mormon. The latest Quinnipiac poll contradicts the Washington Post poll showing Romney would top Obama. But more importantly it examines the issue of voter attitudes toward various possible candidates--women, African-Americans, evangelicals, Catholics, Jews and Mormons. Mormons have a 32% unfavorable rating and exhibit the highest resistance from the average voter. This will affect both Romney and Huntsman.

Americans For Life--an anti-abortion group--has started its attack on Romney for his past pro-choice position and the smoking gun in Romneycare. Unlike Obamacare, Romneycare does cover abortion services.

The Club of Greed--Growth--has issued its white paper criticizing Romney for raising taxes, Romneycare and a whole host of things he did in Massachusets. But they conclude with a lukewarm acceptance of him as compared to Obama.

The Newt and his lovely bridge Callista went off on a cruise of the Greek Islands. But once called out on it, he flew back and hightailed it to New Hampshire.

Sarah Palin is travelling to the southern Sudan this summer and will pass through London. She expressed an interest to meet Margaret Thatcher. The Iron Lady through her spokesperson said there would be no meeting because Lady Thatcher thinks Sister Sarah is nuts.

Also not taking Sister Sarah seriously is veteran Republican operative Ed Rollins. Rollins made the shot acaross Palin's bow as he signed on to become Michelle Bachmann's campaign manager. You'll recall that Rollins was on deck to become Huckabee's manager if Governor Mike had thrown his hat in the ring. Now we have a cat fight between Sister Sarah and Michelle. The Freepers are outraged at Rollins' statements and heavily side with Palin.

Never let a bad idea go to waste. Yes, House Republicans are now floating the idea once again to privatize Social Security. You will recall the big dud this was when George W floated this. He called not privatizing social security his greatest reget of his presidency. The need obviously is urgent--Social Security really could go broke in 75 years. And then again maybe not.

I think it's great Republicans are embracing bipartisanship. Look at Wisconsin--the Republicans are running fake Democrats in the recall elections and are proud of it. They have found fake Democrats to run against real ones in the race with our old favorite Randy the Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olson of Ripon. Wisconsin reveals a stark picture that is replicated throughout the states like Ohio and Florida that elected radical Right Governors. Scott Walker has an 87% approval rating from Republicans and only 9% from Democrats. This is as polarized as polarized gets.

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) keeps it classy by tacking on Eviction botices on homes in the Delaney Street area of Detroit. This was a protest against Michigan's NITC bridge project, which is in competition to a local Michigan family who wants to build a bridge expension without state funds. Of course, residents panicked and the fake Eviction notices created an uproar.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum is in the race--for what? Who Knows? Can anyone tell anymore when and if someone is running for President? Santorum dropped his John Kerry motto and has now adopted Dan Rather's one word sign-off, "Courage". Rick says he is modelling his campaign after Mike Huckabee's 2008 run, which didn't succeed. The idea is to siphon off enough of the rabid Religious Right to make some run for it. So far in polling of Republicans, Rick registers about the same as Greg Johnson and Freddie Krueger.

Rudy took a long blast at Mitt Romney and has accelerated his attacks on Mitt's embrace of individual health mandates. The irony is that the people of Massachusetts overwhelmingly like their state's health care system. But Mitt won't own it even though it is probably the best thing he ever did in his life.

Rick Perry of Texas really is thinking of running for the nomination. He is consulting his financial bankers about the possibility. In th meantime, Rick is calling on all governor to come and pray with him for the safety of America.

Dana Milbank today wrote a perceptive op-ed concerning the Republican problem with the idea of freedom. Milbank took off on Romney's hyperbolic statement that our free market system is near the stage it will cease to exist. He also chides Romney about his exaggeration about the percent of our GDP which is government spending. Typically, Republicans have blown this figure way beyond recognition. But Dana's point is that there has existed for years in the United States a consensus that a vigorous and strong government is needed to preserve and enhance our freedom. Otherwise, we would end up like countries in the developing world. In essence, the Republican war against government has become a war against our freedom.

Nicholas Kristof wrote on a similar theme in the New York Times where he outlined the new Republican vision of society and found an exact parallel to it in Pakistan. Previously, others have noted Somalia as the paradise of choice for libertarians. But Milbank by zeroing in on Romney, who should know better, raises a critical issue that serious conservatives must start to think about. When does the private sector intrude on the freedom of private citizens and undermine a society's liberty? So far the discussion has been a one-way street.

John Boehner was amazing in his dismissal of the revival of the American auto industry, saying that it was nothing to brag about. He said the way it should have been done was in the case of Ford, which restructured itself without government assistance. The head of Ford then and now is on record as saying that only the government could have bailed out Chrysler and GM and noted that Ford benefitted from this because their suppliers were saved from bankruptcy.

For me, Boehner's statement was amazing because I just drove past the Lordstown GM plant in Ohio, which now has three shifts working for the first time in its history and the parking lots for workers are filled whenever you drive by. The same applies to the Chrysler plant in Toledo, also in Boehner's home state, where thousands of workers have been called back to work. I guess if you think they will all vote Democratic than there is no sense to "celebrate". But not even rooting for your home state is pretty cold.

The Washington Post for the past two days has discovered that Republicans are not concerned with cutting deficits but only in cutting taxes. With the tax-rates for people earning $250,000 and abovee one-half of what they were in the 1970s, tax revenues are at their lowest since the 1960s. Any serious effort to cut the deficit would demand tax hikes and program cuts. But Republicans have ruled any tax hikes off the table and refuse to compromise as the Post finally discovered.

But no one wants a real economist anymore. Peter Diamond withdrew his name from being considered to take a place on the Fed. Senator Shelby of Alabama filibustered his nomination because he was "unqualified". Mr. Diamond won the Nobel Prize for Economics. But as he said, "Nobel Prizes don't count." Diamond is the most egregious case of Republican obstructionism .

But there is a laundry list of vacancies both at the Fed and Treasury that have a very tangible effect on our economy and the effectiveness of our government. Part of this is caused by Republicans not wanting the Treasury to have the necessary manpower to enforce the new financial regulations bill past in 2009.

You would think that our ace reporters would begin to link Republican cuts to real world events. For instance, the recent E Coli outbreak in Germany should have alerted Americans to the issue of food security. The Obama Administration had passed--at the request of the food industry itself--the greatest reform to our food security system since the 1930s. The food industry was concerned about the financial cost of contamination scares on its bottom-line. It even proposed that the bill tax the industry--at their suggestion. Republicans not only didn't give the FDA the necessary funding to enforce the law, but they cut the taxes on the industry, and even cut the FDA's budget further.

Another example can be seen in the response to tornedoes in Alabama and the one in Joplin. Traditionally, the federal government automatically provides assistance to these natural disasters. This has been a bipartisan consensus for aeons. But every single congressperson from Alabama actually voted to cut such funding and little Ricky Cantor wanted the cost of assistance to be matched by cuts in other programs.

Even Haley Barbour, whose state has been wacked by hurricanes, floods and the BP oil disaster, came out strongly against Cantor on this. But the disease goes further down the line. Republicans even drastically cut funding for NOAA, which provides Americans with their information on weather.

This seems odd since no one has ever accused NOAA of being some boondoggle. But it's not as Frothy Mix can tell you. Rick Santorum actually proposed while being Senator that weather forecasting by "privatized". This was during the heydays of ENRON, who wanted to sell weather futures. I kid you not. You could actually buy shares in micro-climates. You could bet on global warming and make money.

Another story I would like reporters to actually cover as a substantive issue is what really happens to America if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Right now this story is treated like a political game on who will cave--Obama or the Republicans. But no one is writing about its effects on the economy, the rate of future American borrowing, the global effect, and that American dollar would cease to be the global reserve currency. You will only find this discussed in blogs at the websites of economic think tanks. But reporters actually have the responsibilty to inform the American public that this isn't a game.

Right now John Boehner has admitted to the Republican caucus that it is very dangerous to play with the debt ceiling but he asserted it was more dangerous for President Obama and he had to cave. In short, he was holding the entire economic fate of the American hostage to the Republican agenda. In the future, we may have to consider the possibility that an American President might not bow to hostage-taking and do a Dr. Strangelove launch economic war. Boehner is saying that Obama would destroy himself and the Democratic Party if he doesn't cave. Well, what if he doesn't?

Meanwhile, Republicans are saying that Obama is debasing the American dollar. This gets really funky. The most rapid decline in the dollar's value was between 2001 and 2007, when W was in power. As Paul Krugman writes, Republicans don't mention that but Krugman says he didn't mind because it actually was healthy. But can you imagine what would happen if the debt ceiling wasn't raised.

Thom Hartmann posited the idea that President Obama had a secret weapon in this negotiation which hasn't been discussed. Hartmann discussed how Senator Bob Packwood during a similar debate in the 1980s asked the Treasury whether it had the power to decide what debts would be paid first. Treasury responded that Treasury has the authority to order the government to pay its obligations according to its decisions.

What Hartmann proposes is that Obama alert Boehner that if he keeps playing games on the debt ceiling then the Treasury will withhold all federal payments to Ohio and other Republican states. Hartmann invoked the incident where LBJ picked up the Fed Chairman by his lapels and slammed him into the wall and told him what he was going to do as FED policy. I like the idea.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Obama Is Doomed! Well, We May Be

Howard Dean as reported in the Hill warned Democrats not to take Sarah Palin lightly because she could beat Obama. This wasn't psy-ops by the creator of the 50-state strategy to sucker Palin into the race. Instead, Howard Dean pointed out that if unemployment remains as high as it is, any person who battles to their party's nomination can win the presidency. His point is that the campaign is the qualification to be President and that voters might decide to change. Howard Dean believes that the Beltway pundits have under-estimated the impact of high unemployment on the election.

The New York Times warns that no modern President with the exception of FDR has ever been re-elected if the unemployment rate is above 7.3%. FDR did it twice. But what the Times neglected to mention that under Reagan it was 7.2% and he won with a landslide. Nate the Great does a detailed analysis of how unemployment affects re-elections at www.FiveThirtyEight.com .

Of course, other people who lost like Ford and Carter had other problems. Ford lost because he pardoned Richard Nixon and at Dick Cheney's urging dumped Nelson Rockefeller. Otherwise he would have won New York and the election. Carter had the additional problem of runaway inflation coupled with his unemployment problem, which remained the same throughout his four years.

Just for reference, Obama came in with 7.5% unemployment. He does have to make some headway before the election. Whether he can get it down enough, remains a question. As of two months ago, the government was banking on 7.2% by election time but the recovery has stalled.

The AP piles on by pointing out that where the housing bust continues in swing states Obama will have a tough time getting re-elected.

A writer on Democratic Underground claims that Mitt Romney will look qualified enough and can seem with his personality moderate enough to attract independents to make it a close race.

What no one is factoring in is the enormous unpopularity of Republican Governors in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida as generating a large Democratic turnout.

The Obama campaign is conceding Indiana already. I have no idea why. But they are doubling down in North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada,New Mexico and Colorado. One of the reasons is that the census shows that the Hispanic population is growing much faster than previously believed.

The Daily Beast piled on this week by chastising Obama for failing to enact immigration reform. Tim Pawlenty used this to attack Obama. And now the New York Times editorialized that the Obama Administration has failed in this regard. Constructively they did point out some ways Obama can ameliorate the situation by executive action.

Huffington Post has been on a campaign against Obama because he didn't accept Ariana's suggestions about mortgage modifications and other economic prescriptions.

NPR ran today an interview with an analyst for a top investment firm, who said that he didn't see unemployment coming down to 8% for a long time and that it may never be true we ever get to 5% again. He basically said there needed to be a second stimulus package but politically that was not doable. He didn't believe anything would be done for the economy until after the 2012 election.

I smell the summer doldrums coming on. Remember the Republican mantra that Obama is Jimmy Carter. This has been the working assumption for the GOP from days before Obama took the oath of office. And their actions are devoted to making that prophecy come true.

What surprises me is that Obama remains bouyant and has not become bunker bound. If anything, he seems to put the malaise tag on the Republicans for having a small and mean vision of America. The Party of No and We're Broke.

Haley Barbour warned conservatives today at the Ralph Reed Faithfest that they will have to bite the bullet with the GOP nominee and understand they will have several policy differences with them.

It seems like Howard Dean and Haley are preparing their sides that this will be a close and tough race and who ever is unified wins.

American Confusion

**President Obama ended May with his highest polling in months. Gallup had him at a 16 month high and CNN had his approval rating at 54% with his negatives now below 40%.

**And then the economic numbers came out and the economy only generated 54,000 jobs last month, the housing market experienced another setback with prices losing the most since the Great Recession hit. Immediately, everyone jumped on Obama and his policies. Robert Reich said we are going into a double dip recession , Paul Krugman thinks worse, and Alan Greenspan worried about the debt ceiling and the national debt, for the first time in his life.

**How much of the expert reaction to the economy is because they totally missed the economic collapse in 2008? Now we will be treated to overcompensation through the 2012 election.

**In May both Republicans and Democrats claimed Obama was unbeatable in 2012. Now this past week the punditry claims he is highly vulnerable and Republicans sense an opening. I heard Rush Limbaugh claim that Pat Caddell,a democratic pollster, says that the White House's internal polls show Obama's re-election bid is in serious trouble. Take the source but I could conceive of this. But the PPP polls of swing states don't show this--yet.

**I also heard on the radio during my travels to the Midwest that businesses are hiring more MBAs and the analyst said that this shows that businesses will be hiring soon. One major factor is that they have doubled the work load on present employees and that while this has increased productivity--as government figures show--businesses are about to drop alot of cash from their surpluses to alleviate the problem by hiring. And this analyst went on to list all the indicators that businesses are building up inventories ,etc.

**I get another sense here. I think we are back into the old" Will Obama fail?" syndrome. Notice how his European trip got little coverage in the States because basically he accomplished everything he sought to. None of the major networks covered the extensive discussion by Tony Blair and the British of the Palestinian issue nor did they cover the discussions at the G-20. The only news clip was that Obama muffed a toast to the Queen and the First Lady stood in front of a pointed plant that made her look like she had a huge Afro.

**But Ha-Ha we have him now. John Boehner won't raise the debt ceiling until the whole safety net is destroyed. I have no idea anymore whether the GOP really believes that not raising the debt ceiling will not cause troubles as they say in public or whether it is a giant game of chicken. Objective economists say that refusing to do so could drop the GDP by 2.3%, which would be greater than the drop in the Great Recession. It would in effect wipe out the recovery and Republicans claim it would doom the Obama presidency. Democratic-leaning websites believe that Republicans would be blamed. I'm not so sure. It's always the buck stops at the Oval Office.
Obama has to learn to negotiate with the GOP as if they are like the Soviet Union. They have become ideologues.

**In the Beltway, you can tell the Republicans are dictating the terms of the debate and framing the issues since no one talks abut jobs anymore, only the national debt. The same is not true in states where the Ryan Budget is generating outrage and real pushback. Nancy Pelosi told Jon Karl this week that the Democrats have a real chance to take back the House next election. Anecdotal evidence indicates the whole freshmen class in the House is seriously exposed because of voting for the elimination of Medicare. Right now there is no polling to suggest that the wizards of the GOP can turn the Ryan Plan into a plus.

**President Obama had a joyous moment at the Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio celebrating the auto recovery program. He was at his Explainer-in-Chief best concerning the implications of an auto industry collapse and the ripple effect it would have on the economy. He said if the auto industry had gone under, 1 million jobs would have been lost. Even his Administration admits that this is a conservative number. He also kept up his talk about rebuilding the nation's infrastructure to much applause. But here in Washington, the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce have run into a stonewall on the Hill in their rare joint efforts to lobby Congress for more infrastructure spending. One wonders if Obama has any cards up his sleeves for any more job creation efforts before the election. He talks about it but the political reality here doesn't look likely.

**The GOP cries that they are the only ones who have produced a budget. Well, not true. Does anyone remember the State of the Union and Obama's budget? Obama's budget would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over several years and Paul Ryan claims, with mirrors, to cut in by $6 trillion. Pundits are saying that the Senate's Gang of Six will have to ready a bipartisan plan.Tan Man Boehner says that President Obama must lead the budget talks, not Joe Biden, to resolve this.

**Big news in D.C. John Boehner and President Obama will play a round of golf. Inquiring minds want to know whether Fox News will add this round to the number they keep projecting about Obama's golf playing. I remember they neglected to record the 100 rounds Boehner played in 2010.

**I have no opinion about the indictment of John Edwards. It isn't even interesting.

** The lesson from Weinergate is "Don't Let Your Wallace Flop Out." The various background noises to this have absolutely gone unnoticed. First, Anthony Weiner investigated Glenn Beck's sponsor Goldfine for being a racket. Then Anthony Weiner zeroes in on Judge Thomas' manifold conflicts of interests in the Citizens United case and any deliberations on health reform because of his wife's sources of income, which he had not recorded for twenty years. And of course Anthony Weiner has taken the spot of Allan Grayson in denouncing Republican policies from the House floor and getting YouTube notoriety for it. Further on background, he married Hillary Clinton's top aide, whom the Right claimed was Hillary's lesbian lover. So to neutralize Anthony Weiner you hack his tweeter account and send or not send a photo of a man's package to a college student. And make sure Glenn Beck's friend Andrew Breibart knows and you have a scandal. None of this has been helped out by Weiner not being able to say the photo was of him or not, raising endless speculations about whether he is in the habit. But like Lenin, I don't believe in coincidences. It also helped stop the press coverage about the GOP losing Jack Kemp's district in New York State.

**Well, Newt's campaign is one of a lifetime as he promised. Newt and his lovely bride Callista got a little tired after three weeks and have gone on vacation. The hustling was a bit much for the aging Newt and he had to recharge his batteries. Talking about stamina, check out Romney's eyes and face these days. He looks gaunt and already fatigued. Are any of the GOP contenders going to last the whole race?

**If you want to see Ralph Reed,former creator of the Christian Coalition, don't go to the Faith and Freedom Conference. Instead rent Casino Jack, with Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff and watch how Ralph plays the Indians. The Grover Norquist character is perfect also. No one stayed for Frothy Mix Santorum's speech today at the Christian Right slugfest. Knowing the inner KKK of his audience, Santorum said,"President Obama, America was a great country before 1965." An allusion to the hated Civil Rights Act and the fact Obama is of a different hue. Despite a lengthy speech before the British Parliament about America's exceptionalism, Santorum also argued that Obama doesn't believe in American exceptionalism. This is sort of like his previous statement that McCain doesn't understand the wonders of torture.

**With all these fundamentalist inquisitions, why don't real Christian denominations have candidates speak about concerns of social justice? The blast by Catholic professors against John Boehner hardly got any attention in the press but Allan Keyes with his Spongebob Squarepants stroller with a doll as a fetus got plenty of attention during the pro-life protest against President Obama speaking at Notre Dame. Jim Wallis's recent conference here in Washington hardly had an audience.

**On the radio I heard the most lengthy explanation of Social Security as a ponzi scheme, the new meme from conservatives. I've heard the various soundbites from Repubican house members and Rand Paul about this. But this was a spokesperson for a new libertarian foundation. And he actually raised an interesting issue--not about Social Security, but about Ponzi schemes. He said that if everyone in America is required to pay into social security, then the ponzi scheme would last 75 years as it has. So my question is whether you could design a ponzi scheme that lasted indefinitely. And then would it be a ponzi scheme?

Mitt The Candidate

It's not a good sign when you announce your candidacy on a New Hampshire farm that gets government subsidies and your theme song "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake is seen by the artist as a rip-off of intellectual property. It also doesn't help when only 15 minutes away Sarah Palin shows up in her bus and starts opining on your health reform policy. And a little further away Rudy Guiliani shows up to say you should just apologize for your only policy achievement. You know you're not hitting the road in style when you can't make the top story in the local newspaper.

Over the past week, alot of Republican pundits have been open about how much Republicans dislike Mitt Romney. He sometimes acts like Richie Rich. He's wooden. He's a Mormon. Fill in the blank. Basically, Mitt Romney isn't a good politician. After people instinctively determine they dislike him, then they make up the reasons. And columnists are begging Romney not to even pretend to be cool or with it. His admission on Jay Leno that he read the Twilight novels because his granddaughter like them soon devolved into political calibrations about whether he should admit he did or did not like vampires. And he finally admitted he didn't know any.

Sometimes it's best for me not to read the full text of a politicians' announcement. Romney seemed to pack a punch by saying, "Obama Failed America." But that was really the headline writer's doing. The whole speech was listless--in fact the Obama line was buried-- and you have to really wonder why he is running for President. He tells us he is an expert in turning around companies and that's what's needed know. Except his whole history of turning companies around meant trimming costs by laying off thousands of people and then selling off the companies for a profit. Is that really what is needed now? Aside from believing in America, Romney speech did not have any vision thing. He accused Obama of making the recession worse, apologizing for America abroad and bringing the free market system near extinction. I guess he was trying to show he would be an attacker except all the fact-checkers immediately corrected all his statements.

Or is Mitt Romney the bland politician chosen to make truly radical change acceptable? His statements about cutting the deficit and balancing the budget if taken literally would result in something far more destructive than the Ryan Plan. But there is so little heart in this that we tend to gloss over the implications of his statement. Then his great jobs program is more boilerplate GOP with getting rid of regulations on business and lowering taxes.

But once Mitt was out of the gate, his other side comes out. He wants to end America's dependence on oil so he wants to develop alternative energy sources and encourage ways Americans can conserve energy. His items were identical to Obama's. There was no Drill Baby, Drill. In another statement, he violated the now universal Republican belief by stating that climate change was real and that humans are partially responsible for it.

Then we get Mitt Romney as a pro-lifer. The next hurdle for Republican Presidential candidates will be to answer what criminal penalties will they impose on women who get abortions and abortion providers. Mitt waffled on this saying that he did know of anyone proposing "criminal charges" but he opined there should be penalties. However, across country, Tim Pawlenty made it clear that there would have to be criminal charges brought--but he thought only against doctors.

In all the years of watching Mitt Romney, he was most empathetic and compassionate in his answer during his Senate debate with Ted Kennedy when asked about whether he was pro-choice. He said he was personally against abortion but recounted a story of a cousin who went through a botched abortion when it was illegal and said that experience made him pro-choice. Ted Kennedy got off the wisecrack that Mitt was multiple choice.

While Mitt Romney has been running without interruption for the presidency since 2007, it's important to realize that he has won only one election in his life. There has always been this air that he's entitled to the Presidency. Or that the presidency is the missing position on his family's resume. In the 2008 elections, the entire Republican roster hated Mitt Romney. Even though McCain himself had over 14 homes and was married to an enormously wealthy woman, he thought of Romney as being a pampered rich kid. He emphasized that while he was a POW, Romney was a missionary in Paris--Paris of all places. In fact, the premise of the Huckabee candidacy was to block Romney from gaining any advantage on McCain. During the 2008 race, President George W. Bush was asked about Romney's chances, he said,"He's not going anywhere. He's a member of a cult."

Romney's ambition and his problems can be traced back to his father George Romney. If you remember George Romney, you'll remember a moderate to liberal Republican Governor, who wanted to challenge Richard Nixon. George Romney had the true self-made man story, working his way up in the auto industry and then moving into the state house. George Romney was a popular governor and a national figure. He was a handsome man who exuded gutsiness. To his credit he also pressured the Mormons' to abandon the racist tenets in their religion and embraced to some extent Martin Luther King. But George was done in--and this seems to be a family trait--by saying he changed his position on the Vietnam War because he had been "brainwashed" by our government when he had been a hawk. And his presidential campaign was effectively finished.

Mitt always acts like he wants to right the wrong done to his father. He'll become President to vindicate his father. In my view some of the opposition to Mitt stems from the background of many Republican operatives who worked for Richard Nixon. The Romneys are politically unreliable. They are closet liberals. Dad was seen as part of the Rockefeller wing of the party. Does anyone remember those fights? Think about Roger Ailes, who made his mark for Nixon, and now is the arbiter of the GOP nomination process. Yes, Mitt gets to appear to slam Obama but he's been given less time than even pretend candidates.

If Obama is exotic, Romney is very exotic. A Mormon who lives in the liberal Northeast and was governor of Massachusetts. Unlike Obama, who has maintained a fairly consistent position on the issues, Romney's postions on issues have been all over the map. And even when he sensibly explains his change like his pro-life stance, he bungles it. He said in the last presidential election that he changed his position on stem cell research because he held discussions on the issue with professors at Harvard--Harvard! So the tactical gain in explaining his position to the Republican base is more than offset by him changing it at Harvard. You can take almost any issue and Romney has held every political position imaginable. So no one knows what if anything he really believes.

I am one of the few people I know who believes that Romney's religion will hurt him this time around. The Pew poll indicates that there is more resistance among the American voter against a Mormon candidate. While racist sentiment has increased against President Obama and will hurt him in the next election, the same sources for this--nativism, Christian nationalism, and xenophobia--have a flip side which is suspicion of Mormons. I believe this is more of a factor today than when George Romney ran in the 1960s. The reason for this is the rise of the Christian Right and particularly its more radical elements, which still fly under the radar. On the independent and moderate side of things, the Pew poll shows significant numbers are skeptical about Mormons in public office. And that number must have risen with the rise of Glenn Beck, the most visible Mormon in a generation.

During the last election, the Christian Right engaged in dirty tricks against Mitt Romney in South Carolina, which seems to be home to the most vile dirty tricks in the Republican camp. Voters received Christmas cards from Mitt and his wife Ann with outrageous quotes from the Book of Mormon. You might remember George W. planted rumors in South Carolina that McCain had fathered a black child, which really was an Indian child adopted by Cindy. McCain always thought that turned the 2000 election toward W and he remained steamed about it. Sensing that this was getting ugly, Papa Bush invited Mitt Romney down to Rice University in Texas to do his version of Obama's Rev. Wright speech and talk about religious freedom.

Mitt the Systems Guy has adopted all the recommended modes of bridge-building to the Christian Right but it looks like he has linked up with remnants of the old Christian Right and not the new virulent strain. Learning from the last campaign, he has established an extensive national network and instead of spending his own considerable future he has developed a huge financial base. In other words, he is approaching this all as a business problem. One example is that he moved to New Hampshire and also to California. But look at what moving to Iowa did for Chris Dodd's presidential campaign.

So the system is in place. But we saw this week that systems sometimes break down. Like last election,2012 will be decided in the Midwest. And the one bright spot in the Midwest is the recovery of the American auto industry, which McCain in 2008 told people in Michigan wasn't coming back. Against a wall of GOP resistance, Barack Obama bailed out the auto industry and the companies are turning a profit and actually gaining market shares for the first time since the mid-1990s.

When the GOP resistance went up, Mitt Romney, son of the auto industry, agreed with his Republican cronies and went on frequent television shows lamenting the dark day for America when the government took over the auto industry. Last week his handlers suggested that the success for the recovery was that President Obama took Romney's idea. But the chairmen of the auto companies have gone on television accusing Romney of "smoking something illegal" if he thought the auto industry could come back without the government. Challenged on this, Romney got snippy and looked like he was pouting. At the time of the auto bailout, I was stunned that Romney would come out so openly against it because it would be political suicide in the Midwest.

Romney has also been the only Republican candidate to avoid backing the Ryan Budget Plan, which seems to be another litmus test for all candidates. But from my take on his announcement, Romney's plan would be more draconian and would ensure another Depression. It's just he doesn't mention Medicare.

Will Romney be acceptable to the Republican Party? He is a successful man, having accumulated massive wealth through Bain Capital. The Businessman as the Highest American Hero outside of the military has been enshrined in the new Republican party as witnessed by the elections of Rick Scott in Florida, Rick Snyder in Michigan and John "Lehman Brothers" Kasich in Ohio, and the billionaire Club owned by Karl Rove for endless campaign funding. Yet, the base of the party is fixated on social issues. I disagree with Michael Steele when he says that primary voters will be interested primarily in jobs. I think the new economic model for the GOP is intertwined with an assortment of cultural and social issues where Romney is suspect.

There is another little fact that Republicans are aware of and hold against Mitt Romney. The election of Scott Brown in Masschusetts was touted by the teabaggers as their greatest triumph since he took Ted Kennedy's seat,a public repudiation of liberalism. But Scott Brown has become a disappointment to teabaggers and in a big way. Now teabaggers are finally admitting that it was the Romney organization behind the scenes that propelled Brown to victory. And that actually may be unforgiveable when you are dealing with ideologues.

I have no idea how Romney's constant vacillation on issues will affect his electoral fortune. Almost every Republican candidate now has changed their entire worldview in a short time. Newt does it every day. But what Republicans want is someone who will attack President Obama 24/7 and say anything about him. Obama's Presidency is seen as an affront to them because Republicans are entitled to the Presidency. They want their George Wallace wing to be the vanguard of attack politics. And so far Romney hasn't excited the bloodlust of the base. And whenever he does attack, it always ends up looking awkward. Basically, the Republicans want a hater and he is not one. This is not the time for "Morning in America" with a genial figure trying to sell the conservative platform. This is an election that will be based on revenge.

There is something about Romney that makes me think he is a hologram of a WASP. There is something not quite right about his visuals. He tries to do the LL. Bean casual look, but even his unbuttoned shirts don't quite unbutton right or his rolled up sleeves are too precise. In a suit he looks like those floorwalkers in the old department stores. In older days, people would call him an Empty Suit, which wouldn't quite be accurate either. Richard Nixon did his "Sock it To Me" moment on Laugh-In and Romney did his list of ten on Letterman. Nixon pulled his moment off because of the juxtaposition of our image of him against the performance. Romney came off professionally but totally nondescript. The more visible he is, the less of an impression he makes.

Mitt Romney would be the perfect guy Obama could appoint to revive the old Clinton Re-Inventing Government program. He would develop all the PowerPoints,analyze inefficiencies and propose to government agencies how to implement better procedures. That's what he's good at and good for. Let Mitt be Mitt--the systems analyst.

The other aspect of this is that Republicans are going to all the effort to restrict voting rights in key electoral states like Florida,Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri. If you go to all the effort to pre-rig an election, would you really do it for Mitt Romney? Don't the Koch Brothers and DeVos want more this time? This may be why Romney is not perceived warmly by the Republican fatcats as of yet and why they were scrambling around to find someone who wouldbe their minion.

As for the teabaggers, Freedomworks has already launched a stop Mitt campaign. And in the western states, former teabagger Joe Miller, former Senate candidate in Alaska, has already launched a regional effort to stop Mitt because he wants a constitutional conservative.

Mitt Romney not only has to win New Hampshire but he has to mount a string of primary victories to get him to Michigan. Last time he couldn't get there with sufficient strength. And he has to avoid getting de-railed in South Carolina, the graveyard of candidates not perceived as conservative enough.

While Santorum has a unique Google problem, Romney does also because his Google pages refer you to all his past policy stances. In his campaign website this year, he omits his Romneycare, while it is all over Google. And this stuff will be fodder for the other candidates.

While Romney is the front-runner--more because of name recognition than anything, he is going to need political savvy to buy off competitors as the process moves along. So far in his career, he hasn't shown any knack at trench fighting and hand-to-hand combat. It will be interesting to see the first few dirty tricks his campaign tries. They are likely to be too transparent.

In my mind, Obama eliminated the most serious rival to a second term when he choose Jon Huntsman as his ambassador to China. Of all the would-be candidates, Huntsman would have been the most attractive to independents. He has been too far out of the loop and now is linked to Obama that even his tack to the right is not sufficient to get back in the game. Oabam also has saddled Romney with his biggest liability, his only policy triumph, the healthcare reform in Massachusetts. Republicans forget that throughout the 2008 primary campaign the GOP debated the extent of healthcare reform they would propose when elected. They never foresaw the avalanche from their own base when a black man achieved it.

House Republicans are seriously committed to reversing all economic recovery with the intent to defeat Obama in 2012. That's what all their actions are about. For Romney, he needs the recovery to stall so that the public would be conditioned to accept a businessman savior in the White House. But if the recovery can not be reversed, then Republicans will have to bring out all the social and cultural issues in the main event. And there Romney doesn't stand a chance.