Keep Wall Street happy but under control; Don’t tell the spirit of Barry Goldwater, but Romney is a me-too guy…

October 27, 2012

BLOGGER’S NOTE: A somewhat better edited version of my original post, I hope.

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Wall Street and big business may really be the enemy sometimes to the common working people, but maybe it is not a good idea attacking them head on.

It is better to rein them in, to curb their excesses, to make sure that everyday folks are protected against some of their excesses, without going to all-out war with them.

Even though we might not like the idea of the trickle down economy, the money does come from the top.

You know what they say about the woman of the house: “if momma ain’t happy, nobody is happy”.

And that’s kind of the way it is with the money crowd. If they ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

I write this in relation to the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama in which he hammers away with the mantra of asking the rich to pay more or to pay their fair share (that being more than others pay) in taxes.

Candidate Obama in the 2008 election made an issue of going after Wall Street. In reality I don’t think he has done much along those lines during his administration, but he has kept the rhetoric up.

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ADD ONE:

And now I am reminded that Obama has done something to fight Wall Street, signing a law that created a consumer protection bureau: http://news.yahoo.com/obama-warns-gop-not-undo-wall-street-law-101321442.html

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And I just scanned an article (that’s what you do on the internet, scan) in Politico that says an ex aide to Vice President Joe Biden has written a tell all book in which he claims that President Obama and Biden are financially illiterate and that is why they caved in to Wall Street. While this guy is just trying to make bucks with a book no doubt, I have suspected as much (He says the obvious too: Wall Street controls Washington, both Democrats and Republicans).

I mean it does not take a genius to figure out why Wall Street who caused the 2008 meltdown was bailed out by both Republicans and Democrats.

And the auto workers union had its grasp on Obama, getting a bail out for a failed auto industry, hampered by failed management and bloated, non-competitive union salaries and benefits.

Just as Mitt Romney was right when he said home foreclosures ought to be allowed to run their course to clean out the system, he was also right in suggesting the auto industry ought to go bankrupt. In the process of bankruptcy it could have continued and come out stronger or failed like it should have if it could not meet the demand of the market place (my words there). Now we have a false market that will no doubt eventually fail (my words again) unless it really weans itself off the guarantee of government bailouts (and didn’t we bail out Chrysler a long time ago?).

But back to not attacking the money people head on:

What I am trying to say is that when things are going gang busters in the economy, forces that usually might resist various social programs are much more amenable to them. Keep the little people happy — bread and circuses and all that.

But when profits are harder to come by those at the top and the wannabes may get a little more concerned about costs.

So, whether you are liberal or conservative or in the middle, the bottom line is that we must have a robust economy for all to be taken care of.

Well now that argument seems to make the case for electing Romney, that is if you believe what he has to say.

He promises to greatly improve the economy. But the president does not single-handedly improve an economy. And there is no way to prove or disprove what he says. It is all a boast. He does have a business record, but as many have noted, government is not really a business, even though it would seem better at times if it ran more like a business. But the role of government is not to make a profit for an individual or for a partnership or shareholders. It is to provide order for society and to serve the people. Just exactly how it does that is primarily up to the electorate acting through the people they vote into office, following the constitution. And ever since Marbury vs. Madison the Supreme Court (appointed by the president) decides what that constitution allows, and it has changed its mind through the years and will in the future.

And even Romney must know that he can’t just gives orders like a CEO; he has to go through congress and the bureaucracy.

We also do not know what political ideology Mr. Romney would follow or most closely follow. His record and his performance in the campaign seems to indicate he is a moderate who leans to the right as far as necessary to get support. And he goes left too if that works. It is one thing to change your mind after long and careful consideration, but one might easily conclude Mr. Romney has no core principles in governing. 

I don’t think there is any doubt that he favors a government that serves the interests of business, with the idea being that if that is accomplished, everyone else can be taken care of. I think Mr. Romney has a sense that it is his mission to look after the less fortunate, to a degree at least (although I think he feels this is more the work for private charity and benefactors such as himself, with some government assistance). But I am also sure that he feels those less fortunate need to understand the weighty decisions must be made by leaders such as himself and everyone just has to be patient and work hard.

Okay, I really have no way of knowing what Mr. Romney really thinks. He’s just someone who began with an advantage, having well-to-do parents, and made the best use of it, and who, by the way, belongs to a somewhat wacky religious sect, the Mormons (but then most religions have their wackiness), who, wacky though they may be, seem to have some good traits when it comes to working hard, raising families (the multi-wife, often teenagers, cult Mormons notwithstanding), and accumulating wealth.

So Mr. Romney is a centrist but one who often leans to the political right.

Obama on the other hand seems to be somewhat of a centrist who definitely leans to the left. Also as the top Democrat he is obligated to support a plethora of social programs and to cater to the trade unions. That just comes with the territory.

Obama has also made much of the concept that we leave no one behind in society, that we must help the less fortunate and that if we are successful we got what we have with the support of government and other individuals, even if we did sacrifice and work hard ourselves, so in that way, as he said it, or overstated it, we didn’t build it ourselves. Therefore we owe back to society.

Personally, that tack bothers me. Nothing wrong with a personal decision by someone who thinks he or she should somehow give back to society, but something akin to a legal obligation? We all have a civic duty (whether we actually perform it or not), I think, to do our part to support the health of our democratic (small d) society by way of doing such things as keeping informed on public issues and voting, but even this is really voluntary (if a duty can be voluntary). In addition we have a moral obligation to be concerned about our fellow man. We have chosen in our nation to do some of that looking after through the offices of government, and there is and always will be an ongoing argument as to at what level we carry this on.

I’m digging a hole here. I did not begin this post trying to make a case for Obama, but I am certainly not writing this in support of Romney.

In Romney’s constant pandering to the far right, especially the far-right crazies or wing nuts (not all on the right are in this category) he has altered his positions on things such as women’s abortion rights. It just seems as if it is a hot button issue he can go either way on, depending on who he wants to cater to at the time. Romney has flipped flopped on this through the years and in this campaign has proclaimed himself to be staunchly anti-abortion, but then in his recent centrist move, says he would not take any initiatives to change present law. But that in itself is misleading at best when one has to realize he would eventually appoint Supreme Court justices (it seems as though one of those old codgers is always either croaking or retiring) who would likely be on the right end of the scale. And abortion rights are dependent on a the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, which could and probably would be overturned or altered by an additional conservative justice or justices.

Bottom line here: although one might buy into or at least put one’s hopes on Romney’s promise of magically fixing the economy, one also has to consider whether he or she will have the same rights under his administration and whether he or she will need services from the government, such as Social Security, Social Security Disability, Health Care, and the like and whether one is concerned about having clean drinking water and environmental protections — things that Republicans often seem to find too costly.

If Romney really could provide a better guiding hand for the economy and at the same time was an honest moderate, he might merit serious consideration. But in his constant flip flopping and his extreme pandering to the far right and his me too with Obama (me too? Barry Goldwater must be turning over in the grave) on foreign policy, one does not have any idea where he stands. He just seems to want to be president (and that is an important quality for getting elected they say).

I particularly do not care for his flip (as in too casual) attitude on the environment. He laughed at Obama for wanting to save the planet — yes I get it, he was implying that Obama was promising Godly powers rather than practical human power (I guess). Romney conveys the attitude that environmental concerns are fine, but if we need oil or coal or natural gas via fracking then everything along those lines be damned. Like so many, could he be crazy enough to foul his own nest? He of course would come back and say he would make sure there are necessary environmental protections. But those who think too much of dollars often seem to have blinders on when it comes to safeguards (British Petroleum?).

Even though I can’t, just can’t vote for Romney, it is a tough choice, I think, that American voters have.

Although there are signs that the economy is improving (and really aren’t these things primarily cyclical no matter who is in office?), Obama has not been able to restore or oversee a restoration of a robust economy and high employment. And the yearly federal budgets continue to run in the red and the national debt is staggering and has dire implications for the survival of our nation.

But even if Mr. Romney could turn things around, would we lose our social protections and the safety net under his leadership?

Society tends to run to the extremes in times of uncertainty, either to the far left and its socialism that can stamp out individual initiative and personal rights (you know everything is for the good of all) or to the far right and fascism, where, well about the same thing, strangely enough.

I don’t think either candidate fits those designations, but one panders to the right and the other has pressure from the left.

And consider this: an article on undecided voters I just read has one woman betting Romney would be a better choice for her vote, but she’s banking on him not keeping his promises to the right wing to work against women’s issues (I guess she realizes he might just be pandering). So there you have it, someone supporting a candidate on the premise he will break his promises.

P.s.

Did you notice?: Romney is at again. Now he has even stolen Obama’s 2008 mantra of hope and change. He’s using those words. He’ll say anything to win.

P.s. P.s.

I’d vote Libertarian or something if I thought it would do any good, but that always seems to be a vote against one of the two main party candidates and a vote for the other. And I just do not know enough about these people. In the past they have turned out to be nut cases. Remember Ross Perot?

P.s. P.s. P.s.

Link to Politico article:http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82897.html

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Romney adopts Obama foreign policy…

October 23, 2012

Mitt Romney apparently has no foreign policy agenda so he just uses President Obama’s.

That was the immediate impression I got listening to last night’s debate.

I agree with the tweet I heard quoted on the radio afterwards: “if the debate lasted another 20 minutes Romney would have endorsed Obama”.

And I was astonished to hear Romney agree with the 2014 American pullout date in Afghanistan (that is the date to stop active American combat operations). He said it like that was his plan. Strange since his camp has howled that announcing a pull-out date is tantamount to surrendering to the enemy. But then again I guess he figures it is a done deal, so why fight it. And he is probably really against continued waste of money (not to mention blood) over there, knowing that his whole campaign is based on his promise to somehow magically fix the economy with his business acumen.

I only missed maybe the first few questions if that much. Been busy working at my real job as a truck driver. I did catch some after-debate-commentary on the fairly balanced National Public Radio and some of the quite predictable comments on a Sacramento area right-wing talk thing, such as one caller saying: “It don’t make no difference”.

I have not yet had a chance to read or listen to today’s coverage of what really was said and which points were correct and which ones were not and who was thought to have scored more points.

I honestly think it is revealing that Romney just changes colors to fit the situation.

I was never going to vote for him, yet I have kept trying to give him a chance.

I could see, though, that some undecideds out there who had been disenchanted with Obama, particularly on economic matters, but who might have viewed Romney as too much of a war monger in his pandering to the far right might now feel more comfortable with Romney and his peaceful centrist and Obama copying attitude on foreign policy.

Now I did catch the line where Romney talked about indicting the president of Iran as a war criminal. That seemed a little counter productive to me.

And that is all I have time for now, but I did want to get my two cents in before this is all history.


An honest, albeit perhaps impractical, former presidential candidate dies…

October 21, 2012

The first presidential candidate I ever voted for has died. Former Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota.

I was 22 in that 1972 election. Back then you had to be 21 to vote.

I had recently completed three years in the Army — safely in Germany, even though I was in the service during the height of the Vietnam War, serving 1968 to 1971.

I voted for him because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.

I was chagrined when I heard him say something to the effect (I could not readily find the exact quote) that he would go to Hanoi personally and beg for our prisoners back if that would be what it took to get their release.

The interesting thing about this Vietnam era dove is that he was a decorated World War II combat bomber pilot. He saw action. So many of the hawks (those pushing war) then and now never saw any action and were never even in the service.

Mr. McGovern was an unabashed liberal to the end. He died at age 90.

He of course lost that presidential bid in a major landslide. Richard Nixon won and then won re-election and then became the first president to resign from office as the result of the Watergate scandal.

I could not stand Nixon for so long, and he certainly had an evil side, but in retrospect I think he probably was the more practical choice for president, even though things did turn out badly in the end.

(It is a trajedy that the lost cause of the Vietnam War continued and so many more had to die, and I do not include that factor in my summation that Nixon, who pushed a phony secret plan to end  the war in his campaign, was the more practical choice.)

McGovern was a good man and certainly helped a lot of people with his liberal agenda, or progressive agenda (those two terms are often used interchangeably, and I can’t go into all that now, but they are not always the same).

I read in an obituary today that he was able to get elected to office in a Republican state in part by gaining the support of farmers and others who became Democrats during the Depression New Deal era when Democrats enacted social programs to help the down and out, which at that time included a large portion of the nation’s population.

Since theoutn government social programs have become so much a part of our society that they are taken for granted. Few people remember what is was like to be really down and out, with nothing to eat and no place to live. And even though many face tough times today, even long-term unemployment, the safety net is such that the conservative no-tax, no social programs people can convince people to vote against their own good. Somehow people assume the government will always be there or just has to be if they run into a patch of trouble.

But back to that 1972 election: Even though public sentiment had been turning against the Vietnam War, you really can’t just be a one-issue person or at least it did not work in that election (well, there were other issues, such as civil rights, but McGovern was the anti-war candidate and that was the focus).

That is why I consider myself a middle-of-the-road or centrist person today when it comes to politics.

I like to look at the whole picture.

But we need men of conscience and compassion. George McGovern was one and the good part is that he worked his whole life in the service of others. The part I particularly liked about the obituary I read is that after finally losing his senate seat in South Dakota he chose not to go into lobbying (selling out). He did not parlay his time in office into a financial bonanza as so many do today.

I know there is another former Democratic senator from that general area of the country who became a health care industry lobbyist. I respect McGovern, not that guy.

 

P.s.

There is nothing wrong with becoming rich. But it is a moral disgrace to turn your support from the population as a whole into a resume and entrée into the vile world of influence peddling where you use propaganda to help special interests to the detriment of the public whose support you used as a stepping stone.

 


Monday night Foreign policy debate between Obama and Romney could be crucial; we have to be able to afford to defend ourselves…

October 21, 2012

In my lifetime I have only known the United States of America as the strongest nation, economically and militarily, second to none, in the world. This is still the case, in both areas. Militarily we had a close competitor for decades, the Soviet Union, but it fell apart. God forbid we do the same.

I can’t imagine a world in which the USA would be under the thumb of another power. And I think once you’ve been on top it’s not safe to lose your grip. There might be scores to settle.

And then there is the argument of American exceptionalism, the idea that we are unique and the free world and those longing to be free depend upon us. We did not invent democracy but we certainly have been a leader in it, a guiding light.

With this in mind, Monday night’s presidential debate with foreign policy being the topic could be a defining moment or could just be a muddle.

It is said that challenger Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, is surprisingly light on foreign policy, whereas President, and Democrat, Barack Obama has, well, at least almost four years of experience and a record.

Strangely enough, when it comes to foreign policy there does not seem to be a substantive difference between the two, except perhaps in tone. Romney indicates he is for tough talk, while Obama might prefer softer tones at times and to give diplomacy more of a chance. But even Obama has used tough talk when pushed. Did he not say that the U.S. would do everything within its power, to include military action, to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability? He did. And that is what Romney calls for too.

It is unclear how Romney might prosecute our ongoing military operations in the Middle East. He definitely does not seem ready to pull up stakes. Obama promises to slowly disengage, but holds the door open for a continued presence there even though he also says we will be out of Afghanistan in terms of direct engagement by 2014.

I don’t know about Romney, but I heard his running mate Paul Ryan say that we should not give the enemy a timetable showing when we will withdraw as Obama has (I have to agree with that; I think Obama’s running mate and current vice president Joe Biden said that you have to give a timetable for withdrawal, otherwise our supposed allies among the Afghan government and population will not step up to the plate. They have to know we really are leaving. I would ask, so why don‘t we just leave? being as how actions speak louder than words).

Romney wants to increase the defense budget and Obama thinks we can actually decrease it and spend the money domestically as we disengage from war.

I hate to have to say this, but I think we have to increase defense spending, but maybe make sure it is being spent more wisely. And someone pointed out that the idea of spending money we are saving is a false notion in that the money we are using to prosecute war (or military actions) in the Middle East is money that is being obtained not through taxation (there is no war tax and most of the spending is outside the official budget) but through borrowing. It’s kind of like a family cutting up all of its credit cards and then going on a spending binge using all the money it saved by tearing up the credit cards.

Obama has actually had some success in foreign policy: He played it cool and let NATO do the heavy lifting in ousting Gaddafi in Libya (No American troops on the ground), and he directed the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, and now there are even reports that Iran may be willing to talk about its nuclear program.

Whatever, it is crucial that we stay number one. But bluster and just blind military spending won’t work.

It is also said that because Romney is light on foreign policy and because his main selling point is that as a businessman supremo he can fix our ailing economy, single handedly apparently, he will try to turn the conversation back to the economy.

Well if he does, that is at least somewhat appropriate, because as Peggy Noonan wrote in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, our power to defend ourselves depends upon our wealth.

And as I would say, although in some ways I am nearly a peacenik, I certainly would not want the USA to have to depend upon someone else for its security, because besides loss of prestige that would mean loss of control of our own lives.

(This even holds true in economics. Poorer European countries are having to bow to pressures from Germany.)

But in all of this I am not saying or implying either man will guarantee our continued position in the world.

We need to listen carefully Monday night. And I hope we have something worthwhile to hear. It’s vital.

P.s.

The Noonan piece I referred to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444734804578065023315500416.html?mod=hp_opinion


Romney has binders full of women (Mormon porn?)

October 17, 2012

I was probably half asleep when Mitt Romney made his already infamous and internet viral “binders full of women” (sounds like porn) comment at Tuesday night’s debate. Oh, I heard it and I wondered how that would play. Okay, he was just saying, as I recall, that he had a massive list of women to choose from for his cabinet when he was governor of Massachusetts, the list having been provided to him after he supposedly discovered that no women had been suggested before that time. And he appointed more than anyone else, he claimed. So there (but binders full of women? Sounds exciting! Who knew? Mormon porn). I also wondered about his assertion that women in the workplace (even high-level execs) need special consideration because they have to get home in time to deal with the kids and cook dinner (not his exact words I don’t think but very close).

There are women out there who love to hear men talk like that, but not as many as in the past. Women have moved into the workplace and become a permanent fixture. In fact, in many ways they seem to be pushing out men (or at least in some areas).

Now I personally preferred my mom’s time. The woman typically stayed home and took care of the house and served meals (I’m not all that sure my mom preferred that, but that is the way it was).

Even my late wife stayed home and did the same when our kids were small.

My own theory is that once it became the norm for women to work outside the house the whole structure of our economy and family life changed (for better or worse, you choose).

It became nearly impossible for people to continue the old model because now all housing costs and prices of everything you buy were predicated on the buying power of two-income families.

But I’m getting off track. That could be an essay in and of itself.

The fact is that Mr. Romney seems clueless in women’s issues (hey I am not a woman, I’m just saying).

Not all women think alike, I know. But I think Mr. Romney bases his views on the old model and his strict Mormon religion and its conservative views on women.

 


I call the debate a tie: Obama actually showed up to this one…

October 17, 2012

President Obama actually showed up for this debate.

I thought it was a draw.

As always there is a question as to whether the participants were accurate in their assertions.

At one point it amounted to one saying yes I am correct or telling the truth and the other saying no you are not and the other responding yes I am.

If you are an informed voter, you have to decide for yourself. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t pay a lot of attention.

The questions were from and presented by voters, with the ones that made the debate chosen by the moderator. I was disappointed that apparently no one cares about the war or wars in the Middle East, except for one question about the Libya U.S. ambassador killing (and three staffers). The questions were on the economy primarily. Don’t they understand that our military efforts are draining the economy (and not saying we should not defend ourselves, but is that what we are doing?)?

Romney is a clever salesman. At times it seemed he co-opted a lot of Obama positions (and he continues to chameleon-like turn into a moderate, centrist, if you will, after running so long as a hard-right conservative). He even had the gall at the end to brag on his Massachusetts health care law, which was used as a model for Obamacare. And all the time, even in this debate, he put down Obamacare and has vowed to repeal it.

There was some in-your-face in this contentious debate.

I have to think that Obama may have saved his chances for a second term, but Romney held his own and seemed convincing, at least if you had never seen what Republicans really do. He used a question to distance himself from George W. Bush, who seems to have left a poor legacy, even in the minds of many Republicans. But he gave Bush a pass in that he claimed times were different then and Bush did not have some tools available today (not sure what that was all about).

Romney may have an advantage in that no one can really say what would happen if he were elected and we have almost four years of experience with Obama.

It would seem it will be a close election. But if Obama is ahead at this point, and the polls seem to differ, it would seem to me he may have won back his support if he lost any from his total flop at the last debate, and that he might have finally convinced some undecideds he is the better man (or not).


Will the real President Obama and the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

October 16, 2012

President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are presumably listening to their respective advisors for guidance as to what kind of persona to project in tonight’s debate (Obama hopefully has some new help or is not listening — I mean it did not work last time).

But what if the rather dull Obama of last time out is the real deal and what if the secretly-taped Romney who writes off the 47 percent of voters who somehow live off the government and have no self-initiative and who would never vote for him is the real deal? Or is moderate Mitt of the last debate the real deal?

Why is it that we as voters constantly are told of all the strategies those who seek our votes use and then take anything they say or do on the campaign trail seriously?

I mean I am just told that a guy is preparing to put on an act and then I am supposed to suspend reality and take what he says and does as reality?

Kind of like the story I just read that Mitt’s VP candidate Paul Ryan donned and apron and made like he was doing dishes at a soup kitchen, when the dishes were already clean and when he was not invited to do so and it was all just for a phony photo op. All candidates do this kind of thing. Okay, maybe it’s just symbolic and I should not take it seriously.

I have a feeling that tonight’s questions from audience members in a town hall setting will dwell mostly on the economy but I would hope some would address the war situation.

I just read a NY Times editorial that suggested that much of our war policy has been based on the premises that when the U.S. acts boldly its adversaries back down, the Cuban Missile Crisis, as an example. I have pretty much subscribed to that theory, but this piece says uncovered evidence reveals that in the missile crisis President John F. Kennedy was more cautious than had been thought and was willing (secretly) to give more concessions than he did. The fact that he gave up some of our missiles in Turkey, we already knew for a long time now, was kept secret for years, I believe (the missiles were said to be outdated anyway, I seem to recall).

But the idea is that he was more worried about starting WW III than some of his aides revealed. Thankfully, so was then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. But they both lost control for a time because their respective militaries were sent into actions with their orders. A misjudgment by any of these commanders could have sparked a nuclear confrontation.

The reason I wrote all this is because the article mentioned that Kennedy in his caution was guided by his reading of the Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman, a book about the beginnings of Word War I, a tragic and needless war. Too bad George W. Bush did not read it (I doubt he did, anyway).

Romney does not show much evidence that he understands foreign policy beyond America has to be bold (I tend to agree with that, but maybe cautiously bold and maybe not say too much — actions speak louder than words anyway).

Obama probably knew little about foreign policy before getting into office but he certainly has been exposed to it now.

I have to admit I do not understand the current Libya flap the GOP is trying to score points with. They seem to suggest that the Obama administration is trying to cover up something. It is apparent that there was not adequate security at our Embassy there, the result being that our ambassador and several others there were killed. The GOP charges that the Obama administration was trying to spread the notion that the deaths were the result of mob action in reaction to a privately-produced in America anti-Islam hate video when in fact even the administration now has to concede that it was a planned Al Qaeda (or Al Qaeda-affiliated) attack coinciding with the anniversary of 9/11. Don’t know, but what would the administration have to gain from this? Interestingly, though, it seems that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is falling on her sword for this one, announcing within the last 24 hours that she takes full responsibility. But if she is sincere, I almost think you have to respect her. Not many in power these days takes responsibility for anything.

Don’t know if I will catch the debate live since I am working, but I hope to at least hear it on radio.

Here is a link to that Times editorial: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/opinion/the-eyeball-to-eyeball-myth-and-the-cuban-missile-crisiss-legacy.html?hp&_r=0